2016 Ecuador Blogs

Emails from Ecuador 2016:

December 9, 2016

Hola familia!

We are now enjoying some time in the Amazon!

Yesterday we had a long bus drive with amazing views to the Amazon region of Ecuador. We saw the change in the land going from the mountains into the rainforest. We stopped in Baños de Agua Santa to take pictures of the waterfalls and also to eat some delicious burritos. But one of our favourite parts was taking the boat in order to get to the Minga Lodge; it was beautiful and refreshing!

This morning we visited Mr. Vargas’s farm. He told us about his life and the struggles he has had, especially because in his community they did not have clean water. After his talk, we did two fun activities: harvest some corn and walk to the river to get water. Afterwards he shared with us some delicious fresh fruit from his farm!

After lunch, we went to a cacao farm, where Mr. Fabian taught us a lot about the cacao plant. We learned how to prepare the land, plant the seeds and about the fermentation process. We also bought some fermented cacao beans and, back at Minga Lodge, we prepared some high quality Ecuadorian chocolate which we ate with some fruit. After the chocolate we had the opportunity to also try eating grubs! What an experience!

Tonight we went on a jungle hike. We saw some very cool animals and insects.

It is amazing to think we only have few more days here! Time has flown so fast! We will be seeing you all very soon!

Sending all of our love,
ME to WE Trips on behalf of the TCS crew


December 8, 2016
Hi TCS family and friends!
We are so happy to share some news from the highlands of Ecuador, where we have being working in the community of Sablog! We have been digging holes for the foundation of the new classrooms. We have been working very hard because we know that it’s worth it, especially after getting to know and playing with the children that are going to use the classrooms. The other day we played three-leg soccer with them. It was lots of fun!
Today we came for our last time to the build site. It was sad to leave, but we got to finish two extra holes from the planned ones. Maestro Patricio was really proud of all the hard work and effort we gave there; he thanked us very much for supporting this project!
In the afternoon Margarita showed us how to prepare Andean food. We peeled fava beans, potatoes and mellocos (a native kind of potatoes). We also prepared some Andean hot sauce, which was delicious. (We have the secret recipe!) With barley we made machica, a really tasty and healthy flour that you can mix with hot water and brown sugar. It was a lot of fun to learn how to cook some of the food we have been enjoying!
Going back to our accommodation, Rigo, our driver, stopped at a very nice view point from where we enjoyed an amazing sunset!
At night we were surprised by a wonderful Andean band; we danced and celebrated our accomplishment and our time in the highlands.
We are very excited to be heading to the Amazon rainforest tomorrow!
ME to We Trips on behalf the TCS team


December 5, 2016
Hi family!
This weekend in Ecuador was very unique and unforgettable!
On Saturday we continued on volunteering in Sablog! We dug holes for the foundation of the new block of classrooms. We cut and bent iron bars for the columns of the building, and also decorated the walls of classrooms 1 and 2 with river rocks. We had the help of community members the whole time. It has been amazing to get to know them!
Yesterday we visited “Sumak Ahuana,” a women’s group in the community. The ladies there showed us the process of making clothes out of wool, from the very beginning, including how to shear a sheep! Of course, we got to visit their shop and buy some of their products, such us: ponchos, sweaters, socks, scarfs and hats, made with alpaca and sheep wool. It feels so good to know that we are supporting the empowerment of these women!
In the afternoon, María Angelita, a local leader, invited us to her house and land where we had the chance to see and experience what the responsibilities are of women in the rural areas in the highlands of Ecuador. We fed her cows, donkeys and guinea pigs. We saw many sheep, goats and llamas as well. It was a very eye-opening experience!
The landscape is gorgeous; we even saw the Chimborazo Mountain!
We keep on learning lots of things about the culture and the country. We all have a lot to share when we arrive back home, but in the meantime we will keep you posted!
ME to WE Trips on behalf of the TCS Group


December 2, 2016

Hola familia!

Our trip in Ecuador is just amazing – we never stop having a great time!

On Wednesday morning we were back at the build site making great progress! It was great to get some dirt under our fingernails. After lunch we visited the Gulahuayco community, where Cecilia was expecting us. She talked to us about the struggle they had to get water, and then showed us one of the closest water springs from where they had to carry the water. We filled some jugs of water and walked back to her house. It was tough and eye opening to see what access to water looks like in Ecuador for many communities!

Last night, we divided into “familias” and were given a profile, which included information about our familias’ expenses and income. From there, we determined how much money we could spend on one meal, and how much money our family could save (if any). Each family calculated that they had under a dollar to spend on a meal. We considered this in comparison to our lives at home, and how a trip to the grocery store is so different in Canada.

This morning we visited Guamote market – a local market that takes place every Thursday. Each familia was tasked with purchasing a meal for their whole family with one dollar. The results were really eye-opening – particularly for those families with five, six or 10 members.

After the market we headed to San Miguel, the most established community that WE partners with in Ecuador. We sat down with the first Girls Club in this community – an initiative that allows Indigenous girls to access training in public speaking, self-confidence and making handicrafts to sell. Our group tried its hand at weaving and making beaded necklaces and bracelets. Needless to say, we were not as skilled as these girls! We also had the chance to have a conversation with the girls, who are just about the same age as our students. We talked about our favourite subjects in school, our brothers and sisters, and even our hopes and dreams for the future. It was so impactful to hear the similarities between our groups.

Finally, we had a chance to purchase some of the beautiful handicrafts (thankfully made by the Girls Club – not our attempts!). Knowing how the products are made and that we are supporting their initiative and futures made this experience even more amazing. The picture above is our group with some of the girls from the club.

We hope all of you are well!

Sending all of our love,
ME to WE Trips on behalf of the TCS crew!


November 30, 2016

Ally Punlla/Good Morning Family!

We are so excited to share with you all the things that we are doing here in Ecuador!

Our second day in the country we had traveled from Quito to the Chimborazo province, almost eight hours. It was amazing to see all the landscapes, and the llamas, alpacas and vicuñas! We even saw part of the Chimborazo Mountain. It was a little cloudy so hopefully in the next days we will be lucky to see all of it. We arrived to Inti Sisa, our home for the next few days. Here we are enjoying very delicious Ecuadorian meals. We learned how to eat popcorn with soup. Delicious!

Today we woke up early for our first day of volunteering in the community of Sablog! It was an extraordinary day, and we met with Patricio, the foreman of the building. Some of the locals, including Julian and María, were also working in the minga (community volunteer project). All of them were so welcoming, happy and grateful to have us there. They were very surprised to learn that we are coming from very, very far to work and learn with them. We played with the kids from the community; they are all so sweet! With them, we were practising our Spanish. It is a huge highlight for all of us to be able to interact with the community members. Today is a day in which all of the trip planning was realized, we finally started building classrooms three and four! Currently they only have classrooms to be able to teach up to Grade 10; this project will allow to the community to offer to teach Grades 11 and 12 to the students!

With love from Guamote!
ME to WE Trips on behalf the Trinity College School group


November 28, 2016

Hola Familia:

We cannot believe that after seeing all those pictures and videos we are finally experiencing Ecuador first hand!

Yesterday we were tired after a day of flying, but we had pizza for dinner, which was delicious.

Today we had a walking tour around the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quito. Our guide, Caridad, was extremely knowledgeable and shared a lot of interesting information about Quito’s history with us. One of the most outstanding parts of the tour was visiting the San Francisco church (Church and Convent of St. Francis). Above is a picture from our visit there. We then took the bus and went to the Itchimbia Park. There was an incredible view of the historic center of Quito.

After lunch, we visited the Equator Museum! Here we did some fun experiments, including trying to balance a raw egg on a nail. We also learned some interesting facts about the Amazon and got to see a real shrunken head!

We went for dinner to a really nice place and now we are getting ready for our adventure in Chimborazo tomorrow morning.

We will send another update to you soon to let you know more about this amazing experience!

Lots of love from Quito,
ME to WE Trips on behalf the Trinity College School group