Papallacta is about a 2 hour drive south of Quito. There they have thermal pools that are heated by volcanoes. I got my first ever massage, a hot rock massage! And then spent a few hours in our private hot pool outside the beautiful cabin that we rented for the night. The next morning we went in the hot pools again, then we took off for a 5-hour drive to el oriente (East of Quito where the Rainforest is). As we drove the temperature got warmer and more humid.This was our cabin in Papallacta: In el oriente we stayed in this cute place called French Amazonia that was right on the edge of the Rainforest. The place was beautiful and very tropical-looking:
We spent two nights there. On Friday night we had a bonfire with chicken hotdogs, haha. And on Saturday we embarked on an all-day canoe trip down a tributary of the Amazon. Our tour guides were super fun. We stopped to visit with a few families who were panning for gold. I even got to try panning for gold myself. These families spend all day in the sun panning for barely a gram of gold to sell in town. While the rest of the family worked hard, their baby was just sitting on the edge of the river chewing on rocks, haha. I thought he was absolutely adorable so I have some good pictures of him.
Our next stop was a "museum" which really was a walk through the edge of the rainforest where our tour guide showed us some of the tress the the Waorani tribe use for medicines, paint, etc. And he showed us some cool artifacts from the tribe. If we would have walked 2-3 days into the rainforest from where we were standing we would have found this tribe. (The tribe in "End of The Spear") I even tried their alcohol, held one of their spears, put some of their medicine from a tree on my bugbites, painted our tour guide's face with paint from a tree and shot a blow gun!
Me with the spear in the "museo":
After that we went to an animal conservation - run entirely by volunteers. Here they take in jungle animals that have prevously been kept as pets or sold on the black market. They try to ween them off of bein taken care of by people in order to get them back into the rainforest as wild animals, where they belong. I saw lots of beautiful rainforest animals. Including this precious monkey that was like 1 foot away from us haha. She had been set back into the wild but because she lived so long as a "pet" she found it hard to venture far from the animal conservation. Here she is, I think her name was Cornelia:
Lastly, we ate lunch at a restaurant on the river and then headed home. On that Sunday we drove 8 hours from El Oriente back to Quito. The weeks after Quito days were when I taught my students full-time. I loved it and it was busy!
We've had a holiday concert, holiday party, lots of practices for the concert, and more! At our holiday party we made Christmas ornaments and cookies. Yesterday was the last day of school. My students made me a cute book where they all wrote a thank you note and drew a picture. It was sweet. I was sadder to leave than I thought I'd be! But I'm leaving with great recommendations and memories. My students asked me at least 20x during the day if I could stay longer, or said things along the lines of, "PLEASE DON'T GO, MISS KREESTI" One of the little girls even recommended that I find an Ecuadorian man and get married so that I can stay here forever. HAha.
Here is all of fourth-grade (minus like 8 kids who left early for Christmas vacation) on the last day of school yesterday.
Also, when I got home from school yesterday at about 12:00 because we had a half day, I went and took a nap on the roof in the sun and I got a pretty good sunburn! I'm definetely going to miss the Quito weather as I travel into cold and snow storms. I'm taking off for Los Estados Unidos esta noche and I'll be home tomorrow! Woo hoo! Thanks for following my blog while I've been away. This is my last entry! I'm sure I'll update all of you with more detail at home! Love you.