As most of you might know already, I bought my flight back to Europe some time ago. Left with a couple of months of my amazing journey in South America, I decided to share them between Colombia and Venezuela, or maybe Ecuador. The distances are not as short as in Central America and I found myself running out of days, trying to get to Quito. Uncertain about it at first, I was quickly convinced that Quito was worth the 18h bus trip from Cali and the 30h bus trip back to Bogota. My initial plan didn’t include anything special in Quito, other than crossing the equator line into the Southern hemisphere.

As I reached Quito, I saw on some of the buses written in big letters “Mitad del mundo”, thinking for a good day these guys must be really cocky to consider themselves the middle of the world just for having the equator cross their city. I’ve spent my first day exploring the city. I started with a trip to the “Middle of the earth” monument located in the North side of the city, then took the cable-car to 4100m (a must do while in Quito) and then walked all the way back to my hostel (about 2h) taking some small streets, parks, and then some boulevards. At the end of the day I still didn’t find an explanation for the middle of the earth, or why this equator was so significant.

The next day I dedicated it to meeting people. I booked a place on the free walking tour around the city, which took me to the city market and the central square where a band is always playing in August, but most importantly, cast some light on the mystery of the equator. It is the only place in the world where astronomical observations could be made along the equator line, thanks to the four mountain peaks that surround the city and serve as fixed points in the sky. With this solved, I was happy to listen more about the history and the people of Ecuador. The most fascinating fact was the economical crisis of 98-99, so little written about it but so deeply carved in people’s hearts, as the moment when the country was ‘sold’ to the USA banks by a corrupt president, who is now teaching at MIT. Since that moment, Ecuador is financially dependent on USA and its currency, making it an expensive country against its peoples’ will (prices in USD, very much like in Costa Rica).

I wish I would’ve seen more than just Quito, and even this one more than 2 days, as it stretches on over 70km in this valley of only 10km wide, at an elevation of 2850m!!! That’s higher than the highest peak in Romania! But as I mentioned a few times on Facebook, the scenery South of Cali all the way to the border with Ecuador and further to Quito (as seen from the bus) is simply magnificent. I promised myself to get back to this part of the world on a decent size motorcycle to fully enjoy all these winding roads and meet more people, as they are much warmer and loving than a lot of other nationalities.

After a layover in Florida, now I am back in NC, with my friend John. I had to stop for a bit and share some stories with him before flying back to Europe on 6th of September. Not much has changed during the time I was gone – he’s still my friend, still works for AT&T, enjoys life and lives in the same forest. A lot has changed in me. I’ve learnt some valuable lessons on this trip. I learnt how to appreciate what I have and be more happy with the little things in life. Colombia taught me again how to cry, but also to be bold and stand up stronger than ever every time. The Andes gave me a reason to fight for, made me promise to come back, and I will surely hold my promise. And this was just the tip of the iceberg – can’t wait to discover all the other countries in South America. But there’s a time for fun and a time for work. My time of vacations and freedom is almost gone. My batteries are full and if I die tomorrow, I die extremely happy.

I’ll meet some friends here and there on the way to my parents in Romania, to ease in the transition back to the corporate life. Still not 100% certain, but you can find me in Prague, CZ for the next year or two, and my home is your home.

Till the next time I resume my trip and start writing here again, I hope this journey will inspire you!

— Some pictures from Ecuador —