To commemorate my 1.5 years here in Ecuador, I thought I would write a list of my 66 most memorable moments here.
(1) Enjoyed teaching English more than I ever thought possible.
(2) Visited Cajas National Park almost 10 times.
(3) Entertained nine visitors here in Cuenca.
(4) Gained friends off the street from Switzerland, Holland, Chile, Colombia & California.
(5) Enjoyed my favorite New Year’s to date in Santo Domingo.
(6) Witnessed how a Panama Hat is made, from beginning to end.
(7) Tried guinea pig (twice).
(8) Suffered from the worst case of parasites and amoebas.
(9) Spent one hour trying to crack open three crabs with a wooden hammer (just embarrassing).
(10) Sassed more vulgar men in public than I thought I ever would.
(11) Experienced most intense parent-teacher conference (to date).
(12) Found a tarantula in my first room here in Cuenca.
(13) Had a tarantula crawl on my face in the Amazon (on purpose).
(14) Learned to detect when there’s a urine stain on the sidewalk. (and the smell assists)
(15) Stood three feet away from wild macaws.
(16) Saw over ten breathtaking waterfalls all over the country.
(17) Illegally played with monkeys.
(18) Explored natural regimens for a sundry of physical ailments, ranging from popping garlic cloves for horrendous colds to eating papaya seeds for two weeks straight to kill my parasites.
(19) Got to see an ocelot like one foot away (in a fenced property).
(20) Learned the basics of the Salsa de rueda (or Casino).
(21) Lied way too much about my marital status to the taxi drivers (e.g., “Why yes, I am happily married to the most gorgeous man on earth!”)
(22) One hour nightly walk in the Amazon, trying not to think about the bullet ants waiting to attack.
(23) On that nightly walk, however, had a fun rainforest frog on my hand. (not poisonous)
(24) Agreed to let Ecuadorians take pictures with me merely due to the fact that I am a token gringa. (Not exaggerating at all here)
(25) Made chocolate from cocoa beans with a native tribe in Misahuallí.
(26) Chased, tortured, pet too many llamas. Llamas, llamas, llamas.
(27) Hosted dance parties in our apartment into the wee hours.
(28) Lived a pyromaniac’s dream with the highly unsafe, firework “castles.”
(29) Became addicted to the coastal patacones.
(30) Weaved a basket from the straw root itself.
(31) Traumatized initially by the open-air market and ended up making amazing friendships by the end of the year.
(32) Got food poisoning from my own mushroom soup (long story).
(33) Stood in awe at hearing the rumbles of the Tungurahua volcano (a top favorite).
(34) Had drunk-like symptoms on two pills of Dramamine in Isla de la Plata.
(35) Heard the slightly disturbing mating calls of the blue-footed booby.
(36) Chased crabs like a 4-year old in Puerto López.
(37) Avoided kids like the plague during Carnival, who would try to spray me with foam or throw water balloons.
(38) Swam above 4-5 foot sea turtles in the wild. Majestic.
(39) Had a sea lion play with me for 10 minutes, blowing bubbles in my face the whole time.
(40) Investigated zero, first, second, third and mixed conditional tenses for two hours in order to teach that lesson correctly.
(41) Used boat loads of cumin in muffins instead of cinnamon. In my defense, the bottles looked the same!
(42) Beautiful times with my dear Colombian friend for the first three months.
(43) Taught at least 50 Ecuadorians how to make hand turkeys for Thanksgiving.
(44) Saw algae glow at nighttime in Máncora, Perú.
(45) Learned to surf and cut up my foot really bad on the rocks.
(46) Discussed with taxi drivers the profound differences of dating a Latino versus an American.
(47) Attended my first quinceañera party (celebrating a girl turning 15-years old).
(48) Attended first concert ever in Latin America: Jesús Adrián Romero.
(49) Attended second concert in Guayaquil: Rojo.
(50) Asked if I was from Spain probably about 20 times. ¿Vale?
(51) Participated in a promotional, tourism video of Cuenca.
(52) Rappelled off of an immense waterfall.
(53) Left out of breath countless times after walking up about 50 stairs at 8,000 feet of altitude.
(54) Paraglided with my dad in Paute.
(55) Named the rat upstairs “Boris” (only heard not seen, a true enigma).
(56) Overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lava Tunnels at Isla Santa Cruz.
(57) Performed an interpretive dance while my two friends sang karaoke to “I Will Survive” in a very public place in Guayaquil. Attracted a MASSIVE crowd and received donations.
(58) Performed reggeatón in front of hundreds of Cuencanos. Won a CD!
(59) Blessed to see an enormous double rainbow over the Andes mountain range.
(60) Danced in the rain and jumped in puddles on a public street while the locals just stared.
(61) Learned how to make good soups from scratch (broth and all).
(62) Scared people with my hysterical laughter (wheezing, crying, lack of breathing overall) at least 10 times.
(63) Having the best roommates EVER. Hands down. Wow!
(64) Learned to play basic, classical guitar.
(65) Woke up to the river and mountains every day.
(66) Fell further in love with South America and its people.