From San Gabriel I cycle through amazing landscapes towards Ibarra, where I planned to stay for one night with Hamilton, a couchsurfing host. Mauricio, his flatmate welcomes me with open arms and I instantly feel at home.
Hamilton and Mauricio live the true meaning of Couchsurfing. It is not about staying somewhere for free, it is about the cultural exchange, it's about making new friends, learning new things and to return the favor one day, no matter if it is for the actual host or some other surfer.
Hamilton instantly asks, if I want to stay for two nights. Mauricio and himself are both english teacher at Yachay Tech University and the unit they are working on at the moment ist about traveling. I am hooked straight away. A day later I am sitting in front of ten students, talking about alternative ways of traveling.
Absolutely happy I leave Ibarra for a short trip to Otavalo and then Quito, where I see Mauricio again. He had invited me to stay with him and his family for the weekend. After an exhausting day of cycling I am welcomed with open arms and open hearts by his entire family.
In Ecuador it is common, that the whole family lives close by. Often they just build another story on top of the parent's house, for the next generation and their children. So there is an active coming and going at Mauricio's house and I get to meet the whole family, they all say hello and hug me straight away.
The next day Mauricio's dad and I bring my bike/little black panther to a bike shop. This time it gets a real inspection, not just an adjustment of the gears. After that he shows me some parts of Quito. In the evening we go to a Babyshower. When I walk into the small room, I am simply astonished. The room is filled with maybe 50 grownups and kids. "This is only a small part of my family!", says Mauricio. Again I am welcomed with open arms and everybody is so happy, and thank me for my visit. But it is me, who has to say thank you. No tourguide, no hostel and no "all-inclusive-trip" could ever give me, what I am about to experience
And then the games begin. For the first game, four women have to compete against each other in skulling a beer in a baby bottle. So the entertainment is real! At some point we have to check under our chairs. I check mine and find a little note that says "dramatizar" A few minutes later a baby doll is placed underneath my jumper, which I am then giving birth to. A big performance, with lots of screaming and laughter.
Atfer the games it is time to eat, I even get vegan options and I am overwhelmed by so much love that lives within the family, but also the love they give to others. And then it is time to dance. Everybody gets up, young and old, no matter, they all get on the dancefloor. Several times the dad of the mom to be hands out a cup with a shot, while the cousins are entertaining the crowd with funny jokes.
The next day we go on a trip to "Mitad del mundo", the middle of the world, where you can stand on the equator line. I am still overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity. "You have a family in ecuador now!" The amount of hospitality (in german we have the word "Gastfreundschaft", which means guest-friendship!) and love - I could cry of joy!
And then it is time for the uncomfortable part of traveling - the goodbye-part. There are tears and I am trying to find words, to say thank you. But even if I would say thank you in every language of this planet, it would not be enough. Mauricio and his entire family are what germans call "herzensgute Menschen", good-hearted people, and the weekend in Quito will forever be one of my favorite memories.