June 21, 2023
Greetings from Ecuador!! The time has completely flown by, it is hard to believe our trip has come to an end. We have had the best last days together, and I cannot wait for y’all to hear all about our adventures once the gang arrives back home. Day eleven began with a yummy breakfast at our hotel in Banos that everyone enjoyed. We tried pineapple jam and blackberry juice for the first time and would 100% have it again! We then took a trolley bus to our activities for the morning. The bus was bopping to music that the whole group couldn’t help but dance to. Fin was especially getting into it, showing off his dance moves, some we hadn’t even seen yet. Our first stop was a cable car ride which went over a waterfall. The whole crew absolutely loved it! We were especially proud of Daniel for conquering his fear of heights on this, he was a real trooper. We then hopped back on our boppin’ bus to go to the largest waterfall! Getting on the bus one last time, we went to the awaited swing. Each one of us, including Harry and I, got to soar through the sky overlooking the beautiful mountains of Ecuador. Although Julia looked a little scared at first, she crushed it and had a great time! We all knew Fin was enjoying himself due to his loud yelps as the swing took off. Classic Fin always cracking us up! We then had a taco lunch, got ice cream with our guide, and headed back to the hotel for some free time. Harry bought a basketball so the boys could play. Hudson, Jack, Harry and Fin made up the dream team. Eventually, locals joined their game with Parker on their team. Isabel and the girls, Mason and Daniel sat on the sidelines watching the intense match off. The game even attracted a crowd of locals at the park! After this, it was finally time for our salsa dancing lessons and dinner. We were all so pumped for this. Mercer and Ella-Ross brought up the good point of how lucky it is that we are now so close and how much more entertaining that made our dance lessons. Salsa was for sure a great time. We were impressed by our crew’s dance skills. Hudson approached the dancing like a football player practicing his foot skills, whereas Makena’s dance experience had her thriving immediately. Their only advice was that we needed to add more flavor! Daniel and Ella-Ross were voted salsa dancing king and queen and got to perform for us all after our dance off. We then enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner. Sophia gave the rice a high rating and the food had everyone going back for seconds. Then we had a dance party with the crew and Mercer impressed us all with a back flip. Tonight, was perfect for one of our last night’s together, and one we will never forget. Our last full day together, day twelve, began with another amazing breakfast at our hotel. We enjoyed more fresh blackberry juice, pineapple juice and fresh jams. River was sure to point out the strawberry jam and how delicious it was. We then bussed to the Adventure Park where we zip lined and rock climbed. Harry and I were so incredibly proud of the whole group for their courage and perseverance with the heights that came along with our course. We were especially proud of Julia for overcoming her nerves and completing the rock-climbing portion! She rocked it! After this, we giggled at our silly photos from the course, hopped back on the bus and began our journey back to Quito. We stopped for pizza on the way and eventually made it back to our hotel, entertained by music and volcano sightings on the way! We then played a large group game of ultimate frisbee at the hotel. Hudson showed off his frisbee skills and Caiden performed stellar defense on Fin. The game had everyone super dedicated and involved. We then went for a swim in the pool where everyone enjoyed the water slide, especially Jack. Finally, we played soccer and watched our final sunset together. We headed to a delicious dinner in town and then went up to the rooftop of our hotel for Moonup. Our LODs, River and Jack, led our favorite, most personal Moonup of the trip. We concluded the night sharing our favorite things about each person of the group, and as Harry said, there was so much serotonin hearing the love and appreciation we have all gained for one another. Today, our final day and departure day, began early. The group headed out to a hummingbird sanctuary and a visit to hot springs. We then returned to the hotel and hung out for a bit before heading to the airport. This is a bittersweet day for us. We truly could not have asked for a better group to share these experiences with. Ecuador and Galapagos now share a special place in all our hearts, and I cannot imagine the trip without each person. Every single one of us added to the heartbeat of our trip and time together. Thank you so much for providing this trip and allowing us to take care of your kiddos, we learned and gained so much from them! Our hearts are so full after these past two weeks.-Isabel and Harry
June 18, 2023
Greetings from Ecuador! We have made it to the second part of our trip back in mainland Ecuador and our gang could not be more excited. Our last few days in The Galapagos were nothing short of magical. Each day seemed to get better and better.Day eight began with a fairly early wake up call as we headed out to our long awaited boat and snorkel day. We had a yummy breakfast at the hotel and then boated out to Isla Lobos with our snorkel gear and eager selves. As one of our leaders of the day, Jack put us in high spirits as our hype man during morning huddle. It was a bright and sunny day, perfect for our last day on the water. After seeing our snazzy personal boat, we were briefed on the plan for the morning and started out on the calm waters to our short but interesting hike. We finally saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds and other wildlife we had been on the edge of our seats to see! Parker was sure to capture the best pictures of these, even straying off the beaten path to get the perfect angled shot. Fin also showed off his knowledge, answering virtually every question our guide asked correctly. We then went back to the boat to gear up for our group snorkel. Upon arrival to the boat, the crew had some music playing to pump us up and snacks awaiting us. An impromptu dance party broke out, with Daniel leading us doing his signature dance move that the entire group joined in on. We jumped into the crystal clear water and embarked on our snorkel, swimming with more sea lions and star fish. Hudson even found the biggest sand dollar we had ever seen.
After this, we got back on the boat and were welcomed unexpectedly with cake from the crew! We enjoyed this and then took a smaller dingy to the shore where we relaxed reading, tanning, and snorkeling. Sophia obviously wanted to keep snorkeling to find some more sea lions to swim with, while Julia enjoyed a nice nap under the sun. After this moment of tranquility, we headed back to town feeling proud of ourselves and our early morning. Fully deserving of some delicious lunch, we went to a pizza restaurant, which I think we would all agree had some of the best pizza on the island. We then returned to our hotel to for some free time and to debrief the morning. After a few hours of rest, we headed to our cooking class. We were lucky enough to go grocery shopping for the ingredients at markets and grocery stores on San Cristobal. This made our final product of chicken burritos even more rewarding. Makena and Julia made some bomb guacamole, and perfected their avocado cutting skills. Harry was playing some great tunes that had the whole group on their feet. After this amazing class and dinner, we headed outside to watch our last sunset on the islands. Caiden, Ella-Ross and Mercer found themselves dancing with locals, entertaining all of us. We then returned to the hotel where Harry impressed us all with his guitar skills, and River knew essentially all the lyrics of every song. Ella-Ross and Harry even performed a duet to “Keep Me in Mind,” a crowd favorite. The whole group sat and sang together under the stars for a while. Moonup at the park followed this, and then we finally were ready to sleep after a long but fulfilling day.
Day nine was the day of our travels back to mainland Ecuador. We woke up and had breakfast at a cafe in town. As our last meal in the Galapagos together, we were sad but our belly’s were full of lots of waffles. We then headed to the airport and embarked on our flight to Quito. Harry and I were again impressed by the group’s responsibility and efficiency in the airport. Fin was especially helpful, carrying bags and ordering snacks. Sophia spotted a rainbow from the airplane when we were landing in Quito, the perfect welcome back. Upon arriving in Quito, we bused to our hotel and hung out for a bit before walking to a yummy local restaurant for dinner. Mason grabbed a local newspaper and read it for us at dinner!
We began day ten early as we got on a bus to head to Cotopaxi! We have been awaiting the horseback day of our trip and it did not disappoint. It was simply breathtaking and definitely a highlight of the trip for us all. Makena was super excited to be back in her horse girl era! The weather was perfect with a chill in the air, and we could see the beautiful Ecuadorian foothills the entire time. We even got to enjoy some delicious tea at the peak of our journey. Needless to say, this was a day to remember. We then bused to our next town in Ecuador on which we took some naps and jammed out to some of our favorite songs. We had dinner and adventured around our new town ending the night with our most precious time, Moonup.
We are so excited for our adventures in Banos, but cannot help but be sad about our days coming to a close so soon. Harry and I are the luckiest to have spent precious time with this group, and are so proud of the confidence and tight-knit nature of our crew. We know our final days will be amazing!
-Isabel and Harry
June 16, 2023
The fun has only gotten better as we have become not just a group, but a family over the past couple of days. We are so thankful! Day five began early as we took a boat ride back to Santa Cruz. These boat rides have become adventures for us, and we are always so proud of the group’s speed, efficiency and positive attitudes. After our brief boat ride, we were welcomed back into Santa Cruz with open arms and smiling faces. Continuing the day strong, we had a sit-down breakfast and headed straight to the beautiful Tortuga Bay. After a short hike with River singing Taylor Swift and the girls measuring the time in “All too Wells”, we finally stumbled upon blue water that looked like an ocean of glacier freeze Gatorade. Though the current was too strong in the ocean, we were able to swim around in the calm water a short walk away. Sophia developed her love for sea lions here, and even went up to one laying down right next to it! Her love for sea lions has only increased since then and it has kept us all very entertained. And of course, her love for rice. Caiden also faced her fear of swimming iguanas! Needless to say, there was a lot of wildlife for us to see. After our adventures at Tortuga Bay, we headed back to town and had a yummy lunch to refuel. Although we all could have taken a huge nap after lunch, we were so thankful that we made it to this beautiful oasis at Los Grietas. A stretch of water between rock cliffs, we had the place to ourselves. Sophia made us laugh with her sea animal impressions and Parker explored each crevice of the area, determined to find something cool. Fin and Mason instituted a cannon ball contest, and we still aren’t quite sure who won that. After this, we headed back to the hotel for free time and got some snacks from town, especially lots of Tangos which are a crowd favorite. We sure could have bought every Tango in Santa Cruz. We then headed to town for a sushi dinner. One of our most memorable dinners thus far, we were so proud of everyone trying a food out of their comfort zone. Jack even tried sushi for the very first time! After a Moonup again under the stars, we headed to sleep for a much-deserved nights rest.
Day five was quite the day! We began the day with our two-hour boat ride to San Cristobal which turned into a much longer ride than expected due to weather conditions. However, the group managed to make it out with laughs and a bonding experience to never forget. Hudson had an infectious smile so wide the whole ride, keeping morale high. Upon our arrival in San Cristobal, the sun came out and the sea lions right along with it. We were welcomed by countless sea lions everywhere. We then went to grab our gear and headed to our first snorkel of the day! After hiking through luscious trees under blue skies, we came upon the beautiful cliff side snorkel area. You could see straight to the bottom of the deep water. We jumped right on in and were led on a tour through the water, looking at everything from sea lions, star fish and snapper! Makena and Mercer even danced with some sea lions in the water and took the best pictures to prove it. Following this swim, we went to lunch as the rain poured down around us. We then went to our next snorkel spot where we swam alongside sea turtles! After our swim, we all hung out on the beach and enjoyed the view and sun. We then went back to the hotel for some much-needed r&r. Dinner came next and we clearly all needed some comfort food-half of the table ordered chicken quesadillas per Fin’s recommendation. Our LODs, Ella-Ross and Parker ended our night on a more serious note, reminding us that little setbacks or bumps in the road, such as our boat ride that morning, only add to the beauty of our whole lives. We were reminded to look at life as a whole picture and to remember the beauty in experiences. After this amazing moment for the group, we all headed to bed.
Day six was a calmer day for the group as we got to sleep in a little more than usual and found ourselves with more free time. We had breakfast at our hotel and then journeyed to a local eco-farm where we did everything from feeding chickens, planting corn, and visiting a hot spring all while admiring the beautiful Galapagos shoreline from above. After lunch here, we headed to Puerto Chino to swim for a bit then back to the hotel before dinner. Our LODs, Daniel and Julia kept the energy high on this calm day which we were so thankful for! We are so sad to be leaving the Galapagos so soon and it is hard to believe we were strangers just one week ago! Our adventures in Ecuador await us and we cannot wait.
Adios for now! Isabel and Harry
Happy Father’s Day Dad! I’m having so much fun here in the Galapagos. I miss you guys a lot but it’s hard to miss you too much when I’m swimming with sea turtles and walking with tortoises. See you soon! -Mason
Happy birthday mom and happy father’s day dad love you -Fin
Happy Fathers Day Dad, hope it is relaxing. Miss y’all! Really enjoying the trip. See you soon! -Parker
This is super fun, 10/10! -Daniel
happy fathers day! Love and miss you guys and can’t wait to see you! Having so much fun -River
Happy Father’s Day!! I’ve had the best time here!! Miss and love you and the doggies! I lost my GoPro charger so sorry, can we get another one so it’s not dead when I get back please! It’s charging with other campers rn! So sorry love u! -Makena
Hi! Happy Father’s Day! I am having a great time but I miss y’all so much! I want Pio Pio rice for lunch when I get home. Love y’all -Sophia
Happy Father’s Day Seanymama!! Miss all of you guys so so much. This trip is amazing and I love my counselors. Love you guys! -Ella-Ross
hi! I miss you guys so much and can’t wait to see you in a week and show you all the pictures! And Happy Fathers Day! -Julia
Happy Father’s Day! Wish i could be with you but I’m having so much fun! Can’t wait to see you so soon!! Love u so much! 143 -Caiden
Hiii!!! I miss u guys so much and can’t wait to see u! I am loving it up in Galapagos, working on my Spanish. Can’t wait to show u all my vids and photos. -Mercer
Hi I miss you all I love you and cannot wait to see you, especially JR. Fin misses JR too -Hudson
Hey trip is going great love you miss you especially miss Francie -Jack
June 13, 2023
Hello from the Galapagos!
We have had the best start to these two weeks together! Our trip began in the Quito airport as we met each other and embarked on the journey to our hotel. After arriving to the hotel, we ate some comfort pizza for dinner as we got to know one another, introduced moonup and got some much-deserved rest after a long travel day. Our sleep was brief as we woke up bright and early to fly to The Galápagos Islands! Harry and I were so impressed by the group’s responsibility and ease of traveling through a foreign airport, having just met one another. Fin, the immediate glue of the group, was sure to keep us laughing in the early hours of the morning! The flight went smoothly and we stepped off the plane into a sort of desert jungle. We have been constantly saying we feel like we are in Jumanji or Jurassic Park! We then looked at giant tortoises and ate lunch in what felt like the rainforest. Finally, we made it to our hotel, went to the beach and explored the town of Santa Cruz. Mason was sure to point out iguanas and different wildlife we came across, while having fluent conversations with the locals. The whole group attempted some hacky sack, and realized this is a place for improvement. However, we decided will be hacky sack champs by the end of the trip. We finished the night with dinner in town, walking through the streets full of bouncy houses and trampolines.
Day three began as we woke up and headed on a boat to Isabela Island! Sophia and Fin started off as Leaders of the Day, reminding us to live in the moment and truly embrace being out of our comfort zones. Most everybody in the group was able to sleep on the boat ride. Hudson managed to stay dry and keep a positive attitude, though the seat next to him was quite wet from the waves. We then we settled into Isabela Island, snorkeling side by side sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and more. We then had lunch at a delicious restaurant where Ella-Ross showed off her friendship bracelet making skills. After lunch, we embarked on our journey to a tortoise breeding center, followed by our first flamingo sighting! Finally able to hang up our Enos at the hotel, the group found a moment of solace in an Eno square in the courtyard making us feel right at home. We discovered River is a pro card shuffler, and she headed a game of President for the group. After these moments of free time, we headed back to the beach to watch the sunset. Though the sunset was taken over by clouds, the picture was still as perfect as an impromptu game of World Cup broke out among us. We finished day three with a Mexican dinner and good night’s sleep!
Day four began on Isabela Island with a delicious breakfast at our hotel and a hike to a volcano. We sang happy birthday to Caiden on the way through to the hike, celebrating the birthday girl with our singing. Though it was a bit chilly and rainy, the group kept amazing attitudes throughout the hike. Mercer, Ella-Ross and Caiden even ran parts of it, never ceasing to have energy. For the early hour of the morning, we were all impressed. Daniel noticed the clouds fade away from the caldera, and we got to see the volcanic rock for a brief moment. It was beautiful! We then headed down the volcano for lunch. Lunch consisted of laughs, a birthday surprise for Caiden’s sweet 16, and lots of delicious fruit juice. Games on the beach followed lunch, led by Makena, that had the whole group excited. After, we went to our surf lessons on the beach. With crystal blue water and sunshine, everyone was content on the beach, enjoying the waves. Julia showed true dedication to getting up on her board despite how hard it was. We were so impressed by the group’s surfing skills and so was our guide! After surfing, we were ready for our soccer and basketball games with a local team on Isabela Island. Not fully knowing what to expect, we went into the evening with an open mind and game faces on. Everyone in the group can agree that this was a true wow moment and bonding experience for not only us, but the community as a whole. Daniel showed off his hidden soccer skills and Parker led the basketball team with power. Jack dominated the court, scoring most shots in their game. We followed up our intense hour or two of sports with a delicious dinner, a enjoyable Moonup under the stars and then headed to bed. We are so excited to head to San Cristobal Island next! With this, horseback riding in Cotopaxi, and adventures in Ecuador next, we have so much to look forward to. This group is gold and we can’t wait for more adventures!
Adios! – Isabel and Harry
June 9, 2023
Hello Ecuador + Galapagos 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!