It is now over a week into my trip, with about a week to go. In my last entry, I spoke of expectations, and the limits they create. Learning to be flexible has to be one of the biggest challenges of my program. Sure, one will get by without flexibility, but I cannot imagine one would get all they could out of the experience. In the past couple days, I have dealt with a sinus infection and … a landslide. However, I managed to stay in high spirits and enjoy myself.
After returning to the Iyarina lodge from the Indigenous group in the Amazon, I found myself clinging to Kleenexes and Advil. What I suspect was a sinus infection could have easily put me down in the dumps, unmotivated to keep exploring. However, I think I found a balance between rest and exploration. I got lucky that we focused on our final presentations and school work during those days, instead of taxing hikes through the Amazon. I wasn’t the only one who was sick at the time, many of us were exhausted and our bodies were starting to show it. We took care of each other and allowed the excitement of travel to keep going. For anyone who is thinking about studying abroad, be aware of what your body can handle. Sometimes it is hard to sense exhaustion when you are overwhelmed with excitement. Nonetheless, it is important to be prepared, stay hydrated, and take care so you can enjoy the rest of your trip.
On Tuesday, May 17th, we were set for a travel day to the coast. We were to drive four hours to the capital- Quito, fly to Guayaquil, and then drive another few hours to our hotel on the beach. A joke had formed in the past week concerning scheduling. We had gotten into a habit of being about an hour behind schedule for most of our ventures. It never caused anything to go wrong; we simply referred to it as “Ecuador time.” So, when we were running an hour late to the airport on Tuesday, we just accepted we were on Ecuador Time. About two hours away from Quito, our bus came to a stop on the side of a mountain, with a line of cars ahead. It was raining, but we decided to walk to the front of the traffic line to discover a huge landslide overtook the road. There was about 3 feet deep mud on the road, and a waterfall spewing. I was not upset, really, because I knew there was simply nothing I could do except be in awe that this was actually happening. After an hour of waiting, it was about 5 pm, and we were starting to accept that we would not make our 7:30 flight.
After about two hours, some heavy equipment arrived and cleared the road. We actually had a small chance that the plane might still be there, so we raced to the airport. Unfortunately, the gate closed only minutes before we arrived. With no other option, we had to drive 10 hours to the coast, overnight. Of course I was disappointed. But, on the bright side, I had a cheeseburger and milkshake from Johnny Rockets for dinner and I never disliked road trips. Our mishap was really just the making of a new adventure, another story to tell. Overall, I practiced a mindset I had been developing the whole trip- flexibility and optimism.