In our last weekend in Ecuador we had the opportunity to travel with the Luceros again. We began the trip by going to Salcedo, the childhood home of Martha and Enrique. We sampled the local and famous Salcedo ice cream and had the opportunity to see the houses they lived in growing up. A particularly special and moving moment for us was visiting Cynthia’s (their daughter, for whom the Latino Mental Health Program is named) grave site. We were able to honor her memory and her life which inspired the work we’ve been able to do here n Ecuador. Our drive was once again through the Andes mountains, and this time we passed by Chimborazo, an inactive volcano and the highest point in Ecuador (it is also featured on the Ecuadorian Shield). Since we were driving at night, it was a particularly beautiful sight as the snow on the peak was illuminated by moonlight.
The next day we traveled to Baños, a town in the Andes with thermal pools heated by a local and active volcano. We spent time in the baths and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings until the pools became inundated with locals there to relax on the holiday weekend. The next day we hiked to El Pailon del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron), an immense waterfall which we had to access by literally crawling under and through passageways carved out of the mountainside. We were most impressed by the athleticism of Enrique, whose 60-something year old body easily kept up with us. We were also brave enough to drape a large boa constrictor around our shoulders (at least until it started moving it’s head towards our bodies).
We spent the afternoon wandering around the town, looking at artisanal crafts, sampling the handmade taffy being made right in front of us, and admiring the local speciality- cuy a la plancha (grilled guinea pig). Last minute gifts were purchased and delicious hot chocolate was had by all. One highlight of the trip was playing “Simon Dice” (Simon Says) with the young son of the owner of the hostel, as well as dancing to an Ecuadorian version of the Hokey Pokey. Our moves were pretty sweet.
What has been truly memorable about the entire weekend (and the experience in Ecuador) was the opportunity to spend so much time with the Luceros, who unfailingly treat us like their own daughters and are always concerned about our well-being and that we are having fun. They have been an incredible support network for us, one we know we can always count on whenever we need it. The opportunity to spend time with them reminded us of the lasting impact that one life can have. We truly look forward to seeing them (and you, reader!) at the Lucero 5k Walk/Run on September 25th.