I enjoyed every day of the trip, but some of the highlights include learning about the culture and history of Quito, going on hikes in the jungle, and playing pick-up soccer games with locals. While in Quito, we were able to immerse ourselves in the city and learn about its history of the city. We went into one of the oldest catholic churches and saw the immaculate architecture inside and out. After entering the church, we saw the President of Ecuador’s government building and then went for some dark chocolate tastings at one of the local fair trade chocolate shops.
In the rainforest, I got to go on different hikes including a night hike and a swamp hike. These hikes were less than three miles, but we had local guides that stopped to show us the different species and uses of plants in local villages. During the night walk, we saw different amphibians and insects that only come out at night. These species were cool to see as well as their behaviors. During the swamp hike, it rained a lot right when we got to the trailhead, and we hiked through water that came up right to our knees. During the rain, there were not a lot of animals out, but we were able to see a snake and more of the different plants.
While in the jungle and on the homestays I was able to play soccer with the local guides/village members and the children at the homestays. We played on smaller fields, one with grass and the other one covered with concrete. When I played with the kids there were about eleven people on each team on a really small court, but we all had a great time even if we bumped into each other. Also, the majority of the kids were so good at soccer, and I was impressed. Soccer is one of the favorite pass time of Ecuadorians, so it was cool to play with them.