Once again I find that I have no idea how to begin this post – or even the words to use to describe the amazing experience that was Ecuador. I know I left part of my heart in South America, and in all honesty, most days the trips I took there feel more like a weird, wonderful dream than reality. I got to see my sponsored children again. I got to speak with them, hear their own voices, give them hugs, and show them love in person. I held their hands in mine – and once again utterly left my heart with them.
There’s no way I could convey the full range of emotions felt from this trip in a single post – so, just as I did with my last trip, I’m attempting to share in a series, breaking it down day-by-day or story-by-story; but bear with me, these words are hard to write and even harder to share…
[Long post alert – consider yourself warned]
Day 3: Lots and Lots of Roses in Cayambe & Otavalo
Early Monday morning, we began our two-ish hour bus ride to Cayambe and the first Child Development Center of the Trip: EC424. This area of Ecuador relies heavily on roses and rose production for much of the economy – and we saw plenty of evidence of the floral influence. In the photo below, the field of silver that could be a lake if you don’t look closely, is actually a sea of greenhouses all growing different varieties of roses. We could just glance the beautiful colors during our ride to the project.
But, even more beautiful than the flowers, were the people. They lined the street to welcome us in, giving each of us a small bouquet of the famous roses as a greeting gift.
Once we entered the church, we were met with an amazing display of photos and resources. This is one of the nicest sanctuaries I’ve been in, and I remember the floors being very slick from the wax finish – with made for an interesting game of musical chairs between us and the moms 😉
While we were here, the workers and staff told us about how they implement the Child Survival Program. We also got to visit with the mothers and babies participating in the program to see first hand the impact Compassion is having on this community.
After touring the facility, we helped serve all of the children lunch, and then ate lunch ourselves. The food was as amazing as I expected. Freshly cooked lima beans, lots of roasted chicken, potatoes, and corn. I’m generally a fast eater, and stepped outside to play with the kids while everyone else finished their food. Unfortunately when I did this I missed an amazing story from one of the project workers – but our tour leader, Bobby, writes it beautifully here. (Seriously step over and read it and then come back – I’m horribly disappointed that I missed it, but can’t help but think that there was a reason that I did. I’m not 100% sure what that reason is, but I have peace in knowing I was where I was supposed to be when I was there.)
Once we’d finished lunch, we loaded up in the back of a pick-up truck and headed to the first home visit of the trip. The home was made of cement block, and we toured 3 rooms: bedroom, kitchen, and storage/bedroom.
The family that lives here grows onions (that look much like our leeks) to sell for income.
After the home visit, we returned to the Compassion Center and helped to hand out monthly groceries to the Mom’s in the Child Survival Program. Let me tell you, that bag is heavier than it looks – and these moms carry it and their babies as they walk home – a walk that could take up to 30 minutes.
And then, before we said our final goodbyes, we had a few more minutes to play with the kids.
This little girl was great – when I first saw her, she was so upset that a project worker stopped me and asked if I had any bubbles that she could play with, apparently all of the kids around her had gotten some bubbles, and she’d been left out. But, fortunately for both of us, I had a fresh bottle that I was all to happy to give her. And she was all to happy to blow tons of bubbles for me to photograph – seriously, one of my favorite photos from this trip is of this little girl and her bubbles.
And then, it was time for one last group photo before we made our way to Otavalo and the hotel.
It started to sprinkle a bit on the drive to the hotel, but even so, it was a beautiful drive. I seriously love this country, the view, the people, all of it. Ecuador will forever have a special place in my heart – and I wish I could visit it every year.
On our way to the hotel we made a fantastic side stop at Cayambe to sample a local delicacy, bizcochos. These cracker-cookies were so, so, so good! Made with tons of flour and butter, baked in a brick oven, and served with a caramel dipping sauce – they’re making my mouth water now just thinking of them.
And that, friends, sums up the day – we did make it to the hotel (and boy is it beautiful! I’ll post photos later this week – but know that it was here that I seriously debated never coming back) , and we initially only had wifi in the lobby, so there was this fun little convening of all of us as we “gathered ’round the wifi” before supper. We ate at the hotel – delicious empanadas, fresh fruit, and blackberry sorbet made for a great supper and a fantastic way to end the first day in the highlands.
I’m planning to share more from this trip on Wednesday, and then again each Tuesday until the story is told. So be sure to check back for more! 🙂