Today was a great day. We visited Pasochoa; a protected wildlife/woodland area outside of Quito. Houses are EVERYWHERE in Quito. Driving out of the city, it was insane to see how close they were together and what kind of shape the houses were in. It looked like the projects; it was really sad to see kids outside these houses with hardly any clothes on sitting in the dirt next to the road. I kept forgetting that people actually live there. There was also TONS of trash alongside the road-plastic bags mostly. (Adopt a highway anyone?) The reserve wasn’t too far away- but our group went on a bus, and the roads were terrible once outside the city, so it ended up taking about 2 hours. The bus drivers are amazing, though- winding around on narrow gravel roads with huge potholes and dug out areas. We even had to back up a couple times to let logging trucks through. Once we arrived at Pasochoa, we were given a brief explanation of the different distances of paths we could take and the wildlife we could possibly see. We didn’t end up seeing much wildlife, but hike/view was amazing. Throughout the trip we stopped and played different interactive games focused on communication, trust, teamwork, and interpretation to get “integrated” with the culture and one another. It was a ton of fun. When it came time to eat lunch, we all had to put all of the food our family packed for us in the center and we swapped/shared. This was because EVERYONE shares almost everything in Ecuador. Food, drinks, houses— you name it. People are very generous and family/friend oriented. Lunch was a bit weird at first, but then ended up being great for the group- we just took bites of things and passed them around! It really did help us to get to know each other better. The ride home was a blast as well. We sang a large variety of different songs from Journey “Don’t stop believing” to “Apple Bottom Jeans” in a competing/battle royale game two of the Ecuadorian women taught us. It was great. Tonight 13 of us went to the Mariscal, a neighborhood about 6 blocks from my house with a ton of bars, restaurants, and shops, and we watched the Ecuador vs Columbia “playoff” futbol game for the world cup. Too bad we lost—there was quite riot throughout the town. Cops everywhere, and we did see some fights break out. We then went to another smaller bar off the beaten path and did some dancing. I finished up the night sitting at a nice outdoor restaurant/bar with 7 others chatting and watching the Brazil game. I took my first taxi home (they strongly recommend that after dark-even though it was only 6 blocks away). So cheap! 1 dollar. It was a day full of many new and exciting things- much like many more to come I'm sure!!
Estamos en fuego!!