Altitude Changes Everything 

The Ecuador Journals #1

Nerves and excitement built up as the airplane’s tires lifted up from the ground. Everything hit me at that moment; for the next two months, I’d be living in a new country and speaking a different language most of the time. It didn’t matter whether or not I was ready, it was happening.


Before I got on my flight to Ecuador, I googled the country. I do this all the time before I visit any country. Typically I do it BEFORE I buy a ticket but who’s taking note?

One of the first things I noticed was that Quito, the capital city, -about 30 mins away from where I’m currently living- was 8,000 feet (3000m) above sea level. Raise your hand if these numbers mean nothing to you. A few years ago, they meant nothing to me too. So a country is at a high altitude, GREAT, moving on right? Not quite.

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Coming from Florida, which is at sea level (and slowly becoming Venice) a switch to living in Ecuador is about as drastic as it gets altitude-wise. All of a sudden, my body has to adjust to a quick decrease in oxygen, something it responds to with headaches (which I’ve had) & nausea. It’s also harder to do simple tasks like you know… walk.

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It has been a week since I arrived here, and I still can’t walk up the stairs without needing to catch a breath. I’ll admit that it’s better than the first day I got here, but the exhaustion over doing a mundane task is still prominent. So why did I go for a run of all things this week? I was testing my limits? The result of that run was a fall; which I think is Ecuador’s way of telling me I’m not ready yet.

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Pasochoa Mountain

Thankfully, drinking a lot of water, limiting my exertion and time have proven to be effective at mitigating the effects of the high altitude; which is wonderful because with all the delicious pan (bread) I’ve been eating, not working out is simply not an option. 😄

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Speaking of bread, M and I were tasked with baking goodies for our organization’s 10-year party. As if I haven’t eaten enough sweet stuff already. Apparently, the high altitude also affects the way things bake in an oven. On a regular day, this wouldn’t bother me, but since we needed to bake 100 cookies, it quickly became a problem. So sugar cookies which should take 8-10 minutes to bake, took double that time.

Lesson – When life gives you high altitude, adjust the temperature of your oven.


So far, I’ve spent this week observing and trying to listen and learn from the people & culture I’m now surrounded by. A wise lady told me to remember that I’m a visitor here. I don’t know everything, and everyone here isn’t just sitting down waiting for someone from the U.S to come and save them.

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This week in small wins 

Successfully ran a Kid’s English club: This is a short conversational class we hold on Saturdays to help the kids with their English vocabulary. It’s supposed to be a fun way to support what they learn in class, so we chatted in both English and Spanish, read a few books and played vocabulary games.

*Finished reading a book in Spanish. 

As always,

thank you for reading!

All photos shot and edited on iPhone 6S+

Same footprints, different sands


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