Hi from Quito! We were greeted by crowds of Ecuadorians and a shut-down city in anticipation of the Pope’s visit. Here, the group is cheering on the USA in the World Cup final. Gooooaaaaaal!
Today was our first full day in Ecuador, and together as well. We started off the day by playing get to know each other games and creating a value chart to illustrate our expectations of everyone throughout the trip. Then, we ate a delicious meal prepared by the family that runs the restaurant and cafeteria at the hotel. A traditional Ecuadorian meal consists of soup, a meat dish and a desert. After lunch, we took a bus ride to the Old City of Quito; however, the Pope was in town so we didn’t get to go to the main square. Instead, we walked around and went into a chocolateria and honey store. The tour ended with a beautiful view from El Panciello, the Virgin Mary with wings. We then returned to the hotel, put on our rain jackets, and walked to the local supermarket where we stocked up on snacks for tomorrow’s travels and bought a cake for tonight as well. Time to go to bed now as we prepare for our very early wake up tomorrow.
– Maggie and Blythe
Today July 7th we travelled to the Galápagos Islands. We had to takes lot of transportation including 2 plane rides, two boat rides and a bus ride across an island. The island that we drove across was San Cruz. We had to wake up at 3:00am and leave the hotel at 3:30am. The first plane ride was 40 minutes. That plane was from Quito to Guayaquil. The second plane was from Guayaquil to San Cruz and that was 1 hour and a half. When we landed to San Cruz we got to meet two of our leaders Hakan and Fabian. Then we drove across the island. In order to get to Isabella the island that we are staying at for a couple of days we needed to take a 2 hour boat ride. The boat ride was very rough and some of the people for really wet from where they were sitting on the boat.
To start, we packed up early this morning and drove to a tortoise sanctuary where we got to see all ages of the Galápagos tortoise. Then we stopped to see flamingoes at a lagoon on the way to our next destination. After the stops were over we began a ten mile hike around Sierra Negra volcano, a large crater of volcanic rock.
With our pre-packed lunches we set off for the day long hike and finished our adventure with some delicious empanadas from a local spot. After getting back to the base we had time to relax and play some cards before dinner. Lastly we gathered for group time and games, exhausting the last of our energy for the day. It was an all around fantastic day and I’m sure there will be more like it.
Having a great time in San Cristobal. First day of service went well!
Today we were privileged enough to have 15 extra minutes to sleep! That is very rare. We left for Hacienda Esperanza in the pouring rain. We hiked through deep mud up hill drenched. At the service site we removed invasive blackberries with the plan to plant endemic species tomorrow. We tested our limits carrying heavy branches up and down while tired from previous days of service.
After lunch we headed into town to snorkel and shop. Amazing snorkeling. Today was the first time we got to swim with the sea lions, we saw a mom and her baby. They got very close! We also saw some sea turtles and colorful fish.
We went into town and had some delicious fries and burgers, which was a nice reminder of home.
Today was our last day on Isabella. We started our last day with one last service, at which we moved more rocks and dug the water hole deeper for the tortoises. Afterwards, we participated in a scavenger hunt, where the winning team won the privilege of not cleaning up from dinner, which us GLA members were in charge of preparing. Tomorrow we leave for our next island, which will be very limited on wifi connection, so don’t be worried if you don’t hear back from your child.
Our last day:
After two weeks of constant contact we have our final day in Equador. The day started with a trip to the equator, there we learned about tribes of Amazonian people who Strunk human heads and bury their dead in earthen wombs. After making whirlpools and bouncing eggs on nailhead we went back to the hotel for lunch. After that we gathered the remaining funds, (not emergency funds I’m sure) and headed to a local artisans market. There we were able to purchase souvenirs and last minute gifts before day was finally over. Back at home we partook in a group activity to say I goodbyes and share our experiences on the trip.
For the end of the night we did nothing particularly noteworthy. We spend our last moments together as if it were any other day. No one talked about leaving the next morning, only about what was happening now. This trip gave us a new family, a group of people I can say wholeheartedly are really worth remembering.
Yesterday was our last day on the Galalpagos. 🙁 After service in the morning, we went to a beach and had a dance party later that night. Today we had a late breakfast! We welcome any extra sleep. After our team exec did final room checks, we took the bus to the airport. Once we got checked in, we had a lot of spare time, so we played the Human Knot. After evaluating how the game went, we talked about our roles as leaders and the importance of communication. The plane ride went smoothly and we ended up making new friends on a middle school class trip. We arrived to Hotel Escandinavo (home base) around 7 and ate dinner immediately so we could could get enough sleep for tomorrow. We’re heading off to the Intiñan museum, the equator Iine, so stay posted!
Iona & Oriana