Last Weekend our group went to Quilotoa, Ecuador. Quilotoa is known for its lake which happens to be located inside of an inactive volcano. From the small town of Quilotoa, you actually have to walk down into the volcano to reach the lake. It was a treacherous hike, and Andres and I rented horses to ride back up. Walking down to the lake took about thirty minutes, and the altitude made the air paper thin. However, the views were incredible and I will never forget being inside a volcano! When we reached the bottom, we were able to kayak in the pond for about an hour. The lake is very large, and there is no life in it due to the sulfur levels from the volcano. It was very peculiar kayaking inside of a volcano, and not many people can say that they have done it!
On our way back from Quilotoa, we stopped in a small village to witness the festivities of Corpus Christi. It was wild to say the least! The citizens danced in the streets to a live band and consumed a surprising amount of alcohol. It was amusing to observe the party, and after a while they paraded into the bull fighting arena and teased the bulls while they were in their pen. I’ve never seen so many drunken cowboys, and I was a little scared for the stumbling bullfighters. When they finally let the bulls out, only one guy got gored in the leg so I guess it was a successful bull fight. It was a unique experience, and it opened my eyes to the exciting world of bull fighting!
After the fiesta, our group stopped at a shopping mall to watch the USA vs. Portugal match. Every shopping mall that I have been to so far screens every world cup game on a giant screen in the food court. The game was a true nail biter, and I thought we had the game won until Portugal scored in the last few minutes and tied it up. I hate to say it, but it almost seems like everyone cheers against the United States here. In any case, a tie is better than a loss and we returned to Quito late that night.
On Tuesday our group went to the Equator museum and we visited some Incan ruins along the way! Visiting the Equator has always been something that I wanted to do, and it feels great to cross it off the bucket list! I learned a lot about the different hemispheres and the Earth’s magnetic forces. While standing on the Equator you lose a pound of weight, and you can feel the magnetic forces on your body. Our tour guide also demonstrated how water spins in opposite directions when let out of a drain in each hemisphere. We were able to balance an egg on a nail due to the unique gravitational pull of the Equator, and I was also able to observe a real shrunken head that was 160 years old.
On Thursday, the US played Germany at 11:00, so our group was dismissed from class early and we went to a sushi restaurant downtown to watch the game. The sushi was just as good as back home, and the game was an exciting one. We ended up losing 1-0, but we will still advance into the next round of the cup. Somewhere throughout the day I lost my cell phone, and I believe I was pick pocketed by a talented thief. I strongly recommend carrying your valuables in your front pockets if you plan on travelling here, as I have not been the first one in our group to get burglarized. I was pretty upset for a while, but my day got better when I was randomly asked to be in a Coca Cola commercial by two models in the street!
I am excited to leave on Sunday, but I know that I will miss Quito very much. This whole trip almost seems like a dream, and it has been everything I could’ve imagined from a study abroad experience. Saturday is a free day, and Andres and I plan on hiking to the top of the Pichincha volcano early in the morning. We do not plan on going to sleep on Saturday night since our bus to the airport leaves at 4:00am. Hopefully my next entry will be written inside the United States!