Location: Quito

The first day of our Ecuadorian adventure began with a tasty and delicious breakfast served by our hosts at Airport Garden Hosteria. After breakfast, we got on a bus and began our hour-long trek into the heart of Quito. When we arrived at our first destination, Parque Itchimbia, we were all overcome by the view of hundreds of homes embedded into the long, vast mountains surrounding this pocket of civilization. At the park, we had our first real adventure: going to the bathroom without lights, however, through our resourcefulness (phones with flashlights) we made do. We played many get-to-know-you games, talked about Ecuadorian culture, and expressed our fears and excitements about the upcoming days (in which we all agreed we were super excited for being emerged in a new culture but also worried about getting homesick). After finishing up at the park, we went into the historical district of Quito, also known as Old Town. We had an amazing tour guide, Stephanie, who took us to many places in a very short amount of time. These places included the cathedral called La Basilica, multiple city squares, and The Society of Jesus Church in Plaza de San Francisco. At the cathedral (side-note: Pope Francis will be visiting next month), we were all tested to our limits when we climbed up over three stories on open-air ladders to the top of one of the towers. While walking through the squares, we were able to not only learn the significance of many of the buildings but also interact with some of the locals. At The Society of Jesus Church, we were all overcome by the extensive amount of gold leaf covering all the walls (side-note: it is one of the wealthiest churches in South America) and impressed with many of the histories behind some of the artifacts. After a day of new experiences in Quito, we returned to our hostel, and now we are getting ready for our adventure tomorrow…..flying to the AMAZON!