July 27, 2017
Final Trip Update!
Wow! What an unbelievable couple of weeks we just had in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. As our time here comes to an end, we look back and remember all of the incredible times that we had in this beautiful country.
On the morning of the 24th, we took our rambunctious and energetic group to the gorgeous city of Baños. This group definitely makes the most out of bus rides as Alice and Riley could always be heard singing at the top of their lungs to keep us all entertained. When we arrived in Banos, we took a chiva bus (open bus with music!) around the city and got to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls and views that the city had to offer. While on the chiva, Grace, Katie, and Samantha were rocking out to all sorts of Spanish music! Our next stop was taking the cable car over the valley with views that stretched as far as the eye could see.
The next day we started out with an unbelievably beautiful, yet challenging hike up the mountain ridge with a view overlooking Baños. After climbing roughly 700 steps, Cooper and AC ran the last stretch of stairs all the way to the top! The girls found a tremendous sense of accomplishment and they were rewarded with town day when they got to the bottom! After Adylein and Catherine bought as many Alpaca keychains as they could find, we headed off to our banquet dinner where everyone got to try Guinea Pig for the first time! Although hesitant at first, Celeste and Anneliese made everyone laugh and some even went back for seconds!
On our final day all together, we packed up our stuff and made our to Cotopaxi National Park to horseback ride the volcanos! Even though she was scared at first, Morgan was galloping around on her horse by the end of the activity! The whole group had huge smiles on their faces including Mollie even though she fell off her horse! Caroline kept the whole group entertained while cracking jokes on top of her horse! It seems like every moment with this group of girls has been nothing short of spectacular.
Although we are all departing this incredible country, we are all leaving with smiling faces. We have learned an incredible amount about the wildlife, culture, and geography and we all want to come back soon! We aren’t sad that it’s over, we are happy that it happened. Thank you for everything, Ecuador
Zach and Caroline
Alice- hey fam! On the way to the airport now after the best two weeks of my life! Can’t wait to see you:)
Riley- yo guys!!! On the way to the airport in Quito! Don’t want to leave but can’t wait to see y’all!!
AC- hey y’all! headed to the airport and am so sad to leave:((( had the most amazing time ever and can’t wait to tell u all about it!
Mo-hey family can’t wait to see you!!! I’ve had the best 2 weeks of my life and I’m so sad to say goodbye to it all, but I’m so excited to see you all!! Love and miss you bunches! 🙂
Celeste – hola familia! I had so so so much fun on the trip and cannot wait to tell y’all all about it!! Love and miss y’all!!
Cooper- heading to the Ecuador airport as I speak! Can’t wait to share so many wonderful memories with you all as well as give some big hugs!!!!️
Caroline- On the way to the airport in Quito. I had so much fun on this trip and can’t wait to share all the memories with you. Excited to see you!
Samantha- hey fam! Going to the airport right now after 2 awesome weeks! Love and miss you guys!! See you soon!
Anneliese- hey family!! I’m sad to be leaving such an awesome place but I’m soooo excited to see you guys!! Headed to the airport right now, can’t wait to hug you!
Katie- HIII!! I miss you but I don’t want to leave! I love this trip so much and have made so many amazing friends that I will tell you about when I see you guys! Love you we are headed to the airport right now.
Adylein- Literally hate leaving my amazing friends but I cannot wait to see y’all!! This trip has been AMAZING!! on the way to the airport now. Love ya!!
Catherine- Hey guys! On my way to the airport now and I’m so sad to leave but so excited to see you! Can’t wait to give you your presents and tell you all about it:)) Love you️
Mollie- hola fam!!! Currently on the way to the airport and I’m so sad to be saying goodbye to the best 2 weeks of my summer, but I can’t wait to tell y’all everything!! Love you guys!!!
Grace- Hi family! Sadly this trip is coming to an end and it was the most amazing adventure ever. Can’t wait to tell you all stories! See you soon!!
July 24, 2017
The past few days have been amazing. Our service portion of the trip was so meaningful and impactful. The girls fell in love with the children in the village and truly served selflessly. Even though we are here to serve the Shandían people, they have given us so much joy, adventure, and fun in return.
For our service project, we finished the river path that was started at the beginning of the summer. The previous group placed rocks from the river along a newly cleared trail. Our group further enhanced the path by painting the rocks to stand out in the dense forest. We spread out along the trail and completed the project after two days of painting! We had a little bit of help along the way from some of the local children that wanted a turn with the paint brushes. Everyone ended up with a little bit of the bright white paint on their hands and legs, but Adylein and Katie ended up with completely painted faces and hair after a hilarious paint fight. It was so rewarding painting the last rock and seeing the difference we made. The moment our project was completed, the children ran to the soccer field knowing it was time to play. Caroline and Anneliese caught the tiny children as they ran and jumped into their arms, while Grace and Catherine spun their friends around in the air over and over again. The cutest little boy would not give up his spot on Riley’s shoulders the whole time we were with them. While we were by the river, some of the children thought it would be funny to pull us into the big puddles. Mollie embraced the mess and played with them in the mud and water. Everyone on this session really connected with the villagers, making our time here so much more meaningful. They showed us so much adventure in their Amazonian home. One morning we hiked through the rainforest to a waterfall. Morgan, AC and Alice not only ran through it, but also jumped in the cold pools that were along the hike. We trekked through flowing streams under the shade of giant green trees that touched the sky and enjoyed the amazing scenery that you can’t get at home. We continued exploring the Amazon region on the Jatunyacu River during our white water rafting trip after leaving Shandía.
We started the day off early to get as much time on the river as possible. Our time staying dry and warm was short lived because the two groups we split into loved jumping from raft to raft. Samantha was the first pushed in, but Celeste was repeatedly pulled in by friends from the other raft. Our river guides showed us cool tricks like balancing on the raft and spinning in fast circles. Instead of paddling, Cooper braved sitting at the front of the raft with her legs over the edge to take on the rapids. The whole day was full of laughing, singing and chanting down the river. Everyone definitely got the most out of their sleep last night.
We are on the way to Baños right now where we will spend the last two nights of our trip. It is unreal how fast the time has flown by. Everyone is having so much fun and no one wants this trip to end. They are making the most of each moment and these last couple of days are going to be a blast.
Caroline & Zach
Katie- hey!! We are in Tena right now! Miss you see you later!!;)
Adylein- four more days!!! Love you & see you then!!
Anneliese- hola family!! Having a great time and see you soon!!
Riley-sup dudes at home!?!?! Missing y’all lots, see ya soon!
Morgan- wassup fam! I’m in tena right now, about to eat chicken stir fry 😉 can’t wait to see y’all!!
AC- hola fam!! Went rafting today and had so much fun!! See y’all soon:))
Alice- hola! Miss everyone but Ecuador is amazing:))) see you soon!
Cooper- greetings loved ones! We went rafting today… BEST DAY EVER. Miss and love y’all see ya soon!!!!
Grace- Hi family miss you so much! We have been doing the most amazing things ever, Ecuador is so fun!
Catherine- Hey everyone! Miss you all like crazy! I’m having the best time:) See you in less than 4 days!!!!
Mollie- hola!! I’m having the best time in Ecuador!! Miss you guys..see you in less then 4 days!
Samantha- hi fam!! See you guys soon…love you!
Caroline- hey fam! Having a great time in Ecuador and see you soon!
Celeste – hola familia! I’m having so much fun and I can’t wait to see y’all! Love you!!
July 19, 2017
The weather has been perfect since we arrived, so we have been at the beach and in the water every day. Whether playing in the sand or in the ocean, everyone has had a blast in the Galapagos.
We started out the trip with a birthday, and there’s no better place to celebrate than at the beach! The whole group woke Samantha up singing and surprising her with candy. Even though the Ecuadorian baker spelled her name “Samanta,” the treats still tasted delicious. That morning we visited the calm beach of Tortuga Bay. Catherine showed us her headstands in the sand and tried to help others stay up. While everyone was attempting their own headstands, Adylein was doing flips into the water! The inlet has a land barrier to block the waves, so swimming far from shore is very easy and fun. Riley spent the whole morning in the water, only coming in when it was time to leave. Every day we have visited a new beach and she is always the first one in. When it was time for snorkeling, everyone was eager to get in. It was a sunny day and the water was clear blue. The sea lions joined us and would swim in circles around Anneliese and Mollie as they tried to keep up with their speedy swimming. Morgan, Grace, and Caroline swam right next to a large green sea turtle that drifted along with the current.
It has been so nice coming back to our hostel every night that overlooks the expansive blue ocean. This lodge has a kitchen so we have been making trips to the market and cooking big meals at night. Last night some of the girls made some delicious guacamole, and Celeste helped prepare the dinner. To top it all off, there are hammocks that everyone loves to swing in as we cook dinner and talk. Anne Catherine, Alice, and Cooper even fell asleep for the night in the hammocks to the sound of waves crashing in the distance. These islands are not only beautiful, but so exotic. The unique and playful wildlife make it so hard to leave. It has been fun not only learning about, but also interacting with the animals. Whether it’s watching blue footed booby babies in their nests, swimming with sea lions, or Katie getting in an old giant tortoise shell, the Galápagos Islands have provided amazing experiences that you can’t get anywhere else!
It is a perfect day for the beach as we leave for mainland Ecuador, but there is so much more fun ahead! We will be heading to the Amazon region for our service section, and this group is going to love the people in the Shandia Village!
Caroline and Zach
Mollie- Hey family!! I am having so much fun in the Galápagos, now off to Ecuador! See you all soon! Miss y’all and love y’all!!
Riley- Hey fam!!!! Miss y’all lots!!! Just had a blast and a half in the Galápagos, where I swam with sea lions! Love you!!
Katie-Hi guys! We are on the way to Ecuador after being in the Galápagos which was so much fun!! Miss you as love you hope you are having fun at Sea Island!!!
Grace- Hey Hinckley fam!! I miss y’all so much, but I love everyone here and I am having an AMAZING time!!! We are just leaving the Galápagos and heading to Ecuador to have even more fun.
Caroline- Hey family!! I miss you all but am having such an amazing time! We are heading to Ecuador now after having a great time in the Galápagos. Love you!!
Samantha- Hey family! I miss you guys but love everyone here!! The Galápagos was amazing! See you soon, love you!!
Morgan- Sup fam!! I love and miss you guys so so much and I’m having a blast here! We just left the Galápagos and are on our way back to Ecuador right now. Can’t wait to see everybody!!
Alice- hey family!! And amigos! We are leaving the Galápagos now and it was amazing now going to Ecuador! Miss you all so much and can’t wait to see you soon but I never want this awesome experience to end!!!
Cooper- What’s good fam!?? We are on the plane heading to Ecuador after having a wonderful and relaxing few days in the Galápagos. I am having a blast so far and am so pumped for what’s to come. I cannot wait to tell y’all all about it through tons of videos and pictures. Miss and love y’all always!!!!
Catherine- Hi to mom dad and the twins from Ecuador! I miss you guys like crazy and I can’t wait to see you all and tell you about my amazing time. We are headed out of the Galápagos into Ecuador right now for the second half of our trip! I’m getting you guys some cool souvenirs:) I can’t wait to see you in Chicago when I get home! LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU️
AC- hey fam!! I’m having a blast and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Today we are leaving the Galápagos to go back to Quito! I have so many pics and videos to show y’all! Please say hi to gus and sassy for meSee y’all soon:)) xoxo
Celeste – hola familia!! I’m having lots fun so far, especially when we got to swim with sea lions! We’re on the plane on the way back to Quito from the Galápagos and I’m not too sunburnt! I hope Nashville is good and not too hot, the weather has been pretty nice in the Galápagos! Tell everyone I said hello and give duke a treat for me! Love and miss y’all!! 🙂
Adylein- hey mom & daddy!! (And Dallas) miss y’all so much!! I’m having such an amazing time with all my new awesome friends. The Galápagos has been so breathtaking. It’s sooo pretty. We r heading back to Quito today! Tell John I miss him like crazy!! Also, tell the cats I love them. Love y’all!!
Anneliese- Hey peeps!!! Mom, you can stop worrying I am having the best time ever here and I am very safe and sound!! Dad, I hope the dogs are doing okay and that you aren’t having too much fun without me!! Amelia, I miss you sooo much and I can’t wait to see you soon!! And Sara if you are reading this thank you for the letter you wrote me it made my day!! I love and miss all of you guys and I’ll be home before you know it so don’t miss me too much!!
July 15, 2017
Hi Ecuador + Galapagos Families!
We heard from the group and everyone arrived safely in Quito late last night. Everyone is in great spirits and they’re excited to start this adventure! Stay tuned for more updates.
-The Moondance Team