At our final hotel in Ecuador, Sachi, Sami, and I had a bit of a cockroach problem while staying in Puerto Lopez. It was unexpected but once again, I felt myself being desensitized by all of these bugs that I used to despise. Anyway, we started Wednesday morning with a hike at Machalilla national park with such beautiful views, which I’ve realized I’ve been saying a lot in my blogs, but Ecuador really does have the best views. After the hike, we went down to turtle beach; sadly, the name was deceiving and we did not see any turtles, but it was still amazing nonetheless. We then got to swim in the ocean which felt so good after a lot of walking. I saw an awesome piece of coral while the guys were having chicken fights and trying to do flips.
We then had time to go out to eat, so we were able to eat seafood on the beach; it was delicious. We explored around the town and some people shopped. We were back at our rooms for about an hour or so until we heard someone yell out “guys look at the sunset!” Every one of us ran out to the beach and watched the entire sunset. We were listening to music, playing soccer, and having a photoshoot with Skip’s camera. These small moments are some of the best.
The next day, Thursday the 18th, we got on a boat and drove out to Isla de la Plata, an amazing island with unique birds and views. We hiked around the entire island, which was a little over 5 miles. I was exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, but I saw some things that I’ve never seen before. We got to see frigatebirds, large black birds with red pouches that puff out to intimidate others. We also saw the blue footed boobies, birds that many of us have been waiting to see because of their unique coloration. The hike was difficult for me, but we finally got to go back out to the water. The workers invited some of us to go to the top of the boat as they were driving; it was easily one of the coolest moments of my whole life because I just got to look around me and enjoy the ocean air while being on top of a boat. There were many cool fish to see, so we snorkeled. I stopped after a few minutes because I wanted to jump off the boat, which I did many times. It reminded me of when I would do it on my Poppop’s boat in the Magothy River.
Friday, May 19th, was officially our last day in Ecuador. It was a day that always felt so far away that I couldn’t believe it was actually here. We traveled a lot this day, but we also went to a hacienda to learn more about the chocolate making process. We also got to try a frozen cacao fruit drink, which was incredible. Later in the day, we left Guayaquil and flew back to Quito, which is where our long flight would be taking off from at around midnight. I unfortunately did not get any sleep on the overnight plane ride, but I saw a cool sunrise out the window which ALMOST made it worth it.
After landing at around 7am on Saturday and getting through customs, many of us had long layovers and nothing to do. 8 of us were flying back to Philadelphia, which wasn’t boarding until 2pm and 2 of us were flying to Newark, which was leaving an hour after Philly. So with 10 teenagers bored in an airport, Sachi suggested we all go to the Coca Cola museum because it was only a short Uber ride away. It was such a fun experience because we all knew it was our last one with most of us still all together. Once we got to the gift shop we started having a lot of fun. We all got matching shorts and wore them outside the museum, where we got many stares from the large crowds. This was such an awesome way to make good use of a layover, even though I still haven’t slept since 7am the day before.
Going to Ecuador has been the greatest experience of my life, and it’s odd going back to my normal life. It’s a weird feeling going home from a place where you experienced things you will never get to do again, and where constant adventures became the standard. I am forever grateful for Ecuador, the people I was with, and the places at which I stayed, because I made memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.