The Morning of 9/11 Revisited
We arrived back in Quito on the morning of September 11, 2001, after a pleasant weekend in Mindo. As it was too early in the morning to check-in to our hostel we decided to go and get some breakfast in the new town. We took our seats in a vegetarian restaurant and placed our order. We were chatting about the highlights of our recent trip when we noticed the television was on and showing a live feed of a smoking tower. When the camera panned out showing two towers we immediately recognised the location. The Twin Towers were a prominent feature of the famous New York skyline and when we visited New York City in 1993, went to the top of tower two to experience a breath-taking view of Manhattan. We were discussing the possible reasons why one of the towers had smoke pouring from the upper floors when the television coverage switched to the Pentagon. Here, you could see damage to the western facade of the building and smoke billowing up the air. A few minutes after the news channel returned to the smoking tower a plane flew into the other tower causing a huge explosion. Text then appeared on the bottom of the television screen saying "America under attack.” Like most people who were in front of a television screen on that dreadful day we were consumed in the moment, doing our best to digest and understand what we were witnessing. One tower followed by the other collapsing and turning into rubble right in front of our eyes. Understandably, breakfast lasted considerably longer than planned but we eventually made our way back to the hostel to check-in to our room and freshen up.
On arrival at the hostel we were greeted by an eerie silence. Every fellow backpacker was sitting in front of the television watching the news. You could visibly see that many people were in shock and others were grieving. Our thoughts were with every single person that tragically lost their lives a few hours earlier and those directly affected such as families and friends. There was also an undeniable feeling of fear in the room. What did this event mean for America and its citizens? Why is someone attacking America and killing innocent people? I remember going to visit a few of my American friends staying in another hostel and they were understandably quite upset and not themselves. As you might expect new channels covered little else but 9/11 around the clock. The atmosphere amongst the backpacker community in Quito was quite strange and solemn. After a few days, we set-off for the next leg of our trip and headed south to Latacunga, capital of the Cotopaxi Province. We were travelling south through Ecuador, making our way to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. Consequently, the events of 9/11 weren't foremost in our minds for the next eight months, but it was something that stays with you for the rest of your days. We'll never forget how we felt when we first heard the news and how the attacks impacted on tourists and the world at large. The effects of 9/11 are still being felt in 2016, 15 years down the line. Let's hope nothing like this happens again and the future brings peace to the world.