Relaxin’ All Cool (Week 16)

It was a week of new and great experiences.  Then again, isn’t that every single week that I’m here?  Almost 4 months in and I finally feel like I’m comfortable enough in my environment to start actively seeking out new experiences (before this they were kind of just falling into my lap).  I wish I would’ve started seeking these things in January, but at least I’m here now, right?!

New Experience #1 was checking out a conversation club in Quito.  Even though I’m an extrovert and love talking with people, I was still a little intimidated to go to club.  Honestly though, I did it and it ended up being one of my favorite things that I’ve done in Quito.  Here’s how it works: conversation club takes place in a super friendly, trendy cafe called La Casa Tomada.  It’s got everything- mason jars, cool lighting, comfy seating, etc.  When you sign up to attend, you chose two languages that you would like to speak in.  The director puts you into tables of 4-5 people, always with at least one native speaker.  My first table was Spanish, so I got to practice my Spanish for 45 minutes before switching to an English table, where I got to help Ecuadorians practice.  Since you get to both practice and help, it creates an environment of reciprocity- no one feels inadequate and the vibes are so good.  Many nights, there are tons of languages represented at conversation club- people here are really dedicated to learning languages and I think that’s so admirable.  It was so fun to make friends and talk about life in both English and Spanish!

New Experience #2 was checking out a young adults small group with Caylee and Sarah at the church we go to in Quito.  It was classic Ecuador: the front entrance of the church was locked so we walked around the entire block to get to the back entrance.  After trying about 4 different doors, we finally got inside…where we found out that the group was meeting at the building next door.  Regardless, we made it.  Honestly at first it was very strange: we were some of the only North Americans and definitely the youngest people there (“young” adult is a very loose term here haha).  However, the people were excited to be there and the conversations had were super uplifting and encouraging.  The leader would say a paragraph in Spanish and then translate it into English for the entire group and it was so impressive.  People added to the discussion in both Spanish and English.  It’s cool to get a taste of what the church is like here and how people are growing and thriving in an environment so different from my own!  God is good!

SO thankful I checked out both of these things!  Knowing people outside of my program and having weeknight events to go to makes me really feel at home in Quito.  Like I said before, I really wish I would’ve found these things in January so I could’ve developed deeper relationships before going home.  Now I only have a few weeks left, but I’m determined to continue to meet and connect with as many new people as I can before leaving!

This weekend a group of us decided to spend a night in Papallacta.  Papallacta is east of Quito, almost to the Amazon, and it known for having a beautiful hot springs resort.  We decided to splurge a little bit and stay at the resort (“splurge” in Ecuador terms).  After one of the most beautiful bus rides of my life, we arrived at Las Termas de Papallacta.  We had two really cute cabanas that we got to stay in: complete with a king size bed, heated floors, a huge loft, and two bathrooms.  After sleeping in hostels for the entire semester, we were all in awe.

It truly was such a relaxing trip: I started it off with a trip to the steam cave and the spa with my friends Frank, Adrien, and Daniel.  It was filled with a LOT of sweat (steam cave was no joke), laughter, and interesting conversation.  After a good dinner, the group hit up the public hot springs to chill for awhile.  There are lots of different pools of different temperatures, and a highlight was getting into the river water pool for a cold water challenge.  Becca and I won (tie because we’re both super competitive and decided we should get out together for our health), but the water honestly felt like Lake Superior and it was a struggle to obtain victory haha.  After chilling here for awhile, we headed to the smaller hot springs outside of our cabana to hang out and stargaze for awhile.

Saturday morning, we hit up the hot springs again for a few hours after breakfast.  It was busier and we got to play with a few cute babies in the water, which was a plus!  After this, some of the group headed back to Quito and a few of us decided to stay and go for a hike.  This hike was absolutely beautiful: the air was a perfect temperature, the mountains were green and lush, and we hiked through fields and forests as we followed the river.  It was also a pretty easy hike, which meant we could take in the views without feeling extremely tired!  Overall just a great hike with stunning views.

So glad we got a chance to visit Papallacta and have a chill night away before the week.  Suddenly I feel like I have tons of essays and presentations to work on, and on Wednesday night I’m heading to Peru for a long weekend.  Sometimes a time of rest and relaxation is so essential before the chaos hits, and I’m so thankful that we took time to travel to Papallacta for a fin de semana tranquilo.



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