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…
At the start of Day 5, we met as group in the hotel restaurant to enjoy some of the best food of the whole trip and fellowship with students enrolled in Compassion’s college program. It is always amazing to visit with the older Compassion students and hear first hand how the program has helped them.
After breakfast, we headed to the famous Otavalo market – which was amazing and huge! We spent a little over an hour here – and I never feel like that’s enough time. The market was easily the size of an entire city block, with vendors packed in every available space. I knew that in order to see everything and get what I’d planned on purchasing (for myself and gifts) I had to be methodical and fast.
I don’t have many photos of the market, because it’s considered rude to take random photos. Instead, you’re encouraged to ask permission before taking a photo, and take photos of booths where you’d purchased something.
The night before, I sat down and made a list of what items I’d be looking for at the market. I knew I wanted a bag of some sort since my carryon was a duffel bag that I’d made specifically as a gift for my sponsored girl, Emily. I also wanted to get as many alpaca blankets as possible – and ended up getting an amazing deal by buying them in semi-bulk! Finally, I wanted to pick up some small trinket like items for my coworkers, some artwork for myself, and a nativity scene (because I want to buy one every time I travel with Compassion).
The artwork was so vibrant and truly makes me happy every time I look at it. I bought some beautiful pieces, but I left one behind. I really wanted that painting of the ship in the photo below – near the center of the photo – and I wish I had bought it, but at the time, I felt it was outside my price range. At least I got a photo of it, though.
After the market, we made one final trip to Puerto Lago to pack our things and board the bus headed back to Quito. The rest of the day was mainly spent between traveling and stopping for food. We had lunch at Cafe Vaca – note the John Deere at the door.
When we got back to Quito, we had a few minutes to check into our hotel rooms and rest before we met in the lobby and walked over to “Waffles and Crepes” – which was also so delicious. This was the first time I’d ever tried Crepes and they were worthy of the hype. Finally, we went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the next day – when we’d get to finally see our sponsored kids!
As I mentioned yesterday, the Compassion Bloggers are blogging their experiences in Ecuador this week, too. To read more from the bloggers, click here. To find your own beautiful child to sponsor, click here.