Quilotoa- the big climb

From May 27, 2008

Our last day in Esmeraldas was full of fun. After working with Teatro La Catanga, we were invited to the directors house for a lovely lunch of home made Esmeraldian fare. It was great to spend more time getting to know these people. The girls had their hair braided by a friend of one of the actors, and we relaxed while watching some videos of their plays.

Jeremy and Rachel (the fighters) goofing off while we were vegging out

Jeremy and Rachel (the fighters) goofing off while we were vegging out

Our meal was over, and we still had to wait until our bus departed for Quito at 11 pm. So we had our first (and possibly only) “veg” day. We were ready to move on to our next adventure, but we were tired and had experienced so much already. Although Rachel and Leslie continued to venture out in the city, the rest of us hung out in a hotel room, pigging out on junk food and watching episodes of American Idle with Spanish subtitles. That was a rare treat, as it was hard to find TV with English subtitles even.

At 10:30 pm, we finally walked the few blocks to the bus station and boarded our overnight bus that would take us to Quito where we would catch another bus to Quilotoa. We cuddled up with our blankets to sleep the night away. Those of us who could sleep did, until the bus was stopped at about 3:30 or 4 in the morning. The police came on the bus and made everyone get off… we didn’t, we just stayed still and waited for further instruction. Apparently it was only a routine check point, and we were just asked to show our id’s, which was fine, except Rachel had left hers under the bus in her backpack. It turned out fine, the police didn’t even make us get it, but we learned a good lesson- keep your passport on you at all times when you’re traveling.

Mary, sick over the edge, while Jesse looks back at Lydia (taking the photo) probably trying not to laugh at this craziness.

We learned an even harder lesson that night. You know how people talk about altitude sickness? Well, let’s just say, that’s not a joke. We weren’t feeling well before we left Esmeraldas, and after climbing 13,000 feet in about 12 hours- we were feeling much worse.

Unfortunately, because of our big climb up to Quilotoa, we all felt a little sick during the whole time we were there.

BUT, that didn’t take away for one second, the richness of our experience there. We met some of the most amazing people and we were welcomed with open arms, and our cause was supported by everyone we met. (Except maybe the old woman with the sheep who cursed us in Quechuan when someone took out a camera… yikes.)

Leslie, the playwright, teaching the basic elements of a story

During our time there, we taught Engish for four days to a secondary school about 2 miles away from the actual town of Quilotoa, and we mixed some theatre terms and skills in with the teaching. The children we so eager to learn, it made our jobs much easier. We even learned some quechuan words from them, with the use of the childrens game “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”. It was a lot of fun!

We also had a short opportunity to work with another school in the area, a little closer to the main town of Quilotoa. It was fun too, the students caught on so quickly and we so smart! On a more somber note- it seems that these are the kids who would probably leave this small town for college and eventually life in a bigger city, such as Quito. Hopefully the work on the Quilotoa Community Center can, in a small way, prevent some of that from happening.

Quilotoa was such a fun community, with so much happening while we were there!

First: THE BULL FIGHT

The Boys, in the pit with the bulls

The Boys (Tim in Black, Jeremy in Green, and Jesse in Gray) in the pit with the bulls

The Girls in the ring with the bulls- spelling D A T (from left, Leslie, Lydia, Rachel, Mary)

The Girls in the ring with the bulls- spelling D A T (from left, Leslie, Lydia, Mary, Rachel)

THE MASKED DANCE

Jesse played along

Jesse played along

Mary tried not to play along.

Mary tried not to play along.

THE WILD DOGS

Rachel and Leslie show the tools they used to defend themselves from their wild dog encounter

Rachel and Leslie show the tools they used to defend themselves from their wild dog encounter

THE BEAUTIFUL QUILOTOA CRATER LAKE

an evening shot of the lake

an evening shot of the lake

visit the website to find out how you can get involved!

visit the website to find out how you can get involved!

We experienced so much in Quilotoa and can’t wait to get back next year for theACTion: Ecuador Project. The students will be helping to build a community center for the Quilotoa community that will house medical facilities as well as an artistic and educational learning center. The people of Quilotoa have asked us to return to help them in this endever and we are more than willing!

If you’re interested in theQuilotoa portion of the ACTion: Ecuador Project, click here.

Contact DAT