Location: Chugchilan, Ecuador

Our last day in the Andes included another engine failure while driving up a mountain, raiding the local market for alpaca and llama gear, a ten-kilometer hike and spending time with each other. Even though our day was extremely busy, there were three amazing moments that stood out to me. We started our hike around a volcanic crater lake called Quilotoa. After a short lunch break, we split up into two groups. To get down the mountain and into the valley, we had to walk down a thin sandy path. Instead of walking, our group decided to sprint down the hill, jumping into the sand and just letting the wind carry us. We managed to get down the mountainside before the other group had even gotten up from lunch.

All of us were out of breath and laughing. The second moment was when we were almost done with the hike. With barely an hour left of walking, we had to climb what felt like a mountain, and most of us in the group was close to collapsing. All I could hear around me was people panting, stumbling up the trail, and asking for another break. We were all so dehydrated and our legs were shaking but none of us gave up. We all shared our water and waited for each other, and this really showed me how close we had all gotten. After dinner and another bonding exercise, we all headed up to the counselor’s cabins to have a bonfire. Everyone was snuggled up sitting around the fire, reminiscing about our journey together. We shared sad, happy and funny moments and the more we talked the more we remembered.