07 august 2007
New York, NY
To a few of the people who made this adventure as amazing as it was...
To Eugenio and Geovanny Cordova, brothers and founders of theInstituto Superior de Espanol in Quito, as well as my fabulous teachers, Maria Elisabeth and Paula. Eugenio was the first person I met in South America. He picked me up from the airport at 11:30 at night, and made me feel very welcome. In 1988, the school was one of the first to open in Quito, which has now become the capital of Spanish language study in South America. The school is run with the utmost professionalism, and the teachers are well trained and qualified, and know what they are doing! In addition, Geovanny always had excursions around the city and around Ecuador planned and ready to go for anyone who desired. My hands down recommendation for anyone seeking a great travel/study experience!
To Luigina Fossati, the sweet Italian lady who runs Hostal Casapaxi in Quito. For her motherly hospitality - always making sure her guests were safe and well and had everything they needed. When I told her I had studied Italian in college, she proceeded to speak to me in Italian from thereon out, which thoroughly confused me in my attempt to study Spanish at the time!
Lucho Hurtado works a late night in the Incas del Peru office
To Lucho Hurtado, brainchild behind Incas del Peru in Huancayo, adventure leader, entrepreneur, community organizer, visionary, "teacher of life," ...this man never stops! In addition to running two restaurants, an inn, and organizing treks, courses, and excursions, Lucho has led the drive to revive train service on the historic Central Andean line, organizes programs to help children in Huancayo's orphanages, and leads efforts to open his community to the world, following the difficult decades of war and terrorism in the Central Andean region.
To Margarita for teaching me how to weave in five days! I have no doubt she's reading this right now on her laptop. Even when she grew impatient with me and cursed in Quechua, I had a blast!
To Nilda at La Casa de la Abuela in Huancayo. For all the incredible home-cooked meals and warm hospitality, and for cooking me eggs every morning, since I couldn't eat pan. And to her 4-year old nino, the two cats, the dirty, shaggy dog, and the talking parrot who ate my sunscreen lotion, for making the ambiance lively!
To the kids at Aldea Infantil el Rosario orphanage in Huancayo for opening up their world to me for an afternoon, and to the people at Fundacion por Los Ninos del Peru who look after them.
To my guides, Pedro at the Quilatoa Lagoon in Ecuador,Dennis at Yarina Lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and to Davidand Gladys from Peru Treks, who took special care to look after me while I was sick on the Inca Trail, as well as a huge thanks to the chaskes (porters), who helped carry my load on the Trail. If you hike the Inca Trail, Peru Treks comes highly recommended, not only for the excellence and professionalism of their service, but for their exceptional attention to the
welfare of their porters, and for the community projects they are involved with in the towns from which their porters are hired.
To Carol LeBreck and Judith Freund at the Global Links Global Educators Program, who understand the value of incorporating global learning and teaching experiences such as this into school curricula.
To the many fellow travelers who shared time and experiences with me on the trail. Even though I traveled solo, I was almost never alone! Thanks for the companionship and camaraderie along the way. And of course, to all the Ecuadorians and Peruvians whose warmth and hospitality were extraordinary. All the dire warnings of crime and danger proved wrong - at least in my experience. Don't be afraid to travel to this wonderful part of the world. Keep your wits about you, as you would almost anywhere, and you will experience nothing but a warm and enthusiastic welcome!