Again, it’s time to leave a destination. With leaving, there’s always a small part of me that grows from learning about the place, culture, people, food, history, language…
In the past two years I’ve said bye to 14 different countries. And now I’m in Ecuador. Ecuador is special because it’s the only country (apart from the U.S. – home) that I’ve visited twice in the two years.
Here are 5 things I’ll miss in Cuenca, where I’ve been for 6 weeks with the goal to practice Spanish while living with an Ecuadorian family:
1. The Weather
I left New York when it was snowy and below 20 degrees Fahrenheit everyday. I traded that for Cuenca’s strange climate. Cuenca is located in the mountains (and some 2000 feet above sea level). With mountains means it can be summer, winter, spring, fall – all four seasons in the same day. However it never gets unbearably hot or cold. You can say perfect.
Tips: Bring a rain jacket/umbrella wherever you go. It may look sunny in the morning but that may change by afternoon. Oh and don’t trust your weather app. It’s wrong when it comes to Cuenca.
2. Food (Some)
I don’t consider myself a foodie but I do like to try new foods and eat just about anything.
Since this is my second visit, I was looking forward to eating plantains and bananas (Ecuador is one of the world’s biggest producers of the fruit). I did get to eat plenty of that and also my favorite jugo de mora– blackberry juice. All juices her are super fresh. I also got to learn how to cook so I can take this knowledge home with me.
Tips: I’m always cautious about eating street food when traveling. Thankfully I did not get any sickness from what I ate but I’ve met other travelers who did get sick from eating street food.
My main purpose of visiting Cuenca for the second time is to practice Spanish. I’m confident that I can speak Spanish fluently. I just didn’t practice enough to speak more fluently and expand my vocabulary even further.
I am happy to say I believe I’ve accomplished my goal. I can speak, sometimes I think in Spanish, dream in Spanish- of course it still needs perfecting but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made.
Also with language, sometimes it’s handy to know a language that isn’t spoken normally in the country. Example is English. When I walk around town and want to say something, I don’t necessarily want everyone to understand, it’s handy to speak to the person I’m talking to in English. I’ll miss that!
Tips: Even if you’re not traveling for learning the language, it’s always good to know a few words of the language. It’s nice to be able to say at least hello and goodbye to the locals.
4. Traveling in General
For now this is my last trip of my two year RTW trip. The majority of the trip was spent with my family and going to Ecuador was my first trip solo and a continuation of the two year trip. After, I plan on staying in one place for a bit (but we all know once you start traveling, you really can’t stop!!)
In a way I’ll miss the constant moving, experiences and no location type of lifestyle.
Tips: Don’t think that one lifestyle is better than another. I used to think traveling forever would be my ideal lifestyle. Until I lived that lifestyle for two years. It’s not easy. And whichever lifestyle you have, there’s always pros and cons.
5. Normal Life
My 6 weeks in Cuenca has been my first taste of “normal life” since traveling. When traveling all over the world, I didn’t get to meet many people my age, go to church every Sunday, didn’t sleep in the same bed for more than a few weeks and didn’t have a set schedule.
This time in Cuenca has been my taste of “normal life”. I’ve been staying with a family where everyone has their own schedules and I also got my own schedule. Traveling is fun but sometimes you need familiarity and a schedule. I’m thankful for that opportunity here in Cuenca.
Tips: Be thankful for every moment and new day you get to live.
All in all, 6 weeks in Cuenca Ecuador to practice Spanish has turned out to be more than a language learning experience. I’ve made new friends, learned to cook and really got to know the culture. This is my first trip solo without my family. I’m sad to be leaving but I’m also ready to go home.