(Ed. Hi all, sorry for the delay getting these blogs out to you but as you will see it was the turn of Mr McMillan, you just cant get the staff these days! We leave for Quito tomorrow (actually today for you guys) morning for one more night in Ecuador. Time now seems to have flown by and it won't be long until your sons are back. I will send out flight/pick up arrangement details with the last blog following Mr Lambe's blog attempt tomorrow. There should also be a personal note from each challenger...if I can motivate them that is ;-))
Blog No 18 - A Fond Farewell
I’ve been reliably informed that all the boys have completed a blog each and Cliff has written a couple, so apparently it’s now down to me.
Yesterday we said farewell to all those at the school project, with whom we had enjoyed four days or so of building fences, painting and, of course, a few games of football. All at the community seemed sad to see us leave, but I do think the boys acquitted themselves brilliantly and we left the school a much better environment than when we arrived.
Although all our new friends at the project were incredibly helpful, hospitable and attentive, the sleeping conditions were, let’s just say, basic! Therefore with a certain degree of relief we made our way back to the resort of Puerto Lopez and to the civilization of comfortable beds, good food and, most wonderful of all, a warm shower; who would have known that something we take so much for granted could offer such pleasure and the sense of being complete again?
|The pool at Hotel Pacifico|
After one night in Hostal Maxima we then moved on to some luxury which came in the form of Hotel Pacifico. Settling in to the hotel we all explored the beach, restaurants and the ubiquitous (mostly tacky) craft shops. You can all, I’m sure, look forward to receiving what these classy outlets have to offer: something for the mantelpiece or a dark room perhaps!
|The view out front from Hotel Pacifico|
|Down Town Puerto Lopez|
While spending money, which seems to be burning holes in pockets (the locals are only too happy to alleviate this problem) a suitable venue was located to watch the World Cup final: watching football in a straw-roofed restaurant/shack situated on a beach with the Pacific Ocean waves crashing in – life doesn’t get much better!
Blog No. 19 - The Kings of the Pacific
|The magnificent hump back whales off the coast of Puerto Lopez|
For some reason, unknown to me at this stage, I’ve been delegated the role of compiling a second blog, so here goes.
When I first decided to select Ecuador as a location for the Expedition Society at Inst to visit, one of the main attractions was the fact that it is one of the best places in the world to observe humpback whales, and for as long as I can remember I desired the opportunity to see them in all their majesty.
|Time to take the seasickness pills...or is it too late?|
When we first arrived at Puerto Lopez we immediately booked a whale-watching tour, and when the time arrived for us to venture out into the Pacific, the excitement grew; however, some approached the experience with trepidation, as we had been told to expect a rocky sailing and sea-sickness was likely.
About forty minutes out to sea the engines were cut and there they were: beautiful arching shapes cutting through the waves. I found the experience almost overwhelming. I had waited such a long time for this experience and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes; another thing ticked off on my ‘things- to-do’ list. No blog could ever do justice to the experience; no blog could ever capture what it is like to be in the presence of these ancient, wondrous creatures; no blog could ever let a reader really know what it was like to see one of the huge beasts rise clear from the waves, turn on to its back and crash back down, causing our boat to sway and sending a spray of salty water over us – absolutely magical! These creatures really are a paradox: mammoth, barnacled giants, but they move with such elegance, grace and poise. Their small eyes seem to see so much, suggesting an understanding, even knowledge beyond what we know. We all felt privileged to be in such company, to be invited by these wonderful animals to share their world for brief spell.
|They didn't look as happy at the end of the trip|
|The boys doing a 'Cliffy' (ask them later)|
|All ready for the off...Shouldn't you boys have waterproofs on? hahahaha|
|The scene just after one of these beasts breached the water...Life memories!|
|A small group on their way to warmer climes|
|Oh dear Jerome :-(|
There was a little sea-sickness for some, but well worth a little discomfort; it was a small price to pay for such beautiful memories. I know I shall never forget my audience with the Kings of the Pacific.