I was told today that when we travel, time moves both incredibly quickly and incredibly slowly at once. We have just finished our fifth full day in Ecuador, but even though our activities fly by each day, each of us feels as though we’ve been here for weeks already. As today’s “Lider Del Dia,” I had the blessing and curse of managing our very first free day. We were encouraged to think about how we could best take advantage of our time today, and truly connect with the culture and with the experience. Although each of us wants to explore so many parts of Riobamba, we did an amazing job of coming together to form a plan we would all enjoy!

After eating a delectable breakfast that was similar to a tamale, we arrived in the heart of the city at 9:30 to begin our adventure! On our first tour of Riobamba, we strolled through a market in an area called “Plaza Roja.” We didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time there that day, so we were eager to go back and investigate a bit more closely! It was so fun to watch all the Glimpsers perusing each tent to see what treasures they could find, and then try their hand at bargaining (Since we can’t typically bargain at home, it was so fun to see everyone getting excited about receiving a discount of even just a dollar!).

After about an hour of shopping, we decided to go our separate ways until lunch. Amanda led a group of 6 Glimpsers on a walk through the city, and a tour of the Colegio de San Felipe and the Basilica. The group shared such interesting, funny stories of their travels with us at our nightly meeting tonight, and they sounded like they had an amazing adventure! Mr. Biaye led the other 15 of us on a (very confusing) trip to an internet café near our meeting point. Everyone scrambled to claim a phone booth or grab a computer to check FaceBook – I mean, we’ve been without social media for almost 6 days now; we just HAD to post a status and message some friends! As we walked back to the meeting point for lunch, the Glimpsers all had huge smiles on their faces(:

We had a delicious lunch in the city at a restaurant called “Rayuela,” which is where we get to eat tomorrow too – Yay!



Towards the end of dinner, the discussion had turned almost entirely to thoughts of having ice cream at everyone’s new favorite ice cream shop. When we got there we indulged in flavors ranging from Oreo to native fruits like Naranjilla!

Back at the hostel, a large group of Glimpsers decided to take a trip with Amanda and Hector to go for a run in a park about a mile away. They came back later gushing about the beauty of the landscape they’d seen, and we were told about the different animals (like cows and sheep) and other people they had seen in the park! When they returned, we all reconvened in our “classroom” where we were treated to a traditional Ecuadorian Folkloric dance lesson. We were greeted by a dance instructor and 4 other dancers wearing the traditional clothing for their respective dancing (Which, by the way, was incredibly beautiful!). Though we struggled in the beginning to keep up with the pace of the instructor, each of us had a wonderful time laughing with one another and learning 4 different dances.



At the end of the lesson, we were exhausted, but how could we go a day without playing our favorite group sport? A bunch of us divided ourselves into teams to play soccer until dinner (The final score was 1-0… Almost winners!)

Our nightly meeting was filled with smiles and positive attitudes about the amazing day we’d shared with one another. After just 5 days, we’ve all become immensely close as a group! We’re a family away from our families now, and I can’t wait to see what the next 13 days will bring us(:

Time for shout outs! *Ahem*

“Happy birthday, Mommy! I love you and miss you so much! Hugs and kisses xoxo” – Erica Andersen

To Arjun’s family + Alondra: “It was great talking to you today! I wish we could’ve spoken more… Today was amazing! I am slowly but surely becoming a soccer phenomenon (Sort of). I hope to call you again in a few days!” – Arjun

“S/O to my parents… I’m safe BTW, but you know that! Puszi” – Rebecca

“Hey, family! Today was so fun! We shopped at a market in the city, ran in a beautiful green park, and played soccer! We also got to take dance lessons with some locals. It was so much fun! Can’t wait to tell you more awesome events! Love you!” – Abbie

“Shoutout to Brent for making sure there were no problems with my plane ticket(:” – Jacob

“I hope Sachin’s graduation went well, and that he had a great time at Great America. I’m having a lot of fun, but I miss you all!” – Sandhya

“Liebe Grume aum Riobamba, Ecuador! Mir gents gut, und ich hoffe es gent euch auch gut! Schonen Grub an alle und “mucho amor” aum Ecuador. Deire lieblings tochter” -Marlene

“Hi, Katrine (?)! don’t think you were expecting anything from me, but here I am! Just wanted to say that I’m definitely alive! To my XC team, I’ve actually gotten a run in at this crazy high altitude. The biggest problem with altitude training is that there’s less oxygen. Lactic acid builds up pretty quickly. I find myself out of breath before I actually start to sweat!” -Anthony

“The altitude training here is amazing and only my legs seem to feel it. Anyways, I would just like to say that I am alive (Surprisingly!)” – Emanuel

And to my own family: Congratulations on your graduation, Zander! I’m so incredibly proud of you, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you when I come home! You better be home next time I can call! Love you all so much xoxo -Laynie