We have all returned after a wonderful 3 week break, during which some of us traveled and others went home to visit their families. Here is a small recap of some of our adventures!
Heather, Cate and Claudia:
We spent three weeks traveling together through Argentina and Chile. We began the trip in Buenos Aries, visiting museums, eating delicious foods and attending a drum circle concert-- a highlight of the trip. From there we flew to beautiful Bariloche, located in northern Patagonia, where we spent a few days enjoying the lakes and mountains, including an overnight trek to Refugio Frey, a well known rock climbing destination. We then took a bus to Chiloe, an island located of the coast of southern Chile. There we celebrated Christmas and wandered around sleepy coastal towns drinking coffee. Next we took a 14 hour ride to Santiago and then on to Valparaiso, where we witnessed the new World Record for fireworks on New Year's Eve. Last we popped over to Mendoza, Argentina's wine country, and enjoyed great wine, olive oil, scenery, and company-- biking through the vineyards and horseback riding through the foothills of Mendoza.
I travelled to the chilean desert alongside Greg, and then went to Santiago and Valparaiso for a couple of days. After going full moon sand-boarding, floating in the salt lakes, participating in holiday dance parties, and seeing the second largest geyser park in the world- it was an eventful trip. I then went home for two weeks to spend the rest of the vacation with my family and friends- it was nice having some time off, and it got me excited to come back for another try at Ecuador!
I spent this Christmas break with 14 family members (no joke). I was lucky enough to have this many visitors from the US come and see Quito, Sangolquí and our community center in Rumiloma. We then all set off for the Galapagos, spending the first few days on Isabela Island and then taking a 15-person cruise around the other islands (meaning, yes, we were on the boat the entire time). I spent the majority of Christmas staring at sea lions, giant turtles, whales, sharks, penguins and, of course, blue footed boobies. I then was off to the Amazon at Yasuní National Park for the last four days, which was incredibly interesting especially after all we have learned about the Yasuní through the news, Quito protests, and Manna development discussions. To get back home, I had to take a canoe to a motor boat to a bus to a plane to a taxi, but I am thrilled to be back to work in Sangolquí.
I started my break with a short and relaxing trip to Canoa, during which I learned how to surf! I then flew home to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with my family and visit friends in New York City and celebrate New Year's in the Big Apple. It was really great to see my family because it had been a long time since all of us had been together for the holidays.
I spent two weeks in the States, visiting my sister and my friends in Baltimore/DC and the rest of my family in Maine. I had a white Christmas, and got to go skiing for the first time in 3 years. I came back to Ecuador for New Years, since there are a lot of cool traditions here. I spent New Years with Joshua and his family, we got stopped by Ecuadorian men dressed like women "viudas" and burned an año viejo at midnight.
I went on a three country trek spanning 24 days. Starting in the northern Chilean desert of San Pedro de Atacama, I worked my way down the 4,000 mile coast line to Patagonian city of Punta Arenas. Entering Argentina in the world's most southern city, Ushuaia, I continued up through Argentinian Patagonia to end my journey in Buenos Aires and Uruguay's Montivideo.
Over the break my parents came to Ecuador and we hung out, went to Otavalo, Cotocachi, kicked it in Quito. They came to the centro to see where I worked. We rented an apartment en La Ronda just below the Panecillo which was cool. Then we went to Peru and hung out in Cuzco, ate Alpaca and my dad and I climbed Macchu Picchu.
We all had a great time on our individual adventures but were excited to return to the library last Tuesday. We hit the ground running, as quarter two inscriptions began on the same day we all got back and continued throughout the week. It was very hectic in the library with nearly all of our classes full by the third day, and wait lists filling up quickly as well. We are excited to be offering a new level of Adult English, as the demand for English classes continues to grow each quarter. This is only possible because of our two new PD's, Carryn and Torie! More to come on them in the next post.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday break and a happy new year!