A "Pausa" in Ecuador

By Norie Quintos, founder of Norie Quintos Media, and editor-at-large, National Geographic Traveler

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At 11 A.M. every day at my Spanish-language school there was a "pausa," a half-time break for bread, coffee, and conversation.  

I was on a bit of a break myself. Six months before, I was in Ecuador for a conference and there I realized I could fulfill a longtime personal dream of mine to take a monthlong Spanish immersion class. I always thought I’d do it in Spain when I retired, years away, but it hit me: There are dozens of reasonably priced Spanish language schools in Quito; the time zone is essentially the same as mine in Washington, DC (meaning I could work at least part time); and I already had several friends who lived there.  

My trip (it ended up being a month and a half) was a distillation of everything I believe in and have learned about travel as a journalist, speaker, and content consultant: slowing it down, learning a language, allowing the culture and nature and stories to seep in and change you, and connecting to people with abrazos and besos and cafecitos more than likes or links. And doing it all in a way that respects and sustains and creates a positive ripple.  

Now that I'm back I see that the trip was transformational not in a radical sell-everything-and-move kind of way but it set off reverberations that have yet to fully reveal themselves. All I know is that I’m seeing differently and thinking differently.  

And oh, sí, claro, mi español es mucho mejor.  

kelsey bumsted