Our journey has been continuing on and it has been going amazing so far. Since you’ve last heard, we were on our way to Octavolo Market and that was a special experience. The trip members were exposed to the Ecuadorian way of life. Carter, Tristan, Jason, Tyler, Peter and Jamie soaked in the culture by purchasing al pacha zip up sweaters which are famous and unique to Ecuadorian society.
After the colorful Market experience, we got to know the society even more by going to a small Octavoloian community where we were educated by the leader of the town about the way of life and culture. We learned how they farmed by using the old fashioned method of cows pulling the plow. The trip members gave it a whirl and planted broccoli. We then enjoyed a locally made lunch and drank their unique chicha drink, which is made of corn. Jeff enjoyed it so much that he drank five glasses. A local band playing Ecuadorian music called San Juanita followed this meal. The trip members joined in the interpretive dance that the Ecuadorian children were performing. Tristan, Olivia, Peter, Lauren B, Casey and Rachel joined in as the local kids requested a dance with them! We ended this culture-filled day with a meaningful discussion about our highs and lows about the trip and our new appreciations in life.
The next day our voyage continued as we left Quito and headed to Latacunga. On our way there we stopped in the famous national park of Cotopaxi to hike the bottom of this very famous South American volcano. We started at 11,500 feet and climbed to 14,500 feet. We hiked along the Andes native orange flower Chuquiragua until the beginning of the glaciers. Everyone was thankful for the winter hats, fleeces and gloves that we packed. We celebrated at the top with warm coca tea and many congratulations as each trip member was proud of themselves and each other for their motivation and willpower to complete the climb.
In Latacunga, we submerged ourselves in the authentic culture. We are staying at a log cabin that is family owned. This morning we walked through the local animal market. We learned that it is not a place to just purchase food, but it is a social gathering where the Ecuadorians meet to find love. In the fruit section Jamie, Meryl, Bebe, Cody and Lauren K all tried the famous pink Ecuadorian bananas that were delicious.
After this special and authentic experience we continued the day by going to a seniors home. We painted the ladies nails and Anna-Karin initiated the bracelet making activity where some trip members created bracelets for the residents. Alex and Tyler played chess with some of them breaking the language barrier through universal games. We then performed a variety show for the seniors as the group sang “Aint No Mountain High Enough” and danced our favorite song “Dance Ecuador” which is the morning song that the group loves so much (it gets played 3 times a day). Jason, Ryan, Tristan and Jeff put on a fun-filled soccer ball routine. Olivia and Andrea performed “True Colors” so beautifully that goose bumps crept up all our arms and the seniors were very engaged. Jackie, Peter, Jamie, Haley and Casey performed a slow dance and invited the seniors to join them.
The day ended with a giant dance party with the trip members and the seniors. The atmosphere was filled with smiles and appreciation. We lighted up their day and the trip memberslearned a lot about appreciation for the lives they have at home. We are now at this beautiful lodge for our last night in Latacunga. At the moment the sun is setting above Volcano Cotopaxi. The trip members are taking photos outside and all that is heard is laughter. The woman who owns the cabin is cooking us a fresh dinner made from ingredients from her organic garden. Tomorrow we are off to the Amazon as our adventure continues. The spirits are high and the memories will continue to come each day! Until next time, we send many smiles.
Your ever-impressed staff,
The Westcoast Blogger