2019 Alt Trip Blogs

Welcome to the 2019 Alternative Break Trip Blog Post. Below are several blog posts from students, where they documented their incredible experiences on their trip of service!

Ecuador 2019 Blog Post

This  blog post from Khadajah documents her fifth one, where she describes the adaptability of the whole team, and how seemingly ‘mundane’ activities can make a profound difference on a community.

Today was our second full work day and I woke up feeling kind of sick for the first time this week. Everyone was really helpful, and I was constantly told to take it easy if I needed to, which was nice to hear. I began to feel better as it neared time to work and as soon as I heard Timo turn on that weed whacker, I knew what he expected from us without having to hear him say it. Non-verbal communication is a common theme my group has discussed thus far, as we don’t speak much – if any Spanish—and those in the community do not speak much to any English. This type of communication becomes a huge part of the day and it is something that I have never had to experience and therefore have not realized just how much I appreciate. Language barriers are real of course but today I did not feel stumped by them. When help was needed, members of the community would gesture to what they wanted done but also there seemed to be an unsaid trust they had for us, as sometimes they would just let us do what we felt was wanted and if it was wrong they simply corrected it with no problem. Another theme me and my group have confronted in our multiple debriefs is the fact that we feel as though well enough is enough for this community. For instance, when we saw the trail at the beginning of the week we did not know what else would be done to it because it seemed done already, now the trail is continuing to look better every day and I now see the importance in not just doing a job fast but doing it right. Today we were confronted with that same thought as Timo began cutting the grass and having us gather the clippings by hand for the second day in the row. There was A LOT of ground to cover and that same thought invaded my mind, “is this really necessary?”. Of course it was. Today we were needed to pick up grass and put it into bags that would be dumped. A very mundane and uninspiring activity I thought at first, but still needed and therefore inspiring in itself. I actually did not realize how big of a help it was until a moment when I was dumping the grass and having to walk across the field, to where it was being dumped, and the grass was as high as my knees making it very hard to know where I was walking. I tripped a couple of times and felt a bit ashamed that I even questioned that this activity would not be useful, as if this community doesn’t know exactly what it needs and wants no matter how small the task. Today provided a chance for me to really check myself and my privileged thought process, something I have always been told to do but not really been in circumstances where I could.

 

This blog post describes the bond with the community that was fostered during break, and the amazing growth of relationships… and how that eventually turned into a futbol game!

Today was the day the IT group and the Yunguilla group were reunited. I had an amazing time getting to know Brooke, Zach, Amy, Khadajah, and Shenay, but it felt really good to see everyone else that I had gotten to know before we left for our service. The CSI group was so ready to serve the community and brought a whole new energy to the place which was nice because we were all so physically tired.

Throughout the week, the Yunguilla group had been fortunate enough to interact with different members of the community. They were all so welcoming and over the course of our five days there, we had built a level of trust. The best example of this is our interaction with a three-year old named Martin. On our first day there, Martin silently watched us as we worked on building a trail and our tour guide, Stefany, tried to interact with him. He would not budge. He only spoke to Stefany and did not want to introduce himself to the rest of the group. Over the next few days, we had a few more interactions with Martin. Each day would bring him closer and closer to us as we did our work. The pivotal moment of seeing that trust and familiarity we had built was when Zach had asked him ‘como estas?’ he replied with ‘muy bien’ (which made Zach very happy).

The last night of our stay in Yunguillas was truly incredible. It started out with a futbol game with Me, Zach, and Amy playing against some of the children in the community. And then more children joined. And more of our group joined. And some of the adults joined. The game turned from just entertaining the children into a full-fledged futbol match with some of us playing against some of them. And then even more people became to join in. People from our group played with the Yunguilla people and some Yunguilla people played on our team (because we were really bad). By the end of the match, it wasn’t us vs. them, it was just two teams of people from so many different backgrounds playing a sport they enjoyed. The trust we were able to build with the community really shined in that moment. Even though we might have just been another group of volunteers at the beginning of the week, I truly felt like a part of the community by the end of it.

 

This blog post by Brooke talks about the amazing impact just five people can have on an entire community. Brooke also highlights the power of service, and how it not only invaluably benefits the Yunguilla community, but also her ability to find comfort in gray areas. 

Today marked our first official day of service in the Yunguilla community. Our small yet dynamic group of five woke up bright and early at 8:30am with little knowledge of the project planned for the day. The only information provided was that we were working on a trail behind the store “la tienda” located in the heart of the Yunguilla community. In order to get a better idea of what the project would entail, the previous day our group visited the trail. We walked up and down the dirt path, searching for ways to improve a trail that appeared to be fully functional. Nevertheless, we arrived to our project destination this morning, ready to work yet stuck in a gray area on what exactly was our goal. Once our group was at the tienda, two people from our group were assigned to work alongside a community member at the cheese factory, where they assisted in packaging and making the cheese. Meanwhile for the rest of the group, we began our day by removing grass off of bamboo shoots in order to use them as posts for a railing along the trail as we waited for one of the community members who was leading the project. The day started at a slow pace as we were completing our first task, all of us still unsure of the exact plans for the day. Shortly after we finished cleaning the wooden posts, the two community members arrived, immediately creating a sense of direction to our group. Despite the language barrier between us and the Yunguilla members, we quickly discovered the ability to communicate without words. Each person understood their purpose in forming the trail for the Yunguilla community. While some people were building the railing, others were tending to the greenery surrounding the trail, every task being different yet harmoniously working together.

The raking of grass and sawing of bamboo continued until 4:00pm, the result being something that was beyond our realm of belief yesterday evening as we walked along what seemed to be a perfect path. After hours of working together with the community members, the trail now was a foot wider, no longer hidden by overgrown weeds, and surrounded by a wooden railing with a hole carved on top of each post for an orchid to be planted. The completion of the trail sparked meaning to the project. Our initial assumption of the trail turned out to be only a fraction of the truth. Earlier during the day, as we were taking a break from working, another volunteer in Yunguilla informed us that the community members were working on the trail last week. Not only was our initial belief flawed in that we felt the trail was unable to be improved, but also the path we were viewing was what the community members created a week ago. This lesson for our group was reminiscent of what we discussed during our Alt-Break meetings about the power of the single story. When we first witnessed the trail, we made many assumptions about when the trail was made, its ability to be fully functional, as well as the communities need of it being improved. By the end of the day, from asking questions and listening to the voice of the community members, we were able to gain a complete understanding of the purpose of the trail. Working in a collaborative effort with the community members displayed the meaning the trail has for the community. Throughout the day, as people passed by the trail, many offered to help, some even lending a hand for the railing, while other community members simply stopped by, expressing their interest in the trail. What was once feelings of uncertainty within our group quickly grew into a newfound meaning for not just this day of service, but for the entirety of our trip. Tomorrow, similar to our day of service today, we do not have the exact roadmap for our project. However, instead of having feelings of uncertainty, I feel comfortable being in a gray area.

 

Amy Kelley writes about the collaborative and supportive community that guides the attitudes of the group and the community that they are in.

After spending the past two days in the city of Quito with all 16 of us, it was time to go our separate ways and get ready to serve. . At 8:30 this morning one group became two, and the fantastic 5 and Shenay boarded a van with Stephanie and ventured to the rural community of Yungillas. After getting stuck in some rush hour traffic, passing by the equator and a quick rest stop to pick up more jugs of water we made it. We rolled up through winding roads in a mountain filled with lush trees and green everywhere and embarked to our cabin to drop off our stuff. There was a large living room space and then upstairs the bedrooms, which look like a tree house. Although I was sad this morning to leave the big group and everyone, I really appreciate the small group we have here. In fact, we are all sleeping together in one room, like a sleepover when you were a kid.

This closeness and sense of community is not limited to our Pitt group. The people of the Yungillas community truly embody what it means to be a part of a community. Today, we were welcomed into the community and were given a history by Daisy. Then we went off with Timeo and he showed us around the buildings in the community. There is a large wooden carved map right near the house we are staying that shows the location of the workshops, market and the houses as well as the names of the families who live there. One thing that really stood out to me was when we were in the workshops. In one of the workshops, the cheese workshop, Timeo told us about how it works and its role in the community. They buy milk from cows nearby and then two women work in the cheese workshop, each for 15 days a month. They make cheese for everyday dishes (with salt) and cheese for soup (no salt) then they bring this to markets and Quito and sell it. The money then comes back to pay the two women fair wages, goes to renovating and keeping the space up to code, and goes back into making more cheese for the community. The cheese, and some of the leftover milk product is also given back to the community and sold back to some people. This cheese workshop is one small example of the symbiotic relationship that exists between people in the community and how the community truly relies on each other and supports each other.

This was a stark contrast to back home, where people are always fast-paced, and only looking out for themselves. It was refreshing to see people supporting one another and coming together as a community. As we walked around we saw many people just relaxing with their dogs or hanging out by the store interacting with one another and they all seemed so happy and care-free. Today was a great introduction to this community, and gave me a redefined for me what a true community looks like. I am looking forward to the rest of this week and merging our Pitt community and the Yungillas community as we serve, eat and connect with each other.

 

Zachary reflects and summarizes his amazing trip in his blog post.

After nearly one full week out of the country, this trip has proven itself to be a very rewarding experience. After three days of service in the community, it has become clear to me that the way that this community interacts with itself, and with us, is something truly special. Any group that travels for service has the opportunity to have a special experience, and this trip has definitely fostered that environment. Between jokes shared amongst us and the community members, to our ever-so-slightly developing Spanish skills, to the tangible results of our service, I personally have been able to connect strongly with what we’ve done.

Today, we spent the majority of our day indoors, serving with members of the community who make both marmalade and cheese to sell, something that some others have touched on before. After we had our breakfast and took a moment to play our meal-time game of “What type of juice are we drinking?” everyone was surprised to find that today’s juice was one we had never tasted before – papaya and goldenberry. We then walked to the central area of Yunguilla – the market – where we saw a few community members. We sat down as we waited for our instruction, and I called over to one of our new friends, Martìn, a young boy who was at first wary of us, but was quick today to respond with, “Muy bien” when I asked “¿Como estas?”

We decided to split our group into two pieces, one half would go to help with the cheese making, and the second group would help with the marmalade. The plan was to switch places after lunch. I started with the cheese with Amy and Brooke, while our other two members with Shenay went to the marmalade. Between trimming cheese cylinders, washing and cleaning up, straining out the wet cheese, and packaging yesterday’s batch, we finished what would have taken one person all day before lunchtime. Since we finished the cheese, that meant that all six of us had the opportunity to help at the marmalade station after lunch. The marmalade process was a little more intensive, and required a lot of washing, peeling, separating, blending, heating, stirring, and adding a lot of sugar. The morning group had already prepared berries and fruit for making the marmalade, and one of the batches was already done when we arrived after lunch. After jarring and capping the batch, another batch was started with some peeled fruit from that morning. While some helped with stirring the fruit reduction, some of us washed the massive bowls and measuring cups used for this process. The rest of us were labelling already packaged jars so that they had the label “Marmalade de Yunguilla” on the top, and a flavor label around the base of the jar (uvilla, mora, frujilla, chigualcan or goldenberry, blackberry, strawberry and chigualcan, respectively) with a stamp marking the date it was made, and the date it was fresh until. I was on the making side, and with Brooke and Amy, the three of us helped make a batch of chigualcan marmalade, which ended up needing to be stirred for quite a bit over two hours as sugar and a starch thickening agent was added. After the batch was made, we jarred the entire batch as well, and we even got to take two jars of marmalade back with us, which we had at dinner. It was a truly phenomenal feeling to see all of that energy put into a tangible product that we could not only eat, but we could know would go to the markets and be sold.

Again, there has been few more wondrous feelings on this trip than knowing that we truly are helping the members of this community out. Yunguilla only has one person to make marmalade, and they do it twice per week. One person also makes the cheese, but five days per week. The amount of time that they each saved by having a team assist them is a small, but very important impact in the way that it takes some weight off of their shoulders. The cheese never gets done before lunch when one person is the only one doing it. The marmalade was barely finished by dinner with all of those extra hands. It truly does show to us that every bit counts.

When we reflected tonight after dinner, we thought about the ways that we’ve been challenged by this trip, and since the beginning we have all been putting our best feet forward, which is something that I believe is wonderful. Between talking about the anxiety of our future exams, to recovering from feeling sick, to handling the altitude or hill-filled walks, to just learning so much about each other and opening ourselves up to try new experiences, we have all shared a chance to slow down and get a fresh perspective. To think about what we learned here so far and how we can use that in future projects, future trips, future Pittsburgh-based service opportunities.

 

Below are more amazing reflections from this unforgettable trip!

Today marks the end of our service in Quito. Coming into our service, I don’t believe that any of us felt like we were about to step onto the emotional rollercoaster that we have just exited. Day one left me with the feeling that I wasn’t making any actual impact. Luckily, day two quickly changed that. Speaking with medical director and discussing needs of the organization other than quick cleanups of the computers allowed us to brainstorm ideas that could make a lasting impact. We decided to create a database template for them to use as a reference which they could provide to a consultant to show exactly what they want their database to look like and contain. The idea was created into existence today and it felt more rewarding than any service work I have performed in the past. Hearing the medical director and doctors thank us for the materials we provided them really sent home the idea that we were making a difference.

Up until our presentation of the template and file sharing software we installed, I found myself feeling nervous that there would be a misunderstanding of the organization’s actual needs. Luckily, my fears were met with affirmation that we were providing them with exactly what they needed, and they were far beyond appreciative our services. It’s interesting to think that the skills some of us have learned in an introduction to database management class were adequate to provide a medical organization with a template to create a database of their own.

As I sit in the hostel during the last few hours of our time in Quito, I’m reflecting on the experiences I’ve had here: the people, the service, the food and the city itself. For my first time being out of the United States, I am glad that I was given the opportunity to travel to a city as rich with culture and pride as Quito. I will never forget the time that I have spent here.

It’s sad to think that tomorrow morning we will be saying goodbye to Quito. However, I am excited to rejoin with the other group and create new experiences in the Yungillas community.

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After gathering all my belongings, my roommate, Luke, and I went to the kitchen to eat breakfast. Our host mother, Olympia, made scrambled eggs, heated up milk, cut up an assortment of fruit, and gave us bread. We had talked to Olympia a little beforehand but there was a language barrier between us. She is an older woman who has 8 children in which 6 of them live in the community and 2 live elsewhere. After eating, we washed our dishes and head back to get our belongings. I sporadically decided to give the “traditional beanie” I had bought for my sister to Olympia. I’m not sure exactly why, but something had overcome me. I am glad I decided to give it to her because of the smile was projected on her face. In the moment, I didn’t think much about it but looking back to Olympia’s warming smile from this morning and the smile her husband had given me when he tied the Yunguilla bracelet the community had gifted us, I realized that I really, really care about the happiness of people. Despite having only spent a couple hours with this host family, I realized that the relationship between us was beyond a language barrier.

The bus abruptly stops, and Stephanie runs off the bus bringing back a woman dressed in the traditional clothing of Otavalo. Stephanie introduced the woman as Martíta, one of her best friends, and Martíta sang a song for us in her language. Stephanie then began to give a description of each garment of clothes that Martíta was wearing as Martíta posed to display said garment. Martíta was super pretty and her traditional clothing had peaked my interest. Her way of living had consisted of creating clothing and selling it at markets. I bought a scarf from her, but she also had been selling tablecloths. Unfortunately, we went our separate ways after visiting a popular lake.  (Queue Las Penas Por Amor by Odisseo)

The hotel dog joined us down to the waterfall. We followed Stephanie and Martíta’s lead to the waterfall (Martíta rejoined the group again). The walk was not bad at all, especially with the dog trotting alongside The group basically ran to the waterfall once it was in sight. We climbed the biggest rock to get closer to the falls than the other people coming to the spot. The power of the waterfall was unlike anything I had felt before. The water fell from the very top of the cliff and the splashes created from the water hitting the pool below caused immense wind to constantly lash at us. As we climbed the big rock to get closer, we found ourselves edging closer and closer to feel the force of the waterfall. Based on everyone exclamations and excitement, it was obvious that the group was buzzing. We were all soaked by the end of the trip but experiencing this unique force of nature had people feeling rejuvenated after their service in Quito and Yunguilla. In my opinion, the waterfall was great activity to end this Ecuador trip.

 

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A year ago, if someone told me I would be taking apart hardware while a person was bleeding out two feet away from me in a foreign country, I would’ve thought they were crazy. But today, I did exactly that. Except now, I didn’t call it crazy, I called it uncomfortable. However, in the context of this trip, uncomfortable is a desired feeling. The way I see it, leaving the country or even traveling outside where you live can make someone uncomfortable because they are leaving their comfort zone. I would argue, that nearly every experience outside of your comfort zone is going to produce a positive impact on your life. Not only do you learn more about where you’re going but you discover yourself outside of a normal context which makes you grow as a person. Today’s first day of volunteer experience contained a plethora of these experiences.

While all of us had different individual experiences, we all adapted to a very busy dialysis center that was under construction and tried our best to contribute to the organization through technology. Because the center was hectic, the group was pioneering our contribution. This resulted in some lulls while things downloaded and hitting roadblocks while attempting to set up networks. At a point during this process, I think it’s safe to say that we all asked the question: Am I actually making a difference? In the moment, it felt like the answer was no. At the end of the day, all we did was clean hardware, run virus scans, and attempt to solve a problem that was a little above our heads. However, not only did we do a lot, we made an impact. But I think it’s interesting to acknowledge that as a group, we were uncomfortable that we didn’t initially feel this impact or receive any validation of our contribution. I think that this discomfort mainly comes from the American perspective of “success”. All of us were acclimated to participating in a linear progression of a project or getting a gold medal upon completion. I personally felt this conflict when we left because the void of validation left me questioning myself. It took some time for all of us to realize that while it might not have been much work to us, it was work that wouldn’t have gotten done otherwise, making our time meaningful.

On the surface, our experience was uncomfortable because we were in an environment with people bleeding on the floor, walls half built, and had an unbalanced distribution of work. But underneath, it was also discomforting to have to redefine words like success, impact, and satisfaction. Please don’t think that this means I have had a bad experience today, remember that I want to be uncomfortable. How often do you get to have unique experiences like these that you will take for the rest of your life? The discomfort made me extremely happy, not only because I was doing things outside of my comfort zone, but I was providing an ethical service to an organization that asked for our help. Maybe discomfort sounds discouraging, but I promise you we would all not be here if it weren’t for the adventure that discomfort brings.

With a live uncommon,

Clare

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Today was our second day doing volunteer work at the dialysis center, and some of us moved nearby afterwards, to a childcare center. At the dialysis center, we continued the work we started yesterday, which consisted of downloading antivirus software, cleaning the hardware, and setting up the network to share files across a group of computers. It was a frenzied but effective time spent. One challenge I faced was finding exactly what I could offer the dialysis center and my team of volunteers. A lot of the work we were supposed to do I have never seen before and had no idea where to start. Others seem to feel the same, but they had experience in other computer skills and/or skills from other disciplines that they could contribute. This made me feel a need to prove myself. In my team, I tried to offer every suggestion I could to tackle our assignment for creating a new network on the computers and allowing files and folders to be shared. My team and I decided to work through multiple articles about setting up IP addresses and connecting the router to all the computers. Coming into this, I didn’t even know what a router was! However, I followed along with the articles, repeating the directions of the article and agreeing with what everyone else has already said. I didn’t know what I could do to help and I was starting to feel like I was blindly following everyone else’s directions. I didn’t particularly like following directions, especially if I can’t give any in return. That was the central dilemma I struggled with today, as I moved from the task of setting up file sharing, and then moving to the daycare center, where I worked on getting YouTube (which was blocked there) to work on their computers.

However, not all of the tasks my team and I was assigned today was accomplished the way we thought it would. The tasks that did align with what the dialysis facility needed, but we didn’t get them right on the first try. There were some ideas that came from others around me that didn’t work out. We first worked with setting up the network and were trying to enter IP addresses, change the properties of different folders, and switch between different websites that each told us different things. That experience was a great learning experience for me, not only because I learned what an IP address was from my knowledgeable team, but also because I realized how much the computer world is about trial and error, ability to ask when needed, and how great a backup plan is, because that’s what we went with in the end. Everyone around me, no matter what age, major, grade level could all learn that. This entire team had people from all different backgrounds. Of course, there were definitely some things I didn’t know that others did, because they’ve taken a class in it or have come across it somewhere during their academic training. I haven’t yet, which was why this was an excellent opportunity to learn. I believe in order to be a leader, you first need to be a follower. It’s impossible to learn everything there is to know about any subject, but you need to know enough to successfully carry out a plan, assign to your team, and share and listen to ideas. A follower doesn’t mean someone who follows everything the leader says to do. A follower is learning from different leaders so he or she could become a better leader. Right now, I am still at a stage where I don’t know much about computers themselves and the research that goes behind it. I am still at a stage where I have a lot to learn so I can become versatile in situations like this. That doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas and contributions given what my team has decided to assign me. But I could also listen and think about what others have come up with and listen to critiques of my idea.

My personal takeaway from today and yesterday that I will bring into the rest of my time in this community is that listening and hands-on activity is a crucial part of becoming a successful leader and volunteer. I am very new to computer science and am at a point where I still have more to learn than I do to teach in terms of computers. I will bring this experience into other team-working projects I have in the future. I will continue to share my ideas, because speaking out is my way of checking to make sure I understand and actively think about the assignment at hand. A team is still a team, even when there are leaders and followers. Sometimes, the lines between both are not simply drawn. And sometimes, we need to think of each other as teammates rather than leaders and followers because all of us are finding new solutions from our different backgrounds. I definitely think both structures have happened in the work we did already on this trip, two days into this volunteer experience. We need to know how leaders, followers, and teammates work together, and that is different for every team. My advice is don’t say something just to sound like you know more than you do, but don’t hold anything back that you think could help just because you don’t think you’re experienced enough. You’re part of the team for a reason.

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The third day of officially helping the clinic was more successful, in my opinion, than the first two days. Today we went in with more of a plan to solve their database problem. With the limited amount of time we have here, we would not be able to completely solve their problem, but we could lay a groundwork for them to show to actual consultant companies. Most of our brainstorming was done last night and everyone was super excited and “buzzed” to get to work. When we finally got there and started to work we ran into some complications. We had planned to enter data into excel files and merge them but when they told us that they did not need that we had to scrap that part of the plan. This was frustrating to some of us but after a bit of winding down, we were able to continue with our other part of the plan, which was building a database template for the company to have as a reference and possibly show to a consultant company that can put in the necessary amount of time to solve their problem.

After helping in the clinic, we went to a lecture about Ecuador. This was a super interesting lecture, and although I had already heard a lot about it from the Spanish teacher at the Banana School. It was also nice to have someone else explain cultural diversity and political views in Ecuador as I did not know that a lot of people shared the same views about those topics. It was also very informative because she stated facts about Ecuador that I did not know. The food I ate today was very delicious, as have been all the food we have eaten so far. It was also fun to have dinner with David as he showed us the “party district” and a great restaurant. Overall I want to enjoy this trip to the fullest extent, and not just alone but with everyone else on this trip. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming days and enjoying it with everyone.

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Hola Yinz!

Today was our second full day in Ecuador. After having a quick breakfast with some freshly juiced berry juice, we were off to Lake Quilotoa which is roughly a 3 hour bus ride away from Quito. On our way from Quito, we drove through Volcano Valley which is a pass of the highway that cuts through a number of different volcanos on either side of the road. It was amazing to see so many volcanos at once especially since I have never seen a volcano in person before. These volcanos weren’t dark or ashy but their sides were filled with green forests. Volcano Valley, we learned, is one of the big centers for the agriculture industry of Ecuador. I can see why, because there was so much green land and farming space along the valley. There were also tons of completely black cows, which was new to me, which came from Holland and are now a staple for agricultural district. The rest of the three hour bus ride, I filled my time with a quick nap waking up to our bus scaling the sides of huge mountains and more volcanos roughly 10,000 feet in elevation, and we still weren’t even at our final destination!

Lake Quilotoa is formed in the carter of a volcano that is roughly 13,000 feet above sea level. The views from the top of the volcano were majestic to say the least. It made me feel so miniscule and I realized I am so grateful to have not only to have this experience sight and the beauty of a different region. The entrance to Lake Quilotoa is from the top of the volcano with a steep incline down to the lake’s shore. Before we began our descent, we took some cool new profile pictures for our instagrams. The air was so thin yet so fresh. It felt great to breathe in knowing pollution of the major cities hasn’t found its way to Lake Quilotoa. The area was filled with indigenous people of the Quilotoa who made their living off of running horses and mules up and down the steep decline of the volcano and back up. I was extremely impressed how fast the indigenous children made it up the incline and just the that they did it nonstop all day long. My legs were killing me after one time going down the path, I couldn’t imagine trying to do it more than 1x let alone dozens in a single day. Our group commented on how amazing the coexistence and acceptance as part of the country’s identity and culture, the indigenous group was with the rest of the natives. One of the regions bigger industry, tourism, directly aids and benefits the indigenous people of the region. This is a stark contrast to the relationship between to the treatment of indigenous peoples in the US and in the history of the US.

At the bottom of the volcano’s carter, we were able to kayak in Lake Quilotoa. The lake gets its name from the indigenous words Quilo and Toa meaning Teeth and Queen. The volcano’s peaks surrounding the crater form teeth like points in the beautiful blow sky and there was said to have been a powerful queen ruler of the region back in ancient days both of which contribute to the lakes name. Kayaking on the carter’s lake was so amazing, I had a great time. The water was freezing and my pants were getting wet and cold, I think I was kayaking wrong, but for a first time kayaking it was a success. After we spent some time kayaking, some of the group hiked up the trail but that was insanity. Hats off to them, but me and the majority of the group took the mules up the trail. It was a really cool experience, but I definitely thought I was going to fall off the mule at one or more points along the trail. Anyways, I got over my fear of heights and potentially falling to my death, but I got over it and made it to the top. Today was a great day with some challenges along the way, but I am extremely excited to see what the next week brings and how we will be serving in the hospital.

Signing Off  – Luke