By REBECCA WONG
Friday, July 5th, 2013
And so the journey begins! At 6:45 in the morning, our groggy-eyed group of 27 (26 girls and 1 boy – bless his soul) met up at the Toronto Pearson International Airport ready to embark on our 15 day trip to Ecuador. We checked in, got our tickets, and then checked our over-packed hiking backpacks. No suitcases on this trip for sure.
I was so excited for this trip it was getting ridiculous. Two years after I made the decision to go on this volunteer trip, it was finally happening! All my paychecks that went to pay for it were finally being used. I was way past excited. I was euphoric.
We filed through security and then waited to board our first flight to San Salvador at 10:45 am. We waved goodbye to Canada (and drinkable tap water) for the last time and settled in for the 6 hour flight. It had a ton of turbulence but the views from the plane were definitely worth it. Flying over the Gulf of Mexico and all the little islands in the crystal blue water was incredible. I’ve never seen so much bright, pure blue in my life!
We arrived in San Salvador at 2:10 pm local time – 4:10 pm Toronto time. The first thing that hit me getting off that plane was the heat. Man it was hot! Luckily the airport was (somewhat) air conditioned. The other thing that hit me was the smell. I can’t really explain it because I couldn’t put my finger on what I was smelling anyway, but it was just so exotic! A thick, hot scent of food, fruits and sweaty travellers. It hit me that we were really in South America. We weren’t in Kansas anymore (or Canada, in our case)! There was no turning back.
After sitting on the floor of the airport for probably half an hour, we caught our second flight to Lima, Peru at 3:10 pm and got to experience the most beautiful sunset, just as we were landing. Then, once we were in Peru, we caught our last flight to Quito at 10 pm. By the time we arrived in Ecuador, it was 12:30 am and we were tired.
The last plane ride was the worst that most of us had ever been on. There was turbulence the entire flight and people were slowly starting to get hit hard by altitude sickness. Getting to our hotel at 3 am didn’t really help either. But what’s an adventure without some misadventures, right? Luckily for me, I wasn’t sick at all, but one of my roommates was not having a great time at that point. With all the vomiting, nausea and tears flowing like the Nile, I tried to help my roommate feel more comfortable but there wasn’t really much I could do to relieve altitude sickness. From what the travel doctor (who by the way, I owe after this trip) told us, your body just has to adjust, unfortunately. Boy, did I feel bad for her…
But at least our day of travel was over. And we were in Ecuador! Finally! I wasn’t going to let jet lag and fatigue bring me down. I was way too ready to see the country for that!
Lesson of the day: You just have to roll with it. No matter what the hour, conditions, or situation is, you can’t think about what it could be or how bad it is (though it probably ran through my mind more than it should have). You just have to adapt and roll with the punches. It was one of the most valuable lessons I took from this trip.