After about 8 hours of travel, with an hour layover in Panama City, I finally arrived at my host family’s house in Quito’s south side. I was welcomed with open arms by my host mom, Monica, her son, Paul, and two dogs, Bailey’s and Mia. I made it just in time for dinner, where I met the other students and was invited to spend the next day with my host family at Papallacta, a spa about an hour drive away.
The next day, I woke up early and went to Papallacta with my host family and another student staying at the house. We drove through the mountains and saw the change in flora and fauna. It felt like I was at a completely different country at times. Once we got to higher altitudes, there was so much fog that we could not see the car in front of us. We drove slowly and the fog finally went away.
Instead of going straight to the spa, we stopped by Guango Lodge, which was a house turned reserve for hummingbirds. I had never seen so many hummingbirds in my life. I was able to stand just a few feet away from the birds. It was an incredible experience!
Afterwards, we went to Papallacta, which is a spa that has natural hot springs that are heated by the nearby volcanoes. We ate trout, which is a common dish in Ecuador, and hopped into the heated pools. There were jets and water sprouts that helped to relax and message the body. My host grandma told me about how many people used these hot springs for medicinal purposes, usually to equalize blood pressure and to loosen tense muscles. It was exactly what I needed after a day of traveling.