July 4, 2023
Bienviendos a Galapagos!
We can’t believe that we’re already so far into our Galapagos adventure! It seems like yesterday that our group was all meeting one another for the first time at the airport. This group has been absolutely spectacular with one another and we are both so grateful for the constant laughter and energy that they bring to everything they do! Can’t wait to share with you all the special moments!
After our eventful day in Santa Cruz, the gang went to bed excited for our next set of activities on the beautiful island of Isabella. After our early arrival by boat, our group enjoyed a surprise treat of an ice-cold Coke which was delicious! After finishing our drinks, our crew immediately strapped on our fins and goggles to cool off and explore the refreshing Concha de Perla. Tyler was especially good at catching all the special moments on her GoPro of sea lions playfully swimming all around the group! The crew even saw a couple sea turtles swimming around the ocean floor which was super cool! After having an awesome time pointing out all the diverse wildlife to one another, the crew hopped out of the water to head over to a mouthwatering lunch of chicken, popcorn shrimp, fries, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
When the group finished their last bites, we headed out of the restaurant to begin our scenic walk to a local tortoise breeding center. While on the way, the crew was able to witness a massive flock of endemic blue-footed boobies feeding all along an ocean shore. Laura was especially excited about this and was able to shoot some amazing action shots of the birds flying in and out of the water! Once our group arrived at the breeding center, Andy, our personal guide during our stay at Isabella Island, began explaining all the interesting, intricate details of the importance of these centers and the kids were able to see tortoises ranging from 1 year old all the way to tortoises that were full grown adults! After our tour was over, our crew headed over to a close by the beach to start a friendly football game in the water before rinsing off and heading to dinner at a delicious sushi restraint right on the water! After dinner, the crew devoured some delicious homemade mini churros with chocolate sauce before walking back to the hotel for moonup and then bed.
The next day, the crew excitedly woke up and ate a full breakfast of eggs, yogurt, fruit, and juice before strapping our tennis shoes up for our hike up the Sierra Negra. During our walk-up, everyone had time to talk and share stories with one another and Mills did a great job of keeping spirits up with her constant jokes and laughter! After walking down from our hike, the gang drove over to a restaurant in town to dine on some delicious grilled chicken and fish before walking back to the hotel to get suited up for our next activity for the day: surfing! The gang drove to a nearby beach and had a quick lesson from our instructor before grabbing our boards and hitting the waves. Britton was an absolute star while surfing as she was one of the first ones to successfully stand up and always was confident when going for the biggest waves! After shredding some awesome waves and really polishing our surfing skills, our crew snacked on a well-deserved treat of Oreos and Tangos (chocolate-covered biscuits with marshmallows in the middle) before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our evening activity of basketball and soccer against two local Isabella teams!
Before our game, our team fueled up with some delicious take out of chicken quesadillas and shrimp tacos before making our way over to the fields to introduce ourselves to the other teams and start playing! During the soccer team, Cabe and Olivia absolutely killed it showcasing their incredible skills as forwards and helping our team score so many goals! After finishing the soccer game, our crew immediately walked over to the courts to begin our basketball game against another team. Grayson’s skill on the court was absolutely unmatched and she delivered countless points, including so many three-point shots, throughout the game! Hill was also incredible during our basketball game and confidently shut down so many scoring opportunities from our opponents as well as scoring so many points to bring a big win for our group! During the play, the crew kept spirits up by cheering on our team members playing and laughing with one another. Will got especially in the cheering spirit and even started the wave with all our group members sitting on the bench! After saying good game and talking with the other team, our crew headed back to the hotel to hold moonup and head to bed.
The next morning, our crew headed back to Santa Cruz for a fun-filled day of visiting Tortuga Bay and Los Grietas! Our first stop was a walk to the beautiful beaches of Tortuga Bay where Lilly pointed out an awesome stingray swimming around the group in the shallow water! After our hike back, the crew snagged a hearty lunch of popcorn shrimp, veggies, tuna, and plantain chips before heading to Las Grietas, a spectacular swimming hole spot on Santa Cruz where we can swim in the peaceful waters and see so many fish swimming around us! After refreshing in the cooling water, the crew headed back to our hotel and walked around the local shops of Santa Cruz before dining on some mouthwatering burgers and fries for dinner. After moonup, the crew said goodnight to Santa Cruz and went to bed excited to travel over to the much-anticipated island of San Cristobal!
Despite our early morning, the crew was quick in grabbing their bags and heading over to the port to jump in our boat taxi taking us to our last stop: San Cristobal! After our arrival, the gang was immediately met with numerous sea lions that lined up the sidewalks and beaches as well as numerous iguanas. The crew grabbed their individual snorkel sets before jetting off to an awesome snorkel spot located in a cove. While swimming, the crew was able to play with so many sea lions and Thomas was especially skilled at recording the baby sea lions on his GoPro as they swam circles around him! After our first snorkel session came to an end, the crew feasted on some freshly made pizza before jetting off to our second snorkel spot filled with so many sea turtles. After our snorkel adventure in San Cristobal came to an end, the crew headed back to our hotel to shower and change before heading out for a yummy dinner of pasta and steak while talking and laughing with one another. The crew then headed back to the hotel to hold moonup and then fall fast asleep to rest up for another fun day of activities!
Can’t wait to share our last leg of adventures in the final trip update!
Until next time, hasta luego!
Annie and Sebastian
Lilly- Thank you so much Mom and Dad for sending me on this awesome trip! It has been amazing!!!!!! Miss you guys-Lilly
Mills- Hi Mom and Dad! Thank you so much for letting me go on this trip, I’ve had such a fun time and cannot wait to see y’all and Oscar, love you!! -Mills
Britton- Thank you Mom and Dad for sending me on this trip!! I have been having so much fun. Can’t want to see you guys! Love ya -Britton
Tyler- Hey guys I miss you so much thanks for sending me on this amazing trip, love you
Grayson- Hey Mom and Dad thank you so much for sending me on this incredible trip, love you guys.
Olivia- Hey mom and dad, thank y’all so much for letting me go on this super cool trip! I am having so much fun. Love and miss y’all -Olivia
Hill – Thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I can’t wait to see y’all. I am having so much fun.
Cabe – Hey Mom and Dad! I have had such a great trip so far and can’t wait until I can tell you about it. Thank y’all so much for giving me and Thomas this opportunity to explore and grow in our relationship while getting to know a completely different part of the world. Can’t wait to tell you more about it! -Cabe
Laura- Thank you so much sugar mom and dad for sending me on this incredible trip I have enjoyed every moment and I am having so much fun! I can’t wait to send the pictures love and miss you all
Thomas- Hey Mom and Dad, thank you so much for sending me on this amazing trip! It’s been so much fun and I don’t want to leave. I can’t wait to see y’all soon and tell you all about it.
Will- Hi Mom and Dad. Thanks for sending me over here. We’re just wrapping things up here, it’ll just be around two or three days till we start heading back. Excited to you guys soon. Love, Will.
July 1, 2023
Will – Hi Mom, Dad, and other family. My trip has been going well so far. I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot. I’ve been trying to get more acquainted with the people on the trip. I’m not sure if I’m doing well at that or not. I’ve been reading The Catcher In The Rye recently. It’s really good. I’m about halfway through the book and I’ve been enjoying it. I don’t really have a lot else to say, so I suppose I’ll wrap it up here. See you in a little over a week. Love, Will
Hill – Hola, we just finished out time in Ecuador and are on our way to the Galapagos. I had so much fun in Ecuador and can’t wait to see what’s next. We zip-lined saw waterfalls and met locals. I played a pickup game of basketball against the locals and won. They were low key better than I thought they would be. And now I want to play basketball again next year at school. I can’t wait for the Galapagos part of trip so I can surf and get tanner than Mom. Mom and Dad I can’t wait to see you and but I’m sad I will have to leave our trip. I have tried a lot of new things like local Ecuadorian food and also tried tomatoes and sort of like them Dad. I have made a lot of new friends on trip especially Thomas and Cabe who I am with all the time. I also lost my book. Te amo, Adios.
Thomas -Hey mom and dad and Henry, I have had a great time on this trip. Met so many new people and done a lot of fun activities. Me and my cousin Cabe Lee co wrote an essay to both our parents since were all a happy family. I cannot wait to see y’all soon love y’all!
Although my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos will be very short, it will live with me forever. I approached the trip with great enthusiasm as it would be a time for me and my cousin, Cabe , to deepenour relationship. The experience has changed my view on life and how it should be lived through cultural diversity, new experiences,and building relationships.
After first arriving in Ecuador, it was a shock to see how different everything was than back home in Raleigh. Even though I knew that the native language was Spanish, it was a shock to all of a sudden have to use the Spanish that I had learned to help me get by. Another thing that surprised me waswas how everyone was so incredibly polite, respectful, and happy. Even though some of the people who live here may not be as fortunate as us, they have a strong will and desire to be kind no matter the circumstances. Their kindness has shown me and given me the confidence to pursue and try new things.
Some of these experiences ended up showing me how life is so different when you live it to its fullest. On the fourth night othe trip, the group traveled to mountain where we learn ed to salsa dance and has an exquisite dinner. After the dinner, the hosts turned on music and began dancing, and soon after, we all followed. Simple things like this have shown me that the life that I am supposed to live should be fun and exiting, which are only possible if I get pushed to try new things.
Throughout this trip, my relationship with my cousin has become increasingly stronger as every day goes on. After spending what seemed like countless hours in the airport talking we finally arrived to Atlanta where we met the member of the group who we would be spending the next two weeks with. Since that point on, Cabe and I have experienced growth in our relationship with each other and with new friends we have met along the way. These relationship that I have built with him and others will be so meaningful to me later in life because I can always know that Iwill have people who I can count on.
This trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands will make my life forever different because of the new experiences that I have had, the people that I have met, and the cultural diversity which I have encountered. I want to say that the reason that I wrote this analytical essay is because Sebastian said he would buy me ice cream if I wrote a five paragraph essay. Love you Mom, Dad and Henry and I’ll see y’all soon
Although my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos will be very short, it will live with me forever. I approached the trip with great enthusiasm as it would be a time for me and my cousin, Thomas, to deepen our relationship. The experience has changed my view on life and how it should be lived through cultural diversity, new experiences, and building relationships.
After first arriving in Ecuador, it was a shock to see how different everything was than back home in Wilmington. Even though I knew that the native language was Spanish, it was a shock to all of a sudden have to use the Spanish that I had learned to help me get by. Another thing that surprised me was how everyone was so incredibly polite, respectful, and happy. Even though some of the people who live here may not be as fortunate as us, they have a strong will and desire to be kind no matter the circumstances. Their kindness has shown me and given me the confidence to pursue and try new things.
Some of these experiences ended up showing me how life is so different when you live it to its fullest. On the fourth night of the trip, the group traveled to mountain where we learned to salsa dance and had an exquisite dinner. After the dinner, the hosts turned on music and began dancing, and soon after, we all followed. Simple things like this have shown me that the life that I am supposed to live should be fun and exiting, which are only possible if I get pushed to try new things.
Throughout this trip, my relationship with my cousin has become increasingly stronger as every day goes on. After spending what seemed like countless hours in the airport talking about just about everything imaginable, we finally arrived to Atlanta where we met the member of the group who we would be spending the next two weeks with. Since that point on, Thomas and I have experienced growth in our relationship with each other and with new friends we have met along the way. These relationship that I have built with him and others will be so meaningful to me later in life because I can always know that I will have people who I can count on.
This trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands will make my life forever different because of the new experiences that I have had, the people that I have met, and the cultural diversity which I have encountered. I want to say that the reason that I wrote this analytical essay is because Sebastian said he would buy me ice cream if I wrote a five paragraph essay. Love you Mom, Dad, Hazel, and Izzy! I’ll see y’all soon!
Hola mi familia,
I am having a blast. Right now I am on a plane headed to the Galapagos. I have enjoyed meeting new people, eating yummy food, and being exposed to the culture of Ecuador. I have also enjoyed sleeping in comfortable beds, listening to great music, and hanging out with the people from Ecuador. The people here are very friendly, enthusiastic, and great dancers. Their fun-loving energy is contagious. I have made lots of great memories so far and will continue to make more. See you guys soon and can’t wait to show you guys all the cool pictures I have taken. Hopefully you guys don’t miss me too much.
Love you guys!
Britton – Hola fam! I’m having a ton of fun, and we just made it to the Galapagos portion of the trip. I told people to force me in the water to snorkel so don’t worry about that. Tell the animals I love them and tell Conrad I got him something other than chocolate this time. Ecuador was a blast! I got eaten by bugs though. Also, my ankle is fine it’s only a little swollen but whatever. Cancel flimsy ankles 2023. Ok love ya and see you soon! – Britton 🙂
Mills – hola mom and dad! It’s been so fun in Ecuador and we got to the Galapagos today. So far I have done ziplining, horseback riding, gone to hot springs, a hummingbird sanctuary in Ecuador, and seen so many cool animals like giant turtles, sharks, and sea lions in the Galapagos. This has been the coolest experience and I’m so thankful to be here right now. Give Rex, Elle, Oscar, and Leo hugs for me. I love y’all and can’t wait to see you again! Chow -Mills
Grayson- hola mom, dad and James
This trip has been one of the coolest and best experiences of my life and we’re only half way through. Every day and activity has been incredible. We’ve been to hummingbird sanctuary’s, giant waterfalls, climbed cliffs, gone zip-lining, and even learned to salsa dance (I won the competition). Now we’re on a plane to the Galapagos ready to have more fun adventures. Love y’all and can’t wait to see y’all. Love Grayson
Olivia – Hola mom, dad and jay from the plane on the way to the galapagos! I have been having so much fun here these past few days in Ecuador and I can’t wait to get to the Galapagos. This trip has been so so cool and we have done some really fun activities like seeing waterfalls, getting to hang out and play soccer with the locals, learning to salsa dance, zip lining, and so much more, and we’re not even half way through! Love you all and can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back. Say hi to deac for me.
Tyler- Hola fam, thanks for sending me on this amazing trip I have made so many memories. I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it when I get home. I took tons of pictures and I’m so excited to show you all of them. Yesterday we went zip lining and it was so much fun, right now I’m on a plane to the Galapagos. I can’t wait to surf and see and the animals here. I hope you guys are having fun at home, I miss you guys a lot tell scout I miss her too. Bye love you
Laura- hiii mom dad and sugar, I have had so many amazing experiences during my time here already! Thank you so much for sending me on this trip. I am having so much fun. I can’t wait to tell y’all all about it and show to photos. Also make sure guapo and fomhar are doing well and they have food and lights are on. Thank you so much I love y’all so much!!
July 1, 2023
Hola from our Ecuador and Galapagos adventure!
Our group has had an absolute blast exploring all the incredible things this country has to offer! Through just a couple days, we’ve already grown so close as a group (as well as improve our soccer skills immensely!) and we can’t wait to explore more of the Galapagos on the rest of our trip. So excited to tell y’all about all our amazing adventures!
After waking up in Baños, everyone was excited to travel all throughout this amazing city and see everything it had to offer! The gang woke up and grabbed a filling breakfast of croissants, eggs, and fresh fruit before jumping in a trolley that was taking us up the mountains to start our day of activities! During the ride, everyone was in high spirits and danced along to the music playing on the loudspeaker while admiring the crazy views of the mountains and waterfalls. Thomas really got everyone’s excitement levels up by initiating a group dance party in the back which was so much fun!
Our first stop was a cable car ride that ran over a massive river. The gang excitedly hoped on and marveled at the incredible view while snapping pictures with each other. After, the group hoped back on the trolley to head over to an awesome waterfall hike, where we were able to see a powerful waterfall crashing into a river which! So cool! During our visit, Olivia encouraged everyone to take a group picture at the edge of the viewing area, where we were all splashed by some runoff water from the waterfall! After traveling back to our trolley, our crew made one more stop for our last afternoon activity: a swing at the end of the world! Mauro, our personal guide for mainland Ecuador, strapped each of us in one at a time to launch us on a swing located at the tip of a mountain. Everyone was able to enjoy the view from high up while hearing cheers down below from our group members. Tyler especially showcased her adventurous spirit while enjoying the activity and was able to reach such incredible heights on her swing!
After our afternoon activities, the group was ready to refuel with a mouthwatering lunch of beef tacos. When the last bites of our meal were finished, our guide Mauro surprised us with a treat by taking the gang over to a local ice cream shop. Mills decided to try out some of the shop’s homemade coffee ice cream which was absolutely delicious! The gang then had a little bit of free time, so we decided to bring our soccer ball to a close by park to start a pickup game with some of the local kids from Baños!
After having fun practicing our soccer skills, our gang got ready for our highly anticipated salsa dancing lessons located at a beautiful inn overlooking a river. Our group absolutely killed it while practicing the moves and really got into the learning about how special and important Salsa dancing is to Ecuadorian culture. Grayson and Hill really stood out with their exceptional dance skills and even won our friendly dance competition that was judged by our teachers! After showcasing our incredible salsa moves, the gang earned a home cooked meal provided by our teachers of grilled chicken, short ribs, mashed potatoes, veggies, empanadas, and plantains. Laura decided to try some of the inn’s specialty desserts and decided on something that tasted like a sweet mint chocolate chip milkshake! After dinner, the crew jumped to their feet to start a dance party with the locals which was so much fun! Everyone showed off their new moves and even learned a couple new ones from the teachers. After saying our goodbyes, the gang piled back into the van to head home for moonup and then bed to recharge for the next day.
The next morning, the gang packed up all their things to put them in our van to head to Quito. However, our crew had one more exciting stop in Baños before heading out of the city: an adventure park! Everyone suited up in their harnesses and helmets and headed off to our first zip line adventure where we went down headfirst to enjoy the spectacular view of a massive river and stop inside a cave! Our next activity was walking on a bridge that was located high up in the air. After making our way to the other side, the crew clipped back in and began our climb up a mountainside. During this part, Cabe was absolutely fearless climbing from ring to ring and really showed so much confidence while scaling the mountain while encouraging others to do the same! After our climbing portion, the crew strapped back in for a partner zip line, which was super fun ending to our time at San Martin park in Baños.
The gang then walked back to our van to make our trek back to Quito. During our ride, everyone talked and laughed with one another while listening to our group playlist and eating some snacks. After arriving back at our first hotel in Quito, the crew quickly put on their swimsuits and jumped in the pool to play some fun games such as “gator” which Britton was victoriously declared the winner! The crew then grabbed the soccer ball and started an awesome game against one another on a massive grass field. Will absolutely killed it playing defense and stopped multiple forwards from dribbling past to get a shot on goal! After finishing up our game, the gang headed to a local Ecuadorian restaurant to devour an amazing meal of grilled chicken, rice, lentils and french fries. After dinner, everyone walked back to start moonup and packed all our things to head to the Galapagos in the morning!
Despite the early start in the morning, the crew eagerly hoped out of bed and headed to the Quito airport for our flight to the Galapagos! Upon our arrival, we were picked up by our guides and hoped in a van to head over to a tortoise sanctuary located in the highlands. Before exploring the wildlife, the group feasted on a delicious lunch of teriyaki tuna with roasted veggies and mushroom risotto. After feasting on our delicious food, we walked around the sanctuary to learn all about the different characteristics of tortoises and take pictures of them in their natural habitat. Then, we checked into our awesome hotel before walking around the town of Santa Cruz to visit the different stores all around town. After walking around, the crew dined at a local restaurant where we enjoyed some amazing food while talking and laughing with one another. To cool off from the hot day, the crew then rewarded themselves with some yummy gelato from a cute ice cream spot. As one of our trusted leaders of the day, Lilly had the excellent idea of holding moonup at the pier while surrounded by mini sharks and sea lions which was such a memorable moment! After the crew finished talking with one another, we headed back to the hotel to get some much-needed rest before heading to Isabella.
Can’t wait to share with y’all all the details of our adventures in the future!
Until then, hasta luego!
Annie and Sebastian
June 26, 2023
Bienvenidos to our Ecuador adventure!
Sebastian and I are absolutely ecstatic to go on this amazing adventure with all your kids! We can’t believe it’s only been a couple of days because this group has already begun to step out of their comfort zones and grow closer together! So excited for the following days to come and thank you so much for entrusting us with your incredible kids!
Right off the bat at the Quito airport, everyone excitedly met one another while putting their bags in the bus to head to our hotel! The gang ate a late dinner of delicious pizza before having our first Moonup in an awesome treehouse! After laughing together while recollecting the day, everyone went to find their rooms and gain some much-needed rest from a long travel day! The next morning, the group was all smiles as we got ready for a super fun day at a Hummingbird Sanctuary and hot springs! Before our excursion, the gang fueled up with a filling breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, fruits, and freshly squeezed blackberry juice. After we finished eating, the crew piled into the van to start our adventure!
Our first stop of the day was a peaceful hummingbird sanctuary located at the edge of the Amazon rainforest. Everyone grabbed their cameras and walked into the sanctuary where we were immediately met with so many hummingbirds and other endemic bird species fluttering all around us! Thomas was an absolute pro at capturing them in their natural habitat with his camera and even got a couple of videos of multiple hummingbirds feeding! The gang walked down a little further on the trail to view the rushing river and Cabe came up with the awesome idea to start a rock skipping contest which he ultimately reigned supreme! To warm up, the gang walked into a local inn to enjoy some crackers and hot tea and coffee while sharing stories. The crew then piled back into the van and drove up a little further before arriving at the relaxing Palpacita hot springs. The group quickly put on their swimsuits and jumped into the first hot pool to unwind and talk with one another. Laura influenced the group to brave the cold water pool and take a group underwater photo of us doing a polar plunge! After unwinding in the warm waters for a bit, everyone dried off and jumped back into the van to head to a local Ecuadorian restaurant for lunch. The gang enjoyed freshly grilled fish and chicken and Olivia decided to pull out a deck of cards to play a couple of games at the table while eating!
After lunch, we headed back to our hotel and decided to hop into the pool and hot tub while throwing the football. Lucky for us, the hotel was able to open up the water slide for us and Grayson decided to lead the charge in organizing everyone to go down the slide in a line! So fun! Later, the group decided to start a pickup football game where Hill showed off his skills and scored multiple touchdowns to ultimately lead his team to victory. The gang then started a friendly soccer game where Britton was an absolute wall while defending her team and barely let anyone get past her to take a shot on goal. Olivia also showed her skills and confidently dodged her opponents to score the opposing goal! After the game ended, the crew enjoyed a little downtime before heading out to a local barbecue grill house for dinner. Tyler decided to whip out a deck of cards to start a friendly game of Peanut butter with the entire table! Everyone was engaged and had an absolute blast at dinner looking forward to an action-packed day ahead of us.
The group had an early start in the morning as we packed up all our things, grabbed a quick breakfast, and headed into the van to head to Cotopaxi for horseback riding through the mountainous terrain. When we arrived, the gang suited up in traditional South American riding attire which included fur chaps and a poncho to keep us warm with the chilly wind due to the high elevation. After getting saddled up on our horses, the crew excitedly headed out to explore the beautiful mountains. Mills demonstrated her incredible riding skills and was super helpful to other members of our group by giving helpful advice on how to increase our own riding abilities! Will controlled his horse like a champ and looked like a real gaucho while wearing an awesome, authentic outfit on top of his black stallion! When the group reached the peak of our ride, we all got off our horses to enjoy the spectacular view and drink some delicious tea to warm up! While taking pictures, Lilly came up with a great photo idea for the group to build a pyramid behind the spectacular view of the mountains which was so sweet! The gang then saddled back up to head back down the mountain, where we said goodbye to our guides and horses before hopping back on the bus. On our way to Baños, the group stopped at a restaurant for a yummy lunch of cheeseburgers and grilled chicken!
When our bus arrived in Baños, the gang excitedly grabbed their stuff and checked into our hotel located directly in the city center. Everyone was able to have a little time to settle into their rooms before heading out to shop and explore the different markets. The gang even decided to make a stop at a close-by park to challenge a local group of teens to a 4×4 basketball game which we ultimately won! We even started a pickup soccer game with some local players that was so much fun! Everyone was hungry after our pickup games ended, so we ate dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant that served us mouthwatering pasta and pizza! After dinner, our gang traveled back to the hotel to hold Moonup on the terrace and then head to sleep. So excited for so many more incredible experiences with the crew and can’t wait to keep y’all updated with everything!
Annie and Sebastian