Ben Weaver


Ben Weaver

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 30th 2020

Looking back at my experience in Ecuador as a whole, one of the things that stands out to me the most is the hospitality we experienced. Obviously the first brush we had with hospitality here was with our host families in Quito. They treated us just like their own children. They took time to ask how we enjoyed our day and we spent a lot of time at meals just learning about each other and just being present together. It will be a long time before I forget how it felt to sit down to dinner with some bread and cheese, laughing and joking. They even offered their house for the future if either Matt or I come back to Ecuador. Their openness and acceptance made it so fun to be a part of Quito for ... read more
A Welcoming Environment

South America » Ecuador » East » Misahualli January 30th 2020

Throughout this last week, we’ve been in and out of different parts of the Amazon rainforest and the highlands of Ecuador. One common thing that I’ve noticed on the side of the road is a type of sign that says something along the lines of “Water is life, don’t contaminate it” (written in Spanish, clearly). In the United States, I may have seen billboards that say something like this, put up by private organizations or nonprofits, but it’s very rare to see a sign like this put out by the government. The closest thing we have to this are the signs that state a fine for littering. I found this interesting for a few reasons. The first is that the Ecuadorian government is putting more time into making sure that the environment is protected, which I ... read more

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Baños January 25th 2020

Today we spent the whole day in Baños, which was a really fun experience. After spending the last two weeks in one location, it was nice to take a break and have some freedom to explore a new environment. This morning, five of us hiked up a mountain 2000 ft. to overlook the city. It was definitely a bit more than we bargained for, and we ended up going nine miles by the end of the hike, but it was really fun to bond within our group and to hike in the jungle. In the afternoon, the entire class went on a bus tour of various waterfalls and we hiked down to one waterfall called ‘El Diablo.’ I’ve hiked to several large waterfalls in my life, and just like all the others, this one was unique ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 23rd 2020

Today was one of the most whirlwind days that I think I’ve ever had, full of such different experiences. I woke up early and went to a group salsa/fitness class and ended up being called to the front to help lead. Then Matt and I went to the botanical gardens nearby and saw a really cool bonsai garden. I had some Ecuadorian ceviche and fried squid for lunch. And finally, we went to a chocolate tasting session at Pacari chocolates. It was definitely one of my best days on the trip so far. I want to talk a little more about Pacari chocolate, somewhat because I like chocolate, but also because I really appreciate their business model and I think it fits a very Ecuadorian mindset. They are less than 20 years old, but have already ... read more
Us Messiah People and Our Dance Instructor

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 19th 2020

Because we spent so much time in Otavalo, I decided that I had more things to talk about. Aside from their absolutely fantastic peanut ice cream and empanadas (both of which cost a dollar), there were some fantastic deals to be had in the market in Otavalo. One thing that's very different than I'm used to, though, was the way that they expected you to barter with them. In the U.S, one of the most aggravating things for me as a consumer is when prices aren't listed, since I like to take a little time to think about the cost without the seller being involved. As you might expect, the fact that no one in Otavalo listed prices, combined with the fact that they wanted you to make decisions on the spot was a little worrying ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 18th 2020

I very much enjoyed the time we spent as a group in Otavalo. It was fantastic to be able to see such a different way of life, and only an hour or so from Quito. By far though, my favorite part of the excursion was being able to relate to them in our interactions. In general, at the various stands I purchased items at, I could tell that they knew I was from either Europe or the U.S. At one stand in particular, I struck up a conversation after my purchase of a Quena (a flute/recorder hybrid instrument), and he asked me where I was from, inferring that he knew I wasn't from around here. He was very kind though, he complemented my Spanish speaking and I'm sure he talked a little slower so that I ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 15th 2020

The culture is so different here in Ecuador, and although I'm not surprised that there are differences, it is still surprising to see certain differences. The past few days have been very interesting on a relational level, especially between Matt and I and our host family. The main difference here in Ecuador is what they call "Machismo," which is really just the existence of a very patriarchal society. At least in our household, Fernando is to be respected and can basically do what he wants. He spoils the grandchildren, he chooses food that he wants to eat, and has the choice to buy what he wants to. The women are forced to live their lives and account for what he is doing, rather than working together or reaching compromise. In the morning session today (survival Spanish), ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 12th 2020

Last night after a very late lunch (because the dogs ran away and they had a faucet leak! A bit crazy), Fernando took us to the more historical part of the city. During the drive, he talked pretty much the whole time about the city's history and about the different historical sites we drove by. We got to see El Panecillo, which has fantastic lighting at night and offers fantastic views of Quito. The base of the statue is a museum also, which shows the largest churches in the historical district and also the construction process of the statue. Matt and I had a great time taking photos and listening to Fernando, who always seems to have something to say. It was very interesting to relate with Fernando during this outing. While he was talking, I ... read more
Quito at Night

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 10th 2020

Although Matt and I have only been with our host family for about twelve hours, and about nine of those were spent in bed, I thought I’d share a few impressions I’ve had. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the interactions that I’ve had with the host thus far. Fernando and Ximena seemed a little awkward at 2:30 AM, but I think that was a poor first interaction because this morning has been much more interesting. At lunch, we had conversation with Fernando about a variety of things and got to try a few new things as well. Ximena was out this morning but came in towards the end of lunch and was very warm and welcoming to us both. I mentioned that we tried a few things at lunch. A few highlights of the morning so far: ... read more

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