Surviving the Andes by Bethany Scott

I finally did it! I spent the night camping in the Andes mountains. The experience of camping in the Andes mountains was both rewarding and hilarious at the same time. The hilarious part is because my dad likes to joke with me (because of all the traveling that I have done this year) that in ten years I will probably be riding alpacas in the Himalayan mountains. Well, guess what dad?! No, I was not riding alpacas nor was in the Himalayan mountains, however I camped in the Andes mountains and I saw lots of alpacas. Basically, the same thing, right?

My fellow classmates and I spent the day hiking at Cajas National Park located just outside of Cuenca. Cajas National Park includes more than 800 lakes. I witnessed some of the most beautiful sites that I have ever seen. We hiked through mountains, streams, and a forest that looked very similar to the forest in Twilight. After hiking, we pitched our tents and spent the rest of the day fishing. Besides thinking that when I woke up after sleeping in the tent my feet may be black from severe frostbite, it was one of the best days I have had yet in Ecuador.

The second experience that I would like to share is my reaction after my first football game. Football is one of South America’s favorite pasttimes. America’s NFL is South America’s professional football. Little did we know walking into the stadium, we were about to sit in the craziest section of the entire stadium known as “Cronica Roja”. Cronica Roja is the name of Cuenca’s most dedicated fans. About ten minutes before the game started, we noticed three men start climbing the fences of the soccer game. Not only did the fans climb the fences, but they actually climbed into the stadium for a while to cheer on the fans. The men on top of the fances started hanging streamers; and passed out rolls of receipt paper to everyone in the section. As soon as the team officially walked out onto the field, all pandamonium broke lose: fire extinguishers filled with red gas started erupting, red flares were lit, receipt rolls were thrown as streamers, and the singing began. Like the little engine that could, we tried our best to stay standing in the Cronica Roja section; however a polite gentleman advised that it was only going to get crazier and not a safe place for gringos. Although we had to move sections, it was still a great experience. Attending a game in the United States vs. a game in South America, could not be any different :). Now that midterms are over (I can’t believe we have almost reached the halfway point of our trip), we are heading to the coast and Guayaquil for a week of no classes and relaxation.

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