¡Hola! We could not be happier writing this blog sitting in the Hotel Mashany, our beautiful residence for our time here in Riobamba. This morning, as the sun peeked through our curtains and a gentle knock at our door woke us up, we slowly made our way to the rooftop of our hostel in Quito, Blue House Hostel. Sitting down overlooking the city, we ate our way through peanut butter and jelly (passion fruit jelly, that is) while watching people down below begin their day in the cool breeze.

We hopped on our coach bus for our four and a half hour ride to Riobamba through the countryside seeing many farms and markets along the way. Once we arrived, we had a few minutes to relax and receive our room assignments – certainly a learning experience for many of us!

It is just a short walk down the road to Nativa, a local restaurant owned by Mr. Cesar who is a FABULOUS chef where we will have most of our meals. The first of which was our lunch, sopa de pollo, pollo y vegetales, arroz con lentejas, papas, y jugo de piña (chicken soup, chicken and vegetables, rice with lentils, potatoes, and pineapple juice). As to be expected, we were famished from our trip and the meal absolutely hit the spot.

After our lunch, we made the trip back to the Hotel Mashany to spend some time getting to know each other in the warm sun on the back porch. Moments later, a group of dancers from Ballet Florklorico in elaborate traditional clothing appear through the arch, simply glistening in the sun. We spent an hour taking dance lessons from them, learning about the significance of the costumes they wear and the areas in which these dances originated. A little stiff at first, our dance moves quickly became more fluid as the dancers began dressing us up in their native celebratory clothing.

Our dinner at Nativa with Cesar and his chefs was next. Delicious hamburgesas, pasteles, y jugo de guayaba (hamburgers, cupcakes, and guava juice) in honor of the 4th of July!

Finishing our evening tonight was our nightly meeting where we shared thorns and roses, pluses and wishes, and discussed how we can make the most of every day we spend here in Riobamba. Giving big love to people is one of the most important features of our nightly meetings, trying to appreciate others for everything that they bring to this experience. And now, BIG LOVE to everyone who made our first full day in country amazing and to all of you supporting us and our work here from the comfort of your home.

¡Besos y abrazos! Mr. Marc and all of us here in Rosy Riobamba.