Tuesday, March 22, 2016

on llamas, friendship, and South America...

It has been almost a week and a half since I have been back in America, and I think that I am finally back into the swing of things! I finally got around to unpacking, doing two loads of laundry, packaging gifts, and writing this little (big) post!
This trip was my first international, non-mission trip vacation. I learned a lot about who "Kristi the International Traveler" is and about how I approach other countries on my terms. Nothing like a little international travelling to lead you to self-discovery! I went to Ecuador to visit my sweet, kindred friend Tiffany while she works for a study abroad program; she returns to America in May, so I had to make plans to visit fast! Last year, we took a road trip to Big Sur and the the California Coast, and this year I went to Quito, Ecuador... We are thinking March will be a yearly thing for our friendship. I can't wait to see what we do next year! My mind is already brainstorming through so many possibilities!

It was amazing to be able to visit her and see her life there in Quito; her community, how she loves others, her daily grind, and to experience a place that is so close to her heart and so deeply woven into God's story for her life. It's amazing that now, I can even call some of them my friends! Over ten days, we spent our time hiking through local parks, debating on whether I should get a tattoo, getting my hair cut, running around with wild llamas, getting a great tan, eating all the empanadas, drinking all the coffee, and talking about all the things.
I will always remember the empanadas de morocho from La Ronda, the dark chocolate pie and lattes from Lucia's, the not-so-Indian Indian food from a local restaurant, standing in the middle of the world, and the popcorn we ate for two hours while we waited out a thunder and lightning storm on my first day. 

My favorite adventures? The Basillica, The Parque Metropolitano, the Jardin Botanico, and Mitad De Mundo. The Parque Metropolitano is a beautiful park full of beautiful hiking trails, monuments, views of Quito, and WILD LLAMAS. Yes, you read that right. Also, did I break into the little fenced off area to hang out with said llamas? Yes, because when in Ecuador you do as the Ecuadorians do. On my last day, we drove three hours via bus and taxi to spend the day in Mitad De Mundo (The Middle of the World/ The Equator) and to a little jungle city called Mindo. We had lunch at a place called The Dragonfly Inn (just like "Gilmore Girls"!) on the river and ventured to a Mariposeria (Butterfly Garden) where we laid around in hammocks and watched the hummingbirds and butterflies fly around. It was one of the most beautiful, relaxing experiences. Another treat? The Jardin Botanico De Quito! A beautiful garden of greenhouses filled with succulents, hanging plants, tropical flowers, and cacti. We felt like we were walked through the most whimsical fairy neverland.

Here's to Quito and to many more adventures ahead!
PS: What have you been up to? Tell me about it!

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