For the first leg of the trip, I am staying in a gorgeous hotel called Hotel San Francisco de Quito, in the heart of the old city. Though I do not recommend wondering the streets at night, it started to truly feel at home after the first couple of days. I shared my room with two other girls. It was lofted, with a spiral staircase leading to our beds. Outside of our door was a beautiful courtyard that could double as a greenhouse.
The best part, however, was climbing all the floors of the building to reach the rooftop, where the group would gather for sunrise and sunset. This picture was taken on our way down the staircases from a 6 am sunrise. The city seems very closed off and quiet when you walk down the streets in the evening. But, when you get a rooftop view, it is easy to see families and friends gathering in the courtyards of their homes. The courtyard setup is definitely something new to me, but it’s very charming.
For the bulk of the trip, we will be staying at the Iyarina Lodge in Tena. This is the “dorms” where the students are staying, and our view of the Napo River. The lodge honestly makes it feel like we are camping; in the best way. The grounds are ran by a family, and the culture reflects that. Our meals are eaten family style, and are honestly one of my favorite parts of the day. We never know what they are about to put on the table, but I am always confident that it will be good. One time, we were served bright green pea soup, popcorn to mix in, and hot sauce. It was not picturesque, but it was fun to try.
The most challenging part of the lodge, is adjusting to the bugs. Bug spray has become my best friend, and I am learning to coexist with the beetles in my shower. On the bright side, spider monkeys regularly frequent the trees; they remind me of squirrels at home.
Overall, I know that flexibility is required for these types of trips. I am happy to explore new hotels and lodges, because each one brings a new adventure!