Imagine you are on a plane heading to a beach of your choice. You’ve landed and the door of the plane opens. Instantly your hair feels heavier, skin thicker and the hot breeze in your face makes the clothes you’re currently wearing feel inappropriate for the weather that surrounds you. OK, you got me, you’re not on a plane nor on a beach, you are in fact getting off a bus full of tools and bags at Camp Esmeraldas. I LOVE IT!

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We arrived at 11:39 pm and this was my first night in the tropical jungle. I was so tired I went directly to my tent and fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. Just kidding! How could you? It’s hard falling asleep with SO many sounds all around you. Birds flying through the trees, small animals walking on top of leaves and crawling through the dirt. There’s also the rooster and the dogs from the small farm next door and it seems that I have a lion snoring away in the tent alongside mine! Well, it definitely sounds like a roaring lion! All of this makes up the amazing soundtrack that the jungle plays each night. As soon as I finished exploring my surroundings with my ears, I fell asleep with a big feeling of calmness.

jungle

When waking up at 6:15 am the only thing I could think about was showering. I really enjoyed the bucket showers at my first camp (Kuri Kucho) so I expected nothing less from this one. Let me tell you, if you think there’s nothing better than a warm shower in cold weather, you are wrong. This is because there is nothing better than a cold shower in tropical weather. It allows you to start your day on the right note!

I would like to take a second here to thank all the kitchen staff in camp in Ecuador. You’ve made my tummy really happy! I may well plod home and have to get back in shape but that doesn’t matter as you’ve allowed me to feast on your special local foods and each dish has raised a smile – A M A Z I N G! I’ve had the tastiest pancakes ever with raw sugar cane syrup – the perfect fuel for a day of project work.

project work

After breakfast, the morning was spent helping with the construction of the health centre. The students were really motivated because this project will provide healthcare not only for the community in which Camps Esmeraldas lies but each of the other communities on the other side of the river too. So many people will benefit from our efforts.

It’s wonderful to see students grow from day to day. I was with this group at Camp Kuri Kucho (their first camp) and watched them struggle when they needed to use a shovel. Now, they don’t even need to be told how to use peaks, hammers, rakes …etc. Of course, their bodies are still not used to this hard work, but they try their very best to make the biggest possible difference.

sleeping

And that ladies and gents is a summary of my first day at Camp Esmeraldas. I’ve never been more alive on a trip, and I’ve never opened my eyes so widely and heard things so sharply. I’m overjoyed and my expectations have been truly exceeded!

Juanita