July 6, 2023
Hello from Ecuador! Time has flown by faster than we’d like to think. This group could not have been more special and anticipating our goodbyes makes us incredibly sad. We have had an amazing time on mainland, though, and are so excited to update y’all on our experiences!
Day eleven was our first full day in the town of Banos. We started the day with one of our favorite Prebreakfasts at our hotel and then hopped on a trolley bus to our activities of the morning. The music on the bus had the whole group dancing, especially Lang who made us laugh with his moves. Our first stop on this journey was a cable car ride across a waterfall. Though this tested the few of us with a fear of heights, this was so rewarding and so cool to experience with each other. Reston especially stood up to her fear and had so much fun looking down at the waterfall and the beautiful landscape in front of us. Emma reminded us that this was for sure a “wow” moment of the trip! Our next stop was a hike to another waterfall. We headed through the rain forest and towards the waterfall. Everyone was sure to capture the best pictures. We put our rain jackets on and were ready to cross under the waterfall. After making it to our destination, we sat and looked over the edge at the powerful water and the trees surrounding it. Liam pointed out its power and thought about its source. He’s always making us think and we love him for that! After our waterfall hike, we went to our final destination of the morning, the swing. Trip let out the happiest yelp and biggest smile on his ride. Watching everyone’s excited reactions made us smile. We headed to lunch after this, enjoying the best tacos of the trip! Isabel and the girls then walked around town exploring all it had to offer and buying matching key chains and bracelets while Harry and the boys played basketball on the local courts. We met back up at the hotel for some rest and relaxation before we set out for our salsa dancing lessons! This night was one for the books. Katie and Lang won salsa dancing queen and king, though I think we all could have held this position. Who knew this crew had such great salsa talent! Doug got really into it and had us all smiling watching his rhythm and moves, and Preston was laughing through every song. We enjoyed a yummy dinner buffet after our lessons and the boys had an entertaining game of telephone going at the table. After a dance party with Lang, Liam and Trip were put in charge of aux, we went back to the hotel for Moonup and sleep. It started sprinkling on us during Moonup which honestly made the night so much better. We sat under the stars in the rain and learned more about each other, making us even closer than we already were. Our LODs, Reston and Trip, had us all feeling happy after this Moonup. Our long nights rest was much deserved.
We woke up in Banos on day twelve and had another yummy breakfast. Of course, we had to celebrate the Fourth of July, so we were all dressed in our red, white and blue and patriotic beads. Reston walked into breakfast with blue and red face paint, and the entire crew joined her in this. Reston loves including others and has the biggest heart for sharing which we all strive to emulate! We then headed out for our morning at the adventure park. We were so excited to zip line and rock climb across the rapids. It was so impressive to watch the group attack this challenge, and as so many of them said, to watch them do something they had never done before. We were for sure pushed out of our comfort zone in the best way possible. Louise approached the activities, while intimidated by them, with the best attitude and biggest smile. She ended up enjoying every minute of it! It was especially special to watch the group complete this activity after growing so close to one another. It was so obvious the care and respect we have for one another. We then got on our bus and began our drive back to Quito! Katie and Louise were belly laughing basically the entire ride, and even said this ride might have been one of their happiest moments of the trip. With our favorite music playing, these little moments together have the power to make the biggest impact and this ride today proved that to be true. We stopped for lunch, took some naps on the bus, and then made it back to Quito. The group immediately wanted to jump in the pool and had lots of fun on the water slide. We played soccer and India was an amazing goalie. This paired with Liam’s skills made a dream team. We then had our last dinner together in town and grabbed some ice cream after. We finished the night with Moonup. Katie and Doug as LODs led us in a time to reflect on the trip and our relationships with one another individually and as a group. The night ended with everyone in a doggy pile, singing along to Harry’s guitar playing. This was an incredible moment to witness and be a part of. This moment just goes to show the closeness and love this group has for one another, and we have been so blessed to watch this come to life.
On day thirteen, we woke up on our last day in Quito and headed to a hummingbird sanctuary after breakfast at the hotel! We saw very cool hummingbirds and a beautiful river. Then we went to the hot springs where we all sported our swim caps. It was quite the look! We headed back to the hotel for showers, volleyball and ultimate frisbee. Trip really showed off his frisbee talents during this. We then headed to the airport for one last dinner together and to say our final goodbyes which consisted of tears and tight hugs.
Harry and I are so thankful to have spent the past two weeks with this crew. Thank you so much for entrusting us with your amazing children and providing this experience for them. It has been a pleasure watching them experience the world and learn more about themselves. We cannot wait for y’all to hear of our adventures from their perspectives. EGP 2B will always hold a special place in our hearts. Adios!
-Isabel and Harry
July 3, 2023
Greetings from mainland Ecuador!! We have made it to the second part of our adventure on mainland in Quito and Baños. Our spirits are high as we head into these eventful next few days! We had the best time during our last days in the Galapagos, and were incredibly sad to leave the beautiful island of San Cristobal.
Day seven was a special day for the crew. After breakfast at our hotel, we hopped into trucks and headed to a local eco farm. Driving up into the highlands of San Cristobal, the view continued to get prettier as we went higher. Luscious green landscape was seen with a vibrant blue water backdrop. Upon arriving on the farm, we met the family owners and embarked to our activities. These varied from seeing chickens, building a fence and trying homegrown foods! Many brave souls in the group tried an incredibly spicy pepper. I had never seen Lang’s face so red and he couldn’t seem to shake the spice the rest of the day, though he did not at all regret it. India did not even flinch when she tasted it. We were all quite impressed by each other! We then had a delicious lunch, where Trip told Charlottesville stories and the girls got to sit with our guide and ask all sorts of questions about his experiences in Galapagos. After lunch, we said goodbye to the eco farm and went to swim at Puerto Chino. A beautiful beach, everyone enjoyed cooling off in the water. Liam spotted blue footed boobies on the rocks, our first sighting of the trip! India, Preston and Reston linked arms and attacked the waves. After this brief time at the beach, we went back to our hotel for showers and free time to explore town. We got some of our favorite coffee, Emma especially loves it! We then explored more of our favorite stores. We had one of the best sushi dinners tonight on the rooftop as we watched the sunset! We then had ice cream while Louise instigated a very interesting conversation about movies many of us had not watched, and inspired us all to watch more of. Finally, we watched the sea lions interact on the beach. We decided we could watch them for hours. Between Trip and Doug’s narrating and the noises coming from the sea lions themselves, there was a lot going on. We ended the night under the stars with singing songs and Moonup.
Day eight was another amazing day! A group favorite, it was our boat snorkel day. We woke up early and headed to our outfitter to retrieve our snorkel gear. After our short but peaceful boat ride, we hopped off the boat and began our hike on Isla Lobos. We saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds, iguanas and much more. After this, we jumped into the crisp, cool water for our snorkel. Katie spotted three of the coolest sand dollars we had ever seen. Between swimming with more sea lions, turtles and getting caught in massive schools of fish, we were all very happy. We then had some free time on the boat. Liam and Harry explored the water more and saw some amazing wildlife interactions. Trip and Lang also snorkeled some more, but then decided they were ready to do some cannon balls off the boat. The rest of the crew enjoyed the sun on the front of the boat. Louise put it best saying, “I have never been so happy as I am right now.” Reston agreed and really put the moment in the big picture for us. We were on a boat in the Galapagos enjoying the sun with each other. We could not have felt more lucky!! We then headed back to town for a pizza lunch and then the hotel for showers and rest. As the evening approached we went to our cooking class where we made delicious chicken burritos. The whole group was involved, each person tasked with a different part of the meal. Music played through the room and Lang attempted to teach each of us how to pretzel! After enjoying our meal, Harry sang and played guitar for our chef to celebrate her birthday! It was a special night for sure, and sadly our last night in the Galapagos.
The next morning, day nine, we were able to sleep in more than usual which made everyone happy! We had breakfast at our hotel and then headed to the airport to fly back to mainland Ecuador. Doug had everyone entertained with his rubics cube skills on the plane, while others were intensely reading their books. We have loved the amount reading this crew does!! When we arrived in Quito, we went to our hotel and then dinner. Lang said this meal was in the top three of the trip thus far and no one disagreed. We then had Moonup where our LODs, Emma and Liam, had us belly laughing to conclude the night.
Day ten began with another early morning, as we headed to Cotopaxi for our day of horseback riding! This day has been greatly anticipated. We arrived at our destination, had some delicious passion fruit cinnamon tea, hopped on our horses and were off. The views of the mountains and Cotopaxi volcano were absolutely stunning. Trip and Isabel’s horses lagged behind the rest of the group, but they had fun with it. Whereas Emma and Reston’s horses were flying! This was so fun to watch. At the top we took a nice break and managed to fall into a pile of each other, resting our eyes in each other’s company. After this, we hopped on our bus and headed to the town of Banos. We played some basketball at the local park with an audience and then went to dinner. We headed back to the hotel for Moonup under the stars and a little bit of rain, then to sleep.
This trip has been wonderful and we are so lucky to have spent this time with our group!! We will cherish our last few days together in Ecuador and know they will be nothing short of amazing!
-Isabel and Harry
June 29, 2023
Greetings from the Galapagos!
We just arrived on our final island in the Galapagos, San Cristobal, and we could not be more excited to be here. We have had quite an eventful past few days!Day four began on Isabela Island with a hike to the Siera Negra Volcano. Luckily, we had stellar weather, so the skies were clear, and views of the caldera were amazing. We learned about the islands being hot spots, and everyone enjoyed the view. Reston remarked how cool it was to actually see the inside of a volcano, and how different it looked compared to what she was expecting. After we got our steps of the morning in, we bussed back to town for lunch.
On the bus ride back, India was sure to help with the music. We have listened to our favorite songs on repeat, and it is safe to say we cannot get “Willy’s Song” out of our heads. Lang has also contributed his songs to the mix, introducing new country artists to the crew. Lunch was a delicious variety of options including shrimp, fish and chicken. Louise has been pushing herself out of her food comfort zone, and decided she absolutely loves our traditional appetizer of soup and popcorn! We then headed to our surfing lessons. With intense waves, the crew could not have been more excited for this part of the trip. Our instructor pointed out Liam’s potential, and said next time he surfed he would be a pro. This was fun to watch! Though we did not all receive this feedback, the smiles on everyone’s faces proved the fun we were having.
After this, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our afternoon soccer and basketball games with local teams. Trip couldn’t have been more excited for this, and had been perfecting his soccer skills for this exact night. Though we may not have won all the games, we put our heart and soul into it and that’s what matters. Our hidden talents came to the surface as Reston and India proved to be amazing soccer goalies. As we were leaving, Preston said how happy it made her just to see the smiles and connections made with the local children. We will never forget that night!
The next morning, day five, we went on our morning boat ride back to Santa Cruz. We had breakfast there where Emma tried a local dish with plantains and cheese and loved it! We then rested and journeyed to Los Grietas. The water was crystal clear. Katie perfected her jumps off the dock, while Emma, Louise and Reston never failed to get the perfect shot. We finished up the night with everyone at our hotel sitting outside making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches listening to music. Though so simple, this was the exact thing everyone needed: a little taste of home and comfort food for us all. We ended the night with Moonup, discussing our happiest moments from the trip thus far, and then got some much-needed sleep before our early morning.
Day six began early with our last travel boat ride to San Cristobal Island. Our LODs, Reston and Trip, started off the morning with high energy. Today was definitely one of our favorite days! After the boat ride, which the crew said was the best one yet, we headed to our first snorkel spot. It was a bright and sunny day, and the water looked a vibrant blue. We swam with sea lions, sea turtles, various fish, and rays. After a yummy lunch where Doug impressed us all with his hot sauce tolerance, we went to our next snorkel spot where we saw eagle rays and sting rays for the first time! We then made it back to the hotel for some rest before dinner. We finished the night with Moonup, where Emma and Lang showed off their musical talents.We are so proud of our crew for their adventurous spirits and positive attitudes the past few days and we cannot wait for what the rest of our time on this beautiful island holds, and our times back on mainland.
Adios for now!!-Isabel and Harry
June 26, 2023
Hola from the Galapagos!! Harry and I could not be more excited to have this crew together for the next two weeks. We can confidently say we have started off strong, with packed days and lots of smiles. Our journey began as we picked up the kids from the airport in Quito before heading back to our hotel for some pizza and bedtime. Good sleep was necessary before our early morning flight to Santa Cruz!
Day two began and Doug and Lang were amazing role models, being the first two packed and ready to get on the bus. We loved the energy at the start of this day. We returned to the Quito airport awaiting our flight to Galapagos! We got to know each other over some card games, specifically “President”, which had the group very involved. Lang came upon a winning streak, whereas Louise was less lucky during this game. Though, she stayed optimistic and made the comeback of the century! Regardless, the group got to know each other on the airport floor and were eager for the rest of the day. Reston pointed out the beautiful water on the flight and was looking for sea lions and whales in the water from above! Meanwhile Trip was vlogging the plane ride, never failing to capture an entertaining moment.
Upon our arrival in Santa Cruz, we went to a local eco-farm where we saw massive tortoises and had a delicious lunch! Emma began the conversation asking us all what we want to be when we grow up, and these answers sparked interest and bonding from us all. We then went to our hotel and got ready to go to the beach! There we played an intense game of Marco Polo in the water. Preston was “it” most of the time but handled her position like a champ. Then Louise started a game of Star. The group was super into this game, reminiscing on movies and tv shows from the past. Being amongst the beautiful Galapagos landscape in crystal clear water felt surreal to us all. We then headed back to the hotel before exploring town. While exploring town, India was so eager to look at every crab, shark, sea lion and iguana. She is one with the wildlife! We then found ourselves playing a game of soccer with local children, which was a highlight of the day for us all. Doug and Liam especially impressed us with their soccer skills! We then had our first real dinner as a group in Santa Cruz, got ice cream, did a little more night shopping, and then headed back to the hotel for Moonup. Under the stars together, this Moonup was meaningful and silly.
Day three began with a boat ride to our next island in the Galapagos, Isabela Island. Harry and I were so impressed by the group’s attitude on the boat ride. We all took some much-needed naps on the ocean during those two hours. We then walked to our first snorkel where we swam with sea turtles, rays, starfish, and penguins. This was an exciting first snorkel for us! After, we headed to a local restaurant for a well-deserved lunch and an unexpected crepe dessert. Our trip to the tortoise breeding center was next, where we saw tortoises ranging from age 1 to 150 years old! The group had lots of questions for our guide, and we loved learning more about them. Following this, we had some awesome time as a group at the beach. The boys played more soccer with local kids, while the girls made friendship bracelets. India brought string for us to make bracelets which has prompted group bracelet making. Listening to our favorite music and the sound of the waves, we found solace while making bracelets for each other. As India said, we will never forget that moment! After a bit more basketball playing, we had a delicious dinner where Katie showed off her Spanish speaking skills, impressing us all. We followed this with singing and Moonup discussing our happiest moments in life.
We can already tell how lucky we are to have the high energy and humor of this group. Our crew is already so tight and passionate about connecting with one another, we can’t wait to see what the next days hold! Adios for now!
-Isabel and Harry
I LOVE THIS PLACE!! The seafood is delisioso. I never want to leave- tell my dog I love her- adios -India
hey guys!! I miss y’all so much but this place is so cool, I can’t wait to show y’all when I get home! Tell Mason and cannon good luck! Love y’all -32 -Emma
love you guys! Having so much fun here and met so many great people. The food is amazing. Tell Cherry I love her and can’t wait to see everyone when I come home!! – Katie
love y’all! Tell Aubrey I miss her and tell buck I love him. Mom, can you buy more everything bagel dip for when I get back home. Also can we pick up canes after the airport? – Louise
love y’all so much!! I’m having so much fun in the Galapagos and can’t wait for Ecuador! So exited to tell y’all all about it! Have so much fun at the beach. Love y’all!! -Preston
The Galapagos is so pretty! I miss y’all so much and wish you could see all the pretty things with me. I can’t wait to come home and give all of y’all and June and Nell a hug!! LOVE YOU SO MUCH!! -Reston
The Galapagos is insane and is the paradise that you imagine in dreams! The wildlife and people in my group are awesome and I love how much the group has bonded. I can’t wait to see you guys, although I also don’t want to leave. Love you! -Liam
this trip is really fun we are having an amazing time and soccer with local kids is great! Our group is pretty awesome too. The scuba diving is very fun and we bought muscle shirts. Love you -Trip
trip is awesome! Meeting lots of new friends. Water is pretty, looking forward to seeing yalI. I love blue footed boobies -Lang
I love you mom! I love you dad! This is fun, this is so fun. -Doug
June 24, 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!