Hasta Luego Cuba and helloooo Ecuador. 5 weeks have gone by like nothing and soon enough, with spanish diploma in hand the time has come for me to leave one of the most enchanting islands. Leaving with mixed feelings, on which I'll come back to in a (hopefully!) round up of Cuba I was quite glad when I stopped off in Panama and was first of all able to understand their spanish with ease and secondly found shops that were actually filled with STUFF. Probably left too much money at the airport, to be honest..
Nevertheless, after another short flight in a half-empty plane, I landed in Quito, Ecuador with no real idea of what might await me. I'm currently writing all this whilst lying in a hammock, in the middle of nowhere jungle in Tena, no electricity, no service, animals and creatures everywhere but I absolutely love it! However, when I stepped outside of the airport in Quito, I was first of all amazed by the cars, which actually looked like they were built in the last 10 years and roads and buildings in a state in which you didn't have to worry they might fall apart at any minute. Soon enough I found myself a taxista, who drove me up to Quito and let me tell you, Ecuador is freaking hilly. Can't remember how many hills and curves we passed (thankfully, after more than a month I was finally secured with a seat belt again) and how green everything was aswell. Absolutely beautiful.
Quito itself is just as hilly. It seems like there's no even road at all and when seeing a house or cathedral across from you, to actually get to it you might have to descend to the bottom and then start climbing up the other side. The houses looked pretty old and run down and although seeming a bit wealthier than the Cubans on first sight, Ecuador is really poor. Having forgotten the asian features the Ecuadorians have, I was amazed by some of their traditional wear, long black hair and almond shaped eyes. They seemed a lot more open, even content with their lives but still, homeless, drunk off their asses and crawling people in the streets were to be found at every corner. And I definitely got the feeling, everyone was warning me from - Ecuador being dangerous. But I guess that's just how it is and the country itself is beautiful nevertheless (from what I've gathered so far)
After getting set in the hotel for the night and meeting my roommate, we made our way over to her old hostel, and let me tell you, backpacker life in Quito is pretty amazing. The hostels were incredible, great buildings, staff, activities and apparently food and of course you get to meet a lot of like minded travellers. So after our travel group met up, we went to said hostel that had a roof top party and barbecue. A perfect start to a new adventure accompanied with a beautiful nightime view of Quito. I so wish I had more time in Quito, as there would have been so many things to discover. However, I have to say, I was struggling with the altitude (really bad headache, feeling of sickness) which I hope would have faded over time. But I'm still quite scared what might await me in Peru..
The next morning we made our way into the jungle in Tena. Driving more or less 7h in a public bus, with a scenery as stunning as I've never seen, I had no idea what I set myself up to. I was speechless by the beauty of the hilly terrain, scary roads, waterfalls and ever changing weather, but arriving in the jungle was something else. We're staying with a guy called Delphin (he's a shaman and showed us fascinating plants in the jungle - found some natural nail polish and mosquito repellent) and his family. You're actually in the middle of nowhere, only hearing the sounds of water and insects and other lovely creatures. We slept in some sort of bungalow, everything all out in the open except the mosquito net over the bed, and as I've mentioned before, no electricity. Although a bit scared by the mosquitos at first, I was freaking excited.
That same day, Rolando, Delphin's son took us on a little hike around the jungle and for the first time in years I wore wellies again! They were necessary due to all the little streams and muddy passages, Inwas just glad not having to get my feet wet. We even got a natural face treatment by Rolando himself with mud he dug out of a stream. Next to that facial and the air here, I have to say my face has never been this soft before (; The day was perfectly rounded off with a delicious dinner and games and marshmallows around the 'campfire'.
The next morning, after a terrifying, middle-of-the-night-toilet-run-in-the-dark, wellies were once again mounted/put on, along with swimsuits and shorts - we were off to find cascades and basically just get ourselves wet. I definitely wasn't ready for what would await me. I think we climbed up rivers and actual waterfalls without harnesses far too dangerous to actually be allowed, but I'm not complaining. Again, I saw some of the most beautiful places nature alone can provide you with and cleansed myself under a body cleasing waterfall. Goals all the way. A fantastic day filled with quite exhausting activities, learning about healing plants, seeing bugs the size of my hand, probably had creatures crawling all over me without being actually aware of it, but who caaares? Definitely not me anymore. I've come to love the jungle.
All these experiences aren't by far all that left a mark, but for me there's just no possible way to put all of this into words, but at least I got some of it jotted down, still laying in the hammock with the sun light slowly fading, attracting more and more mosquitos, yay. Soon it'll be time for another bonfire and marshmallows night accompanied by the werewolfs and villagers game and after two more nights here, we're off to baños and hopefully the end of the world swing. I can't wait!
(... and no, the lion doesn't sleep here tonight)
Edit: Last day in the jungle and today we visited a local school, supported by Delphin's family as a good education system (due to the lack of money) especially in the jungle doesn't really exist. Children from 5-15 visit the same class and were taught by Delphins wife Stella. Our guide told us to bring pens and papers and the excitement on the kids faces when they got them can't even be put into words. We then had the chance to play with them, football outside but that's not something I'd do to myself of course, so I stayed inside with the younger kids and whipped out my cameras. They were loving it, taking their first selfies and just smiling the whole time. A beautiful experience. (:
We left the kids and made our way over to some sort of laguna by the river and it was great and as soon as my video is finished you'll be able to see the greatness too! That's it for now, just arrived in Baños and the adventure continues!