Papallacta and Antisana

June 8, 2016

Spirit Cultural Exchange offers individuals the opportunity to help with a variety of volunteer projects in Ecuador while immersing themselves in the local culture. Volunteer projects are available throughout the year for a minimum of one week and are offered in many different fields. We hope you enjoy reading the blogs of our summer 2016 scholarship recipients, Molly Finnelly and Mackenzie Hedge!

I had an amazing weekend!!!!

Thernal Pools

On Saturday I went to Papallacta hot springs! There were 12 of us who went, it was fun to go with a big group. We met at the school at 7:00am so we could beat the rain in the afternoon. It was about a 3 hour bus ride to Papallacta. There are nine hot thermal pools, one river water pool, and three cold water pools. The hot springs that feed all of the thermal pools at Papallacta come from rain water filtered by Chacana caldera, where the water is heated by magma from the many volcanoes surrounding Papallacta. The thermal baths are said to have many health benefits such as improving respiratory function and reducing inflammation. The different baths ranged in temperature. The hottest one was VERY hot, I only went in to my knees. The river water pool, meant to cool off, was freezing but felt nice after sitting in the thermal pool for a while. The thermal pools were very relaxing and the scenery was beautiful!

Saturday night was an Ecuador versus Brazil soccer game, which was a very big deal. A group of us went to a restaurant to watch the game. Everyone there was very into it, it was very exciting. I didn't stay for the whole game because I had to get up early, but it was fun!

On Sunday I went to Antisana National Park. I went with three other students from the school and a guide named Christopher. We all met at Plaza Foch at 5:00am. We went early to have a better chance of seeing condors and Antisana glacier. It was about a 3 hour drive. On the way we stopped at a canyon where condors nest. There are only 70 condors in all of Ecuador, they are monogamous and lay 1 egg every two years so it is rare to see them. We got to the canyon when the sun was hitting it, which is the perfect time to see condors. We saw three!!! They are huge and so beautiful. Christopher had binoculars so we all took turns watching the condors fly around the canyon, it was an amazing start to the day!!! 

We drove into the park and it was breathtaking. There were wild horses, cows, bulls, and llamas. There is a protective fence along the road because the bulls are really aggressive and sometimes attack cars. In the park you can see Cotopaxi volcano as well as the Antisana glacier. We drove for a while and stopped for pictures along the way. We went for a three hour hike through the valley of all of the mountains. 

Closer View of Antisana

It was a great day!!! I am amazed by the beauty of Ecuador.

Today (Monday) I went to the center this morning. There was a high school group from Chicago volunteering with us, it was fun to get to know them and hear about their time in Ecuador. Three of the girls from the group sang a couple of songs for the abuelitos, they all loved it. I played jenga again today, I am going to be a pro at jenga by the time I leave, I play it for at least an hour everyday. I really enjoy volunteering and getting to know all of the abuelitos!

I can't believe I am leaving a week from tomorrow, time flies here!!!

Thank you for reading!!!