We’ve seen, learned, and accomplished so much since our last blog post!
We started our volunteering at Tierra Nuevo, a health center in the south of Quito. On our first day of service, we worked in Tierra Nuevo’s senior care center’s garden and painted their lobby with a fresh coat of paint. We also helped them with an arts and crafts activity, and some of our group even gave some manicures to some of the lovely ladies. One sweet woman shared with our “Westcoast manicurists” that her multi-colored nails made her feel like she was fifteen again!
The next day, we spent time at a Pre-K Daycare center operated by Tierra Nuevo just down the street and played soccer with the children, taught them words in English, and of course practiced our Spanish! There’s something about directly engaging with the children and seniors of the community that has been truly amazing. While we kept busy in Quito, we found time for fun, too! We took the cable car to the top of Quito and had the best hamburgers in Ecuador, bargained for gifts to bring back to our family and friends at a local handicraft market, went bowling with our tour guides and bus driver, and had a great dinner while watching the Brazil vs. Argentina soccer match!
We said “hasta pronto” to beautiful Quito and hit the road to drive to Tocazo. The drive was so beautiful that we had to ask the bus driver to stop several times just so we could appreciate the stunning panoramic views. Upon arriving at our hosteleria, we were thrilled to see all the sheep, llamas, and even horses that roamed around the hotel grounds. We had the whole hotel to ourselves and spent the day playing with the animals, hanging out in the hammock, and enjoying the hotel’s own mini zipline! Later that afternoon, we played soccer, basketball, and frisbee with local high school students in town before heading back to the hotel to hang out and enjoy each other’s company in the tranquil serenity of the hotel grounds.
The next two days were full of adrenaline and the majestic beauty of the Andes! On our second day in Tocazo, we climbed Cotopaxi, an active volcano! Don’t worry though, our local guide for the hike, Paulina, explained to us that while it is technically active, the eruptions are not more than steam and smoke at the mouth of the volcano. As we drove up to the volcano to the start of the trail, it felt like we were in another world. There are very few species that live at such extreme altitudes, making the landscape look more like Mars than Earth!
After our climb, we headed back to the hosteleria and we took a few hours to relax and unwind after the big hike before having dinner. After dinner, we huddled around a fire and roasted marshmallows to celebrate the fourth of July!
Next, we boarded the bus and head on over to the Ecuadorian state of Chimborazo, named after the Chimborazo volcano. We learned that amazingly enough, Chimborazo is “closer to outer space” than Mount Everest! How could this be true? We wondered the same thing until our guide explained that because the Earth is not a perfect sphere and actually bulges at the equator, points that fall on the line are approximately 2km further from the center of the Earth!
On the way to Riobamba, we stopped at Chimborazo for a bike ride around the base of the Chimborazo volcano. We drove through the natural park, bike trails, and small local villages. The backdrop of the snow-capped volcano and the wild vicunas (cousins of the llama and alpaca) roaming freely around the park were truly a sight to see! After biking we came down to our next stop, Riobamba! We were met at our hotel by MedLife, the non-profit organization we will be working with for our next community service project.
The Westcoast Blogger