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Amazing Kids! Adventures! Fun Things to Do, From a Kidís Point of View - My Ecuador Adventure
By Kelsey Llewellyn, Contributing Writer

 

Have you ever wanted to explore the world while helping others? Or, have you ever wanted to learn about a new culture through experience? Well, that’s what I did when I journeyed to Ecuador with the Ludlowe Corps.
 
Ecuador is a country that lies on the west coast of South America. Its capital Quito is almost two miles above sea level.  It is home to part of the Amazon jungle and the Galapagos Islands. While in Ecuador we helped the Ongota tribe, explored the Amazon, visited the Galapagos, and learned a lot about the culture, people, plants, and animals of the regions we visited.

Beautiful Scenery of Ecuador
I went on this adventure as a member of the Ludlowe Corps, which was established by several teachers from my school, Roger Ludlowe Middle School, to empower students to make a difference in the lives of others through service oriented learning opportunities. To read more about the Ludlowe Corps you can visit http://sites.google.com/site/ludlowecorps/.

A month or so before we journeyed to Ecuador, the Ludlowe Corps held a fundraiser called Around the World in 80 Laps. On the day of the fundraiser, March 14, it rained hard and wind gusted up to 47 miles per hour shaking the lamp posts above the football stadium we were walking around. The storm knocked power out throughout our town of Fairfield, and ripped huge trees out of the ground, but we kept walking to raise money for the Ongota tribe.  Little did we know that the village we selected to help in the Amazon would experience much worse weather!  In addition to raising money for the Ongota, we continued to support a school in Senegal that the group had visited and helped fund for the past several years.

On our visit to the Ongota tribe, we had planned to assist them by providing and assembling water filters and improving sanitary conditions.  We also hoped to get to know them by playing soccer, learning about their daily lives and speaking with them. But, a week before the trip, a terrible mudslide devastated the village, leaving the tribe in pandemonium. When we heard this news we were heartbroken and unsure if we would be able to get to the village, but we were ready to help.


A Flood Devastated the Village
As we entered the town on our bus, smiling faces greeted us and welcomed us into their village. The first day we were there we helped clean the debris from around the houses that remained, helped rebuild the roofs, and distributed and assembled water filters that we had brought with us. All the people were thrilled to have us help them.


Bonding with the Villagers
On our second day in the village, we played games with the children and continued to clear the debris that the storm had left.  We had fun playing them in soccer, joining them in games, and trying to communicate (since only a few of us could speak Spanish fluently). The little girls even had fun creating a hairstyle for me. At one point, the Ongota president came up to me and asked me for my translation dictionary. He quickly looked something up and then held out his hand to me and said, “Friends.” When he did this I really felt as though everything that we were doing was appreciated. I loved the feeling of being able to help people and seeing their reactions. When you do community service you don’t always get to see how happy the recipient truly is. In this case we got to donate money, our time, and our effort and got to see that all of our hard work was really worth it!  We made a difference!
In addition to the community service aspect of our trip, we learned about and experienced the Amazon Rainforest up-close. While staying at the Cotococha Lodge, located inthe Amazon Rainforest, we saw many beautiful, exotic flowers. We also saw fascinating creatures like tarantulas, scorpions, monkeys, and strange, beautiful birds.

Fascinating Creatures were Everywhere, Including this Monkey!
We visited AmaZOOnico, an animal rehabilitation center, located several hours down the Aranjuno River by boat. Here we saw many species of monkey, colorful parrots,  toucans, turtles, macaws, and crocodiles. As we explored the rehabilitation center a grey-winged trumpeter followed us around, and even posed for pictures! On our way back up river we visited a local Quichua family. They welcomed us and demonstrated how they pan for gold, produced ceramic by hand, prepared chichi (a local drink), and how to hunt with a blowgun. They let us try shooting the blow gun at a stuffed macaw; it was fun, but proved to be very difficult!
The next day we trekked in the jungle to a waterfall. It was hot and the trail was slippery and somewhat difficult, but well worth the beauty of the landscape. On the hike we tried cacao beans and even termites! The termites, which tasted like hazelnut, were used by the locals to create a natural bug repellent by crushing and rubbing them on their skin. After walking several hours up hill in the hot, humid weather we finally reached the waterfall. It was refreshing and beautiful! We got to jump off the edge of the cliff into the pool of water below! Overall, the Amazon Rainforest is magical, and everyone should have a chance to experience its beauty!

After returning from our hike to the waterfall, it was time to leave the Amazon.  We boarded our bus and set out for the bustling streets of Quito; where beautiful churches weren’t hard to find, and there were at least four street vendors on every block. There, we witnessed a labor strike, and went shopping for our friends and family.  After a short stay in Quito, we headed off for the second part of our adventure . . . the magical Galapagos Islands.
On the trip I learned that Ecuador is beautiful, full of adventure, and has a wonderful culture. I also learned how good it felt to help people who really needed our assistance.  I will always remember how happy the Ongota people were despite the hardships they endured.




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