Friday (March 14) was our last day working at ISPED Manuela Canizares elementary school in Quito, Ecuador. The day began with a special show performed by the children to thank us for working with them – and to say goodbye. The children dressed in animal costumes and sang simple songs in English on our behalf – mice, monkeys, tigers and cats lined the stage. There wasn’t a dry eye among us; we were so touched by the thoughtful gesture and the adorable kids.
We arrived at elementary school ISPED Manuela Canizares in Quito in the morning (March 10). Students were enthusiastically singing their national anthem and reciting the Ecuadorean pledge of allegiance our group. After the warm welcome, we split into groups of 20 four-year-old children in each group. Our individual groups greeted each of us with an abundance of energy, excitement and hugs. They were eager to use the art materials and we were excited to share our creative knowledge. Along with creating beautiful artwork , we interacted with the children through song, play and a variety of other activities.
Today (March 9) was our first full day in Ecuador. We began with a healthy breakfast of fruitas and granola. Then, we traveled to Old Town Quito and stopped first at La Basilica del Voto Nacional. We climbed what felt like hundreds of steep and treacherous stairs in La Basilica to reach the top of the bell tower. Our next stop was a Franciscan church called La Compania. The church was built by the Jesuits between the years of 1605 – 1765. Why did it take so long? From nave to alter, floor to ceiling, the church is painstakingly covered in a dazzling gold leaf.
We are on our way to Quito, Ecuador! We are currently stopped in Miami wondering what the upcoming week has in store for us from adjusting to the altitude to the impact we will make over the following week. Knowing that Quito is 9,400 feet above sea level what will the altitude difference be like compared to the 653 feet above sea level that Cleveland sits upon?