Hola friends and family!
This is an update to let you all know that RB2A has had a very successful first day in Ecuador! We welcomed our first Chicago groups last night at the airport, headed to a hostel in the center of the historic old town, and caught a few hours of sleep.
After catching the breathtaking view of Quito as the sun rose on the morning, we hopped on the bus and headed to our new host city: Riobamba!
Riobamba 1 and Riobamba 2 delegations pose for the greatest picture in Ecuador program
The day was jam-packed with welcome activities and new information, and although we were all running on little sleep, the Glimpsers did a great job at keeping up the energy, staying engaged, and practicing their Spanish from the get-go! I think the adult team all agrees that we are super impressed with the whole group and their ability to jump right into their new environment and interact with each other.
After a few name games and snacks, we jumped right in to our Welcome/Hostel Orientation where we learned about our new home for the next 2.5 weeks: Hotel Tren Dorado – it is a lovely hostel in the center of Riobamba, right next to the train station – an important part of the city’s history. We have a nice courtyard for sunny afternoons and a fireplace inside for when the nights get chilly. We are feeling right at home!
Our first Ecuadorian lunch consisted of typical delicacies such as “sopa de quinua” (quinoa soup), and chicken with pesto potatoes – we also tried fresh guanabana juice and fried plaintain for dessert, yum!
This amazing meal proceeded a long afternoon, including our Culture/Safety Orientation where we discussed the importance of being flexible in a new culture and practiced some Ecuador-specific culture tips. The students made skits to convey the message of these new tips which were engaging and entertaining! Then we jumped right in to our first Mental Warm-Up for History day. The Glimpsers worked to piece together historical facts and create a timeline, which would later help them in pondering the Question of the Day: How has the history of Riobamba shaped its present?
This provided a background for what is definitely considered the highlight of the day: City Tour of Riobamba! We slathered on our sunscreen and enjoyed an excellent late afternoon tour of our new host city, learning about various landmarks and their history/significance, as well as useful places to visit during free time. One of the most exciting stops was at Plaza Roja, where the indigenous people gather to sell their goods on Saturdays – we lucked out on the day! We saw some of their artesanias and will be sure to return on another day to bring you all home some nice souvenirs. After visiting the cathedral and central park, we stopped for some traditional “Helados de Paila” – ice cream made with a large copper bowl and ice (traditionally from Chimborazo)! Then we headed to our last stop, the monumental Estacion del Tren (train station), where we split into two groups that each showed their impressive knowledge of the facts we had learned.
The long day ended with another delicious meal at Roma Santa, our food provider for lunch/dinner, and our first nightly meeting where we reflected on the day and prepared for tomorrow.
We can’t wait to keep learning more about Ecuadorian and Riobamban culture and immerse ourselves in the daily lifestyle here! Our Glimpsers have already started to draw contrasts between societies, and have noted how kind the people are and how welcome they have felt in their new city.
Stay tuned to hear about another fun day with LOTS of intriguing, educational, and most of all – fun – activities!