Today was quite the eventful day for our third in country. We started with a very early wake up to get onto our bus out of Quito. We all of us slept, talked, played games, and watched the sites go by on our way to Riobamba.
We arrived in our new home (for the next two weeks) at La Primavera. The manager greeted us, then let us go to our rooms and get comfortable. It’s a marvelous establishment with a restaurant for our meals, a meeting room for all of our meetings, and a soccer field so we can play in our free time.
After a seminar on culture and its meaning(s), the group took a bus to downtown Riobamba where our wonderful coordinator, Fernanda, gave everyone a tour of her hometown. Starting in “Dollar Square” we saw the high school (Colegio Nacional Maldonado) and got a brief rundown of some of the local history. Fernanda told us about the indigenous population and the history of the city. From there we walked through the city until we reached Maldonado Square. This square is the city center, with a park, Cathedral, and Municipal Building. There was also a man there selling coconut water straight out of the coconut, which many of us bought and enjoyed (and even named the coconuts). The last stop on the tour was an ice cream shop (with a wide array of flavors made on site) where we watched the Copa America final as a group.
Coming back to the hostel meant free time until dinner. Most of the group played soccer, with the rest watching and hanging out. It was a great moment, with everyone taking part and having fun together. Then we had our first big surprise of the night with a 4th of July BBQ! We had freshly grilled (by yours truly) burgers and hot dogs. Surprise #2 came in the form of fireworks from our program coordinators (Thanks Hector and Fernanda!!). After the fireworks, we had our nightly meeting followed by a self-reflection. To end the night, we lit paper (hot air) balloons with our wishes for the two countries and watched them rise into the atmosphere until they drifted off out of sight.
It was a great day and I’m looking forward to 16 more that will be just as exciting and fun-filled.