Welcome to Ecuador! by Kayla Squiggins

I arrived in Quito with excitement and nervousness since this was my first ever trip outside the United States. The weather was a little chilly, but so refreshing compared to the humidity in Charleston, SC. The first excursion was a trip up to a lookout on the east side of the Pichincha Volcano via the teleférico, which is a gondola lift. After we arrived, we were able to take in the sights of Quito, the volcano, and the mountains. Afterward, we hiked for about half a mile up the mountain to a small shed to eat local cuisine, which consisted of empanadas, beef, corn, and tea. We then made our way towards a local community, San Francisco de Cruz Loma, to understand how they are sustainable as well as measure the water quality at two of their water sources, which are two waterfalls. After about 20 minutes, we entered the community and listened to a few of the community members about their sustainability, and they thanked us for taking the time to come and measure their water sources for different chemical parameters including pH, conductivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nitrate concentrations, and phosphate concentrations. After speaking with the members, we went on short hikes to the waterfalls all while dealing with the effects of altitude sickness. After several hours we met with the community members again to discuss how the community began reforestation and how they added a water treatment system for drinking water that decreased gastrointestinal illnesses throughout the community.

Learning about the sustainable practices of this community was great to hear as well as sampling the waterfalls nearby. The views of Quito and the volcano were immaculate with the clouds rolling in over the city. I look forward to updating you all soon!

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