Remote Year Ohana Month 11 - Ecuador and Bogota

This feels like a continuation of the last post because Month 10 and 11 seem like one big month where it was lots of side trips on my own for a combination of personal and professional reasons and only spending half of the month with Remote Year Ohana each month. Month 11 started with an early morning flight from Medellin to Bogota with the Ohana group and then I took another flight in the evening on my own to Ecuador.

Dec 29th - Jan 3rd: Ecuador the 2nd time

I went to Ecuador the second time upon an invitation from my friend Sebastian that I had met in Lima. He is from Ecuador and was back home for the holidays with his family. I had such a different experience this time seeing the country from the eyes of a local and being able to drive out of the city. The first time I was there on my own I liked Quito but this time I saw the amazing beauty of the rest of the country. However, I know there is still a lot more to see especially the Galapagos Islands which I hear is supposed to be absolutely amazing.

Day 1: On the first day we went with one of Sebastian's cousins and family to Ecuador's second tallest active volcano Cotopaxi. We didn’t have time to hike but just seeing it from the bottom was already really stunning.

We then drove on to Quilotoa, which was my favorite of the trip. It is another volcano. Its last eruption was 800 years ago and left a beautiful caldera (crater lake). It reminded me a lot of the crater lake in Mount Rinjani that I hiked up 5 years ago, which to this day is still the toughest hike I had ever done. To get to it we had to hike for a day, camp, and then wake up the next morning at 2am to get to the top to see the sunrise. Whereas for Quilotoa we drove right up to the lake. I was so amazed to see such a beautiful view having exerted so little physical effort, which in a way amazed me even more.

We stayed up there for a long time and I couldn't contain my my joy and admiration for seeing such spectacular natural beauty.

We then drove on to another town Banos and stayed there overnight so we could go to a waterfall, Pailon del Diablo, the next day. Banos is a cute little town, in the evening we walked on the main square and had dinner at a low-key French restaurant and had unexpectedly really good food.

Day 2: The next morning we walked around town a bit more before heading to the waterfall.

The drive to Pailon del Diablo through mountainous roads was really beautiful.

Pailon del Diablo is a huge waterfall, the views are super impressive.

We also went through a really narrow cave to get closer to the waterfall which was quite an adventure.

On the drive back to Quito we passed by a beautiful lagoon, Laguna del Yamobo.

Once we got back to Quit it was getting close to New Year's Eve and Sebastian's family had a party. I was so glad I got to attend a traditional Ecuadorian family party which had some delicious home-cooked food and drinks. Just before the count down the whole family changed into costumes and had a competition for a few prizes including the silliest story of the year and best and most original costumes.

After the countdown we did our own fireworks in the garden and lit up lanterns that we flew into the sky. Following these festivities was a lot of dancing. That was a fabulous way to welcome 2019.

Day 3: On New Year's Day we went up with the cable car to the Teleferico for a gorgeous view of the city at 4000 meters.

The sunset on top of Teleferico with the mountains in the back drop was out of this world.

Day 4: The next day we went to the equator line, Mitad del Mundo, and I got to straddle on both side of the equator which was pretty cool.

Getting on top of the monument, we also got a great view of Quito.

In the evening we went on top of the El Panecillo in the middle of Quito for a beautiful night view of the city.

The Virgin of Quito, La Virgen de Quito, is extra beautiful at night.

During my second trip to Ecuador I was able to get to know and appreciate the country so much more and I'm very grateful to Sebastian to have given me this opportunity.

January 3-15: Bogota

After getting back to Bogota I spent a lot of time working and getting ready for my first transformation retreat in Peru. I loved the work space we had that month at WeWork. It was our first time working at a WeWork and I finally got to see why they are doing so well globally. It truly is a beautiful space. My favorite was the 9th floor common area which is where I worked from all the time.

Luckily I also managed to do a few fun things in between, such as having fabulous brunch at the Click Clack Hotel.

A traditional Macedonian Christmas dinner prepared by our program leader Danche who is from there. Macedonia follows the Orthodox calendar and its Christmas falls on January 7.

I also had a lovely lunch of the traditional Colombian dish, Ajiaco, at our city manager's home.

One of our track events was a tour of a flower and food market.

Our guide took us through the market and gave us lots of traditional Colombian pastries and fruits to try.

Later that day Susanna and walked through the lovely neighborhood of La Candelaria.

On the walk back we got my favorite Colombian street food, Arepa. My love for it started in Medellin and continued in Bogota.

My favorite event of the month was the full day track of hiking and caving in Suesca.

We walked for about an hour and half in beautiful nature before we got to the cave.

Crawling around in the cave trying not to fall into the water was pretty tough but really fun and a great workout!

After just 2 weeks in Bogota I stepped on a plane again, this time back to Lima and then to Iquitos to do my retreat in the jungle. That was one of the milestones during my Remote Year which I'll write about in my next blog. Bogota was a short stay but I liked it. It's a big metropolitan city, with a slightly similar vibe to Lima. It feels well developed, with lot of businesses, I could even see myself living there. The only thing it doesn't have is the the beautiful water front of Lima.

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