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Showing posts from April, 2013

Bridge Jumping- AAAHHHH!!

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I love throwing myself off the edge of cliffs with a parachute attached to my back, zip lining, para-gliding, white water rafting, bungee jumping, tubing, roller coasters, jet-skiing, and pretty much every adventure sport you can think of.

I had never been bridge jumping until recently though! In the town of Baños, Ecuador, there are two different bridges set up for bridge jumping. One is on the bike ride from Baños to Puyo, and one is right across the street from the bus terminal. I've seen both and can say that the bridge near the bus terminal in Baños is way more intimidating, but ultimately where you want to jump.

If you're gonna throw yourself off a bridge and hurdle straight towards the Earth below in the form of a rocky ravine with a boulder filled river, you gotta go big. And this bridge is HUGE!

We were stunned to find out the bridge is 300 feet high! I have jumped off a 60 foot waterfall in the Grand Canyon, but this was a whole new level of terrifying. Our friend ma…

Andes Mountains in Ecuador

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I live at 9,350 feet. That's crazy high and not for the faint-hearted (literally and figuratively). Way up in my school in the Andes Mountains, on a clear day you can see snow covered volcanoes in every direction. Coming from a sleepy Florida beach town, this never grows old. Today is one of those insane days, and you can see three huge volcanoes from my class!

My school and apartment are just east of the Pichincha Volcano

1. Volcán Antisana- 18,678 feet

+ My crappy BlackBerry photo of Antisana from my school

A professional photo of Antisana from the internet
2. Volcán Cayambe- 18,996 feet

My crappy BlackBerry photo of Cayambe from my school
A professional photo of Cayambe from the internet
A professional photo of Cayambe from the internet
A professional photo of Cayambe from the internet
3. Volcán Cotocachi- 16,076 feet

My crappy BlackBerry photo of Cotocachi from my school
A professional photo of Cotocachi from the internet
A professional photo of Cotocachi from the internet

WTF Wednesday

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Shopping in Quito, cute shirt, poor English

Cloud Forest of Ecuador

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In my opinion, the cloud forest is the most special place on Earth, and the towns that are in the heart of the cloud forest in Ecuador should be on everyone's travel 'to-do' list. 
What is a cloud forest? The answer is pretty simple: a high altitude rain forest. Ecuador's cloud forests are some of the best in the world, because it's the perfect combination of Andes Mountains and Amazon. 
Baños on a map of Ecuador, located exactly where  the Amazon Basin hits the Andes Mountains
There is less density of trees, oppressive heat, and skin-gnawing mosquitoes in the cloud forest, which makes it the perfect place to kick back in a hammock and watch the hummingbirds go by. It also provides great opportunities for adventure sports like waterfall rappelling, bridge jumping, zip-lining, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, etc.
Goofing around in the cloud forest
Posing while waterfall repelling
When I'm up in the cloud forest, the tropical scenery disappears into the clouds ar…

WTF Wednesday

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Safe driving in Quito, Ecuador

3 Months Left in Quito

I went to my favorite bar/dance club this weekend with a group of my friends to celebrate a birthday. My Ecuadorian friend asked me how I would describe my time here in Ecuador, and said I wasn't allowed to say 'amazing' or 'life-changing,' because, duh. I had to really think about this.

Now that I am down to my last three months in Ecuador, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. It's obvious I never really fully assimilated here, in part because my community and network of friends is so amazing. Not that there is a great expat scene in Quito, it just so happens that I have a really close knit group of coworkers and friends.

I don't regret not totally immersing myself for a few reasons. I did become a part of something here, through the organization I volunteered with, my job at a local private school, and my dance studio. Especially my dance studio. I also travelled to over ten cities and learned Spanish.

Back to my friend's question. How would I desc…

View From the Streets of Quito

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Driving around Quito the other day, I felt compelled to snap some photos of the most typical things in the streets around my neighborhood (or all of Quito for that matter). There are five things that really stood out to me that I wanted to share with you.

1. Traffic- Never ending traffic! And a million taxis, although I'm guessing none of them were available. The city of Quito is built into a thin valley, and with the economy on the rise and more people owning cars, traffic is a huge issue. There isn't really anywhere to expand the roads.

Horrible traffic in Quito
More horrible traffic in Quito
2. Awesome street art- Graffiti here is huge, and the city sets aside certain walls and sides of buildings for the artists to go to town. I think the a lot of the street art I have seen here is better than any museum exhibit.

Cute cartoonish street art

Some grittier graffiti
Graffiti on the side of an office building
3. Goods being sold street side- I probably never have to actually go to a gro…

Playa Escondida in Ecuador

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Last weekend was Semana Santa (Easter), and although we had a full week off last year, the ministry of education decided it hates teachers and turned the break into a 3 day weekend. Ecuador has a ton of different beach options, but I decided with a few friends to check out an ecological retreat called Playa Escondida- Hidden Beach.
Playa Escondida's Website
It is about 30 minutes south of Atacames and Esmeraldas, bigger party towns, so we had the option to relax in a secluded part of the Pacific coast or drive into town for more restaurant options. While we did spend one afternoon drinking and sampling seafood in Atacames, we spent most of the weekend doing absolutely nothing around Playa Escondida.
Map of the beaches in northern Ecuador

You really should rent a car if you go there, because it is way out in the middle of nowhere. Because it's a private beach, there aren't hordes of tourists. The strip of beach in front of the lodge is really unique, with a drastic tide, and…