After 2 tiring days of early wake up calls, we were rewarded with an 8:00 am wake up. As is standard with “Free Days,” we were able to finally relax and enjoy a nice long breakfast at La Estancia at 9:15 am. At 10:30 am, we met together at the Seminar Room in the hostal to discuss our “Letters of Appreciation.” During this time, we created a beginning draft of a thank you letter to those special individuals who not only helped fund our trip as a whole, but the entire Global Glimpse organization. It was an important time for us, as we were finally given an opportunity to convey our experiences over the past week or so into a written form. It also provided us with a way to truly appreciate the amazing gift we all were given, as for many of us, this trip has proven to be an unforgettable experience. At 11:45 am, our first “Free Time” interval began and we quickly separated into groups of at least 4 students to freely explore Guaranda. Although I wished I had the ability to be in multiple groups at once, my group and I had an amazing time exploring Plaza Roja, the 9th of October produce market, and a variety of antique and souvenir stores. We arrived back at Hostal Bolivar shortly before 2:00 pm and made our way back to La Estancia for yet another amazing lunch. Shortly after 3:00 pm, my delegation arrived back to the hostal and our second interval of “Free Time” began. We once again separated into groups of at least 4 students and embarked on another money-spending adventure around the city. At around 5:45 pm, all the groups arrived back at the hostal and, shortly after, made our way to La Estancia for dinner. However, this dinner was not our stereotypical dinner. We may have mentioned it before, but at La Estancia, there is a little girl, Milena. Milena is the daughter of one of the restaurant workers and over the past week or so, she has become one of our delegation’s closest friends (many of us consider her as a younger sister or even a daughter). Today, two of my peers, Tony and Keiana, decided to organize a little surprise birthday party for Milena as her birthday is on August 23 (the same day as mine, yet nobody seems to care…). Anyway, we wanted to give her something special as we obviously would not be in Guaranda when her actual birthday arrives. We gifted her a plethora of stuffed animals and a Barbie doll, as it came to our attention that Milena enjoys stealing our water bottles and using them as her own play characters. Our group also took many photos with Milena and the restaurant staff, along with sharing two chocolate cakes that the whole delegation pitched in to purchase for this special night. Unfortunately, when we arrived back at the hostal around 7:30 pm, it became apparent that the trip has begun taking its toll on my peers. Many of my friends showed signs of illness and fatigue, but luckily, Alex, Joshua, our nurse Emily, and our program manager Javier quickly reacted to the issue and the situation is currently being handled. Around 9:00 pm, the usual nightly meeting commenced with many of my peers supporting those who are not feeling quite so well. It was really touching seeing everyone come together and supporting those who may not be at 100%. The meeting concluded with me passing the “Torch” to Catalina, who displayed her remarkable talent of “fanning” an entire deck of cards from one hand to the other. I personally am very excited to see what tomorrow offers us with our journey back to Salinas with “Deconstructing Poverty.”

Early Birthday Girl Milena alongside her mother

The masterminds of the party: Tony and Keiana, alongside Milena