It is difficult to write one blog post about winter break, as six weeks is a lot to cram into five paragraphs. It was six weeks full of travel, family, relaxation, and celebration. One of the activities that occupied my winter break was a trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador. I went with Cru, one of the organizations on campus that I am actively involved. A group of 13 went, comprised of college students, adults, and high schoolers. We went for a week.
In Guayaquil, we went to three college campuses and talked to their students. I have studied Spanish for the past six years, and it was super cool to be able to use it. It is amazing how different the Ecuadorian culture is from that of America. People in the States are much more time and money-oriented. Those two things fuel our society. In Ecuador, relationships are cherished. It was a wonderful change of pace and truthfully, it was weird coming back to the United States. Going abroad makes you realize how the American way is not always the best way.
We went to the three universities during the week- ESPOL, Católica, and La Universidad de Guayaquil-, and then on the weekend, we took a bus for about seven hours to a small town called Baños which is tucked in a valley in the mountains. That was definitely an interesting trip. I don’t know if the highlight was roasting in a 95ºF bus or almost being left behind at a random bus station. Imagine a gringo (the Spanish term for a white person) in Birkenstocks sprinting after the moving bus- it was quite the spectacle.
Once in Baños, we unleashed our adventurous sides. First, we went canyoning, which is repelling down waterfalls. That was definitely intense. We donned wetsuits and harnesses and scaled down these massive waterfalls, with a rope being the only thing preventing our untimely deaths. It was terrifying while I was doing it, but now, it is an amazing memory. After canyoning, we went zip lining, which was beautiful. We sped along over these wide open valleys and rivers. I wish I was able to take a camera. Finally, the last thing we did was take turns on The Swing at the Edge of the Earth, which is a swing attached to tree house that soars over a ginormous valley. It was incredible. There is a picture below, as it is impossible to describe.
The entire trip was such a blessing. The weather was warm and sunny and it was a great escape from the stress of school and the impending Chicago winter. I had the best time and am so happy I went. I urge anyone who even thinks they want to travel to do so! I know once medical school starts I will have zero time to even think of traveling, and I’m sure other people who are planning on going to grad school or start working after graduation are in the same boat. Life is short and the Earth is so big! Explore it and fall in love with it- I know I have.