Ecuador: Llife Among Llamas

Contrary to popular belief, Living Abroad does not mean Always Being on Vacation. Here, as anywhere in the world, work and life stressors amalgamate to terrorize unassuming gringas until they precipitately purchase flights to neighboring countries.

(By the way, I wrote this about a week before I took the GRE. Hence words.)

I’ve taken full advantage of living in a beautiful, diverse and accessible country this year to explore on weekends, but it was time for a real vacation, somewhere new and untrodden, somewhere for exploring rather than revisiting. It was time for Ecuador…round 3.

Ecuador was my home for five months in 2009. I love Ecuador. Everyone should go to Ecuador. I wish I could study abroad there indefinitely. I visited in 2012 with volunteer friends and talked it up so much ahead of time that I was holding my breath for five days in case the trip bombed. It didn’t, that was one of our best vacations to date. What’s a gringa to do when she adores a place that’s conveniently only a border away? She rounds up as much of the Wolfpack as possible, and she goes back.

Natalie and I again proved that we are Professional Vacationers.

(I’m serious, we’re unnaturally good at it. In fact, if you feel like vacation just isn’t worth the packing, airport lines and overall hassle and you’d rather stay home, let us know. We’ll take it for you! (WAIT WAIT WAIT NATALIE I THINK I’M ONTO SOMETHING.))

 We convened in Quito from Bogotá and Barranquilla in various states of distress and burnout but only hours later we had arrived at our first destination, planned out our week, made hostel and flight bookings and posted up with liters of Pilsener.

Photo Aug 22, 8 07 55 PM

Because we’re professionals, everything went smoothly. We accomplished an admirable amount of activities and relaxation, socialized with each other and (shockingly) some other people, and somehow had just enough room in our bags for alpaca scarves and chocolate.


We called The Black Sheep Inn home for a few days. I wish I could call the Black Sheep home for ALL of my days. They graciously upgraded us to the coziest room of all time with a tiny woodstove, double bed and second bed in the LOFT. The Holy Grail of top bunk-lovers everywhere.

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The ultimate top bunk

The Black Sheep is an ecolodge which is a fancy way of saying they serve vegetarian meals and have compost toilets. (I can hear the echo of certain family members now – “What kind of GD hippie nonsense is a compost toilet?!”) The mini gardens in every bathroom set the bar exceedingly high for every other bathroom in history. (“Why don’t you pee outside if you want a garden in the bathroom?”)

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Bathroom garden

Everything about the BSI is perfection shrouded in wool blankets, AND there’s a field of llamas out back.


They probably don’t even appreciate this view.


Token llama


The main attraction around Chugchilán is landscapes that look like this:


So, yea, thank goodness BSI has wifi.


To be continued…