The Adirondacks to the Andes
January 2017 was a month of adventure.
I started the New Year snowboarding with friends at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, NY. Temperatures hovered around 0 degrees Fahrenheit at the summit of the mountain. Visibility was poor at times but it was still some amazing riding. After 4 days in the Adirondacks, I made my way down to Eastern PA to meet my girlfriend and fly out of Philly to volunteer in Ecuador. Our nine hour layover in Atlanta gave us enough time to leave the airport and explore what the city had to offer.
My first two days in Ecuador, I lived out of my carry-on since my luggage was left in Atlanta! Luckily, I had an extra set of clothes in my backpack which included my Minus33 Appalachia Women’s Lightweight Wool Crew, a pair of leggings, and my Minus33 Merino Wool Day Hiker Sock. I wouldn’t say they smelled great after two days, but it kept me comfortable through two days of volunteering and touring around the city.
Ecuador was the experience of a lifetime. We lived in a volunteer house with a host family in Quito, Ecuador. On weekdays we volunteered with at risk children who work with their families in the open-air markets around Quito. Living and working alongside the local people gave us a genuine look into Latin American culture. During some of our free time we were fortunate enough to visit two local foundations who provide prosthetics to the underprivileged population in Quito. The first was Fundación Hermano Miguel, a medical clinic who provides rehab and therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, human rights services of persons with disabilities, and other medical services. The other was the Range of Motion Project, a foundation started by an American to provide 3D printed prosthetics to underprivileged Latin American communities.
Of course we left time for play too. We explored the city, traveled outside of the city to indigenous villages, went zip-lining through the Andean forest, we went hiking, and stood with one foot on either side of the Equator. We rode a cable car up past 10,000 ft into the mountains then hiked and rode horses up an active volcano to about 13,000ft, and we went to a bird sanctuary in a town with the highest bird population in the world. We got to experience the people, the food, and the unpredictable weather in Quito’s “wet season.” The slogan of Quito is “ama la vida,” love life, and that’s exactly what we did.