July 22, 2022
Hola to all you EGP 3A family and friends!
We have had a packed and awesome final few days together exploring the Galapagos. The day after our most recent update, we had a day focused all around snorkeling and exploring the Galapagos by the water. After another great breakfast of pancakes and passion fruit juice, we went to La Loberia, a snorkeling beach known for its sea lions laying on the shore and all the sea turtles relaxing under the waves. Kate E. And Nan especially loved snorkeling here, staying out as long as we could. At one point when we were trying to get a picture with a sea turtle, a sea lion swam in, photobombing some of our pictures in an awesome way! After this, we had another lunch at a restaurant we have come to love on the island, eating fish hamburgers and chicken pasta.
Soon after, we were out on a boat enjoying another snorkeling site. As everyone brought their Moondance shirts they were given at the start of the trip, we all got some cool pictures, and Maggie became our photographer and “picture director”, suggesting some great photos for us to take. We relaxed, listening to music and Tawes showed off his love for Justin Timberlake belting out his music. Nan practiced blowing circular bubbles underwater and played with a sea lion, flipping around underwater next to the energetic animal. Meanwhile, Carson snorkeled onto a nearby beach to observe some of the sea lions up close. After, our boat took us to isla lobos, a protected island where we went on a nature walk getting to observe blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and marine iguanas. Adaline especially loved this walk! As we packed up to leave on our boat, a full rainbow revealed itself — an amazing end to the day. For dinner, we had a cooking class where we made Ecuadorian burritos! Katie, ever so hardworking, helped so much by cutting up all the chicken, while Henry and Allison competitively determined who could cut onions better for our guacamole. KP helped make an awesome, fresh orange juice. We all prepared a great dinner together!
The next day, we went to a tortoise breeding center where we got to observe tortoises at various points in their lives. From babies to tortoise teenagers to adults, it was awesome to see these giant animals up close. Afterwards, we went to Puerto Chino beach. Here, the waves were awesome and we all got to relax on the sandy shore. Charlie was our resident surfer, going back out over and over to the waves to surf using the paddle boards that we brought down to the beach. Henry and Carson also got some good surf runs in. Afterwards we went to a farm to eat lunch. Here, Allison hosted games of cards while others played pool, ping pong and more. After another awesome meal at an Italian restaurant, we went to bed early in preparation for an early morning of our final full day together.
The next morning was early, as we woke up to catch a boat to Santa Cruz Island, the most populated island in the Galapagos archipelago. Adaline braved her fears of the sometimes choppy boat ride and Carson sat up on top with Taylor. After arriving, we took a bus to Tortuga Bay, a protected beach. During our walk there, Tawes was practicing and perfecting his Rubix cube skills, also giving others a chance to solve the cube. After a few hours of relaxing on the beach and eating a picnic, we packed up to go to las grietas, a beautiful natural pool between two high cliffs. Here we jumped off the swim platform and took a group swim. KP and Maggie loved the blue water here and we fully enjoyed the time we swam there. That night, we explored the town in Santa Cruz, checking out some tourist shops before going to a restaurant for our final dinner together. At the dinner, Charlie our brave pepper enthusiast, ate another Ecuadorian pepper. We started our final moonup of the trip with the song “Rivers and Roads,” detailing all the ways we as an EGP 3A family will stay connected moving forward.
Today, we headed from Santa Cruz to the local airport on the nearby Baltra island to fly as a group back to Quito. As I write on the plane, Tawes is mastering his Rubix cube solving skills, the other guys are playing war with cards, and KP with her never-ending energy is telling some of the people seated next to her about the great trip we have had. As everyone heads their separate ways, Taylor and I want to thank all the families for sending your kids on this trip — we have had an amazing time getting to know everyone and are gonna miss them!
Will and Taylor
July 18, 2022
Bienvenidos to the Galapagos Islands!
Since our last update we boarded a plane bound for San Cristobal island, the oldest populated island of the archipelago. While waiting at the Quito airport, we enjoyed a breakfast of avocado toast and pancakes and Nan creatively came up with a handwritten version of the game “wordle,” which Adaline quickly and continuously became the master of. After a short flight, we arrived at our island paradise. After lunch in the city, we walked by the shore for the first time getting to see sea lions out in the sun. We spent the rest of the day exploring the city and surrounding area. Katie, being from Chapel Hill, spotted the UNC Galapagos research center by a cool nearby beach. Later, we set out for dinner and souvenir shops. On the way, Kate E. impressed the group with a cartwheel, showing off her previous cheerleading skills. Henry and Carson bought matching swimsuits, and many Galapagos shirts were bought. We ended the day with a moonup before bed for the night.
The next day was our service project! On this day we went to an organic family-owned farm in the highlands of San Cristobal. Here, we assisted the farm in a variety of ways, from feeding cows and chickens to picking peppers to make an organic insecticide. When picking peppers we split into 3 teams. KP named her team with Katie, Allison, and Henry the Red Hot Chili Peppers and competitively picked the most amount of peppers. Charlie made the rest of the group laugh after he accepted a dare to try some of the peppers. After a great lunch at the farm we continued working, preparing bags of soil for plants and helping in other ways. Allison helped us look through the soil for worms to feed the chickens and Tawes became a pro at digging holes so we could plant some growing endemic trees. Later on in the day, we had a great dinner of burgers and a dessert of ice cream after that. Finishing his dinner early, Henry befriended some kids outside the restaurant, getting to quickly ride their scooters with them.
The next day we went as a group to a recycling center on the island where the building and decorations are all made of recycled goods. We explored the cool recycling center and eventually all made glass cups from recycled glass bottles that we could take home. Adaline found a really cool cup. Maggie, Nan, Tawes and some others helped prepare our lunch of steamed swordfish (it tasted awesome!). Before breakfast we played a volleyball game, where Maggie showed off her impressive volleyball skills. After our great lunch, we headed off to get some snorkel gear to go for our group’s first snorkel together. Charlie faced his fear of sea lions, as they swam all around us in the water. Nan stayed out in the water the longest with me, and even spotted a giant sea turtle relaxing under a rock on the sea bottom. Later on, while Kate E. and some of the other girls went on a souvenir shopping spree, Henry joined a soccer game with some young locals at the park. Meanwhile, Carson, dedicated to his summer football training, went with Taylor to the gym to get a lift in. We ended the night with a great dinner at a local Italian restaurant before an awesome moonup.
We have all gotten so close and are so excited for the final few days of the trip! We’re going to soak up these final days together! Until our final update,
Will and Taylor
July 15, 2022
Hola otra vez de Ecuador!
We have gotten so close during our adventure through South America. After our last update we drove to El Mindo Cloud forest for our next stop. On our drive there, we stopped at El Mitad del Mundo — the middle of the world! Here we learned about the equator, the Coriolis effect, and more! Your kids are staying sharp this summer with a bit of extra summer learning! Afterwards we headed on to El Mindo Cloud Forest. Our drive took us through the beautiful jungle with green trees populating the huge mountains. Once we arrived, we got some quick snacks, getting to see some cool local shops, before going on to a frog symphony at a local jungle lodge. Here, we went on a nighttime frog hunt, putting on our headlamps to search for some frogs and cool spiders. Kate E. Was sneaky, holding a stick out joking around and trying to scare some of the other group members!
The next day, we had a good morning and breakfast. Here, Carson and Adaline tried a new food of Bolon, an Ecuadorian breakfast dish, along with Taylor and I. After quickly loading our bags into the bus, we took off for the butterfly house. After a quick lesson on butterflies, we walked into a huge, netted area where tons of butterflies flew around us. There were all types of butterflies — blue, pink, red, see-through, and more! Nan was our “butterfly whisperer” as butterflies immediately landed on her hand, shirt, and face! Allison also held a huge butterfly! After leaving the butterflies, we went to a chocolate tour where we learned all about the different parts of the chocolate making process, from the cacao bean to the eventual chocolate bar. After a tour through the facility, we all got to taste some of the chocolate. George was like Willy Wonka, loving this part of the trip and asking tons of questions. After a lunch of Chicken with chocolate BBQ sauce (which yielded mixed opinions!), we packed up and headed to a different part of Ecuador for the night! On the way, we wasted time on the bus playing a game where of guessing the soundtrack music of different movies — Tawes proved his movie knowledge, repeatedly figuring out what movies were associated with the different songs. That night, we had a tv in our room and enjoyed a group movie night, bonding with some popcorn!
The next day we woke up and went to Papallacita Hot springs, a series of hot pools heated by underground volcanic activity! There were pools of hot water and cool chilly pools too. KP and Henry relaxed in one heated pool and bonded over their connection as Atlanta natives. Charlie took a dare and jumped completely in a cool pool, braving the cold water before rejoining the group in the warm water. After enjoying the pools for a few hours, we took our bus back to Quito to relax in a hotel near the airport. Here, we went swimming, sun tanning, and played some card games. Katie’s chacos were admired and inspired others to buy some when they get home. George kept Adaline laughing. Nan gave Kate E. A cool hair braid, and Maggie joined a basketball game with some of the guys in the pool, giving the guys a run for their money!
We loved exploring the mainland Ecuador and getting to know each other. Today, we start the 2nd half of our trip and head off to the Galapagos. We are so excited and will update you with more soon! Below, all the kids updated a shout-out to you all!
Will and Taylor
hi! can you ask Caroline if you can bring her adaptor to Atlanta so I can get my pictures? Or ask her what it looks like so you can buy one. If you don’t have Caroline’s number you can text Avery or Sarah. I have gotten a lot of great pictures I’m having so much fun and I love my group. Today we went to hot spring and we did horse back riding. There has been flooding so we didn’t get to go white water rafting but we get to spend extra days I’m Galapagos! Can grandad pick my up from the airport? I love you guys and muggy and I am really enjoying this trip I can’t wait to tell you all about it this have fun at the beach
hi, I’m having so much fun and we have all grown so close as friends. I miss you. Can’t wait to see you and go to California miss the dogs too.
Hi fam!! I miss y’all!! Having a blast here near the equator!! So far we have been horse back riding and gone to hot springs!! Tomorrow we head to the Galápagos Islands!! This lady in the airport made fun of me cause I brought tanning oil…O well!! I love my group and leaders so much!! Words can’t describe how much fun I’m having!! Yesterday we did a chocolate tasting tour and it was so cool!! I got to say it’s nice having a bed this year and not sleeping on the ground!! Omg I almost forgot we went zip-lining and rock climbing and the views were incredible!! The weather has been so nice and I love it here! We got to watch movies at our hotels and it was so fun having a movie night!! I can’t wait to see y’all and have fun willyes!!Lanier everyone here loves your bracelet that you made me!! You might have some new customers when we get back!! Love and miss y’all!! See ya soon
Hey Mom and Dad, I’m having the best time ever. I have the best group ever! We go to the Galapagos tomorrow and I can’t wait! The leaders are also so fun and idk how imma leave in about a week! I miss y’all, bea, Edward, Margaret, and the dogs so much! LOVE YALL!
Hi mom and dad!! I’m having such a good time. It’s so pretty and my group is so good. Everyone’s rly nice and we have become rly close. We’ve done so much fun stuff like horseback riding and zip lining and climbing. We have also done chocolate tasting, went on this swing that swings over the mountain, and we just went in hot springs. it’s been so fun with everyone. Tomorrow we r going to Galapagos for the rest of the time and I’m so excited. Love u guys and miss u so much. Tell Rosie and Benny I love them. Love you!!!!!!
Hey guys! I’m having such a great time in Ecuador, thank you so much for allowing me to do this. I miss y’all and I know y’all are having an amazing time in Africa. My favorite thing that we have done so far was the horseback riding because me and my horse (who I named Winston) bonded. See y’all soon, love you.
Hey family, miss you guys hope things at home are going well. Trip has been awesome, excited to tell you guys all about what we have done. BTW I am going to need all my favorite food waiting for me when I land. My favorite part of the trip so far has been playing basketball with the locals and trying different foods. Love you guys.
Hey, I’m having so much fun. Playing basketball and zip lining has been the most fun. I’m making more friends too and having a great time. Miss you guys
Hi Mom and Dad!! Hope y’all are doing well! I have been having the BEST time on moondance. My group is so much fun and we have all become such good friends. We have spent the past week in Ecuador and leave for the Galapagos tomorrow, which i can’t wait for! My favorite things we have done have been horseback riding, zip-lining, and us all hanging out at night In one of our rooms. Im most excited for the boat rides, and snorkeling in the Galapagos. I’ve made so many memories and have learned so much about myself, which is why I’m so happy I did this trip! Can’t wait to see y’all when I get back!! Tell jack I said happy 13th birthday, and please send this to the boys, the lusk, and Lala and Baba to say I said hi! Love and miss y’all so much and see you all in a week!
Hi mom dad and Mimi. I miss you guys and I am excited to see you in 7 days. Tomorrow we go to the Galapagos yasssss Tell soli I miss him too
Ps. Can someone please pick up my retainer because I forgot to
hi guys i miss you but am having lots of fun. it’s super cool here and excited to go to Galapagos tomorrow!
hey mom and dad I love y’all and am having so much fun I hope y’all are both having fun on your big trips too!so far I’ve gone to the equator, zip lining and horse back riding and to some hotsprings kinda like what we did that one time where they are pools heated by the hot springs, I love the group and have already become so close w so many people. This is the nicest moondance ever! We are staying in hotels and riding on a huge bus! Hope y’all are enjoying your vacations love and miss y’all see u in a week!
July 12, 2022
¡Buenos Dias from Ecuador! Our EGP 3A trip got off to a great start when the students landed in Quito, meeting all together for the first time. From there, we went to our hotel for the night where we started to get to know each other over pizza. As we learned each other names, Kate Pope decided to go by KP for the trip as we have two Kates in our group. Soon after, we had our first moonup where we shared our goals for the trip, and we got to bed early in preparation for a great full first day of the trip!
We started the next day with an early rise and an on-the-go breakfast as we boarded our bus and headed to Cotopaxi National Park. We arrived at a ranch near the park where everyone put on a poncho and chaps and was assigned a horse. Everyone quickly formed a close bond with their horses. Allison swiftly showcased her experience with horses, being the first to get on her horse. Tawes nicknamed his horse Winston and Carson nicknamed his Wilson and we raced off to the trail. The horses would switch between running and trotting, giving us amazing views of Ecuadorian green mountains and fields from horseback. At the top of the mountain, we ran around in our ponchos and sipped some warm tea, taking in the amazing views around us. After riding down the mountain, we had a quick lunch before boarding a bus and heading to Baños, Ecuador, a beautiful city in the mountains famous for its waterfalls. After settling into our hotel for the night we crossed the street and started playing basketball. Tawes showed off his skills right away shooting 3-pointers. Charlie soon followed him up scoring a 3-pointer against a team of local players. Soon we did a full basketball game between our group and a group of locals. Maggie displayed her basketball skills, dribbling and shooting around the other players. Afterward, we headed off to a great dinner together at a local restaurant where most people chose between steak or pasta. Adaline and I bonded here over our favorite Athens, GA. Restaurants (Go dawgs!). We then headed back to our hotel and had our first moonup hosted by the kids, this one led by our first leaders of the day George and Nan!
We woke up the next morning and had an amazing breakfast with some awesome Ecuadorian juices. The group’s favorite was blackberry juice! We then headed to an amazing river valley where we could see more of Ecuador’s huge and beautiful, green mountains. Here, we went zip lining! All the kids laid down (like Superman!) and zip-lined over half a mile into a canyon over the river. They spread their arms and got an amazing view of the river valley. Once there, everyone strapped their harnesses onto the ropes and crossed a bridge of suspended squares. Nan and Kate E. Led the way during this bridge part, being the first two to cross over the rushing river below! After this, the group got to a part where we would climb the canyon to another lookout point. Henry, conquering his fears of heights, was the first one to tackle this part of the activity, swiftly climbing the canyon! Once everyone was at the platform, we did a zip line back to the start. Taylor and George were the first two to go, as we were able to do this zip line in pairs, once again soaring over the valley. After zip-lining, we went to a restaurant for lunch, eating everything from pasta to Caprese salad to pancakes! Here, Katie wowed the group, playing the piano that was in the restaurant. After lunch, we packed into a shiva, an open-air bus, where we went to a mountain top and did a giant swing into the sky! After this, we quickly shopped around the town. George found a cool Bob Marley jacket, Carson bought an Ecuadorian face mask, and KP bought a new dress. We ended our great day with a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers before dancing in front of the restaurant!
We are grabbing another great breakfast in Baños and then we are headed to Mindo Cloud Forest to see another cool part of Ecuador! We are excited to keep exploring and will update you soon!
Will and Taylor
July 10, 2022
Hello Ecuador + Galapagos Families!
We heard from our leaders late last night that the group has landed safely in Quito. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!