Quilotoa, Ecuador: 13,000 feet above sea level. Apart from the bitter cold (who knew it could be cold on the equator?), the town consisted of 100 residents, a couple of hostels, and one of the most spectacular views on the planet. When I first climbed the crest and peered down into the crater, all I saw was a dense cover of clouds. Within minutes, the clouds evaporated to expose a 2-mile wide crater lake, as if it appeared out of the sky. I felt so isolated and at one with the world, in the Andes mountains 4,000 miles from home.
This is only one of the multitude of mental images from Ecuador that I will always keep with me. Everywhere I turned, from cloud forests to the Galapagos to the Amazon rainforest, I was surrounded by a natural beauty unsurpassed by anything I’ve ever seen. These experiences will always remind me of the diversity of beauty in this world, and will never allow me to settle and stop exploring this rich planet.