With a group of four friends spending our summer in Ecuador, we had the idea of taking a road trip in search of an unforgettable memory.
We were exhausted from our routine modern lifestyles, and with time, our bodies asked us for a break. My friends and I share the vision that in today’s society, we are always thinking about where to have a drink with friends, how to fit in, or where the next party is going to be. However, we don’t take time to think about what actually matters in life. We do not delve into our mistakes, successes, friends, or problems. We leave behind so many memories; memories that we would have wanted to last forever.
When planning vacations, a place with a comfortable bed, amazing views, and some great food usually does it. But we wanted to do something different; we didn’t look for a break with many amenities. We actually wanted to get rid of these everyday things that invade our lives, leaving behind all comfort to enjoy what we meant to enjoy: life itself. Instead of a comfortable vacation, we gave our best to plan an adventure.
We decided to use the money that we would normally spend on four nights of partying on a seven-day road trip through our home country: Ecuador. We knew that it was going to be demanding, that we would not sleep on comfortable beds and would not have gourmet meals. It would be a trip only with the essentials; a trip in which our priority would be to live an adventure through the beautiful corners of Ecuador that we have never visited. Above all, we were looking for a trip that would leave lifelong memories embedded in our hearts.
For us, there was no better place to live this experience than the roads of our country. Many Ecuadorians travel to other countries looking for paradises that we have a few hours away by car. Sure, Ecuador is a small country, but it’s one of the most biodiverse in the world, with a prolific population of plants and animals. In a matter of hours, you can get from the rainforest to the heights of the Andes, and then down to the Pacific Coast, while contemplating an endless succession of natural landscapes. That is exactly what we did.
Our tiredness of the modern lifestyle and our desire for adventure were not our only motivations, so was our love for photography and nature. We not only wanted to visit the beautiful landscapes of Ecuador, but we also wanted to immortalize them through photography from the best possible perspectives. The attempt to always find the best possible view to capture the places we visited, was often transformed into a blessing that left us perplexed. It was too cold or too risky many times, but it was worth it!
It's always complicated to summarize an experience with so many different feelings, but I’ll try to describe most of the places we visited. On our road trip, we went from Guayaquil, a coastal city where we live, to the heights of the Chimborazo Volcano, where we climbed to the third shelter at more than 5,100 meters above sea level. We then went to Baños, a city that is also located in the heights of the Andes, but the coldness decreased a lot. In the city of Baños, we followed the route of the waterfalls, where the famous “Pailón del Diablo” is. We also went rafting down the Pastaza River, which was one of the highlights of our trip.
After Baños, we went to the city of Puyo, in the east of the country, where we entered the jungle, visited the “Hola Vida” waterfall, and experienced how the different plants within the zone can help the human body. Continuing to the east, we arrived at Tena, where we visited the blue lagoon, a natural pool with crystal clear waters surrounded by small waterfalls.
Then, as we left the east, we went back up the mountain into the city of Papallacta, where the cold returned, but we took advantage of it and entered to the thermal waters, which are pools filled with volcanic water. On our last day, we visited the Cotopaxi volcano, where we ascended to the second shelter, reaching an altitude of 4,864 meters above sea level.
I believe our ambition took us not only to the best places in the cities we visited but also to many of the best spots in them, where we enjoyed amazing views. The moments were truly unforgettable. The clouds seemed to clear the skies in every city we went to for us to enjoy the views. The only cloudy day was the last one; however, when it seemed that we were leaving the Cotopaxi Volcano without enjoying the view, the clouds cleared the way. Enjoying the Cotopaxi volcano with a rainbow by its side was a truly breathtaking experience. We were looking at something dazzling. That was the moment I knew I had found the memory I wanted: the kind that lasts forever.
The sensations at the end of the trip were a mixture of tiredness, satisfaction, and sadness. An adventure that we wanted to continue ended. This road trip helped me understand that photography is not just a hobby for me, it is a passion that gives me more happiness than anything else. Noticing that photography and traveling give me so much satisfaction made me rethink my future as a designer. I would not abandon the career now because in a certain way photography and design are related, but now I have an idea of what I want to do for the rest of my life.
An experience in which you get rid of technology and all the amenities can often show us a face of us that we are not used to, but that perhaps teaches us where our happiness resides. When we get rid of cell phones and televisions, we realize what really matters. It is almost impossible to give your mind a break with the amount of distractions that exist today, and without that break you can lose a memorable piece of life. Find yours!
My name is Santiago Accini, I’m a 22 years old student of Design at the University of Navarre. I was a student of architecture during my first two years of college, but after my passion for interior design and photography developed, I was more interested in fulfilling the spaces that
architecture creates. I believe in real pictures that tell stories; in photography that only needs edits to highlight tones. I believe that traveling and curiosity takes you to places where we can learn more about ourselves and the world.
Text: Santiago Accini
Photos: Santiago Accini
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