“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” -Moliere

This was today’s quote of the day, and I can say for sure that everyone in our group realized just how true it is. After an early, 6:20 wake up call, and a huge breakfast at Cafe del Tren, we met up with our guide Alfredo, and set out on a very enjoyable bus ride to the Reserve Hermanos Carrel in Chimborazo where we took hundreds of pictures as a group in front of the mountain. However, this was not our last stop. While beginning our journey to our actual destination (the entrance of the Polylepis forest where we would start our hike), the change in altitude already made it very hard for most of us to breathe, but once we actually got there, everything became even harder. From my own experience, my chest tightened up a lot, and my tongue began to feel like sand paper as I walked. But, thanks to my best friend (my water bottle), and the comfort of having my group around me to make conversation, we all made it up the hill to the “magical” Polylepis forest, and enjoyed the beautiful view of the destination once we got there. Although many of us were out of breath to the point we sat on the rocks and did not move for about a half an hour, we all left on the bus back to San Juan for lunch with a sense of satisfaction.

After an hour on the bus, we finally arrived at La Tertulia, a small, Ecuadorian restaurant, that served us amazing plates of chicken, rice, maduros, and some soup on the side. After eating, we headed back to the hostel where we had a very emotional closing seminar. I for one broke down in tears at the thought of having to leave the new family I gained in my fellow Glimpsers tomorrow; however, it was also a very empowering experience, and revealed to me that the efforts I made on this trip were recognized by my group members.

As the day wore on, I realized that the biggest challenge I faced was maintaining my composure, and accepting that this beautiful trip is almost at its end. Looking back at all we did together, I honestly view everyone in my group as family, and it is going to be hard to be away from them. Although these thoughts were continuously in the back of my mind, the quote of the day was my constant aid (along with the fun we had as a group) when we did our activities. The question of the day was “How am I rewarded when I challenge myself physically and mentally?”, and today I did both. The physical challenge included climbing up to the forest and fighting the urge to give up, which rewarded me with a beautiful view, and the mental challenge was staying strong for my group mates as the leader of the day, which rewarded me with having everyone be in a happy mood today.

As we dressed up, and headed to dinner at Frida (a Mexican restaurant) at 6:50, I felt weight get lifted off of my shoulders when I watched how happy everyone was. I saw that my effort to stay emotionally stable (despite some water works) became everyone else’s as we all enjoyed our last dinner together and took a ton of pictures.

Overall, being El leader del dia was a roller coaster of emotions for me, but it was absolutely one of the most memorable parts of this trip. When I was down, my group helped me, and when my group was feeling down, I stood strong so that I could help them. And it is because of this experience that I realized just how true Moliere’s quote was. My group is amazing, and leaving them is a huge obstacle to overcome, but I feel glory in overcoming that obstacle because I am proud to say that I made it through this trip, and proud to call myself a member of Riobamba Delegation #2, 2016!

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