A Lot of Lasts

I had imagined something grand for my last day in Quito. My last day of study abroad, a couple of weeks after most of my international friends had flown home. I had decided to stay an extra two weeks, visiting with my host family and traveling around the country.

We just wrapped up my last trip in Ecuador. Setting off two weeks ago on Sunday night, we headed to the beach. Hiking in the rainforest, relaxing in beach towns and taking a boat to an island were all part of the fun. After that we headed to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, to visit an Ecuadorian friend named Sam who we met in the Amazon rainforest one morning. Sam showed us around “his town”, which included a gorgeous lighthouse overlooking the city at sunset.

The next day a friend suggested, “let’s climb a mountain today”, so we ate breakfast in a little cafe avoiding the 95 degree heat and ended up on top of a 14,000-foot volcano in Cajas National Park that afternoon, where it was probably below 40. I bid my friends farewell in Cuenca and headed to places unknown with Adrian. We were in a little town in the middle of no where that went crazy for the national football (uh soccer) championships, we hiked into a rainforest populated by jungle crabs, toucans, coatis and parakeets that live no where else on earth; and on Christmas we were eating tuna, bread and apples after dark for dinner with some strangers at a ranger station in the jungle where a storm had knocked out all of the power, electricity and running water.

IMG_0490

It was a great two weeks, but here I am. My last day in Quito.

I had imagined something epic. Like the time I ran up Volcan Pichincha in under an hour and hiked down with someone I met on top. Instead, I decide to walk around with Adrian and see everything for the last time. There is something about soaking in the familiar one last time that is even better than doing something new and epic.

IMG_4588

Quito has become more than a city to me. It’s a home. I remember my first week here, when everything was so exotic. Excited street vendors shouting and trying to sell me things I could not identify; extravagant fruits, snacks and grilled guinea pigs. The crowded markets and bus chofers yelling at me, hurry up! Move out of the way! Pay your fare! Now it is not like that at all. I enjoy the exotic fruits, street food, and cuy. But now rather than being unable to fathom eating them, I cannot imagine not eating them. Grabbing a grilling skewer from my favorite curbside stand, popping a tomate de arbol in my mouth or chowing down on a bowl of hot chicken-foot-soup has become my norm. Surviving the ecovia, hurrying up and paying my fare has become as natural as riding a bike. Now I cannot imagine a city without honking taxis, narrow European-style streets and thin mountain air. Alas, it is my last day in Quito.

We hop on the Ecovia bus for the last time and I realize that I will miss the crowds. We wander around the Iñaquito market and buy avocados, tropical juices and maracuya fruits from the usual vendors who I have befriended. We linger a minute even to read our favorite pieces of street art (graffiti) for the last time. We head to the park to eat our last grilled street foods for a dollar and feel our lungs burn as we sprint past the futball and ecuavolley courts, where so many fun competitions were had. Cotopaxi is turning pink from alpine glow and it is time to hurry back.

It hurts to say good-bye, and my eyes are teary as we head to the airport and the sun drops behind Volcan Pichincha for the last time. It was an epic four months filled with life-changing experiences and even more amazing people. Some day, as I promised my host brother, I will be back. I will walk the streets of Quito again, tasting the street foods and my host mom’s cooking, visiting with old friends and playing futball in the park with new ones. Nothing, though, can ever be quite the same as my first day in Quito, or the last.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s