After a long trip on an airplane we finally arrived in Quito, Ecuador. The drastically different altitude immediately took an effect on our body. We knew right then that the low levels of oxygen would be difficult to get used to. After meeting our host family, we retired to our rooms and immediately went to sleep.
Our first day in Quito allowed us to realize the challenges we would face. Simply traveling around the Old City and viewing the monuments we got tired from walking as well as assimilating ourselves into a place where English is not the primary language. However, the trip was definitely worthwhile because we got a helping handful of the culture. We visited Palacio de Gobierno, La Iglesia de Santa Domingo, El Catedral, and the Plaza de la Independencia. The beautiful architecture taught us the Spanish and Indigenous influences that are prominent in this city. From Catholic structures and depictions of holy figures to the modern protests that occur in the Plaza, we dove right into our progress on becoming residents of this beautiful country. And of course, we had to try the amazing coffee that is such an integral part that makes the locals function. The fresh tastes, the strong flavors…the coffee was definitely the best part of the day due to its relaxing touches and quick energy boost. The catch: dehydration and a higher susceptibility to the altitude. After a struggle, we finally made it back to the comfort of home-cooked Ecuadorian cuisine: a platter containing celery and mozzarella soup, cooked vegetables, and seasoned beef; ALL FRESH. What better way to top off the night with a good night’s rest.
The next day, we got down to the nitty-gritty part of our trip. After making a squished voyage on a trolley bus trying to prevent the theft of our belongings we made it to El Factoria del Conocimiento, also known as ConQuito (a municipal center set out to help the citizens of Quito establish a better way of living, in financial, healthful, and a well-rounded life). After meeting Luchito, the leader of our project, we got a crash course on our reason for carrying out the building of a Greenhouse. Not only to create a sustainable structure we also were working on this project in order to establish a “fresh” lifestyle in the children and adults of the community. By teaching them the importance of growing crops and the necessity of maintaining a nutritional diet we hope to cure the impoverished and lacking lifestyles so evident in many parts of Quito. Along with the nutritional benefits, we hope to create a financial standard for these people. By selling any excess crops, the community will be able to use profitable moneys to further enhance their lifestyles. Once the work was done, playtime began. Making a trip across the city we landed at the Centro del Culturidad to learn some breakdancing (a type of dance that is very popular among the youth of Quito). We still hadn’t adjusted to the altitude but we made due of our abilities and learned a routine; but more importantly, we made many friends that exposed us to the youthful side of Quito.
T-G-I-F! The weekend started on Friday due to a holiday and we took the opportunity to travel around the city and experience a little bit of what people do on a daily basis. We traveled to malls, we saw movies (granted with Spanish subtitles), we even got a small taste of the pastries that are so sought out by tourists. Saturday came and we got to leave the city and visit the indigenous and natural landmarks of Ecuador. After wading through the markets at Ota Valo and purchasing goods for our friends and family back at home we got to visit a crater…yes, a full crater that is filled now and is a natural lake. Although the rain prevented us from taking a boat ride around the crater we got to witness the beauty, the real reason why we even came to visit this tourist site. A long drive through the mountainous terrain and we made it back home to our beds and our dreams.
After a slow Sunday, Monday arrived and our first real day of work. We met with Luchito and quickly traveled to the school to map out our plan of action. After creating a blueprint and determining our supplies, we got to work. Quickly, we made holes for the foundation and overall structure of the greenhouse. After getting a jumpstart on our project, we departed and were ready for the intensive side of the job to begin. On Tuesday, after finally getting past the traffic (which took around 1.5 hours) we quickly went to work, using our blueprint to lay down the posts that would create the outside wall and roof of our structure. After a long 6 hours, we finally finished for the day. I would give more details on this process, but words can’t really describe the event-filled day that we had. Pictures will follow!
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