I have arrived in Ecuador safe and sound, sorry to say bye to England but excited to settle back into my Ecuadorian life! Goodbyes were quite hard this time, and it was tougher than usual to tear myself away from my family and friends, but the further from home I travelled, the more I started to look forward and the easier it became to leave my comfort zone behind. My journey to Ecuador was long and comprised of: a car, boat, bus, train, coach, bus, Travelodge, bus, plane, plane and finally taxi and took 35 hours. Definitely not the longest journey I’ve been on, but exhausting never-the-less!
Getting through Quito airport was a little tricky… they have 2 security checks, each one before and after baggage claim, and I got questioned a lot over my visa situation! I only have another 9 days left on my tourist visa: I’ve applied for a work visa but Ecuador is THE SLOWEST COUNTRY EVER and it’s taken months and I haven’t heard from the visa office at all. So I got a little warning upon entry and was told I must leave after 9 days. When we were applying for work visas, it wasn’t a case of just filling out a form online and sending a couple of emails, because in Ecuador, they don’t reply to emails. (What!??) So you have to SHOW UP everywhere. And these visa offices and universities aren’t near each other – on average they are probably about a 6 hour coach journey from each other. So ‘getting our visas’ translates into zig zagging up and down the country, having meetings and showing our faces so we can pressure them into moving forward in our applications (mine and Heathers). So anyway I got through security with a warning I have no intention of taking seriously, then we teamed up with another traveller to get a taxi to the old town in Quito where we’re staying.
One thing that struck me when I arrived was how familiar Quito feels to me now. It’s a joy to get to know a place and feel safe there, especially when it comes to logistical things; like knowing if a taxi is taking you in the wrong direction and if they are over-charging you! Also, it was an absolute joy to arrive in Ecuador and have enough of a grasp of Spanish that I can communicate with the locals – it makes life so much easier! And I think it’s such a special thing: being able to speak more than one language, it gives you such an insight into other cultures! I’m always so curious when I hear people speaking a different language, I would love to know what they’re saying! It seems so mysterious when you can’t understand, but I bet most of the time it’s just the usual mundane, boring stuff we talk about in English! Speaking all the languages in the world is in my top 3 most-wanted super powers. So being able to understand Spanish is so exciting for me. I’m no expert, but I get by and I am trying to get better all the time.
Another beautiful thing about being back in Ecuador is the music. I was surprised to learn that Spanish music has heavily infiltrated the UK charts when I was home over Christmas, and lots of the songs I cherished as being a part of my South American journey were actually quite well known in England! But I will always associate those songs with Ecuador: the places I’ve been here, the journeys I’ve done, the bars I’ve danced in, the hostels I’ve stayed in. And that is quite magical. Although, true South American music is quite different to Spanish chart music. It’s the more traditional salsa and flamenco that you’ll find playing in local, less touristy areas!
Last night Heather and I went out for a few drinks and we started the night at another Hostel called Minka. We were informed by the staff at our hostel who were also going that it is a bit of a party hostel. When we arrived, however, we weren’t particularly enthused because it was really quiet and there were even 2 guys asleep on the sofas! But we joined a little group outside eating, drinking and smoking and started to have fun and eventually, unsurprisingly, a guitar somehow made its way to the table! A quite accomplished Colombian guy and his girlfriend then proceeded to play a bunch of Latin American songs, harmonising and with a shaker might I add – definitely rehearsed for moments like these, and most of the table were singing along. Now, I know that travelling guitar players have a bit of a bad rep among the British, but I genuinely think it’s because we’re not as open to it, and also there are definitely a few douchebags who ruin it for the whole lot. Unsolicited guitar playing while everyone is quite happily chatting is definitely a dick move, but a group sing-song with a good player and a few beers is actually a really great thing. I actually fall into this group of travelling guitar players so I may be a little biased, but I’m just as happy to sit back and listen as I am to take centre stage. Last night was a bit of both, we spent the first couple of hours soaking in the culture of the passionate South Americans and their fiery music, and by the end of the evening I had a guitar in my hands and was serenading the whole group with I’m Yours and Somewhere over the Rainbow… and I unapologetically loved it.
One of my resolutions in Ecuador is to properly learn a Spanish song by the end of the year! Then I’ll be a real dick when I travel haha, not only playing the guitar and singing, but in another language too. Don’t hate me too much.
So right now I am in my hostel, hungover but feeling really satisfied and comfortable. We chose to stay in Hostel Revolution this time, which is more quiet, because it has a kitchen – a real must for travellers on a budget (which unfortunately is me). It’s nice enough, not as good as Secret Garden but the kitchen has been SO worth it!!
Side note: if anyone is thinking of going travelling, bring a towel dressing gown. It is one of my FAVOURITE things. You avoid the awkwardness of walking around in a towel and its really easy to get changed under – little travel tip. Also!! Second travel tip: Lush shampoo’s and conditioners are AMAZING. They are completely vegan and bio-degradable which is obviously fantastic, but they come in these little bars which sit neatly in a little tub, so super easy to transport and they last for ages!! I washed my hair for the first time with them today and my hair looks really great, so massive advocate for Lush right now!
Today the weather in Quito is 15 degrees-ish which is pretty perfect for a life admin / movie day in bed. So that is exactly what I’m doing!