Audrey O'Connell is one of Spirit's 2017 Volunteer Abroad Ambassador Scholarship winners. She is volunteering at a child-care center in Quito, Ecuador for four weeks through our partner in Ecuador, Fundación Bolivar Education.
At breakfast this morning, I met my newest roommate! She is living in the room next to Johanne and me, and she is great. Her name is Luisa; she’s 21 and lives in Germany. I’m sad that I don’t get to spend more time with her, but we spoke in Spanish at breakfast and I enjoyed our conversations. Her university requires that all of the students do some sort of internship in a foreign country before they graduate. She is helping out in the office at the Spanish school with translation and various office tasks.
Today was our outing to the lagoon at Quilotoa because we got a deal with the travel agency if we booked both trips. We are going to continue working extra this week to make up for the two days that we missed. Johanne and I went with our driver, a man who spoke Spanish, and great English as well, about two and a half hours to the town. Our driver showed us where the path started, and we walked all the way down to the lagoon! I thought there would be a more stable path, but it was a dusty and steep road that led to the bottom. It was funny walking down it with Johanne because both of us kept slipping and almost falling! Luckily neither of us did, or else we probably would’ve slid down half the path in one glide. Also, the view was spectacular! We sat on a bench at the bottom and ate lunch. We then decided to walk down a little bit further in order to get a mule ride back to the top. That was quite the experience as well! We each got onto our mules, and a guide led us to the top while making sure that the mules did not veer off course. We stopped in a cute cafe to eat some empanadas before heading back. I fell asleep on the car ride home, probably because I was worn out from the extra altitude.
Dinner was especially fun today because of our new roommate, Luisa! It was nice to have yet another person to talk to. Jo, Luisa, and I chatted with our host mom for almost an hour and a half after we finished eating. Jo and I shared our pictures from the Amazon, and we got to know Luisa better.
This morning at work, the kids were so excited to see me! They all ran to hug me as I walked into the door. I spent the majority of the time working on a craft with the teachers while the kids played. The craft is a “graduation” present for all of the children because the school year is coming to a close. The project is adorable, and the attention to detail that the teachers put into it is great. This was a nice activity for me because I talked to the teachers a bit more. I found out that one of them is pregnant! I was really proud of myself for chatting with the teachers, because when I look back on the first week, I could not have held a conversation with them. During lunch, the teachers joked with me, and I felt very accomplished.
After work, Johanne and I went straight to the Otavalo market, which is about two hours away. We took the various buses without a problem, but when we arrived, we didn’t know how to find the market. We took a taxi to “the market”, but there was a misunderstanding because he took us to the local supermarket. We were confused as to why he would think that we wanted to go there because we were clearly tourists, but after taking another taxi and specifying that we wanted the artisanal market, we realized that we were right around the corner from it the whole time. We couldn’t be too upset about this because it was actually pretty funny! The Otavalo market was a fun experience, but I wish we had gone on a Saturday when it’s bigger. I purchased gifts for my family which was good, but the artisanal market by our house has pretty much the same merchandise. On the two and a half hour bus ride home, Jo and I talked the whole way. We mainly talked about the differences between the United States and Denmark. She told me about the schooling system there, and she compared it to her time in the US. It was interesting to hear her perspective on things! We got home and ate a late dinner, then hung out with our new roommate Luisa some more.