The past three weeks have been insane, between clinical, midterms, and so much traveling. Two weekends ago we went to Baños City, which is located about 4 hours from Quito. It’s probably called Baños for a reason, because 10/14 people in the group ended up sick by the end of the trip, but thankfully I was spared from the pain. Baños is located right below Volcan Tunguragua, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. We had been trying to go since we arrived in Quito, but the volcano had been in eruption alert since, so we made plans as soon as the warning was lifted before the volcano started getting angry again.
This was definitely a trip of self-discovery and pushing my own limits. Baños is known for its adventure activities, and I’ve never been one to enjoy such things. They actually terrify me. The first day, we went water-rafting, which is pretty intense for someone who can’t swim. Surprisingly, our raft didn’t tip over, so I wasn’t forced to swim, but by the end of the day, the guides took us to a bridge, about 30 meters high, where they take people to jump into the water. Some sort of evil spirit took over me, because before I knew it I was lining up to jump, (with my life-vest on, of course). When I stood up on the bridge, and realized how tall it was, I panicked; it took me about 10 minutes to finally jump. That was my first time ever swimming, and it made up for the anxiety that I had just experienced.
That same day, we decided to go puenting (bunji-jumping off a bridge). It was a repeat of the first jump. I got up on the bridge, looked 100 feet below me, and actually had a panic attack. Between the tears and the fear, I managed to look up and stare at the beauty of the city and the landscape. Although my jump wasn’t at all graceful, I felt like I could do anything by the end of it. I finally overcame my fear of swimming, and my fear of heights.
The next day, we made our way to Casa del Arbol, a little house at the very top of the city that has a swing 2600 meters above the ground. They call it the “Swing at the edge of the earth”, because you literally swing over a cliff overlooking the entire city. Although it wasn’t as challenging as the first day, the swing gave me a rush of freedom and peace like no other.
Ecuador has let me experience so many firsts thus far, but this weekend was definitely a test of my endurance and courage. And although it took several panic attacks to be able to gather up the strength to do these things, I can finally say that I feel a little stronger, and a little braver.