By Lillie Ravene
This photo always makes me laugh because it takes me back to Ecuador and one of the best times of my life.
Earlier this summer, after having raised a huge, ridiculous sum of money to go on this 3 week trip, I finally went to Ecuador for 3 weeks with the most amazing group of people. We spent 8 days hiking in the Andes, a week doing a community project and a few days visiting Quito and whitewater rafting.
Having never been to Latin America, I was super excited to go and discover other people’s way of living. The first morning is still clear in my mind: we arrived at 4.00 am at our hostel in Quito, all absolutely exhausted. We were directed to our rooms and I remember dropping my 20 kilo rucksack on the ground and jumping onto my bed face first, grateful for having arrived safely. My dreaming was brief and I woke up disorientated staring at the unfamiliar ceiling, remembering that I’d just travelled over 24 hours across the world.
Our breakfast was a sweet bread, supposedly a croissant, served with a luscious peach jam and eggs for those who wanted - it only took a couple of days to realise that eggs were a staple in Ecuadorian cuisine. Light poured through the glass ceiling as a jug of homemade bitter blackberry juice was passed around the table, as we discussed our plans for the day.
“We’re going to the Teleferico”
“How do you spell Teleferico, I swear it’s with a k”
I took this photo of my friend Rosa, after hiking for 6 hours around the Quilotoa crater lake. As we reached the village of Quilotoa, our leader let us roam around as we wanted - we were free. Rosa really wanted a pair of these hippie-pyjama-stripy trousers, which she’d seen all over the markets back in Quito and so we headed to the few touristy shops in this tiny village. On our way we encountered some horses wandering through the street and stopped several times to take some pictures of someone’s washing dancing around in the wind. In the second shop we entered further along the road, she found a pair that she wanted to try on. With my non-existent Spanish, I still managed to communicate with this lovely young girl who pointed to the back of the shop
Walking timidly to the back of the shop towards the “baños”, we could hear the hissing of something in a saucepan and fast spoken Spanish coming through a sheet of material which was hung between what must have been their kitchen and the corridor. We entered the “baños” through a small door; light reflected of puddles on the floor.
“This lighting is so cool!”
I loved the green lighting so much that I took a shot of Rosa on my camera and she laughed, struggling to keep her balance on one foot.
Unfortunately, the trousers didn’t fit so we left and wandered back to our hostel. Before we reached the end of the road, this man in a car with his rolled down window shouted something at us, but as neither of us spoke Spanish we kept walking assuming what he was saying was unimportant.
The dreamy quality of this picture remind me of all the dreams I had when I was out there. It was strange because every morning I would wake up with Rosa and Izzy, another one of my friends, and we would tell each other our dreams and try and analyse them, find meaning. A memorable one was that I had got shot in the arm with glitter and I had an operation at my school at the art open evening. And the following fragments followed:
in a restaurant this dude was playing a shitty violin, in a shop I was looking for strepsils which I couldn’t find and there were oreos everywhere, my mum’s Canadian best friend gave me a big hug
Coming home from this trip, I felt with sad knowing that we would never all - there were 18 of us - travel together again. I didn’t want to leave. Though I kept thinking I am so happy I signed up to this trip. (Quite frankly, I don’t even know why I did but I’m so glad that I did!)
The 3 flights on the way back went on forever. I remember arriving in Houston and sitting for 5 hours with my friends, feeling slightly discombobulated. Taylor Swift kept playing through the tinny airport speakers and made me reminisce over my childhood, as I sang the lyrics under my breath. The waiting was broken up by queueing for a vegan raisin pretzel, which they made in front of us - it was quite cool watching them roll the pastry and shape it in haste.
About 3.5 hours later, it was the second stopover in Chicago. The airport was huge and we walked hurriedly to our gate; I stopped on the way at a little shop to buy a $10 hummus wrap, scrambling my last dollars from my stripy purse. With my spare change, I bought an apple - it was huge and really shiny, it resembled those that you see in hotels used for decoration more than anything else.
Saying goodbye to everyone was strange because we all go to the same school so we knew we’d see each other again soon but it wouldn’t quite be the same. Going from spending 24/7 with the same group of people to your family was strange. I missed waking up next to Izzy and Rosa and telling each other our dreams and playing endless card games to pass the time in a freezing cold cabin. This trip made me realise that I am in fact an extrovert, in the sense that I get energy from spending time with people, which I never knew.
I regularly catch myself smiling, as I remember random moments of the trip.