I traveled with Dr. Stacey Lambert, Director of the Latino Mental Health Program, to Guayaquil, Ecuador on Friday, July 27th and returned to the US on Tuesday, July 31st. It was a very short trip, but full of experiences that we will never forget. We arrived in Ecuador at 10 pm that Friday, and were greeted by Don Enrique and Doña Marta Lucero, Dr. Cynthia Lucero's parents, and by Don Johnny and Doña Carla Gonzalez. Johnny is the General Director of the Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano in Guayaquil, and he is the person who coordinates our students' experiences in their second year immersion in Ecuador.
TRIP TO CUENCA
Saturday morning we went on a car trip to Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, with over half a million habitants. It is over 7,000 feet above sea level, and it takes between 3 and 4 hours of driving up a windy road through the mountains to get there.On our way, we passed through El Cajas National Park, which has beautiful views and many lakes in the mountains.
Pictures don’t make justice to the magnificent mountains and vegetation of that area. The temperature dropped considerably (hint: do not wear shorts if you are going there!). During our stay in Cuenca we visited a number of sites, including a hat factory where people make hats by hand, several churches including the old and the new cathedrals, and several markets, where we appreciated the hand made clothing and other items made by the indigenous people of the area. During the trip we were able to see differences in climate, housing, and clothing between Cuenca and Guayaquil, which is on the coast. Everyone was friendly and eager to help. We returned on Sunday afternoon to get ready for a long day on Monday.