“Same Same, but Different”

“Same Same, but Different”

Our group left the remote village of Mae Salak full of gratitude for the hospitality we experienced from the local people. We were inspired to continue our community service work in Chiang Mai, this time providing English lessons to the students at the Watpakoita School. We covered a lot of ground during our six-day stay in Chiang Mai: from service, to elephants, to zip lining in the jungle. 

We began our visit with an extensive Thai cooking lesson, which included a visit to a local food market to see where our ingredients come from. We even tasted different fruits during our visit.

Our guide informed us that the children at Watpakoita look forward to the Westcoast group visit every year. Trip Members were divided into small groups to create lesson plans tailored to grades 1-6. When we arrived at the school, the excitement was palpable. The lessons began in the morning and Keep Reading »

Arrivederci Italy… Greece, Here We Come!

Arrivederci Italy… Greece, Here We Come!

Upon our arrival in the quaint city of Perugia, we headed for a guided tour of the local chocolate factory. Their specialty is the Baci (the Italian word for kiss) that is sold all over the world and comes only from this one and only factory! The factory also holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest chocolate ever made! With our bellies full of delicious chocolate, we headed to the hotel located right in the heart of town. Later, we got to walk around and explore the unique shops and food options available. Many trip members said that night’s dinner was one of the best of the trip so far, as we experienced some authentic dining in the rustic eateries of Perugia. 

We spent the next day relaxing, swimming, and having fun at Tavernelle Aquatic Park. We have all been learning together about the different customs in Europe. One of Keep Reading »

Greekin’ Out Over These Views

Greekin’ Out Over These Views

We left Sivota for a change of scenery, heading into the mountains to the small village of Monodendri. We stopped in Ioannina, a lake town, for lunch and arrived in Monodendri just in time for an afternoon hike. The group was excited to hear that the hike was in fact downhill and we had a blast as we descended into the Vikos Gorge. We stopped to take pictures and trekked over ancient bridges built by the Byzantines. That night we had a family dinner and enjoyed a delicious feast. 

The next day in Monodendri, we went river-tubing. We admired the picturesque scenery which consisted of crystal blue water and mountains that stretched into the sky. We then floated along the river in our wetsuits and navigated our way through rapids. After our time down the river, we were brought back to the top of the mountain to enjoy a fantastic lunch Keep Reading »

Amazing Times in the Amazon

Amazing Times in the Amazon

The past few days of our Peru community service trip have been a blast! Following our exciting adventures in Cusco, we hopped on a plane to Iquitos where we had a day of community service that our program members will remember forever. 

We had the incredible opportunity of going to a local school in Belén where we got to spend time with the students. Teamed up with local students, our program members helped collect garbage from the area surrounding the school, helped clean the play area and encouraged others in the community to do the same. We then walked the students back to their homes before taking some time to decorate and beautify the inside of the school.

After our service day, we began our adventure into the Amazon. We traveled by boat down the river, enjoying the beautiful scenery. When we got to the Muyuna Lodge we were welcomed with fresh Keep Reading »

From Bright City Streets to Beautiful Canyons

From Bright City Streets to Beautiful Canyons

Hello from the Grand Canyon! We have had a jam-packed week, ranging from amusement parks, beaches, to city streets and canyons. We have not wasted a minute here, and have been living in the moment and soaking in all that we can. 

Before leaving Los Angeles, we made sure we experienced all of the rides at Disney and Universal. Also, one of our favorite things we did was visit Venice Beach. The local cafes, the epic skate park and the artists that lined the boardwalk were all amazing and so unique. The last thing on our LA bucket list was to see a celebrity. Not only did we see one, but we also met one! The host of the comedy show that we went to was Stephen Kramer Glickman! For those who don’t know who that is, he played Gustavo Kramer Rocque on Nickelodeon television series Big Time Rush. After the Keep Reading »

Winter Activities in July!

Winter Activities in July!

Koa ano! Hello again!

We left you off in Rotorua, but since then, our trip members have accomplished so much and had some pretty amazing experiences. After departing, we were back on the bus driving to Blue Duck. Along the way we stopped and took some sweet photos at the Huka falls, which is a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River. We continued the drive down south-west and to our destination, the Blue Duck Station.

Shortly upon arrival, our bus came to a standstill because a flock of sheep was taking up the entire width of the road. This lasted several minutes until a man and his dog came and shepparded them to the side of the bus, allowing us to continue our journey towards the lodge. Once at our destination, we were greeted by a man in his ATV with a single sheep buckled in his passenger seat. This was Keep Reading »

Painting, Singing and Surfing in South Africa

Painting, Singing and Surfing in South Africa

Going back to Johannesburg brought us a lovely drive through the Blyde Canyon, the largest green canyon in the world, with a stop at the scenic view of Three Rondavels. Although amazed by the beauty of Kruger Park, our trips members were eager for our next plans. We started a version of Secret Santa or “Peanut Buddy” among the Trip Members, where each one had to pick a name and give the other person different treats for the following days. 

Our stop at “Jozi” was great, we had the opportunity to visit the Apartheid Museum and the Mandela House. We learned about the fascinating life of Nelson Mandela, as well as the huge impact he has had in today’s world. Trip Members had the chance to walk around the market and admire the neighborhood.  Learning about the history of South Africa and Mandela’s legacy was very eye-opening to many of the Keep Reading »

Salamanca Spirit and Facing our Fears in Porto

Salamanca Spirit and Facing our Fears in Porto

We ended our visit to Madrid with a day trip to Toledo, but some would agree that we saved the best for last because the hilly old town was one of the most beautiful areas seen on our trip so far. We headed to the picturesque town on the Fourth of July and of course, we had to sing the national anthem on our way there. In Toledo, we visited an ancient church and synagogue, and wandered the streets that were draped with fabric, decorated with chandeliers and fresh flower arrangements overhead. Our day finished with the tasting of different tapas while listening to traditional Spanish guitar. That evening, the group had a heart to heart discussion about our common wishes and fears about our journey ahead and set goals as a trip family.

Just when we thought Toledo couldn’t be beat, we quickly discovered that Salamanca was just as incredible. Keep Reading »

Saying Goodbye to Galapagos

Saying Goodbye to Galapagos

Sea Lions, Boobies, and Tortoises, oh my! Here in the Galapagos, we are spotting all kinds of species in their natural habitats! In addition to the animals we listed above, we’ve seen stingrays, sharks of all kinds, massive crabs, iguanas, dozens of Darwin’s finches, whales, and more. It is truly mind blowing to experience the beautifully preserved islands that Charles Darwin explored two centuries ago! The history and biodiversity of the island are truly one of a kind. As we learned on a guided tour of the Charles Darwin Research Center, there are so many species that are unique to the islands.

No trip to the Galapagos Islands would be complete without lots and lots of tortoises! Did you know that there are currently thirteen endemic species of tortoises that only live in the Galapagos? At the Darwin Center we learned about what the National Park’s efforts to protect the fragile Keep Reading »

Soaring and Flying Through Week Two

Soaring and Flying Through Week Two

There was no better way to start our third day in Whistler than the Sasquatch. After taking a gondola up Blackcomb Mountain, we arrived at the longest zipline in the United States and Canada. The dual zipline was the most exhilarating, thrilling 120 seconds of our lives. After touching back on the ground, we enjoyed a nice lunch in Whistler village, before heading to Rainbow Park. From football, soaking up the sun and swimming, we had a fun day relaxing and playing games at the park, accompanied by an amazing view.  

The next day we packed our bags and headed to the beautiful city of Vancouver. We walked across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, toured seven bridges; part of the Treetop Adventures, and walked through the Raptors Ridge to see legendary hawks and owls. For lunch, we explored the wonderful market in Granville Island before gearing up for our tandem bike ride. Keep Reading »