Trip of a Lifetime – Week One

As reported last week, Easi-Dec and Kee Safety had the pleasure of supporting Natalia Brown who was participating in a 4 week school expedition to Ecuador and The Galapados.  Natalia kept a weekly diary of her and the group’s experiences during this trip of a lifetime.  To follow is an overview of their first week at Camp Costa.

Week One – Camp Costa

After 2 years of planning and much anticipation I woke up at 2am to get a coach to Heathrow for our 9 hour flight to Miami where we would be catching our connecting flight to Guayaquil in Ecuador!  We finally arrived in Ecuador and went straight to a lovely hostel which would be our last chance to have running water for a month before we travelled to our first camp to start project work!

The following morning we took a 4 hour journey to Camp Costa which is located in the Porto Rica community. The facilities were very limited with no running water or working toilet. To shower we had to fill a bucket with cold water and use a jug to pour it over us.   Our project for this week was to build the foundations of a child development centre for the community and build a playground for the children at the local school.

We started the project by picking up rubbish from the school and surrounding streets and then alternated between working on the construction site making cement, shaping rods of metal to make the building earthquake proof and designing and then cutting the bamboo needed for the various playground apparatus. It was so eye opening to see how people in this part of the world live and to learn about the different aspects in their culture. Later in the week we had a horrendous walk through the forest to get to the community garden where we planted trees as part of the reforestation plan in the area and mandarin trees to provide the locals with more food.

When we weren’t working we spent most of our time on the beach where we saw whales and relaxing in the social area just chatting and getting to know others on the trip.   On our day off we went to Aqua Blanca where tribal people used to live hundreds years ago, walked to the natural pool that is heated by the earth’s core, and spent some time on the virgin beach (a beach that has been untouched by any manmade items).  In the evening we watched the most beautiful sunrise from the beach, the perfect end to a lovely day.

Whilst at Camp Costa we were invited by the community to various activities and events.  On one night there was the weekly bingo night where everyone brought an item that could be a prize and a dollar. It was so fun!   Obviously language was an issue for us but a young family helped me and my friend.  The prizes were mostly food items and as our group had been without biscuits and chocolate for nearly a week, we wanted to win these.  We won fabric softener instead!   On another night we got invited to a girl’s Monkia’s quinceanera which was a great honour as they only happen about 3 times a year and the community typically don’t invite outsiders of the community. A quinceanera is a coming of age party for when a girl turns 15 years old. The whole community turned out to watch the ceremony and salsa to the music!

Honestly it was one of the highlights of the trip because the atmosphere was electric and I’ll never experience something like that again in my life! The music didn’t stop till 6am and we were all absolutely shattered for the next day’s  project work, however it was completely worth the late night!

On our last day at Camp Costa a surprise party was thrown for us by the mothers of the community whose children attended the school and would be using the child development centre we started. It was so humbling, that made me realise how much of a positive impact we had made in a week and how much they appreciate it, it was such a warming feeling.

Next week Natalia and her group travel to the Galapagos Islands