June 22, 2023
Bienvenido de Nuevo!
Both Sebastian and I cannot believe that our trip around Ecuador and Galapagos has already come to an end. It feels like yesterday this group was meeting each other for the first time while starting our amazing adventure together. This trip has been an absolute blast and we are so grateful to have spent time getting to know each and every one of your spectacular kiddos!
After having one day under our belts exploring the amazing waters and beaches of San Cristobal island in the Galapagos, our gang enjoyed a much deserved rest and woke up excited to visit and learn about a local, sustainable farm. The group was able to walk around and explore the different fruits and veggies being grown as well as the animals being raised on the farm. While the crew was walking through the chicken pen, Caroline was especially talented at quickly catching and picking them up to show other members of the group. After, some of our group members, including Gordon and Tucker, decided to bravely try a bite of peppers which were so hot! When we finished learning about the farm, the crew suited up to get their hands dirty while spreading mulch and planting corn seeds.
After working hard in the sun, the gang enjoyed a mouthwatering meal of chicken, yucca potatoes, salad and juice, all prepped by the farm workers. There, we all played an intense game of UNO where Carly was ultimately victorious at getting rid of her cards the fastest. After saying our goodbyes to the farm staff, the crew headed to a local beach to cool off in the refreshing ocean and enjoy the sunshine. Ezra and Bryce decided to start passing the football while Sophie and Meg encouraged another members of our group to play “over or under” with the incoming waves.
After drying off from the water and grabbing all our things, everyone drove back and got ready for banquet, signifying our last meal out together. In the spirit of things, the crew decided to “dress as your leader” and we all took hilarious pictures together before dining at a delicious Japanese sushi restaurant right near the water. When Margaret put on her outfit, she looked absolutely identical to Sebastian and really rocked the flat rim hat, button down shirt, and khaki shorts! After dinner, the crew held a heartfelt moonup before jumping in bed to get ready for the upcoming day.
The next morning, the group ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then hoped on our own private boat to visit la Isla Lobos. Everyone climbed off the boat and began our walk around the island where we finally got the chance to see so many blue-footed boobies of all ages! So cool! There, the crew strapped on their goggles and fins and jumped feet first into the water to see some incredible wildlife, such as different species of fish, sea lions, and starfish. William was also the first to see and point out a sting ray swimming past us on the sea floor! After our snorkel excursion came to a close, the gang hoped back into the boat and traveled back for lunch at a close by pizza restaurant before walking over to a close by beach to enjoy our last bites of sunshine before our upcoming departure.
The gang then walked into the town of San Cristobal to buy ingredients for our own personal cooking class where we made yummy homemade burritos and smoothies! Selby Anne and Natalie led the charge with cutting fresh pineapples, kiwis, cantaloupes, and pound cake to enjoy as a side dish with our meal. After finishing our last bites, the gang decided to walk over on the boardwalk and watch the massive group of sea lions interact with each other on a beach. We then decided to make a quick pit stop at a local coffee shop and enjoy a couple delicious treats of ice cream, tres leche cake, and Nutella crepes. After walking back to the hotel, the crew held our final moonup and packed our things to head out of San Cristobal and back to Quito the following morning.
Departure day was filled with travel as the we flew out of San Cristobal and hung out at the Quito airport to wait for their flight home. When the time came, everyone shared their contact information to keep in touch and shared tearful goodbyes before heading through security to board the plane and head back to the states.
Sebastian and I can’t thank you all enough for entrusting us with your kids. It’s been an absolute blast exploring Ecuador with them for the last 13 days and we both are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to know them. We can’t wait to keep in touch and see all the incredible things we know each one will accomplish in the future!
Sebastian and Annie
June 19, 2023
Hola from the Galapagos!
We’ve had an absolute blast these past couple days exploring the different islands of Galapagos! From swimming in the crystal blue waters to hiking at the tops of peaks, this group has really seen so many spectacular sights this country has to offer. So grateful to spend this time with your amazing kiddos!
With one day of Isabella under our belts, the gang excitedly jumped out of their beds and headed to a local restraint to eat a traditional Ecuadorian breakfast of eggs, toast, fruit, coffee, and freshly squeezed orange juice. After breakfast, the gang piled into the van and headed to the start of our hike at Sierra Negra Volcano. The group was able to see from high up the lava resents from a recent 2005 eruption! Margaret kept spirits up throughout the hike with great conversation starters and an upbeat moral! After our hike, we headed to a quick lunch before jumping back in the van and getting ready for an awesome surfing lesson! Gordon eagerly challenged himself and chose the shortest board to test his skill and even helped instruct other group members on how to sharpen their own skills! Everyone had a blast learning how to surf and Carly blogged the entire activity on her GoPro!
Later that night the group had the opportunity to play basketball and soccer against local teams! Natalie, Carly, and Caroline took charge of the soccer game, putting up a great effort while creating friendships within the local community. Over on the basketball court Ezra, Bryce, and Meg led the charge against some of the older teens on the island having so much fun we played over three games! After that we decided to get dinner right on the beach at a local restaurant where we enjoyed pasta, seafood, and traditional empanadas. Tucker got the chance to expand his pallet by trying a homemade banana-based dessert.
Back in Santa Cruz we had a group breakfast right on the pier where Caroline had the opportunity to order some delicious, Ecuadorian coffee. After the group finished eating, we caught a water taxi over to the other side of the island to begin our hike into a water carved canyon and go for a refreshing swim! Sophie was one of the first ones to excitingly jump into the water as we swam between the walls of the canyon. After lunch, we decided to treat ourselves to some delicious gelato where Selby Ann had two scoops of some fresh strawberry gelato! After cooling off with some ice cream, the gang decided to walk around town and explore all that Santa Cruz has to offer. Hampton really enjoyed this as he took the time to stroll through each shop and find some really cool souvenirs! Dinner that night was at the Muella de Darwin then we went to a local Ecuadorian chocolate shop where the group tried all kinds of flavors of chocolate, such as coffee and Oreo.
Upon arrival to our last island in the Galapagos, San Cristobal, we went snorkeling in Isla Lobos where the group saw incredible wildlife including sea lions, sea turtles, and numerous types of fish. During our snorkeling, the sea lions especially took an interest in William as they playfully swam around him multiple times as the group wanted! After a fun day of snorkeling, grabbed their stuff and walked over to a close by restaurant for a yummy plate of either chicken or pesto pasta to curb their appetites. Finishing their last bites, the gang then headed off to a beautiful beach to enjoy the sunshine and cool off in the water with one another. The gang then piled back into the van to head back to the hotel and shower off before heading out to catch the stunning sunset on the pier. Everyone snapped pictures with one another and laughed at all the hilarious shenanigans the sea lions were interacting with one another! The crew then went around town for a little shopping before heading to dinner for some amazing cheeseburger, freshly caught ceviche, and tuna tartare. After dinner, the gang went across the street for some ice cream and then headed back to the hotel for a moonup and then bed.
We seriously can’t believe how fast this time with your kiddos has flown by! We are both so proud of how confident and outgoing everyone has been with each other and the local culture and we couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience! So excited to continue to explore with this crew and can’t wait to tell you all about it!
Sebastian and Annie
Carly- thank you sooo much this trip is so amazing and I am having so much fun!! See y’all soon!!
Natalie – thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip. I am having so much fun. Miss you guys so much. Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!
Margaret – thank you so much for giving me this amazing opportunity to go on this trip. I am having so much fun. Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! Happy Father’s Day!
Selby Ann- Thank you mom and dad for giving me this opportunity. I love it so much and can’t wait to tell you about it. Dad, happy early Father’s Day! Love you so much!
Hampton – hey guys! I just wanted to say thank you so much for gifting me with this amazing trip and experience. I have had so much fun and can’t wait to get home to tell you all about it. Thanks again for everything! Happy early Father’s Day!
William – Thank you mom and dad for sending me on this trip. I love it so much and can’t wait to tell you about it. happy early Father’s Day Dad! Love you!
Tucker Thank you mom and dad! I love y’all so much and can’t wait to see you. Happy Father’s Day dad I hope you have a good one. Can’t wait to get home to tell y’all about it! Love y’all!
Ezra- Thanks you mom and dad so much for the opportunity to go on the trip. I love you guys so much and hope your doing well. Happy early Father’s Day. Hope to see y’all soon. love you all!
Gordon – Thank you so much mom for letting me go on this amazing trip. I love you so much and can’t wait to give you a hug in Michigan. Can’t wait to show you all the great photos and tell the great stories.
Bryce- Thanks for giving me this opportunity to be in the Galapagos and Ecuador like y’all were once were years ago. It’s very fun seeing the different animals like the sea lions fighting each other and also swimming around. Really enjoying the tropical experience, thanks again, love Bryce.
Sophie: I’m having such a great time! Thanks so much for everything and I’ll see you soon 🙂
Caroline: best trip ever!! Thank you mom and dad!!! Love y’all!! See y’all soon!!
Meg: thank you mom and dad for showing me there is always something good to look for in life! Love y’all to pieces!
June 15, 2023
Buenos Días from Ecuador and Galapagos!
We have had an absolute amazing time on the equator since the last time we left off and it’s hard to believe our group already said our goodbyes to mainland Ecuador. We are now continuing our adventure and exploring all the exotic wildlife Galapagos has to offer! Sebastian and I are so excited to see this outgoing group continue to grow closer while fully immersing themselves in new cultures!
After our last day riding the horses through the mountainous ranges of Cotopaxi’s national park, our gang excitedly woke up in Baños to jump on a trolly bus and jump on a cable car ride. We had an amazing view of a beautiful river and waterfall. After everyone snapped some pictures and enjoyed the view, the gang piled back into the trolly bus and headed to see even more incredible waterfalls on a hike. Then, we all went to the swings at the end of the world overlooking the Andres Mountains.
After our adventurous activities throughout Baños’ mountains came to an end, our crew stopped in town to grab some lunch at a local restaurant. While waiting for our food, Tucker and William decided to start a friendly game of chess to pass the time before our delicious tacos were brought to our table. After lunch, we walked around the markets of Ecuador and then jumped back into our bus and headed to a sick spot overlooking the river for our evening salsa lesson! The entire crew absolutely killed it at learning how to salsa and really brought the ~flavor~ when trying out their new moves! Sophie and Ezra were especially amazing and even won our friendly dance partner competition! After the dance lesson our hungry group was treated to a yummy assortment of homemade foods, such as empanadas, grilled chicken, veggies, and plantains. When dinner ended, the crew showed off their salsa skills on the floor for a fun dance party with the teachers! After the excitement of our salsa lesson, we were driven back to our hotel in Baños and went fast asleep.
Our next morning, the crew packed up their things and headed out for our last activity in Baños: an adventure park! After suiting up in our harnesses, the gang headed to the start of a massive zip-line where you went headfirst! When asked who wanted to go first, Carly immediately shot her hand up and confidently said she wanted to lead the charge! After our first zip line, everyone then strapped in and walked across a high up step bridge, then went climbing up handle rungs while attached to a side of a mountain. To close our adventure, we were able to go on another zip-line which was super fun! After saying goodbye, the gang went back into the bus and went back to Quito to start up a fun soccer game at our hotel. Meg and Sophie absolutely rocked it as the two-person goalie team for the girls and helped lead the girl’s team to victory! Our crew was starving after a great game of soccer, so we all walked to an Ecuadorian BBQ restaurant that served mouthwatering plates of grilled BBQ chicken wings and french fries. After dinner, the restaurant put on some music for us to dance to. Caroline and Natalie were one of the first ones out of their seats to show off their new moves! After dinner, the group walked back and held a quick moonup to make sure that we all got enough sleep before our early morning flight to Galapagos!
The gang arrived at the airport early and hopped on the airplane to take us to our next destination! When we arrived, we met our guide and hopped on our bus to have lunch and visit the highlands. Our lunch of pasta and teriyaki chicken was spectacular, and everyone enjoyed the view of the highlands while eating. After lunch, our crew walked around the highlands led by our fabulous guide and were able to see multiple animals, including giant tortoises and domestic birds. We even got to walk through a cave made entirely of lava!!!
The guide then brought us to the hotel where we were all able to drop our stuff off in our rooms and walk around the town of Santa Cruz. While walking, Selby Ann was the first one to spot two massive sea lions laying on park benches right in the town center. So cool! After browsing through the markets, Gordon decided that it would be a good idea to take a sunset swim in the harbors, which inspired all the guys to jump in, enjoying our first swim in the Galapagos water!
The next morning, we woke up and left the hotel right before sunrise to go back to the harbor for an early morning boat ride to Isabela. Bryce chose to sit in the most fun seat on the back of the boat with Gordon and they had the most enjoyable time riding the waves and appreciating the open air. After the two-hour ride, we finally made it to the island where we went snorkeling with sea lions! They were incredibly playful and seemed to especially like Hampton as they constantly swam around him in the middle of the bay. Later that day, the group went to a Tortoise breeding center to learn about the species conservation efforts on the island. During our visit, the group was given the chance to see a variety of tortoises, ageing from one-year-old all the way to 130 years old! After our excursion, the crew headed out for a delicious dinner of pizza, pasta, and poke bowls. While eating, Margaret’s personality shined as her constant storytelling had the whole table laughing almost to the point of tears! The gang then walked to a local churro shop to enjoy a street treat before moonup and then bed.
We are seriously so proud of each of these kiddos for becoming so confident and independent throughout this trip. We are always in constant laughter with each other and cannot wait for the adventures we are going to experience together soon!
-Annie and Sebastian.
Here are some shoutouts from your kiddos:
Meg – Hi everyone! I love you all so much and can’t wait to get home and give each of you a HUGE hug. See you soon! <3
Sa – Hi mom and dad!! I miss you so much and I can’t wait to talk to you guys. Thinking about y’all a lot, I hope jack is having fun in ole miss still. It is so cool here love y’all so much, see you soon.
Gordon – Hey mom! Having a blast in the Galapagos. Can’t wait to see you in Michigan.
Bryce – Hi mom and dad! I had fun in Ecuador, and I am having so much fun in the Galapagos. Can’t wait to see you soon,
William – Hi. Miss you. Having fun. See you in 7 days. But seriously it’s really nice here, everybody is nice, and the temperature and landscape is amazing. Love you!
Tucker – Hey mom and dad! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see you. Ecuador is so cool, and I am having so much fun. Sorry I won’t be there for Father’s Day but check my room for a card. Love y’all and I hope you are having a good time!
Carly – Holaaaaa! Miss everyone so much and I am having so much fun!! My group is full of amazing people and these places are soooo cool. Can’t wait to see and talk to everyone so soon!! Happy early Father’s Day padre woooo I know I am your favorite.
Hampton -Hey guys, I miss you a lot. I’m having so much fun and making a lot of new fun memories. I can’t wait to get home and see you guys. Thank you for letting me go on this trip and have such a great experience. I love you guys so much. Happy early Father’s Day!
Ezra – Hey everyone, miss you guys! Hope you guys are doing good. I’m making some great memories with awesome people. See you guys soon, Love you guys!
Sophie – Hey guys I’m having a great time here! It’s really fun and making so many new friends. Don’t worry, I’m getting lots of bird pictures. Love you!
Caroline – Hey mom and dad!!! I miss y’all soooo much. I am having so much fun in Ecuador and the Galapagos. I can’t wait to see y’all soon and tell y’all all about it! Love y’all and happy early Father’s Day dad!!
Margaret – Hey guys! I’ve been having the best time doing so many cool things that I can’t wait to tell you all about! Love you! See you soon!
Natalie – Hey guys! I miss you guys so much. I have been having the best time here and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it. Also, Happy Father’s Day Dad, hope you have the best day. Counting down the days to see you guys.
June 14, 2023
Greetings Ecuador and Galapagos Families and Friends!
Sebastian and I are so excited to start this incredible adventure in the beautiful Ecuador and Galapagos! In just a short time, we can already see this spectacular group growing more confident and closer with one another. Thanks so much for sharing your spectacular kiddos with us!
Right off the plane, our group left the Quito airport with smiles and all boarded a bus back to our hotel and devoured some delicious pizza before starting our first moonup, a nightly Moondance ritual where we recount the days highlights while laughing and connecting with one another. After moonup, the crew quickly fell asleep in their beds awaiting the next day’s adventures in Ecuador’s capital, Quito!
The next morning, the Leaders of the Day, Meg and Hampton, immediately claimed their roles and helped lead the group to get ready for our exciting first day of activities! After breakfast, the gang piled into our bus and Selby Anne immediately assumed the role of DJ and excelled at bringing the energy for a backseat dance party!
Our first stop was deep in the Amazon rainforest to a secluded hummingbird sanctuary. After stepping off the bus, Natalie quickly pointed out to the group the numerous hummingbirds peacefully fluttering all around the trees above us. When our outdoor tour of the sanctuary was over, our gang warmed up in a quaint inn while enjoying some local crackers and hot beverages. Margaret excitedly made a cup of delicious tea to enjoy while sharing snacks and laughing with the group!
Our crew piled back in the bus to ride over to the wonderful natural hot springs in Palpacita! Despite the chilly weather from the high altitude, everyone instantly warmed up and began relaxing in the hot springs created by the volcanoes from that area. Caroline even made some new friends when she confidently began conversing with local Ecuadorians in Spanish! So awesome to see her reaching out of her comfort zone and learning about the local culture of Ecuador! After staying in the hot springs for a while, Ezra decided to lead the charge and influence the crew to jump into the ice bath to take a group photo underwater!
After having fun in the water, the gang grabbed their bags and piled back on the bus to head over to a local Ecuadorian restaurant for a yummy buffet lunch of chicken and fish with an assortment of sides and juices. Tucker absolutely devoured the delicious fish while also enjoying the freshly prepared blackberry juice! Gordon decided to try the ‘mystery” juice made from the Narajillo fruit and absolutely loved it! After eating our last bites, the crew boarded the bus to head back to our hotel in Quito.
During our downtime, Meg kept the energy as she kept the group in constant laughter with her hilarious jokes! The crew also enjoyed some sweet ice cream where Bryce snagged the one with mini m&ms inside of it. After hanging out for a little, the gang headed out to a native restaurant that served mouthwatering steak and chicken as well as multiple sides. After everyone was finished eating, the crew headed back to the hotel to have moonup where Sophie graciously brought homemade sugar cookies she made for the group to share under the stars! After moonup, everyone began packing to get ready for tomorrow’s horseback adventure in the Cotopaxi’s wondrous mountains!
We had a quick start to our mornings as we grabbed a quick breakfast and piled into our van to head over to Cotopaxi National park for horseback riding. Once we got there, we were immediately met with local horseback riding instructors and a multitude of beautiful horses for us to ride. Our crew each put on an authentic Ecuadorian poncho and jumped on our horses to begin our awesome adventure through the wondrous Cotopaxi mountains. William was an absolute pro as he fearlessly led his horse up and down the steep hills and even across a small river! After our horseback riding journey ended, the gang said goodbye to our horses and guides and jumped back in the van to head straight down to Banos!
After settling into our hotel at Banos, everyone walked over to a local restaurant to eat a yummy lunch of grilled chicken and steak paired with specialty sauces and potatoes. After lunch, we walked around the bustling town of Banos and were in constant awe of the 360 mountain scape surrounding us. Our group walked over to a nearby park where Carly excitedly joined in on a local pickup soccer game where she helped to assist a goal to lead her team to victory! After the excitement from the game, our group chilled at our hotel before walking over to grab sandwiches and pasta for dinner at a nearby restaurant. When we returned to the hotel, the group had a quick moonup and went right to bed. Can’t wait to explore all that Banos has to offer with this crew!
Until next time, Adios!
Annie and Sebastian
June 9, 2023
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Ecuador! 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!