One of the questions we ask our volunteers to think about is how much time do they want to spend volunteering versus how much time do they want to spend traveling while in their host country. The great part about volunteering is that most projects give you a few days off a week, giving you the perfect opportunity to see more of the country.
Ecuador is an easy and diverse place for traveling. You can hop on a bus and find yourself in a new region of the country in a couple hours (since Ecuador has the Andes mountains, the Amazon Jungle, the Pacific Coast, and the Galapagos).
Here are some of our own 'in between moments' captured while in Ecuador.
1. Resting up in the middle of a hike, we found a couple moments above the tree line to enjoy the mountain-filled view.
2. The clouded forest in the mountains looks like something from Lord of the Rings. Vegetation tends to climb higher on trees in search of light and water.
3. This is cattle country. The Andes region isn't the easiest place for a vegetarian, despite the abundance of fruits and vegetables.
4. The weekend fruit market will introduce you to new sights and smells as locals sell their own produce.
5. Guinea pig is a delicacy in the Sierra (mountains). Despite the fact it never tickled my fancy, people flocked to lick the bones clean of these guys.
6. Kids are the same everywhere.
7. Unexpectedly, we arrived into a town in the middle of a festival. Music and beer flowed as masked dancers and horse-riders marched down the main street.
8. I never got a chance to taste it, but I wonder if it's similar to the carmel apples we love to eat during apple season here in midwest America.
9. I made my partner stop the car so I could run out a grab a picture of this guy. No idea where he was going, but I would have followed him if we hadn't somewhere to be.
10. This is the place where the low-laying jungle meets the mountains providing ever more postcard opportunities.
11. You could hear nothing but the roar of falling water at the bottom of the waterfall. Nature sure is intimidating.
12. Early morning mist clouded my camera lens on our way to watch green Amazonian parrots eat clay after the night rains.
13. Can we get kindergarteners to behave this way? Wildlife spotting in the Amazon is awesome.
14. Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world. They're pretty good swimmers too.
15. Contrary to popular belief, spotting wildlife in the Amazon is extraordinarily difficult. Someone on my boat spotted this guy and his family as high in the trees. Their sheer strength scared you into keeping a respectable distance from their family.
16. Our local guide showed us how to blow darts. He hit it every time. Our own record wasn't that fantastic.
17. The chicken wandered into my line of fire, but I promise you- no harm came to that bird.
18. Our guide shows us a palm locals use in construction and everyday folk art.
19. Here he is weaving it. Costumes, walls, and mats are all constructed from this versatile and strong plant.
20. Local fisherman return from a morning at sea with hundreds of scavenging gulls and vultures waiting for a free meal.
21. These guys cost $15 a pop. I would of bought both, but being on a motorcycle adventure negated the chance of being able to feast on those crabs that night. No worries, there was ceviche and langostinos on the menu.
22. If you don't have a sense of humor, skip the next photo. If you do, this is at the center of the world. We found ourselves at a park where you can stand on both sides of the equator at the same time (and naturally took the obligatory tourist photos with half of our bodies spread out on each hemisphere).
23. Humans are the same everywhere. We literally cannot help but to inscribe our ever-fleeting love into mountain walls.
24. Noting beats how a setting sun plays with shadows on a mountainous landscape. No minute is the same as the last. Back to volunteering tomorrow.