By Amy Jackson L6
Over the summer holidays, at the start of July, myself and eighteen other students, as well as Miss Harrison and Miss Merlot, travelled to Ecuador with our Camps International Leader, Amanda Taylor. The trip was a month long, and involved travelling to five different parts of the country, where we took part in a number of community projects.
The first camp we stayed in was Camp Maqui, located in the Cloud Forest, where we stayed in what was essentially a very large tree house made of bamboo, just up the road from the local village. Our first ever day of project work involved planting trees in the forest and building bamboo fences around them, however, just as we were complaining about the heat, we got caught in a massive tropical rainstorm which was quite a shock to us, and was rather traumatic at the time, but is one of the many experiences from the trip that I look back on and laugh about now. We also painted a mural, designed by Georgina Harris, and dug the foundations for an outdoor podium area near the football pitch in the village. We then spent two nights camping at a nature reserve called Maquipucuna, where there were no showers and no proper toilets, so that we could have the most “authentic” experience possible. However, I have to admit, when we were all covered in mud and dripping in sweat and rainwater after project work, authenticity was not at the top of my priority list!
The view of the mountains from the camp was stunning, so Georgina Harris, Georgina Leadley, Chloe Larby and I woke up at 5:30 every morning to watch the sunrise. This was also the first camp we stayed at which owned a ukulele and a guitar, and was also the first camp we stayed at where other schools were present; so during our free time we had a chance to get to know new people, and to learn to play the ukulele. The project work here was slightly less intensive than at the other camps, since we were at risk of altitude sickness, but our work still benefitted the area. We painted walls at the local school, planted some trees, and helped build a greenhouse and a Temazcal, which is like a sauna, and is used in traditional indigenous ceremonies.
Our final camp was in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, and was called Camp Amazonia. The place was bursting with life – there was never any silence as there were always insects chirping, and the rush of the river passing through the camp could always be heard. Of course, we saw many new insects that we never knew existed (some pleasant, others not so pleasant), 99% of which were found either in our tents or in the showers; and the other 1% were seen on our trek into the depths of the Amazon Rainforest.