We spent Monday and Tuesday in Latacunga at the orphanage. Monday was Elizabeth (the other volunteers) 23rd Birthday. So we had a celebration with the kids, with lots of dancing and cake. Then on Tuesday we had another fiesta because we welcomed a new girl to the orphanage, who’s 5 and blind. It was a bit of a difficult transition for the girl because she had spent her whole life at another foundation and now has a new home. With all the new arrivals in Latacunga there’s also a lot of new Tia’s training in, so there were lots of new faces!
Tuesday night we took the bus to Banos, because early Wednesday morning we went on a tour to the Amazon Jungle. We really had no idea what to expect, so it was definitely an adventure! On Wednesday we got to go to an animal rescue center and see animals from the jungle, like jaguars, cheetahs, monkeys, birds etc. We also got to go to an indigenous village, where we learned to hunt with blow darts, get face paint and canoe down a river in a wooden canoe. It’s crazy the temperature difference, just going down in elevation to the jungle. Then we got to take a beautiful hike into a waterfall, where we swam. It turned out we were the only ones in the group of about 15 that were on a 2-day tour. So we spent the night at a village with 2 guides, where it was an open “cabin”, meaning we slept outside with a roof and mosquito nets. Thursday they took us on a beautiful hike up a mountain, showing us all sorts of medicinal plants and animals, like the monkeys and turtles. They truly are one with nature, it’s amazing. We went up to a beautiful look out point and I did a tarzan swing, swinging 125 meters above the jungle. They took us down to some lagoons as well where we saw a couple alligators. They caught some fish from the river and cooked it for us for our lunch. We got to relax in the hammocks before the 4 hour bus ride home.
Saturday we got to hike Pichincha, the volcano in Quito. Little did we know, what we were in for. We took the Teleferico (gondola) up part of the mountain. We were lucky to have a clear day, to see the entire city of Quito. From there we started hiking up to the summit. It got real cloudy, so we didn’t really know where we were heading, but kept saying, “It can’t be much farther, can it?” Well it was definitely harder and farther than what we had expected. It took us 3 hours to get to the summit, after partnering up with 2 other guys, because there was no trail but they knew the way. It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done, we were rock climbing in the rain, with a very steep slope. Our hands were frozen, we were exhausted of 3 hours straight up. But as soon as we hit the summit, it was amazing, we had accomplished it! The way down took us half the time because it was all straight downhill. We were so tired once we got to the bottom though! After a nice rest we spent the night in La Ronda, which is an alley way near Old Town. It has lots of live music, street performers and food.
Today, I had my last church service at English Fellowship Church. I will definitely miss this church, it’s been great to have during my time here. Then Elizabeth and I went on a really nice run. It’s really neat, here in Quito, they shut down part of the main road on Sunday’s from 8-2, for people to bike, run or walk. So I finally was able to take advantage of this! It’s been a crazy week, but I’m really looking forward to spending lots of time with the kids this week in Quito!