“During these last three months I´ve felt more emotions than I have ever felt before. I felt inner peace, admiration, loneliness, hope, thankfulness, self-confidence and love, but most of all I felt joy. Both my colleagues and people I met during these months gave me so much joy and made me feel so welcome and at ease, which, believe me, you need when you go on an adventure like this. Looking back I´ve seen so many astonishing, breathtaking things. Unfortunately I can´t write about all of them because that would change this short story in an 80 page essay. Therefor I picked one of the most life changing moments I went through with my dear friend Saskia while being here. I would like to tell you about our trip to Casa del Arbol.
Casa del Arbol is a tree house with a swing on the edge of a mountain close to Baños. The altitude of this mountain is about 2660 meters. Thankfully we were already at a 1700 meter altitude in Baños, which made the difference a bit less. We heard the view from the swing was breathtaking so decided to go check it out. Those of you who have been to Casa del Arbol might have had the same brilliant idea as we did: we decided to hike.
We read that the total hike was about 10 km from our starting point. Considering the fact that we´re both young and fit we considered ourselves able to do this without a doubt. Of course we knew that those 10 km were uphill but we were sure we could do it within maybe 2 hours.
It was an adventure to never forget. It started when, after hiking uphill for two hours already, we bumped into two dogs. Normally I love dogs, as many Dutch people would say: I´m a dog-person. Never the less these dogs were another story. One was barking so I told Sas the Dutch saying “barking dogs don´t bite” (blaffende honden bijten niet). The other one unfortunately wasn´t barking at all, instead it had put his ears flat on its head and it was showing us how sharp and big his teeth were. Tough as I am I told Sas they wouldn´t hurt us if we would just keep our head up and walk past them on a normal tempo. Don´t show any fear. I didn´t believe a word I was telling Sas but I couldn´t show I was actually shitting my pants of course, being a dog-person and all!
After we had shown the dogs we were way tougher than they were, we continued our hike. Relieved as we felt we walked for about 30 minutes more. In the meanwhile our feet started to hurt and our water and chifles were finished. To make it even more of an adventure it started to rain. But of course that couldn´t stop us. It took us about 3,5 hours of walking on a fast tempo uphill, but we made it. Reaching the top, with blisters on our feet, soaked because of the rain, hungry and thirsty as hell, I never felt so proud of myself. And the empanada de viento never tasted so good.
This and many other moments I went through, positively changed me and made me happier with myself than I´ve even been before. But now it´s time to go back home, time to go back to the real life. I want to thank everybody who made me feel loved, I will never forget you.”