July 14, 2016
These past few days have been amazing and Jake and I are sad to see this trip near the end. Since the last update, we have explored Santa Cruz Island, and then we spent three days on San Cristobal Island. Here’s a closer look at what our days looked like:
Sunday 7/10: We explored Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island, and we got to see marine iguanas and huge prickly pear cactuses! We got to swim around the calm waters of Tortuga Bay and hang out on the beaches. Madison, Annie, McCall, and leader-Jake picked up where they left off with their epic games of kemps. As we walked the 45 minutes back to our hotel, Adrian posed creative, hypothetical, history-themed questions to Nate and Jack. We ate the best pizza, sandwiches and ice cream at the Galápagos Deli, and then we got on the boat to San Cristobal. Jack felt sick the entire two hour ride, even having taken sea sickness medications. He was a great sport about the whole situation, and he sang to himself the whole time so he wouldn’t fall asleep and become more nauseous. We got to our hotel at Casa de Jeimy and hung around there until dinner time. Jamie finished MP’s corn rows, which were a hit, especially with MP’s Ecuadorian pants and jacket she got at two different markets. Before bed, we enjoyed hanging out in the hammocks on the top floor of the hotel.
Monday 7/11: In the morning we headed over to the Galapaguera tortoise reserve, where Nate was really happy to spend more time doing some great giant tortoise watching. We then headed over to Puerto Chino where the whole group got to body surf in the waves and hang out on the beach. We got to see several sea lions in the water and on the beach. After lunch we headed straight to Las Tijeretas to snorkel, and we were the first ones there! The whole group learned how to dive down to have a better vantage point of sea life. James and Jake were especially good at diving down deep, and the whole group got to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and some beautiful fish. After snorkeling, Maggie and Jordan were excited about grabbing smoothies by the beach and hanging out there. We hung out near the waterfront for a while before grabbing dinner. At night we played more card games and hung out in the hammocks on the amazing and breezy top floor of Casa de Jeimy.
Tuesday 7/12: We took a boat ride to Isla Lobos, and we got to snorkel there. First we walked around the island, and we saw blue footed boobies and frigate birds with their chicks! Then we hopped in the water to snorkel, and we got to see an octopus! We also got to see sea turtles, sea lions, surgeon fish, and damsel fish, just to list a few of the beautiful things we saw. Zelle got some amazing photos from the day, and we all hung out on the boat after snorkeling. Half of the group jumped off the boat into the cold, cold water, without wet suits on. After lunch, we went straight to La Loberia where we had the chance to snorkel in a beautiful, shallow cove, and we hung out on the beach and chatted. After cleaning up back at the hotel, we headed to San Jose for an awesome last dinner in the Galápagos. We had a really meaningful Moonup and shared memories from the entire trip.
Wednesday 7/13: We got our luggage ready for a day full of travel back to Quito, and then for the students, back to the U.S. Jake and I both will be sad to see this group go, and we will fondly remember all the fun times we had together throughout these past two weeks. Thank you session 2 for being an amazing group, and please keep in touch!
-Jake and Emily
July 10, 2016
Hello from the Galápagos!
We got to Santa Cruz Island today, and we have loved our time in the Galápagos so far! Since the last update, we have spent our days traveling to our service project, and then completing the service section of our trip. Here is a more in-depth look at what our past few days have looked like:
Wednesday 7/6: We left Tena in the morning, and we stopped by the Papallacta hot springs on our way to Quito. The hot springs were made up of several naturally heated pools, and one of the pools was freezing cold. The locals told us that it was healthiest to alternate between the hottest pool and the coldest pool. Jack was brave to be the first of our group to fully submerge himself in the cold water, and we all eventually summoned up the courage to jump in the cold pool. We then left the hot springs to make it to Quito for our community service project the following day. We made it to Jenny and Ramiro’s house, who hosted us for three nights. They were also the founders of Remanso de Amor, the organization where we did our community service. We had a lot of free time at night while we stayed at Jenny and Ramiro’s. The campers spent this time by crowding around Nate to hear him tell ghost stories. There was also a solid group of students who played a card game called Kemps for hours every night, and Annie, McCall, and Madison were the most loyal players of this game.
Thursday 7/7: We started working at Remanso de Amor during the morning, and the group split into three smaller groups. One group stayed at Remanso de Amor to help paint and move a heavy pile of rocks and dirt to another location farther away. The other two groups teamed up with Gladys and Carlota, who are both members, of Remanso de Amor’s church, to do home visits to check on the mothers of young children who receive monthly donations from their Compassion International sponsors. The home visits were extremely impactful because of the conversations we had with the young mothers and because of the fun we had playing with their children. All groups met back at Remanso de Amor for lunch, and after lunch we all painted and continued to move the rock pile. The group did a great job of working hard until the end of the service day, and that night we all went to a soccer game! Independiente del Valle from Ecuador was playing Boca Junior from Argentina, and we went early to get tickets to the game. On the way to the game, McCall was feeling nauseous, and after trying to stick it out and stay at the game, she decided to head back to Jenny and Ramiro’s house with Jake E. (She started feeling better the following day and was a trooper through all of it!) We all wished McCall had been there when Independiente made two goals and won the game! During the game, we all sat in a row, but we couldn’t sit in our assigned seats because our seats were already taken. Jonathan and Carly, who are Ramiro and Jenny’s 17 and 14 year old children, told us that no one sits in their assigned seats, and they were our guides for the game. At one point the police tried to get Maggie and Jamie to move to different seats because the couple that bought tickets to those seats wanted to sit there. All the Ecuadorian fans sitting around us started yelling at the police to let Jamie and Maggie stay because no one was sitting in their assigned seats anyways. The police listened to the fans, and Maggie and Jamie kept their seats! It was really cool to see the fans near us stick up for us. Adrienne made friends with the Ecuadorian guy sitting next to him, and he bought an Independiente flag to wave at the game. The game was a hit, and after it ended, we all went back to Jenny and Ramiro’s to head to bed.
Friday 7/8: This was our last day at Remanso de Amor, and the campers who did home visits in the morning stayed at the church to do manual labor. The students who had not done home visits got the opportunity to visit families. After meeting up for lunch, we created an assembly line to move construction materials down five flights of stairs. Mary Preston, James and Jake M. helped move the last of the giant, dirt pile before joining the rest of the group to help with the assembly line. We then all painted the outside fence light blue, and the group got it done so quickly! Zelle especially loved painting, and everyone worked so well together to get the fence painted. Adrian, Jack, Nate, Maggie and Mary Preston all volunteered to take the public bus with Jonathan and I, since one of the small vans was getting repaired this afternoon. The group was excited because we got the chance to stop by the mall our way to dinner! After dinner, a group of students went to buy ice cream, and the other group went to buy movies to take back to the U.S., since movies are cheaper here. The entire group went to bed earlier than usual after playing card games and telling scary stories.
Saturday 7/9: Today we woke up at 4:30AM to make our Galápagos flight! We said a sad goodbye to Ramiro, Jenny, Carly and Jonathan, and we started our trek to the Galápagos! Jordan and Maggie started a trend of making friendship bracelets on the plane ride, and Maggie shared her string with all the girls so they could make them. We met our Galápagos guide, Pablo, and we then went to eat the best lunch on a piece of property full of giant tortoises! After lunch we went on a turtle walk around the lunch spot, and we then came to our hotel to have free time the rest of the day. Students swam in the pool, looked for souvenirs around town, and after dinner we went to the pier where we saw a sea turtle, sea lions and sharks swimming in the water!
It was an awesome first day in the Galápagos, and we are so excited for our next three days here!
-Emily and Jake
July 5, 2016
Our excursion is underway and we are having a blast. After picking everyone up at the airport late on our first night, we headed to our hotel in the city of Quito known as Fuente de Piedra. We had a quick moonup and headed to bed for a big first day. We all continued to get to know each other over some scrambled eggs, croissants, and coffee or tea at the hostel, and then we loaded up in our bus and headed to a sustainable community known as the Yungilla project. This awesome project allows each member of the town to help out with the production of cheeses, jelly, and milk. They also have a restaurant and a garden, and they all receive portions of the goods. After enjoying a traditional Ecuadorean lunch prepared by this local community, we headed back to the capital for a tour of “el mitad del mundo” monument, as well as “el panecillo” and finally the golden church. We all enjoyed taking pictures at the equator monument as well as some ice cream in the town square. Because we were able to enjoy this section of the tour on a weekend, the square was very lively, involving traditional dances and other local festivities.
Yesterday we headed out of Quito towards Baños. We stopped in Cotopaxi National Park and we all put on some traditional chaps and ponchos for our horseback riding tour. All of our horses had traditional Ecuadorean names, but we had a great time renaming them using American artists, such as Rihanna and Beyoncé. The visibility was great and trotting in the high altitude meadows under the snow capped peak of Cotopaxi was a surreal experience.
Today we enjoyed some awesome activities in an adventure capital known as Baños. We got to zipline, ride in a cable car, and hike to a beautiful waterfall. After an action packed morning, we loaded back up in the bus and arrived in Tena. Our Fourth of July pool party tonight was a blast, complimented by two piñatas, three watermelons, and six pizzas. Although we are abroad, celebrating our nation’s birthday was certainly a priority.
We are going to bed early as we prepare to paddle the Jatunyacu River in the morning!
Shout outs to our families are posted below:
Annie: Hi family! I’m having so much fun, love and miss y’all
Madison: Hi! Miss y’all so much but I’m having so much fun! See ya soon!
Zelle: I miss everyone so much but Ecuador is beautiful and everyone is so fun. (PS tell will happy birthday)
Jordan: Hey! Miss you guys so much! I’m having so much fun and see you soon!
Jake: I made it…Having fun. Miss y’all.
Maggie: Hey fam, I miss y’all! Ecuador is amazing and I’m having so much fun. Love you! (PS don’t invite Emma)
Mary Preston: Shoutout to my other fam members who are on Moondance right now hope y’all are having as much fun as I am!
McCall: I’m having so much fun! I miss y’all so much and I can’t even describe how amazing it is here. Love y’all!
Jamie: I am having a great time. Mom it’s cold like you said glad I have my warm clothes. It’s so cool here and everyone is great.
James: I am having a good time in Ecuador. We are about to leave for the Galápagos soon.
Jack: having so much fun. I have been using my Spanish skills. I miss you guys!
Adrian: having a lot of fun in Ecuador. Miss you. PS I haven’t gotten zika yet!
Nate: wow, madre y padre, a lot has happened. I have purchased a cowboy hat and fallen in love with waffle Oreo things called amors. Miss you guys, and I apologize for not being a buffer between you guys and will.