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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Beautiful Banos – Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands Community Service

Hello again from the beautiful town of Banos,

Since we’ve last written, the group has been through quite the adventures. We’ve conquered the Amazon and each member had an experience that they grew stronger from. Especially Jason, Peter, Jamie and Ryan, who – armed with fly swatters – had a thrill interacting with all the insects that inhabit this part of the world. The journey into the Amazon brought a breathtaking landscape and a change of scenery and temperature that was almost unbelievable. We began the day in a cool temperature with mountains surrounding us and ended the day in a humid climate with a jungle in our backyard.

On our first day there, we had the honour of going to a local Quechua community (this is the people of this area of the Amazon.) The trip members were, once again, exposed to a different Ecuadorian way of living that is very different to what they know in North America. This culture lives very simply and primitively, using walking paths and small motor boats as their only means of transport. With our rain boots on and our work gloves in our hands we spent the entire morning helping the community dig out the soccer field at the local school in order to expand it. It was work that required a lot of physical and mental strength. Tyler and Cody shined through in both areas as they pushed the wheel barrels. Andrea and Olivia used their physical strength in ways that inspired the group. Each trip member worked hard. The experience was very real for them because they worked hand in hand with the locals, which created unity in the experience.

With filled tummies of local food for lunch, we went on a nature hike and learned about the organization Amazoonica. This is the group that owns Liana Lodge where we stayed. It’s goal is to care for injured species of this area of the jungle and reintegrate them back to their natural homes. We were guided in the area where the animals are living and were exposed to monkeys and birds. This was a first for many of the trip members and it brought much excitement. Haley finally saw turtles, which she adores. Alex was really excited for the opportunity to see so many animals because of his desire to work in this field in the future.

We then went river tubing along the river to get back to the lodge where we were staying. Meryl, Lauren K., Lauren B., and Bebe joined their tubes together as they flowed down the water laughing their hearts out. That evening Rachel, Jackie, Anna-Karin, Alex, Carter, Cody and Tyler went on an evening nature walk to see the native Amazon insects at night. They came back thrilled about the experience. When they returned, we sat around the fire and shared our highs and lows and what we were proud of from the day. This motivated the trip members to embrace the jungle experience and got everyone excited for all the adventures still to come!

With our rain boots on, we went on a gorgeous jungle hike though the Amazon the following day. The trip members had their face painted by our wonderful guide Carlos with a red dye that comes from a plant we encountered. We also came across interesting plants and trees that intrigued all of the group members. That afternoon we got a chance to integrate more with the local Quechua community and played a big soccer game with them, of course, in our rain boots. We tried our best, but we were defeated 2-8. Our spirits were high though, especially when Jeff and Tristan made our goals. Casey initiated a small soccer game with some of the children of the community, chasing the soccer ball around.

We spent our last evening in the Amazon watching some locals put on a show for us as we sipped some hot cocoa. We left the Amazon with high spirits and a strong sense of family.  Each trip member felt proud of themselves and each other for everything we’ve accomplished so far. We arrived in the mountainous and peaceful Banos, where the trip members were ecstatic about the spa we are staying at; everyone is enjoying the incredible facilities which include hot tubs, a pool, and a sauna.

Today we went white water rafting and flew down another river using a different method. The view was picturesque and the trip members once again enjoyed the experience. We are about to go out for a nice dinner in two groups. It is boys and girls night out, where we will be having many laughs as the boys share “boy” jokes and the girls avidly discuss “girl” topics!

We are only at the half way point and it feels amazing how close we have become but a little sad to think how the trip is flying by. The adventure goes on as we are heading to the Galapagos soon.

Until next time,

 Your entertained staff, Nick, Jamee and Dana

The Westcoast Blogger