Amy’s T1D Adventure: Baños means Bathrooms?

Amy's T1D Adventure

From Quito to Baños

The bus ride from Quito to Baños was a smooth one, all along the windy roads of Ecuador. My T1D decided to follow a similar windy pattern, BGs crashing the whole time… To get them back to 90 mg/dL I had to eat 2 large bananas and 6 medjool dates.

I threw my bags down at my hostel and headed out for some lunch, grocery shopping and a sneak peak at the tiny town, Baños, whose name translates to “bathrooms” in English. I found a vegetarian cafe and nibbled on some roasted potatoes, a green juice and a salad.

And now for the bounce back of my sugar levels to a lovely (insert sarcasm here) number of 350!! Eeek. Time for some insulin….and a massage to de-stress me!

Last on my to-do list for the day was buying antibiotics for a toe infection that was not healing! I seem to get infections whenever I get a pedicure, so no more for me this trip!

The only complication I’ve noticed from having type 1 for 15 years now is if I get a cut or infection on my toes, they take a long time to heal. This was my 2nd infection on my travels and I knew I needed to hit it with something stronger than antiseptic cream. And a lesson I need to learn: don’t wait a week to go to the pharmacy (or a doctor).

Luckily in Latin America you don’t need a prescription for most drugs. 😉

Swinging from the tree tops

One Drop BG summaryMy first full day in Baños started with waking on high BGs, a hard 5-mile run uphill and still high BGs, but then….  BOOM the exercise brought me back in range for the rest of the day! Hallelujah.

Next, I was heading out to catch the local $1 bus to La Casa Del Arbol — an infamous swing high in the mountains of Baños with an incredible view of the surrounding volcanoes.

And I was kicking my fear of heights well into the clouds. What a magical experience. I felt like I was flying high — both literally and in my soul. Life couldn’t get much better surrounded by nature.

Me on a swing

On the bus ride back, I met some fellow Aussies and we combined our plans for the following day to attempt a 30-mile (thankfully downhill) bike ride from Baños to Puyo.

After swinging in the trees, I was ready for some healthy vegan food and stumbled across a cafe that had exactly what I needed: a gigantic organic salad grown in the owners garden out in back of the restaurant. I like to call this food heaven.

vegan salad

An Aussome Ride

me and a friendWednesday morning I’m ready for the bike ride!! Although I’m not happy with my post-breakfast BG of 300 mg/dL, I take an additional 2 units of insulin and meet my fellow Aussies and head to the bike rental shop.

Enthusiastic we were going to ride the whole 30-miles, it became clear early on that maybe we wouldn’t quite get that far — we were continuously distracted by the waterfalls, mountain views and nature surrounding us as we rode along. One hour after we started our ride my BGs were back down to 130 so I had a quick snack of a muesli bar and 4 dates and we continued on our ride.

At the 12-mile mark we reached a famous waterfall Rio Verde. My BG was on point at 90 mg/dL, so we locked our bikes and headed to the waterfall, a moderate 45-minute walk.
We arrived straight into a scene from Avatar. So much green goodness, a gushing waterfall and a beautiful rainbow to add the final magical touch.

Exhausted and nearing 3pm, we decided to throw our bikes on the back of a truck and pay $2 to be driven back to Baños.

great views from the top

Another salad lunch and I mistakenly didn’t take into account all my exercise in the morning when giving my lunch bolus – post lunch BG crash here we come! More dates were needed to fix that mistake.

T1D Lessons Learned in the Amazon

monkey in a treeThursday was another full on fun day — a trip to the Amazon! 8:30am and we were in the shuttle bus and on the road!

First stop was an animal refuge. I’m not a fan of zoos or keeping animals in cages and this to me was exactly that. I wandered through feeling dull and low in energy and it wasn’t only from seeing the animals in captivity, my BG had decided to crash to 60. Dates, a muesli bar, slow walking with blurry vision and some inner frustration. A long 10 minutes and I was starting to finally feel normal again.

Second stop: we made it to the Amazon! We had to leave our bags in the van and jump onto very small wooden boats to ride down the Amazon river. Nervous from my earlier low, I didn’t know what to bring on the boat. Decided on a glucose gel, some glucose tablets and my insulin pen. I was ready to go.

I tried to soak in the atmosphere while hoping not to fall into the river as we went through some bumpy rapids to arrive at our lunch destination — a local community had prepared lunch for us. I had requested vegetarian and was interested to see what we got!

Potato soup, rice and a fried egg — so I fed the egg to the hovering local cat and gobbled down the rest of the relative healthy food. I was conservative with my lunch bolus knowing our next stop was a hike to a waterfall and I had no idea how long, far or difficult the hike would be.

And it was long, far and difficult, through lots of water, almost knee deep mud, and steep dirt trails. Thank god for my endless supply of dates! I snacked all along the way. We detoured to an amateur version of a jungle swing and I was the first girl to take the leap!

After we made it to the waterfall and ventured the hour long hike back to the shuttle, I was glad to get the rain boots off, sit in the van and close my eyes for the 90 minute trip back to Baños while intermittently trying to fight off my hunger with some granola. The day was fun, adventurous and beautiful being surrounded by nature, even with the lows of diabetes hitting me a few times.

Another note to self: I need to be more conservative with my insulin doses the day after intense exercise, especially when I’m engaging in even more activity!

Me and my BG run a Marathon

T1D BG suppliesThursday was my last day in Baños. I spent most of it buying bus tickets, postcards and travel snacks for the 8-hour ride to my next destination, Cuenca.

But before those errands happened I was up at 7am, in my running gear and heading out for Half Marathon 2 for 1bloodydrop to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes. I was following the same, mostly downhill path we had biked 2 days before, continuing a little further to reach 13.1miles. No places along the way to treat lows, I packed a considerable amount in my waist belt, running pants pockets and even in my sports bra!

Strava running mapMy BG was 130 mg/dL  before my run and I ate a banana which I didn’t need. I was up at 275 mg/dL at mile 7, gave 2 units of insulin and continued on. Checked my BG again at mile 11 and I was 92 mg/dL. Ate a muesli bar and 3 dates and finished my half in 2:05 with a BG of 95 mg/dL!

Now the fun was trying to find a bus to take me the 13 miles back to Baños. After walking 3 miles and feeling completely parched, I was considering hitchhiking. Just at that moment, a bus came around the corner and I flagged it down!

All I could think about was lunch, which was very fancy microwaved potatoes, steamed cabbage and dehydrated mushrooms — yes, an interesting mix!
I may have even snuck in some tropical flavored fruit gelato for a 5pm snack.

Ready for another town, more adventures and who knows what else! Cuenca here I come.


This is a guest post series from Amy McKinnon, a One Drop user and 27-year-old ex-advertising executive who recently swapped her NYC apartment for an oversized backpack to explore the streets of Latin America for six months. Amy has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years and tries her best to balance blood glucose levels,marathon training and a high-carb raw vegan diet. Now she has thrown travel into the mix. EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy is a performance athlete and consumes a high-carb diet. At One Drop, we believe that a low-carb approach to food reduces the risk of high and low blood glucose incidents and can effectively reduce blood glucose levels overall. However, we want to share a variety of personal experiences so we can all learn how other people live their lives with diabetes. Always consult your doctor before making changes to a prescribed regimen.




Amy McKinnon
Amy McKinnon

Amy McKinnon is a One Drop user, marathoner, ex-advertising executive, and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years. Amy is currently exploring the streets of Latin America for six months.