American Airlines to Miami

Eight Days of Ecuador…Day 1


By Sheri Oneal

Eight Days of Ecuador…Photography Travel Abroad Class

Nossi College of Art recently asked if I would be interested in teaching a Travel abroad class to Ecuador with 12 students (10 females and 2 males) on April 20-27th. Nossi is an art college in Nashville Tennessee offering degrees in photography, film & video, illustration, graphic design, web & interactive design. The school is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year and this is the first travel abroad class they have offered so I was honored to go. As a Nashville Commercial Photographer and a teacher this is a dream job!

Our mission for the 8 day class was to capture the personalities of the people, the culture, landscape and the terrain which included the lifestyle, food and habitat while on our journey…an Ecuador Paparazzi assignment of sorts. We were super excited because no one from our Nashville group had ever been to Ecuador and we had no idea what to expect.

I wanted to put a blog series together to share our experience through a mixture of my professional photos (shot with my new Panasonic Lumix G8 and our group candid photos (both mine and my students via phone) while learning about Ecuador. I hope that you will follow along on the journey and perhaps learn a little as you go.

Day 1 – Friday, April 20

On the first day of our trip we had to be at the Nashville (BNA) airport by 3:30 AM to get through check in on American Airlines and ready for our 6:05 AM flight to Guayaquil in Ecuador. Several of the students had not flown before and it was the first time out of the country for many on the trip. Ecuador is sandwiched between Columbia and Peru along the Pacific Ocean. It is dependent on petroleum and agricultural products, it is the major exporter of bananas and is the seventh largest producer of cocoa. The country also produces coffee, rice, potatoes, flowers, sugarcane, plantains as well as fish, shrimp and balsa wood.


Nossi students on escalator in Miami Airport.

We had a grueling 6 hour layover in Miami that felt like a lifetime with all the excitement of wanting to hurry up and get there.

Students from Nossi College of Art on a 6 hour layover in the Miami Airport.

We arrived at Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador (more than 3 million people) by around 7PM. We were greeted by Alfredo Harmsen, Chantal Fontaine and our bus driver. Alfredo gave each of us a sample of Pan de Yuca, small cheesy bread made with yuca flour and cheese that is popular in Ecuador as we got on the bus.

Nossi College of Art Students with Teacher, Sheri Oneal in Guayaquil, Ecuador airport.

We checked into the Manso Boutique Guesthouse Hotel and I loved the decor. My favorite colors and eclectic style compete with AC in my room….one of the last times I would have AC available as I would soon learn.

Guayaquil, Ecuador Manso Boutique Guesthouse Hotel


Guayaquil, Ecuador Manso Boutique Guesthouse Hotel

We ate a quick dinner prepared by the hotel, our first Ecuadorian meal of chicken, rice and plantains.

Plantains and Chicken

After dinner Alfredo and Chantal had a group of locals and a “Chiva Farrera lined up to give us a taste of the city from 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM. The colorful bus that gave us a tour of the city while blasting loud dance tunes so everyone could dance.

Chiva Farrera Guayaquil Ecuador

The people in the cars along the streets and highways beeped their horns smiling and showcasing thumbs up as they passed by our group on the bus.

Sheri Oneal takes photos from the Chiva Farrera bus in Guayaquil, Ecuador


By midnight we were finally crawling into bed to end our first day of travel exhausted but excited about the days ahead.  

A room room at the Manso Boutique Guest House.
We all made it with our luggage so we were off to a good start. The first day of travel is always tough and there is not much to photograph in airports, planes and in hotel rooms but there will be a lot for you to look at soon, I promise. Stay tuned I will be sharing our second day of travel soon, I hope you will come back and follow along!

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