The final day of our trip snuck up on all of us I think. We all knew it was coming, but when it arrived at last, it was difficult to soak in. In less than 48 hours we would all be back home in the United States. I kept our imminent departure in the back of my head while simultaneously trying to live in the present and enjoy my last full day with all of you.
We woke up for breakfast at 8 this morning. It was good, but I think a lot of us, myself included, are missing the bowls of granola and fruit at Rio Muchacho. After breakfast we had around two hours to finish our Sustainability Action Plans. We all finished well within that time frame, and after discussing our plans individually with Allie and Maclaine we were left with some free time before we had to check out from the hostel. During our free time some of us went to the beach for one last swim in the ocean, while others hung around the pool at the hostel. We left the hostel at 11:53 am when Alex finally managed to find the bus.
For lunch we wen town and ate at the same place we had eaten a few days earlier. Ashley ordered ceviche and gave us a taste. When we finished our meals we were presented with three options for how we would spend our opportunity: beach, hiking, or driving to the airport early. Of course beach won.
Sarah, Gavin, Jaden, and I walked on the beach, collecting cool rocks, observing snails, finding sand dollars, and skipping stones into the ocean. Sarah and I had our minds set on walking the entire length of the beach, though we didn’t realize how long it actually was. It was definitely at least 3 miles down to the end of the beach, maybe even 4. We finally reached the end, and after sorting through our rocks we headed back.
At 4 we all reconvened and loaded the bus for the drive to the airport. On the way, we stopped at an artisan chocolate store. After tasting some, most of us decided to buy a bar or two. I also bought a brownie that I shared with the group. I think it may have been the best brownie I have ever had, and I have had many brownies in my time. The cacao flavor really came through. A little while into our drive Leonardo spotted some whales that were swimming very close to the beach. We stopped for a few moments to observe. We got to the airport around 6. Saying goodbye to Leonardo was sad because we have all grown to adore him. I’ll always remember him as the coolest most knowledgeable bus driver I’ve ever met.
After checking in we still had some time before boarding the plane. We spent the time playing a variety of games: human knot, birdy on a perch, and the shout out game. We got a lot of strange stares, and rightfully so. We looked like fools. Regardless, it was a lot of fun.
This summer has been truly an unforgettable experience. Each of us are leaving Ecuador with a new spark within us and a yearning to apply what we have learned here back in our own communities.