Yes South America.
This was the first country I visited where I was among other people of color and I actually spoke the language.
Hey, hey, hey, Espanol. I can’t get the tilde while I’m typing. Sue me.
This trip was a little different because I wasn’t taking it with my family- I was actually taking 12 students from my school. During my summer vacation.
What? Why? No, why would I do that? To make it simple, I love my job, I’m a teacher and I think it’s extremely important to take kids who normally wouldn’t have the chance to go abroad to go as much as they want! That will be a separate blog post- so stay tuned. You know you wanna.
So, being responsible for teenagers and yourself can be a little daunting, but it is all worth it in the end. We arrived in Quito, which is just like any other metro city, except it is so colorful. Think East LA, if you’ve been. The culture is just a smack to the face for you. WAKE UP AND SEE ME. I AM QUITO AND I AM HERE. It was later in the evening when we got there, but everyone was still out at restaurants and bars- and I was with it. Except no- because I had the kids. Remember that. We had a wonderful tour guide who took us all around. We were there mainly for service and would spend the majority of our time in the Amazon basin.
Quito was an interesting city in that it was “Americanized” (beautiful street graffit, bars with wifi and tv), but many places were still very old and rich with Ecuadorian culture. We took the kids to a small family home that was in the business of making ponchos, and watching them do everything by hand was amazing. The family was very welcoming, and we just bought a ton of stuff from them. They were beautiful.
This was a really good buffer for the real jam that we were going to get into in the jungle.
Oh yes, the jungle, baby.
And before I even tell you about the jungle. let me just tell you my hair was JUNGLE WILD. I wrapped my hair up a lot in scarves because I wasn’t sure what might be in the jungle air. Being that natural hair is like a sponge, I didn’t want to have any critters creeping as I made my way back through TSA. SO, when you see these pictures, just know I was young, wild and FREE, boo!
From Quito, it took 8 hours to get down to the jungle. Before we actually got down to the Amazon, we stopped in Tena, which was know for being a great tourist spot due to all of the fun monkeys that were always around. The kids had a lot of fun and the monkeys were as mischievous as we thought that they would be- too cute!
Fast forward past amazing restaurants and a bunch of scary, high bridges (I’m afraid of heights), and we arrive at a boat at the Amazon. What? Yes. Our final destination in the Amazon is about 20 minutes down the river and it is beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. I, and another teacher, took the kids there because we were on a service trip to help boost their economy by constructing an arts building for them.
Jungle life is hard work, hot, and gorgeous. Get into it, people. All the way. I’ve never seen so many colors or so many people who were willing to help each other.
I don’t know about you- but I feel close to God in nature. I look at all the things that He has made and the different people he created around the world- and my faith is completely renewed in Him every time. I remember being swinging in the hammock outside of my cabin thinking- this is what humans are made for. They are made to remember that no matter what- you can always come back to a state of calm. A state of peace. A state of redemption. Go somewhere, go everywhere, ya’ll. You might meet God there.