Global: Session 1 - Darwin: Ecuador & Galapagos
Posted: Mon, Jul 16, 2012
Last Day in the Andes
After yesterday’s huge walk, everyone was glad to go horseback riding in the Andes. The horses arrived at the Inn at 9 am. For some in the group, this was the first time riding a horse, hence the anxiety and nervousness. The weather was amazing! Not a cloud in the sky, making the scenery incredible. We trotted and galloped up and down the hills for an hour and a half. After that we visited a local cheese factory, the smell was quite strong, but for once it didn’t bother me as much. We rode our horses another 20 minutes before stopping for lunch. Those who were riding back went for a quick walk through the cloud forest, before mounting the horses again! Going up hill was fine; however, going downhill wasn’t as easy. Everyone was really sore once we got off the horses for the day! More than we were from hiking the day before! After we got back to the Inn we had a bit of time to shower before Andres showed us the eco toilet he is building at the local school. Back at the Inn, we hung out before dinner and worked on our journals. The bags are now packed and ready to head back to Quito. Already we feel a bit of sadness and excitement as we are ready to go back to our home base in Quito.
Posted: Sun, Jul 15, 2012
Location: The Andes
Today was our first full day in the Andes. After a lovely breakfast of pancakes with syrup, we boarded a stand up bus with no real place to sit. Our journey consisted of beautiful views of winding mountain roads and getting stuck in the mud! What an amazing beginning to the day! Once we arrived, we had time to visit a local market where we purchased local gloves, ponchos and sweaters because it was very cold and windy. Finally we began the trek back to the Black Sheep Inn. We started at the top of the Quilotoa crater that has a beautiful lake in the bottom. We continued our journey and after one hour we had lunch. The rest of the hike lasted nearly five more hours with periodic breaks. Even though everyone was tired, sore and dirty, finishing the hike was a proud moment for all. However, showering was one of the best moments of the day! After a long and exhausting adventure, we had dinner, did a group activity then went to bed early.
Posted: Sat, Jul 14, 2012
Beyond Worth The Wait
Location: Quito to the Andes
After a morning of much needed sleeping in, the group departed for the Andes at nine, all of us anticipating the four hour drive. To our dismay our route was intercepted by a bike race and we sat in motionless traffic for an hour or two. We arrived at the Black Sheep Inn around 2. They have the coolest bathrooms I’ve ever seen! We ate lunch and went for a hike shortly after. The mountains were beautiful and the surrounding area was so quiet that we could hear individual barks and moos from hundreds of feet below us. Halfway through our hike the path ended and we resorted to running down a steep hill. While I was going down the hill I gained so much momentum for my small body that I fell forward into a roll and was somehow able to come out of it still standing. Javier then said that my roll was very “ninja” like and it was his new high of the day! After our hike we had dinner at the lodge, had a group discussion in the beautiful yoga studio, and retreated to our rooms happily exhausted.
Posted: Fri, Jul 13, 2012
Location: The Amazon to Quito
Today was our last morning in the Amazon. Sadly we had to leave the place where nature, animals and humans coexist. We had to be on our boat at 8 am which brought us back to the mainland. We had time before our flight, so we visited Coca’s local market. While we were there the bravest of us decided to try grugs, a local dish. Only three courageous people, Natalie, Liz and myself ate them alive while others opted to eat them cooked. After this traumatizing experience we took our flight back to Quito. Once we arrived, we had lunch and strolled to an internet cafe where some of us were able to connect with our families. (Thanks mom and dad for not answering). After a brief stop at a supermarket, we had empamadas and returned to the hostel. Some of us went rock climbing while others chose to stay back to pack for the Andes and relax. Tonight we are having pizza for dinner to finish this amazing day before heading off to the Andes.
Posted: Thu, Jul 12, 2012
Location: The Amazon
After an early breakfast we boarded the canoes and set out on the river. Naturally, the boat led by yours truly was victorious in reaching the dock first. After waiting for the others to finish, splashing up the river inefficiently, we began our second canoe ride. This time around a quiet lagoon surrounded by exotic jungle plants. We floated around the shore of the lagoon, hoping to find a capybara, but our efforts were futile. Those with enough physical magnificence continued our exploration of the lagoon by hiking along the shore. After, we returned to our original canoes to paddle back up the river to the lodge for lunch. Once we finished a delightful meal, we prepared for our next canoe journey. We put on the appropriate clothing and covered ourselves in bug repellent before setting out on our adventure. This time the trip was much longer. We paddled for about a half an hour until we finally reached our destination; Hectors island in the middle of the Napo River. We disembarked from our vessels and lined up for our next activities: blow darts and spear throwing. Our objective was to hit a target 15 to 20 feet away. Lisa won the blow dart competition but for the spear throwing there was no clear winner. Our next activity was tree climbing using an amazon technique which was truly difficult. No one besides Javier and Liz made it more than four feet off the ground. After a quick soccer match, we returned to the hostel via motorized canoe, because no one had the energy to paddle back upstream. We took showers, put on clean clothes and went to dinner. After dinner we had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows while Hector told us scary stories about the Jungle. We eventually went back to our rooms to get some well needed rest, although a few were a bit freaked out falling asleep after hearing the stories by the campfire!