Blogging hasn't been my priority the last few weeks since the last month of my study abroad trip is coming quickly to an end, especially with USFQ classes finishing up and many final trips starting to come to an end. Here I've decided to give only little bits of the latest trips since Atacames.
A few weeks ago Jess, Anina and I went on a day trip to some hot springs in a little town called Papallacta about 2 hours southeast of Quito. We spent all day relaxing in five different temperature pools, ranging from hot to super duper hot. It was a nice time sitting in the hot springs and getting beautiful views of the paramo mountains.
The next weekend, right before I had three big presentations and three final papers, we decided to go back to the Coast to a little town called Canoa. It was Labor Day weekend for Ecuadorians (and our last trip together - Emily, Jess, Anina, and I - although Maureen and Sam also came along) so we took off Wednesday night on a 9 hour bus to reach the beautiful sunny beaches of Canoa. We pretty much spent the entire weekend relaxing on the beach, swimming, and eating our last $4 ceviches (like a shrimp cocktail except with veggies and 50 times better) and large pineapple jugos.
Cotopaxi National Park is one of the most visited tourist sites in the Ecuadorian Andes as it is the home of Cotopaxi, the largest active volcano in the world. On our last weekend together Emily, Anina and I decided to go visit it. After some transportation issues, we were able to get to the park with a licensed guide. He took us to the highest point that cars can go then we hiked the remaining 350 meters up Cotopaxi where the beginning of the snow began and where there was a refuge for all those that do the 7-9 hour hike to the tip of the mountain. Because of the high altitude and the incline, what would have been a regular 10-15 min walk took us about an hour to hike up.
Luckily, although still cold, the weather was great and we were able to see the many other volcanoes and paramo that surrounded Cotopaxi. When we reached the top we drank delicious hot chocolate in the refuge then made our way back down through the ash. We then went walked around a nice lake below the Cotopaxi. On our way back to catch a bus back to Quito we saw a condor, the Andean symbol, which was awesome because they don't tend to be around much on the part of Cotopaxi were in...it was a truly amazing sight.
Finals and Endings
I ended up finishing my classes at the university with great grades, two of which were completely unexpected. It was nice that even though I took the hardest classes of anyone I know that is studying abroad I was able to do really well. And I didn't even have to give up la farra (partying) or traveling at all! (I heard my host mom talking to Jose telling him she couldn't believe how much traveling and partying I had done this semester, and somehow still done really well. Although this this is true, I'm not sure if "farreadora" is the rep I want to have when she tells her new students about me.)
I also finished my community service at Fundacion Reina de Quito. The day I left was really sad for me because it made me realize how much I would miss working there. The kids sang to me the "bravo, bravisimo" song and gave me an artsy apple to remember them by. We also finished the Pitzer seminar with everyone presenting on our 25 page DISP papers. It was very interesting to hear about everyone's projects and seeing that although super different topics, they all had one commonality: the importance of education. We celebrated the ending (and Alex's birthday) with a lovely dinner at a bougie Ecuadorian restaurant.