Day 26 quito

Since we arrived in Ecuador, our group has struggled with stomach problems. Somehow, I had managed to avoid this contagious nausea… until today. Most of my day was spent trying to recover so I would be able to enjoy my last day in Ecuador tomorrow.

We should be getting into some amazing adventures tomorrow. Stay posted!

Nick Bratcher

Day 25 – Quito

 Today we went to the Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) to see the monument to the ecuator there. We may have had some fun straddling the Northern and Southern hemishperes:We had planned to ride the teleférico (a cable car that overlooks modern Quito) after our journey to the middle of the world, but the clowdy day changed our plans. Instead, we did something far more culturally rich… we went to the mall. A view from the food court:

And how would the average Ecuadorian get home from the mall? How about taking a bus (pictured below)? 

Let’s just say, they were a bit more populated than the busses we were used to.How to end such an eventful day? The cuy dinner we had seemed like the perfect option.And in case any of my readers are wondering, cuy means Guinea Pig in Spanish. It reminded me of chicken, minus the still-attached feet and head complete with teeth. Overall, it was delicious.    

Nick Bratcher  

    Day 23 Puerto Lopez

    We took to the sea today to visit Isla de la Plata to bird-watch, hike, and snorkel.

     We’ll be travelling back to Quito (it’s an eight-hour drive) tomorrow, so I’m off to enjoy our last night on the beach! Buenas noches!
    Nick Bratcher

    Day 22 – Puerto Lopez

    Today we went to the village of Agua Blanca to hear about one of the oldest indigenous peoples in Ecuador.

    Some of the artifacts that have been excavated date back farther than even the birth of Christ and the Incan civilization, such as the throne in the picture below.

    Admittedly, ADD did kick in towards the end, so we broke out the ancient musical instruments. My childhood trumpet lessons paid off, I think.

    While there, we also made a stop in the town’s sulfur lagoon. The mud exfoliates the skin, so naturally I took advantage of nature’s gift.

    We wrapped up the day with yet another view of the sunset. This might have been the best one yet.

    Nick Bratcher

    Day 21 – Puerto Lopez

     Today was spent lounging on the beach. I got a nice tan, but by tan, I mean that my legs look considerably similar to a distant relative of the lobster.

    Some of us wrote messages to significant others in the sand (pictured above). Good to see the distance can’t stop true love!
    The city held a parade, complete with marching band, in the afternoon to celebrate the migration of the whales along Puerto Lopez’s Coast. The sister of President Correa resided over the ceremonies.
    Some of the floats were pretty elaborate:
    But my favorite was the school of kids dressed up as squids… or octapi? It was hard to tell.
    We wrapped up today with another view of the sunset. Enjoy!
    Nick Bratcher

    Day 20 – Puertp Lopez

    I know it’s easy to do seeing all of the awesomeness that is going on down here in Ecuador. But just in case anyone forgot, this is a STUDY abroad opportunity. Let’s take a glimpse into class this morning:
    Yes, that’s a beach. Yes, that’s also a class. And in case you’re wondering if we’re actually learning anything, let me share with you a portion of a piece by Pablo Neruda called “The Lamb and the Pinecone” that we analyzed today:

    I have been a lucky man. To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and weaknesses- that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being and unites all living things.

    Neruda was speaking of the importance of giving and service. Though we may not always understand the effect of a good deed or even know its recipient, that sharing of affection and love unites all humans in the struggle that is life.
    To close, I leave you with a view of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the roof of the hostel we are staying in.
    Nick Bratcher

    Day 19 – Puertp Lopez

    This has got to be the coolest place I’ve ever stayed in my life. Every inch of the hostel/hotel was hand-made by the owner. Every corner holds tons of puzzles and games. It’s one giant adult playground. Just look at the floor of the study:
    And don’t get me started on the lounge. It’s got a marimba hanging from the ceiling:
    The sun had already set when we arrived here, so there’s not much else to say about our stay on the coast yet. However, the crashing of the waves and cool breeze are certainly making me optimistic.

    Nick Bratcher

    Day 18 – Yachana

    Tonight was our last night in the rainforest. We’ll be waking up bright and early tomorrow at 5 a.m. to venture to our next destination. We’ll take our three-hour boat ride to Coca to fly to our connecting flight in Quito and then to Manta, a town on the coast, for a couple days on the beach.
    In honor of our last night in Yachana, we threw a bonfire/cookout.
    Nick Bratcher

    Day 16 &17 – Yachana

    Remember how I said the internet would be unreliable? Yeah, that was not a lie. The server’s been down for a couple of days and they just got it running again tonight. Hopefully, I can bring everyone back up to speed tomorrow or when we get to the coast in a couple of days. Thanks for reading! 
    Nick Bratcher

    Day 15 – Yachana

     Today we loaded up on the top of a double-decker bus to do some bird watching through the jungle. Once finished and well away from the river, we did some hiking.

    But what would hiking be without indigenous warrior face paint made from tree sap (pictured above)? After gearing up, we set off with our Yachana guide, Robert. He’s truly an expert when it comes to the Amazonian jungle and it’s been a pleasure to glean from his knowledge. He even showed us how to make a make-shift basket from palm leaves (pictured below).
    In case anyone has forgotten, this is a service-learning study abroad, though. We’re earning our keep at Yachana in two unique ways. First, the lodge in which we’re staying is actually a non-profit organization. It uses the profit from all its guests to fund the town’s high school, Yachana High School. This school is so elite that over 200 applicants throughout the region apply for the 20 spots available each year. It teaches the young men and women here in the Amazon the mandatory math and sciences while simultaneous applying practical uses in Eco-tourism and environmental protection.
    We’re also volunteering in several projects with the students of the high school while we are staying here. Today we went “Machete-ing” to rid their plantane garden of weeds. I ended up with a couple of blisters, but more importantly, I made a new friend, Samantha.
    Nick Bratcher