After two plus years in Guyana, I´m finally seeing some other South American countries. We left Guyana on April 28th, spending almost 24 hours straight traveling to the northeastern part of Panama for a week-long stay in a beach house in Bocas Del Toros. It was fantastic. There were six of us from my Peace Corps group doing this. We lounged around, ate great food, swam in clear blue waters, saw dolphins play, drank great wine, and generally decompressed after Peace Corps. It was exactly what we needed.
Then we spent about two days in Panama City. It´s an interesting city - very big and developed. But not very touristy. We stayed in Old Town, which was still a bit run-down in parts. But the two days were fun. We had to go to the Peace Corps Panama office to pick something up, so we met the Country Director and saw what a much larger operation they run there (Guyana has around 31 volunteers right now, whereas Panama has about 150). We also went to a mall, which gave me a bit of culture shock. At the food court, it took me about fifteen minutes of walking around in circles before I finally decided what to eat. But also did some of the touristy stuff. We went to the Panama Canal, which was cool. Not only did we see a huge tanker go through (very cool), but we also saw the Black Pearl from the movie ¨Pirates of the Caribbean¨go through! Very random. Anyways, Panama was cool.
Then, about four days ago, we flew down to Quito, Ecaudor. Quito is beautiful, set in between mountains at over 9,000 feet. We were definitely feeling the altitude after two years living about five feet below
sea level in Guyana. We stayed in Old Town, which was much nicer and safe than the one in Panama City. There were lots of churches, plazas, shops, and people around. After two days of that, we came down here to Baños. Baños is a outdoor mecca, nestled in a green valley with towering mountains on each side. It definitely caters to foreign and Ecuadorian tourists, with lots of places offering biking, climbing, hiking, rafting, jungle tours, and many other adrenaline options. It´s been a lot of fun so far.
Anyways, traveling has been great. We´ve been eating great food, seeing cool places, and soaking up different cultures. I must say, most of us are not thinking too much about Guyana right now. It´s not that we don´t like that place, but right now I think we´re ready for somewhere new. Just a bit of a vacation after Peace Corps and before the re-introduction to America.