Hola family and friends from Banos!
We have been hiking the Cotopaxi and in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest where being off the grid is what it’s all about! Needless to say, we have loads to tell you!
After two days of working and playing with the orphans at the Davis Orphanage, we headed to the Mindo Cloud forest. Here, in the middle of the clouds, we skirted the tops of the forest on a zip line. Matt B, in his first zip lining experience, was fearless and was a pro by the end of the course! After our adventures in the cloud forest, we headed to a chocolate factory where we experimented with different types of chocolate-from chocolate BBQ sauce to chili pepper chocolate.
Our next day, we headed to the largest market in South America in Otovalo. In groups, we saw exotic spices and local fruits as well as sweaters, scarves and hats made of llama fur. After fitting ourselves like a local, we went to a local community where we tried Guinea Pig-an Ecuadorian delicacy. After lunch, we worked on weaving our own baskets and learning traditional dances with the help of the local women.
The last day at the Davis orphanage, we completed our work on the homes of the children in the morning. We said our good byes to our new friends through our shared love of soccer. In the afternoon, we took a cable car up to a high look out point and saw incredible views of Quito.
The next day, we left Quito and made our way to the second largest active volcano in the world Cotopaxi. Our goal was to have our entire group complete the hour hike to the top of the park, which stands at 16,000 feet. Nathan, Matt K. and Jordan were the first to reach the top! The perseverance and encouragement of the entire group paid off when we all made it to the top and enjoyed the best cup of hot cocoa many of us had ever had!
After we hiked down, we made our way to Latacunga. We warmed up and re-energized by a big bond fire and enjoyed the views of the volcano we had just conquered. The following day we spent at a local senior home completing various projects and having lasting interactions with the men and women there. Lily, Grace, and Skylar painted women nails and helped serve lunch. In addition, Maria, Nick, Lucy, Matt B., and Matt K. helped prepare the lunch, which the seniors loved! Our last projects were plastering and painting a wall of the senior home, as well as folding laundry. We said our goodbyes by putting on a variety show for the seniors, which included dancing, singing and minute-to-win-it games.
We left Latacunga and the high altitudes and made our journey to the Amazon Rainforest by bus and boat. During our first full day in the Amazon we took a boat ride to Campana Cocha where we played duck, duck, goose and a Westcoast Connection vs Ecuador soccer game. Sam, Greg, Eva, and Olivia lit of the net and kept our team going. Needless to say we need to practice a bit more on our soccer skills before we ask for a rematch. After the game, we stopped at AmaZOOnica, an animal rehabilitation center, where we spotted spider monkeys swinging from tree to tree, toucans perched on branches, and crocodiles basking in the sun. We then cooled off by splashing around and tubing down the Napo River. We spent our last day in the Amazon gardening and cleaning up a local community. Following service, Allie enjoyed collecting snails with local children and made some new local friends. Afterwards, we traveled back to our lodge where we enjoyed an exhilarating hike through the rainforest. We finished our adventure with traditional music, dance and food. Nick, Macy, Daria, Maria, Nathan, Sammi, and Matt K. were daring enough to try roasted larva.
We are off to Banos to make many more memories!
Until next time,
The Westcoast Blogger