By: REBECCA WONG
Friday, July 19, 2013
We left the relaxing retreat in Mindo this afternoon after visiting a local chocolate factory and seeing how they make their incredibly delectable dark chocolate. We had a last lunch at the Mariposario and headed out to return to Quito for our last day of the trip.
We arrived at the artisan market in downtown Quito by 3 p.m. and spent every last penny bargaining for souvenirs. We tried, oh how we tried, to bargain. Some people were super successful and others not so much. I fell into the latter category. However, I did get everyone who I cared about gifts for an appropriate price, or so I thought. My ego was pretty much shattered when I talked to the other girls who ended up getting similar products for much less… Oh well. Part of the experience, right?
We had our last dinner at a very nice restaurant in Old Quito, eating more or less traditional Ecuadorian food. It was the last time we all ate together as a group, which was definitely bittersweet. These guys had become my second family. Throughout the entire trip we confided in each other about anything and everything we were feeling. We shared intimate secrets I hadn’t even shared with my friends at home who I’ve known for years. We laughed together and cried together through the rough patches. We understood each other completely and had gone through so many things as one unit. We knew we could count on having each other’s backs and on having their support. It was actually an incredible bond – way deeper than any other group I’ve gotten to know. I made friends that I will have for a long time and I am so excited to go and visit them all over Canada and the United States. But for now, it’s really sad to leave them.
We spent our last night reflecting on everything we had seen and experienced. We knew that we had to wake up at 2:30 a.m. the next morning in order to catch our flight, so a few of us had the brilliant idea of staying up until we had to leave. Except it didn’t turn out to be that brilliant of an idea at all. Because I realized that I do NOT do well on zero hours of sleep.
That night, it hit me that we were going home and leaving this incredible place where I had grown up so much. I was definitely excited to go home to see my family and friends but at the same time was so saddened to leave my new friends and go back to my “normal life”. And I definitely didn’t want to leave all the people I had met here; the girls in San Miguel, the children in Shuid, the maestro at the school build site, Carlos, the women from Sumak Ahuana. I wanted to finish building their school, help them grow their business to incredible heights, make an impact on their lives. Instead, I had to go home. But then it made me think that maybe my role in their lives wasn’t actually in Ecuador but to bring their stories home and create change in Canada to help them.
Song of the trip: “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas