5th Report from Argentina-Chile

Wassup guys, it’s the one and only Zay telling you about what we did today. I am staying with my good ol pal Matteo for the past few days. We got up early this morning, like around 9(8 o’clock in the USA), to eat breakfast. We had toast with some Argentinian spread called “Dulce de Leche.” It was really good. We packed to get ready to go rafting. I put on my bathing suit because I was informed by Matteo’s dad that we would be getting wet. We got in the car and drove to Rufo’s house, the guy who’s hosting Syan, to pick up Syan and Rufo. It took about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to the rafting place. You might have already heard this but the rafting place is owned by one of parents that is hosting Henry. We met up with the other kids and put on our thermal gear and safety equipment for Rafting. We quickly broke up into groups. My group was Candela, Rufo, Marie, Ainsley, Nikki, Caitlin, and of course me. Now looking back at it, it was a pretty stacked team.

The rapids were actually fun. I almost fell off the boat, but thanks to my Spider-Man like powers I stuck to the floor of the boat and didn’t fall off. We went through 10 rapids and the 7th one was the most bumpiest/ the most fun we went on. Trust me when I say a lot of water got in our boat during that rapid. After the 7th rapid we stopped at a rock that was 30 ft high so people can jump off it. Shout out to Syan for conquering his fear of heights and jumping off the rock. I unfortunately didn’t jump off because I wasn’t in the mood for rock jumping [yea i know I’m a party pooper]. Also while we were rafting my boat would constantly find itself at a splash war with Matteo’s boat. I kind of feel bad for Martina, she got splashed the most. After we were done rafting, everyone got together to have a picnic, talk, and joke around.  It felt like family. That was the majority of our day. Hopefully you guys are also having fun on your vacation. And don’t worry we didn’t forget about you guys. We miss you guys and can’t wait to get back home.

Love, the one and only Zay

Nordic Skiers in China

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Hi Everyone! 

We are having a great time in China. We just arrived in Jilin Province and we are taking a bus to the ski area three hours from the train station. The skiers did quite well on the sleeper train and we are currently eating breakfast on the nice bus. The province is rolling out the red carpet for us. The governor is going to drive to meet with us this weekend. Apparently this is a big se because he is pegged to be the next Vice President of the country. 

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Yesterday we drove across Beijing to visit the headquarters of the Winter Olympics. We received a VIP tour of the facility—which was converted from an old coal plant. Even the silos were converted to new offices. They had a giant relief model of all the venues-a few of which we had seen under construction the previous day. 

In the afternoon we ate lunch at and toured Tsinghua University. We have a special relationship with the school which has given us access to many interesting people and places. We had a large Dublin School reception with many of our Chinese families last night. 

We are now excited to spend three days in one place. We heard it snowed In the mountains so we are excited to enjoy some good skiing. And we race tomorrow! We will keep you posted.  This group is very fun and very helpful. Wish you could see us moving skis across the country!

Best, Brad

4th Report - Arrival in Bariloche

The Trip so far

The Trip so far

On Friday we started the day off bright and early waking up at 8:00 for a quick breakfast, so we could depart on time at 8:30. We then had a three hour drive to the bus station that would take us to Bariloche. When we arrived in Osorno we had time for a quick lunch which grabbed at a Chilean fast food restaurant. We all got Chilean hot dogs. We then proceeded to rush back to the station to be sure we didn't miss our bus. We boarded the bus after saying goodbye to Mr. Ortiz and Megan, and then we were off to Argentina! After about two hours into the trip we arrived at the Chile and Argentina border where we went through customs without a problem. We then had another two hours until we would arrive in Bariloche. When the bus pulled into the station, all of the of our host families were waiting for us and immediately greeted us when we stepped off the bus. We then got our suitcases and went our separate ways with each of our host families.

3rd Report From Argentina-Chile

Today, the group that had elected to hike the volcano Villarrica woke up at 5:30 am. After a quick breakfast of lemon pie, bread, or a sandwich that we had prepared the night before, Henry, Zay, Alex, Nikki, Blessing, Mr. Pierpont, Ms. Herman, Mr. Ortiz, and I left the house and met the man who would drive us to a nearby house to collect our gear. Armed with protective clothes, ice picks, and lots of chocolate, we drove approximately 45 minutes to the base of the great mountain. Our four experienced guides strongly encouraged us to take the chairlift up the first segment of Villarrica. There was no debate here; we had already planned on doing so to take an hour off of our estimated 6 hour journey.

The hike seemed at first just that: a hike. Our guides led us up a zigzagging, rocky path, and the summit appeared very close. At that point in the climb, we were confident and truly had no idea what was soon to be in store for us.

Perhaps an hour and a half later, we reached the glacial ice on Villarrica Volcano. It was at this point that several of us, myself included, grew a little nervous. The snowy climb in front of us seemed nearly vertical. However, we had very little time to worry about what we were about to do. With just a quick lesson on how to stop any falls with the head of our ice axe, we continued on our way towards the summit. While walking single file up the ice, our guides instructed us to just focus on our feet and on securing the spikes of our crampons with every step. It became clear that we would not want to be looking down as we continued to climb. The view of the slippery side of the volcano all the way above the clouds was quite dizzying. Whenever we took a break, sitting on the volcanic rock on either side of the glacier, we were sure to refuel with Chilean candy and by drinking some of the 2 liters of water we each brought with us, perhaps in an effort to lighten our heavy packs.

Hours later, we reached the summit, and were met with two spectacular views: the view of the surrounding smaller mountains and clouds, and the view of the gigantic crater in the center of the volcano. We took dozens of pictures, and we were lucky enough to hear several groans emit from the murky depths of the volcano and to see a burst of flame. Unfortunately, considerable amounts of smoke and gasses came from the crater, burning our throats and encouraging us all to don the gas masks that we carried in our packs.

After a lengthy break, and after we all put on water resistant clothing, it was time to participate in the popular activity of sliding down Villarrica Volcano. After our terrifying ascent, this was not as scary as we all thought it would be. One of our guides demonstrated how to safely slide and how to control our speed with our ice axe. We then sat one by one in a trail formed by previous sliders, and were off down the mountain. As some of us reached the end of the snow, Mr. Ortiz acted as a human bowling ball, with students as pins; he accidentally ran into us from behind and sent us flying (into the soft snow)! As it is the end of summer here in the southern hemisphere, and because of the warming temperatures all over the world, there was not as much snow as there often is, and we still walked a considerable distance back to the base. Despite our shared elation over having conquered the great volcano, we were completely exhausted and fell asleep almost instantly on the drive back into Pucon. Climbing the Villarrica Volcano was difficult, exhausting, and scary, but it was quite possibly the high point of the trip for many of us, and it was certainly an experience that we will remember and treasure forever.

~ Ainsley

2nd Report from Argentina-Chile

Tuesday morning, we all came down to breakfast by 9:00am. Many of us made fried eggs for breakfast, we had freshly baked bread, and raspberry and nut “kuchen” which is a german cake/tart.  After breakfast, we made ourselves sandwiches to bring with us on the hike. We filled up our water bottles before getting in the cars.

Half an hour later we arrived at the National Park (after of course many pictures of the beautiful view along the way). We grabbed our gear and began our trip up the Sierra Nevada trail which is a 14km out and back hike. Some of us hurried excitedly up the trail while others wandered behind in awe at the environment. The trail was surrounded with vegetation similar to both the jungle and the forests of Dublin with lizards that would scamper across the trails in front of our feet. We learned about a foreign tree that grows only in Chile called the Araucaria. About halfway up the trail was an overlook of a beautiful lake that had crystal blue water and made you want to stare at it forever. We continued up the trail and discovered the trail narrowing to the side of a cliff. We carefully ventured across while gazing at the towering mountains next to us and listening to the glacier waterfalls in the distance.  

Eventually (a whole three hours later) we made it to the top and ate lunch gazing at the magnificent view, wishing we could stay there forever. Reluctantly we headed back down after refilling our water bottles with crystal clear and clean glacier water. The walk back went much quicker than the walk up taking only an hour and a half.

Once we got down, we went to the perfect blue lake and excitedly walked in the chilly water and on the lava sand beach as we looked up at the volcano and the mountains we just explored. We made it back to the house tired and hungry. We played some rounds of Uno before we had an amazing dinner of steak, corn, rice, potato salad, and bread.   We also tried the nuts from the Araucaria tree we collected on the hike.  They are similar to chestnuts.

After that, we cleaned up and collapsed into bed tired from the adventure that the day had brought. It was a very hard hike and was less enjoyable during the hike but reflecting back I’m very glad I did it and would have been disappointed if I had missed the experience. 

1st Report from Argentina-Chile

After we all met up at the entrance of the airport, we checked our bags and moved through security. We went to our gate and got dinner. We soon boarded our plane to Atlanta. After the short plane ride, we arrived at the Atlanta airport and boarded our plane to Santiago, Chile almost immediately. After boarding we got comfortable in the seats we would sit in for the next 9 hours. We were served a nice dinner, and had access to many movies to watch. After a VERY long and exhausting flight with sporadic turbulence, we arrived in Santiago and got our luggage and stood in line to get our passports stamped. Then we checked our luggage again. Our layover in Santiago was long but it was relaxing. We went to a restaurant in the airport and got sandwiches. They were really good. We split up and all got to walk around the airport. After a while we congregated and boarded the airplane to Temuco, which is a little farther south of Santiago. This flight was a piece of cake as it was only an hour.

Once we arrived in the small airport in Temuco, we finally got our luggage and sat a for a while as we got our rental cars. Some of us got bored and ran around outside the entrance to the airport. There was grass and it was green! The air was warm and the sky was blue! Once we got our cars (a van and pickup truck) we hopped inside and drove for about two hours to The Conguillio National Park. After the relaxing car ride, we arrived at our gorgeous house that we would be staying at for the next two days. We ran around with excitement exploring every part of the property. There is a pond, horses, a stream, fields, a pool, and a staircase to the roof! Mr. Ortiz’s parents were there to greet us and had started to prepare dinner that they were making for us! Neither of them speak a lick of English so we put our Spanish skills to work.

We heard that behind the house there was a path to a river. So many of us (including Mr. Pierpont eager to catch a fish) followed a path far into the woods. We followed little signs to a cute little stream with a bridge over it, and most of us assumed that was it. But I, Caitlin, knew that there must be more. I decided that I would continue to walk up this mysterious road, after a bit, the others began to follow curiously. Soon we found another sign that continued to point forward down the road saying “cascada”. I knew it! As we walked along the road we heard the faint sound of running water. We followed the path and the sound became much louder. We looked to our right and noticed we were on a cliff, far below us was a large river with huge rocks. Excited, we skipped down the path to the river.  We explored the river, it resembled a rocky river like the ones back in New Hampshire, we followed the trail along the river which led to a small waterfall. Meanwhile, Mr. Pierpont had begun to fly-fish in the river. We admired the waterfall and began to play in the river. He caught one! Mr. Pierpont caught a little trout on the first day. We just got here!

After tiring our selves out we hustled back to the house for dinner. We all sat down at the dinner table and ate a beautiful and tasty dinner of grilled chicken, rice, sausage, and bread. We all showered and got ready for bed. We were very tired for obvious reasons. Some of us finished the night by watching a movie and then went to sleep. Spoiler alert, we all got a great nights sleep. Tomorrow we would be hiking a mountain.

Report from Bariloche

The last days have been wonderful.  The students are more comfortable and independent and even organized a get together with all their host family brothers and sisters over the weekend.  Sunday most of them went skiing.  They also visited the Chocolate Museum, went down a mountain slide or did the ropes course at Air Park AUCA.   Otto went to a spot called the "Patagonian desert" and Maddie is on a boat visiting an island called Isla Victoria on a boat in the Nahual Huapi Lake today.  Here are some photos that I have collected.  

We have just a few days left.  I have been so impressed by all of the students.  They have approached everything with a sense of adventure and been flexible.  I think they have really taken advantage of every opportunity to get to know the culture and people here.  Tomorrow our hosts have organized a farewell party for us at San Patricio school and then we prepare to come home!

Nico

Volcano and Stingrays - Fifth Report from Ecuador/Galapagos

Caitlin Hegarty

Yesterday, our group ate a speedy breakfast and left for our hike to Sierra Negra in Santa Cruz. We arrived on a bus with open sides (thrilling!)

The hike up was very serene. Because of the altitude, the temperature dropped. The cool air made an easy hike to the top of the volcano. Hiking up we saw many different kinds of plants, including many different types of ferns. When we reached the top, the view was shocking. Because of the tall, luxuriant plants, we were not able to see how far up we were. Coming around a corner at the top, there was an opening to the inside of the volcano. Being at the top of this yellow alert volcano, we saw the black and ashy inside. The diameter of the volcano seemed to go on and on until the ashy ground met the other side of the volcanic wall. We had lunch and continued around for an eighth of the volcanos circumference. We got to a second clearing and looked out at the view in silence, remembering all the views we had seen on the trip prior. A group picture was taken and then we continued down a path that brought us back to the parking lot. 

Waiting for our bus, we drank peach juice and ate Oreos. Then a local on a horse moved down from the volcano into a clearing near the parking lot. Followed by this man, were two other horses, one with a man, and one with a dead boar thrown over the horses back. At that moment, we learned that boars were an invasive species in the Galapagos and that they were a threat to the tortoise species because they ate their eggs. We continued to laugh and tell stories after the men and their horses continued on. Soon after a man came into the parking lot on a horse followed by dogs, and right next to the horse he rode, was a two-week-old horse. It was so cute. 

You can probably tell by now that our bus was a bit late in picking us up. After a while, the bus finally came and we arrived back at our hotel. We were given an hour or two to rest and get ready to head to the beach. We had some rest, got in our suits, lathered some sunscreen, and headed out to the beach. On our way to the beach, Felipe let us get ice cream from a local market. With our ice cream, we frolicked to the beach. 

First, when we got to the beach we had to listen to some safety rules. Thankfully none of the unsafe circumstances occurred. After listening to the rules, we ran into the water. The Pacific water was warm and refreshing and the waves were the perfect sizes for diving through and jumping over. We saw stingrays and sharks (don’t worry, the sharks were very small). We stayed there for a few hours. This part of the day was rewarding for us and relaxed our muscles after our hike. We got some sun too! 

We walked back to our hotel, showered and hung out in the six hammocks that were tied around next to each other (that was a major chill spot). When it was time for dinner we headed down the road for steak, chicken, or fish. Each of these dishes were the main choices we had for meals on the trip. With our choice of meat, we were given rice, a small salad, and a third portion of food depending on the restaurant. We laughed together as we watched the American wrestling matches that were being streamed on TV near us. We made fun of the poor acting that went along with the fake fighting. We walked back to the hotel and hung out in the hammocks. Miguel gave some of us tattoos! (Temporary ones). After a while, we got tired and went to bed. That sums up our day!