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Scavenger Hunt: Four Voices

FEBRUARY 19, 2018 | Southeast Asia- SABAI

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The first week of Southeast Asia is so amazing. Something that I completely adore about the city is the architecture. The vibrant colors just show so much of the countries culture and how they live. Every building that I look at is different and are significant in their own way. The temples are on every corner and being able to see a new temple every 5 seconds is so amazing. Being able to go into the temple just to see the intricate details and being able to pray is so amazing. I hope that one day everyone gets to experience this.
– Dominique

This week has passed by fast. It feels like we have been here a lot longer. So far the standers for males and females have stood out the most. One of the first things I noticed when we went to the temples, was how females were perceived in the paintings. They seem to have less power than the male figures. It was also interesting to find out that females say certain phrases differently than a male would.
– Ashley

One of the main ideas of Buddhism is establishing a sense of gratitude for what you have been given. Much of the books I have been reading (The Book of Joy, Shambala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior), and previous studies have explained this principle over and over again. I was utterly shocked and full of joy to see how much the people of Thailand were grateful for even the simplest of things from taking away a plate to being paid for a Song-Tao ride. I was shown many smiles for showing my thanks with the traditional “Thank you” of bowing slightly with my hands in a traditional prayer gesture. It actually made my day to see the natives of Thailand give genuine beaming smiles in my attempts to show traditional thanks. I wish that level of appreciation and just a general policy to live full of smiles was present in the United States.
– Jeremy

It has been such a mind blowing experience so far! There has been many emotions but over all seeing and being in this new culture has been amazing. I’m excited for what’s to come.
– Nitzny

Scavenger Hunt Blog: Smells

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 | Central America- Maya

Walking through Xela, there are so many different and unique smells. From delicious street food to the dry herbs in the market. But not all of the smells here are ones to be sought out. Walking through the streets, the unfortunate odor of garbage and gasoline is extremely prevalent. Luckily enough the hostel we are staying in is usually filled with the aromas of cleaning fluids and basil. But, if you step not to far out of the city you are guaranteed to be engulfed in the fresh, crisp air of the Guatemalan highlands which, fortunately, is where we will be spending the next week as we learn Spanish at the escuela de la montaña.

Scavenger Hunt Blog: Sounds

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 | Central America- MAYA

The sounds in Xela have been both familiar and foreign to us thus far! We have heard things like cars, food cooking at a street food stand, and people conversing with each other. We have heard some new things, like people speaking in Spanish with one another and new music. Some of our favorites have been children laughing, tacos simmering, music we have shared, and the voices of those in our group. We have had a wonderful time hearing the old and new sounds, and we cannot wait to continue exploring this beautiful place!

Scavenger Hunt Blog: Sight

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 | Central America- MAYA

We have seen so many amazing sights this week! When we were first flying in, those lucky enough to get window seats were treated to a bird’s eye view of Guatemala city. The sights continued as we piled into a minibus and began the long, winding trip up to Xela. We passed acres upon acres of farmland, most of which were barren for the winter. As the bus navigated perilously tight turns, the gorgeous vista of the countryside lay before us. From our vantage point in the mountains, the farms that we’d previously passed looked tiny. Despite our collective exhaustion, it was hard to fall asleep while looking at the spectacular views. After some more tight, steep turns, we were in Xela! The city’s streets were a lot narrower than we’d expected, with cobblestones that jostled our little bus to and fro. We passed street vendors, signs in Spanish, and even a few fellow foreigners. Everything was so new, and we couldn’t wait to experience it all from outside the bus windows. When we arrived at our hostel, Casa Siebel, we were greeted with beautiful flowers and plants growing under the open roofs. As we went to sleep that night, our dreams were filled with the beautifully novel sights of Guatemala.

Thanks,
Paige, Chloe, and Hanna

Scavenger Hunt Blog: Taste

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 | Central America- MAYA

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On the first night we ate some delicious Thai salads with a wonderful peanut butter dressing. However, our favorite meal was today when we ate scrumptious tacos filled with chicken and peppers on tortillas with lentils and guacamole on the side. For a drink today we had some fresh papaya juice the after taste was a little odd. The best drink we had so far was this magnificent lime and sugar juice. Not to mention the street food in Xela has been nothing short of amazing, you can get three tacos for 10 quetzales!!! Julian loved the veggie ones! So far so good, we’re having a dope time!!!

Much Love,
Talia, Annie and Elliot

Las Delicias Banna Farm

FEBRUARY 18, 2018 | South America-INTI

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Saludos de Quito! Today marks our final full day in the hostel, until we leave for the coast to stay at Las Delicias Banana Farm. Our journey began with landing in the magnificent city of Quito after several hours of traveling, and we were happy to finally be on the ground. After a quick nap we spent the rest of the day getting to know one another through various group activities. The first adventure during our time in Quito was a trip to the market where we split into groups and got to know each other over a piquant seafood lunch.

As the days went on – so did orientation where we covered the exceedingly important Sacred Six and other rules and agreements. Over the past few days we got to know each other and explore the city together. Our first day exploring the city without Alex or Avy was structured around a group scavenger hunt. Although each group went their own way we all climbed to the top of Basilica Voto Nacional cathedral: one of the most astonishing sites to see in Quito. Along with the amazing sites around the city one of the most unbelievable qualities of staying here was the food. On our second-to-last day we got to go on a food tour around the city, tasting many of the country’s unique foods like cow placenta stew, cow stomach, guatita (cow innards), and Aloe Vera tea with honey.

After our food tour we went to experience a piece of the night life in La Ronda. This is a street where the party of the night is going out with family and enjoying tons of amazing food. The whole street is lined with shops and restaurants that are closed during the day. We went to a little hole-in-the-wall bar that served a hot Ecuadorian beverage consisting of cinnamon, brown sugar, orange juice, and cloves as a garnish. Es muy delicioso, and tastes a lot like apple cider.

We then went back to the hostel to relax and watch movies.

The next morning we woke up, had our last day of yoga, and got ready to go on a walking tour of Quito. For breakfast we had a protein-stacked egg and tomato meal with bread and many fruits. Then we left for the walking tour. We strolled around the city for a few hours with a guide and saw tons of amazing buildings around the city. We saw the Independence Plaza, where the president of the country and the Mayor of Quito reside. After that we went to The Church of la Compania de Jesus in where the whole interior was decorated with gold. We learned that the Quito version of the Virgin Mary was built with wings. The Virgin of Quito is completely unique and the artist that made it is the renowned Bernardo de Legarda. His work can be recognized for the detail that he put into the dress of the Virgin of Quito and his baroque style of art.

After the tour we split into groups of four and gathered snacks and shirts in the city to prepare for our trip to Las Delicias. We also got lunch because most of us were famished and exhausted after walking around for three and a half hours. Then we all met back up at the hostel, started packing, and did some final orientation activities.

Group Scavenger Hunt: Part 3

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | South America-INTI

Week One:

We landed in Quito three days ago. Now, we started off pretty slow due to the intense travel. But the first day we were able to get to know each other decently well. After we checked into our hostel we got to go eat at the local market, where we tested our Spanish knowledge by ordering lunch. Day two was much more active; we started the day with a delicious breakfast cooked by the lovely chefs at the hostel. We then went to the park where we were able to continue orientation and getting to know everybody on this incredible adventure. After a short lunch and soccer break, we visited an amazing gorgeous cathedral near the hostel. The journey back to the hostel lead us to a quick siesta and then a fantastic chicken and mushroom dinner followed up by hilarious games later that night. Today nearly everybody participated in morning yoga, while some enjoyed a cup of coffee while looking at the view. Now we are all involved in an intense three team scavenger hunt.

Group Scavenger Hunt: Part 2

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | South America-INTI

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Greetings from Quito! We are currently on the first leg of our scavenger hunt and have just found an internet cafe! It took a bit of searching with our Spanish skills, but for the most part, we are getting where we need to be. We are all safe and are having a good time. The food so far has been AMAZING and the hospitality of the hostel is great, too. The city is beautiful and its a shame we are only in the Quito for a short time, cause there are just so many cool things to do. We still have a lot of other things to check off our list, like doing a random act of kindness to a stranger, and ask around to learn more about the culture and history of the city. We have yet to have lunch and that is our next priority plus buying some candy and offering it to some kids, which we think they´ll like.

We’ve stopped by some shops and tried on some cool sunglasses and walked through a bakery which we might stop by later for dessert, and maybe bring some back for the rest of the group.

Our next stop is finding a place to have lunch, and then maybe look at some cool architecture and points of interest. This scavenger hunt is also a competition, so wish us luck!

Group Scavenger Hunt: Part 1

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | South America- INTI

This is Alex Maya, and Audrey coming to you from an internet cafe. Took about an hour and a half to find an internet cafe but we made it alive. On a scavenger hunt today, we were very lucky to see the sites including a couple of art museums some beautiful churches around the area as well as community centers Thinking a ton about our families but also about our stomachs, maybe another round of rice and chicken Looking forward to many more excursions.

Çhao.

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Nkula Arrival to Entebbe

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 | East Africa-NKULA

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Greetings, Families and Friends of the Spring 2018 Nkula group:

The Nkula group had a night in Dubai, had a successful rendezvous with Tosca, and are now safe and sound in Entebbe, Uganda. They will now start Orientation, getting to know each other, setting intentions, and learning about safe and mindful travel.

Nkula: everyone at home wishes you the very best! We hope that your journey is amazing and full of laughter; that you lean into the challenges; and that you treat each other, and those around you, with respect, gratitude, open minds, and open hearts.