Study Abroad

Chao Pacha Mama

May 20, 2018

Quilotoa lagoonI think one of the most notable aspects of Ecuador so far has been its beauty. Today our service leader, Xavier took us to Quilotoa to hike the crater of one of the largest volcanoes in the world. The volcano is no longer active, and a lagoon has taken the place of lava at the center. We came in from the top of the crater, and were able to view the entirety of the crater from a viewing balcony before starting our trek down to the lagoon. I believe from what I was able to translate from the signage posted before the hike that from the entrance at the top of the crater to the lagoon, we hiked about 1,000 or so feet both ways. It was a little treacherous because the paths were all sand and loose rocks, making for a few amusing stumbles and slides along the way.

The view at the lagoon was somehow even more spectacular than that at the top, and to add to the experience was the kayak rental that the locals ran. While some students hung around on the beach, played with the stray dogs and relaxed, another handful of us took kayaks out onto the lagoon. I honestly don't think I will ever be able to forget the surreal experience of kayaking in the crater of a volcano. The water was like glass, and the sun peaked through the clouds just enough to light up the tips of the mountains to make the entire scene glow. It was absolutely incredible, and nothing I could have imagined being able to partake in. It was definitely worth the near 90 degree trek back up to the top, despite the difficulty.

Quilotoa lagoonEven for those of us who struggled with the hike (which was basically everyone, considering the altitude and steepness) we were able to lean on each other and offer support and help. I think this was another great bonding experience for our group, it showed just how caring everyone is, and how even though we still don't know each other well we look out for each other. Of course, I think this also has to do with what Xavier keeps telling us about living like an Ecuadorian and understanding the deeper connection with "Pacha Mama" or Mother Earth. I think this kind of life style breeds a lot more selflessness and encourages deeper human connections and empathy. I am excited to see how much more this trip brings us together, and separates us from our prior perspectives on how we should be living our lives.