Study Abroad

Life in the Clouds

May 31, 2018

Lasell students in EcuadorI think I finally have the best explanation for what it is to live in Ecuador: living in the clouds. When you are quite literally, living in the clouds when you're as high in the mountains as we are, you are also floating, relaxed, taking situations as they come, and honestly not worrying when plans don't go the way you initially thought. It's a lifestyle that doesn't focus on the small troubles, but emphasizes the small pleasures. It's a perfect opportunity to look at the scenery, to enjoy the thousands of twinkling stars in the Ecuadorian sky. Don't have the proper tools for the job? That's okay, it gives you an opportunity to be creative and invent your own tools with what you have. Car doesn't run? Take the walk through the mountains to your destination, it's long, but it's beautiful and you can feel more connected to the earth. I feel like in our world back in the United States we are so busy trying to get to our destination, to make deadlines, and to do everything correctly the first time that we forget to enjoy ourselves and the world that we are in. I know it sounds cliché, but Ecuador has been a reminder that sometimes we need to slow down, that our problems are minuscule and those problems only lead to other opportunities.

Lasell students in Ecuador

Today we had a slow day, where we definitely could take the chance to enjoy the world around us. We headed to Chimborazo, and our worker friends from the farm tagged along. We didn't hike too far, because the altitude is so high that you need permits, proper equipment and training to hike the further levels of the mountain. I can't complain about not going further, because even though we took it slow I could feel my heart pounding the minute we got out of the bus because of the lack of oxygen. The views were definitely worth the headache that usually comes with these altitudes though, and the fun we had getting up, and then coming down. After we reached the first level the path was covered in snow, so getting up was a bit slick, and coming down was slicker. Instead of struggling the entire way down, one member of our group, Melissa, trudged off the trail, plopped down in the snow and slid the rest of the way down to the check point. The rest of the students, workers and our group leader Xavier followed, with laughter and screams of elated joy. Everyone made it to the end of our hike, and everyone made it down safely. Even though some of us didn't feel great, we pushed through for one of the best experiences of the trip so far (but to be fair, all of these experiences could actually pass for the best).

Lasell students in Ecuador

When we left the mountain we headed to a local hot springs for lunch and a swim. The air was very crisp, and the hot springs were a much welcome warm embrace. We spent a few hours there (it was so hard to leave after relaxing for so long) before heading back to El Sinche for our last night. All of the local children who we helped, the workers from the farm, and Professor Guzman's family came out for a send off bonfire. We witnessed a Shaman ceremony for removing bad emotions and troubled thoughts, learned another dance, did a Congo line around the fire, had fireworks, and lit and sent off lanterns with our wishes for the future. When it was over students gathered in one of our rooms and hung around, talking about the trip and what our relationships will be like after we leave here. I personally believe we have built life long friendships from this trip, and even though we are sad to leave (and don't want to go to bed because that means it's almost over) we have a lot more to look forward to at Lasell next year together.