Swinging en el Sur

My stomach dropped as I felt myself settle into the wooden tree swing, gliding out over the Andes Mountains outside of Baños, Ecuador. “Wow, I wonder how much more I could see if the earth were flat,” I thought to myself as the crisp wind whistled past my ears.

For the past four weeks I have been a mochilero, a backpacker, making my way through Colombia and Ecuador with my friend, wearing and rewearing the same sets of clothes and hiking shoes and learning about travel and native culture in each town and city we visit.

In Colombia, we began on the busy streets of Bogotá, touring the city and hiking Monserrate before taking an overnight bus to Medellín. From Medellín to the small coffee town of Salento, we hiked national parks in the Andes Mountains with elevations so high we oftentimes looked down on the clouds. From Salento to Cali, we experienced the national atmosphere during the tense, stalemate election before crossing the border into Ecuador. Through Quito to Baños, we hiked around one of the country’s active volcanos and the deafening waterfall deemed Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Caldron). From the authentic, laid-back native culture of Cuenca, to the fast-paced, modern culture of Guayaquil, we traveled north along Ecuador’s small beach towns, hiking, whale watching, and snorkeling as we went. Now, as we finish this eye-opening experience zip-lining in the quiet, pueblito of Mindo, I am excited for my new experiences in Buenos Aires and Argentina.

Almost every day over the past two weeks, I have found myself thinking of and anticipating Buenos Aires; receiving feelings similar to those I had on that swing in Baños. As I anxiously search the internet for flight advice for solo international travelers, I feel that same uneasiness in taking that first step to fly out over the Andes. Though the change in pace will be different, I look forward to Buenos Aires. I am excited to set feet on stationary ground, establishing a relationship with my host family and classmates, while becoming more comfortable with the people, culture, language, diet, and transportation.

Through stressful, unplanned circumstances abroad, I have tested my capabilities, learning the most applicable knowledge in the past four weeks than I have ever learned before. I am excited to push myself in Buenos Aires, continuing to jump out over the edge of the mountains and swing into my next journey in Argentina.

Felix Amparano is a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry, Spanish, and Biology. Felix is excited to spend six-weeks of his summer studying Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the UMKC Spanish Program. During his time abroad, Felix hopes to gain a better understanding of Argentine culture and health care with the hopes of becoming more culturally competent in his approaches to patient treatment.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.