July 30, 2016
This is our last day in Ecuador, and Jake and I are so sad to say goodbye to this awesome group. Since our last update, we traveled to San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, and we spent three action-packed days there. Here is a closer look at how we spent our last three days.
Wednesday 7/27: After eating the best breakfast at the Red Booby Hotel on Santa Cruz island, we walked 45 minutes to get to a beautiful beach where we got to see our first marine iguanas! We also saw dozens of sea turtles popping their heads out of the water! We then walked a little longer to get to a beach with crystal clear water, where we swam in the water and played frisbee on the beach. Michael and Pete rented a sea kayak and paddled out farther to see sea lions and small sharks. Everyone threw around the frisbee for a bit, and Courtney and Arby enjoyed throwing it around the longest. The girls walked over to a section of the beach with short cliffs, in order to get a better view of the water below. The marine iguanas blended in with the rocks, so we had to be careful not to step on them. We walked 45 minutes back to town to eat lunch at our favorite lunch spot, the Galapagos Deli, and ice cream was included in our meals! We then hopped on a boat that took us to San Cristobal island two hours away. Parks read almost the entire boat ride, and we were all impressed by his knack for reading whenever we were traveling. When we got to our new hotel, we settled in and played card games before and after dinner. China poker became a popular game for the guys to play, with Henry winning several times.
Thursday 7/28: We got going early in order to make it to the Galapaguera tortoise reserve, where we saw giant tortoises and baby giant tortoises! We then went swimming at Puerto Chino, and we all body surfed and played in the waves. One large wave knocked Sally over, and she fell on top of a sea lion pup. The sea lion swam away immediately, and now Sally has an awesome sea lion encounter story to tell. We went snorkeling at Las Tijeretas after lunch, and we had a blast! Gracie spotted a purple octopus, and Will started a movement to snorkel more slowly so as to take in more of the underwater scenery. Maggie loved diving down deeper into the water to see the sea creatures up close. We had some free time before dinner, and then we went to eat at a great burger joint called Cri’s. Chris did an awesome job at finishing off everyone’s leftover food, and all got ice cream after dinner. After dinner we played card games again, and Erin and Belle went down to their rooms to look for an extra tooth brush and came back decked out in tacky, Goodwill vests that I packed and a purple wig. We all loved their fashion sense, and we played some rounds of our favorite camp game, Mafia, before heading to bed.
Friday 7/29: On our last full day in the Galapagos, we snorkeled next to Isla Lobos, where we saw rays and sea lions! We swam around a local beach on our way to lunch, and then we headed to La Loberia to hang out with sea lions in the afternoon! We had an awesome banquet dinner of pizza and sandwiches, and after Moonup we played several last games of Mafia.
Jake and I loved this group, and we are so sad to say goodbye to everyone! We will cherish the memories we made forever!
-Jake and Emily
July 26, 2016
Buenas noches from Santa Cruz Island!
We just got to Santa Cruz today after finishing our community service portion of the trip. Though we are sad to say goodbye to Jenny and Ramiro, who hosted us during community service, we are so happy to see sea lions and giant turtles in the Galapagos!
On Friday, we left Tena in order to make it back to Quito for the community service portion of the trip. We stopped by Papallacta hot springs on our way to Quito, and we enjoyed sitting in several of their naturally heated pools. Sally was the first of us to venture from the hottest pool to taking a dip in the coldest pool, and many of us worked up the courage to do the same after Sally did it first. The lunch at Papallacta hot springs was a hit, and Chris was especially excited about the meal. Chris liked it so much that he said he would save a ‘nug’ for the meal, which is the word we use to talk about the things we appreciated during our nightly debrief. We made it to Jenny and Ramiro’s house a couple of hours after leaving the hot springs and we quickly settled into their house and playing card games there. After dinner we got ice cream! Then we returned to Jenny and Ramiro’s house to play ultimate frisbee at the park right across from their house. Everyone wanted to be on Pete and Will’s teams because they are amazing at frisbee and scored so many points for their teams.
The next day, Saturday, we headed over to an athletic center in Quito to play with the children at Remanso de Amor that are a part of the Compassion International sponsorship program. We first swam in the pool with some of them, and the group played with kids in the hot tub the majority of our pool time. After lunch we played elbow tag and duck duck goose with the children. Courtney was especially excited about playing with the kids, and she always let them tag her during elbow tag. Michael played frisbee with a three year old child, and he continually cracked her up by purposefully dropping the frisbee. Maggie and Arabella enjoyed playing with kids so much, and they had kids around them the whole morning. We all enjoyed playing with the kids, and we left to make it to Remanso de Amor’s graduation for two seminary students. It was an incredible cultural experience to see how excited the students and their families were for the graduation. We were honored to have been invited, and during the service we got to hear one of the graduates preach. We then were happy to eat burgers after the graduation service.
On Sunday, we went to Remanso de Amor’s church service, and we got to see several children and adults become baptized. Some children at the church performed choreographed dances in front of the whole congregation, and we got to eat ice cream while watching them. We started painting after lunch, and Belle was extremely excited about painting. Erin was enthusiastic about and dedicated to painting as well, and due to that, she painted a lot of wall space. We all got an impressive amount of paint on ourselves, due to everyone painting each other. We headed to dinner covered in paint!
Today, on Monday, we woke up super early to get to the airport in time for our flight to the Galapagos! We arrived to the Galapagos in good spirits, despite our lack of sleep. We were all so excited to finally be in the Galapagos! After an incredible lunch of tuna, vegetables, potatoes, plantain chips, and dessert, we all went on a walk to see giant tortoises! We loved watching them, and Henry was extremely excited to see the tortoises and the sea lions that we got to see around the pier. We got to walk around Santa Cruz Island, and Gracie bought her 9th Ecuadorian bracelet, and she is wearing all 9 of them at the same time. Parks organized a group of campers to get sushi, and he has been excited about the opportunity to get sushi since the first day of the trip. We went to the pier after dinner to watch sharks, sea lions, sting rays, and pelicans feast on the fish that came to the surface.
It was an amazing first day in the Galapagos, and we are so excited for the rest of our days here!
-Emily and Jake
July 22, 2016
Bienvenidos a Ecuador!
Session 3 is underway and I am very excited to fill everyone in on how much fun we are having. We have an amazing team and everyone has been having a blast.
After arriving late in Quito on our first night, we had a quick Moonup and headed to bed to try and get enough sleep in preparation for our big day in the city. As we crawled out of bed bright and early, we all enjoyed some scrambled eggs, croissants, and coffee or tea at our hotel. We all loaded up on the bus and headed to our first destination in the cloud forests outside of Quito known as the Yungilla project. This opportunity to visit and become a part of this local community for a morning is an awesome cultural immersion experience. We all jumped in on peeling plantains for making chips to sell in the market, as well as pressing cheeses by hand into the molds. After enjoying an excellent local lunch in this community, we headed back towards Quito where we made our first stop at the middle of the world monument. We all enjoyed taking pictures with the sign that reads “00.00.00” as marked by GPS. Other highlights included “the golden church” as well as “el panecillo” which offers a great view over the entire city of Quito. After a long day of touring, we enjoyed a quaint dinner at a closed door restaurant consisting of chicken, rice, salad, and chocolate cake and ice cream which is always a highlight.
The following day we woke up and headed towards Baños, but we made an awesome stop along the way in Cotopaxi national park where we got to enjoy a nice day of horseback riding. We all really enjoyed the trail that led up to the base of a mountain. The views were incredible as we got to trot in the high altitude meadows of rural Ecuador. After safely arriving in Baños, we woke up early the next day to make enough time for zip lining, swinging, waterfall hiking, and riding in a safari type truck with no doors. Although we endured a lot of rain, we all had an incredible time.
After our adventure day in Baños, we headed to Tena in the afternoon to prepare for a big day today. We woke up early this morning and headed to the put in of the mighty Jatunyacu river, meaning big water in the local language of this area. Due to all of the rain, the rapids were much bigger and we all had a blast on the 27 kilometers and 27 rapids worth of whitewater. After getting off of the river, we hung out by the pool until dark and switched off between sharks and minnows in the pool and ultimate frisbee on the soccer field.
We are headed back into Quito to begin our community service project in the morning, and we are really excited to help out abroad.
Below we have some shoutouts to all of our families:
Parks: Hello Hunters! I’m having SO much fun and I miss and love you all!
Belle: Hi! I’m having an amazing time and making so many friends! Love and miss y’all!
Courtney: Hey family! Having the best time! Love and miss y’all! Happy late birthday Wyatt! See you soon love you guys!
Erin: Hi family! Having an awesome time making lots of cool memories. Miss you guys and love you!
Henry: Hey! I’m having tons of fun and am doing a lot of cool stuff. I love y’all!
Arabella: Hey y’all! Love and miss you all so much but I’m having so much fun! Hope everything is good in Memphis!
Pete: What’s up guys! I’m having so much fun and miss y’all a ton! Love you!
Maggie: Hey fam! I miss you guys so much! I’m having so much fun and I’ll see you guys soon!
Chris: What’s up? I’m having a great time at Moondance. I’ll see you guys soon!
Michael: I’m having a great time, not getting into to much trouble.
Sally: Having a blast! Love and miss y’all!
Will: Hey everybody. I’m having a great time in Ecuador and I’ve met lots of new people. Love and miss you!
Gracie: I am having an amazing time. We have done so many new things that I can’t wait to tell you about! Love and miss you!
Until next time,