viernes, 9 de octubre de 2015

Buenos Dias,

My name is Timothy. I am a 25 year old American, from San Francisco. I spent the Spring of 2015 working at LEAD Adventures. I’d always been interested in South America, but Ecuador really appealed to me because of the diversity of its regions and its culture. For such a small country, it packs a big punch. From Quito, you are pretty much in an ideal location. It is centrally located for you to check out the Andes, the Coast and the Amazon in one day’s time. And a short flight can take you to another world of the Galapagos. These distinct regions have to be experienced for the full Ecuador Experience. LEAD Adventures provided me with the opportunity to live in and appreciate all of Ecuador’s splendor.

From Day 1, the staff at LEAD Adventures made me feel welcome. Enrique, Esteban, Sandra and Luis brought me onto their team as one of their own. They took me out to eat and invited me to do activities together to make my transition as easy and fluid as possible. Some of my favorite memories are going out as a group to watch the local soccer rivalry between Deportivo Quito and La Liga. The enthusiasm of the fans and the excitement in the stands was like nothing you could imagine in the States. I can vividly remember another time during a Copa Liberatodes match when a fan in the stands started handing out torches to pass around randomly to other fans. A couple of my buddies and me grabbed one and I can remember thinking, ‘Only in Ecuador!’

While we were working hard to achieve some specific marketing goals, I also did my part to show new volunteers around and help out in the office. There is a familial atmosphere for dealing with the customer in the office. If any problem arose with anything, the staff were quick and helpful in giving safety, informational, banking, entertainment, or travel advice as if they were giving it to a close a friend or sibling. It’s just the nature of their characters. Certain things that only a local could know were made available to all travelers so that they could have the best volunteer experience possible. LEAD Adventures has a level of experience and expertise from having helped so many other volunteers over the years that makes them a great company to work for, but an even better company to travel with.

For all that Ecuador has to offer, it almost seems that you would need a lifetime to truly experience it all. While I explored the Andes, and the Coast, and the Amazon, I was unable to make it to the Galapagos. Though I wanted and still do to visit this paradise, I concentrated my time on the mainland. Quito was my base. It in itself is easy to lose oneself in. But from the capital city it was easy to move around and explore the other parts of the country. I went to an animal shelter in Ibarra and the famous Otavalo market in the North. A couple of hours drive to the South, I was able to hike up the world’s tallest active volcano, Cotopaxi. To the east, I visited a friend to take a tour of the Amazon near Puyo. And on the return I managed to visit the peaceful allure of Banos. And out west, the beautiful sunny beaches of Montanita, with their upbeat nightlife were calling my name as well. All of these places were unique in their own special way. And there are so many more it makes me want to start to plan my next trip back.

Anyone that is even considering Ecuador or South America for that matter, LEAD Adventures provides the truest, fullest, travel experience you could imagine. There are other companies out there. But from everything that I took out of my time in Ecuador, LEAD Adventures more than fulfilled my expectations. It was an amazing time that I will not forget. Even the part where I tried Cuy (Guinea Pig).



Gracias LEAD Adventures: Enrique, Esteban, Sandra, Luis, Rita and her family, my roommates, and everyone else in the office, and all the other volunteers I met along the way.

New opportunity for volunteers in Ecuador

"How many languages do you know - as many times you are human" - said Russian writer Anton Chekhov. It is difficult to doubt the correctness of this aphorism. Language - is a means of communication. It is necessary for transmission of information. Who owns the information, owns everything.

The most obedient children! 
Eugenio Espejo school, Machala
It becomes particularly relevant in our time. And those who speak foreign languages, of course, owns and more information.
Now, at a time when the 18 hours people may be on the other side of the globe, while open borders, at a time when the popularity of tourism is growing in geometric progression, and the economy in some countries even directly affected. Ecuador is one of those countries. Dream Land, the country that is just gorgeous, the country to which the interest of the international community is growing every minute. Just one moment there. Education... English language. 45 minutes per week. No comments. 
Of course, it is in the public schools, not in private ones, there the situation is better. But what about those who want to learn, who need education, who have a lot of ambitions, but just does not have money? Fortunately, there are people who understand the full horror of this situation. For example the guys from Lead Adventures. They drew attention to this gap, taking the time to set aside a couple of days of business and here we are, in the province of El Oro. The first thing we saw is this beautiful new airport is Santa Rosa. We were also pleasantly surprised by our 30 minute trip to the capital Machala. The highway is made on the highest level, on both sides of the highway are banana plantations. Yes, it is a banana Province! But about that a bit later.

So, our goal was to see for the province, school, children, to communicate with teachers, with the government. Must be said, on this program we were inspired by some similar program in Chile. According to the program volunteers, native English speakers are invited to the provincial schools for teaching English, for raising interest in languages, other cultures, open their eyes to the world. On the other side, there are so many special people in all the countries who want to help, to travel, to see the world. Those guys are volunteers.
Sandra talks to the school administration
Now a bit about the program. Its goal you have already understood. How does it work? First of all, the provincial government reviews the situation and gives us the information about number of teachers in the schools they need. We publish that on our website and in the blog. You read it, contact us, we log you into the program. That s it. In due time we will meet you at the airport Quito, hugs, kisses and will take you to the hotel. In 3-4 days you pass an orientation course before the program and express course in Spanish if necessary. We give you the required documents and accompany to El Oro. There you will be met by the program coordinator or by the host family, embraced and driven to your new home. The program has begun! The next day you are familiar with the school, with the kids. By the way, you will be provided by meals and will get  a small monthly stipend, which is now being clarified. In his spare time you can travel around the province, and there a lot of to see, believe me!

A room in the Rocio·s house.
Some  participants will be living there
To sort out the situation, we visited two schools and two host families. Schools are clean, kids are funny, open and disciplined. Of course, not without exceptions, but who said it will be be easy?

It should be noted that the government and just people who care have already helped the children, but it's usually care essentials. For example Rocio. As I said, El Oro province is a banana. Of course, many bananas are prepared for export. Some are not undergo selection by size, for example. She asked those bananas for children. Now, each child receives at kleast one banana daily. Aslo as she loves to cook, founded a course for young mothers, where for free has taught them cooking more than 30 delicious and healthy dishes of bananas. Now othr wonderful woman Maria helps her. Great idea, is not it? I must say that your creative and socially useful ideas will be discussed and adopted with pleasure.

So, do you feel this is yours? Do you want to be helpful and to see the world? We are waiting for you!!!

More detailed about the province in part 2 of this article.

My Lead Adventures experience

Hi dear folks! Im Kate, Ukrainian girl (a lawyer..:)) who came to Ecuador to discover this amazing country and I'd like to share my first and successful experience of an internship here. Three months ago I came to this completely unknown for me country to visit my friends. Walking around the city, travels ... Ecuador impressed me so much! But I felt I wanted to understand this life fully, from inside, by myself, to learn the language and to meet new interesting people. So I found an internship in Lead Adventuresl travel agency. It s already 3 months I ve been working with the guys. Used to spend many hours together, I love them so much! Every day I see how selflessly work my colleagues, paying much attention and care to each tourist . It s so nice to see happy faces of our customers,it s so important for them to get good support and assistance particularly in a totally strange country!

Unfortunately time is running quickly and the term of my internship comes to the end. New interns from other countries will seat at my workplace.. As for me, I might prepare my documents to one of our volunteer programs in Galapagos and hope to share my my certainly unforgettable impressions and photos.

New opportunity for volunteers in Ecuador. Part 2

The city of Machala,
province El Oro
As I promised, in the second part of Article I will tell you more about the province of El Oro. El Oro province is located at the southwestern corner of Ecuador. To the East the Pacific Ocean. This province has a great variety of climates, which range from warm at the coastal region to Andean cold at Chilla Mountains. When we arrived to Machala first thing was questioned about the weather. We were told that the day she can change about 4 times. That is what happened. There was rain and sunshine, however, the temperature does not drop below 23 degrees. It should be noted that in this sunny region, the sun is not tiring, it's very ... soft, not burning so that even half-day heat treated very easily.The coastal branch of the Panamericana Highway, communicates with many main cities of other provinces forms the road web

Bus is the most popular transport
of El Oro
At the Highlands we can find the history of gold mining in Zaruma and Portovelo, cities that keep feelings of a past time, full of archeological testimonies, traditions and cultural identity. At the coastal zone, there is a fantastic hydrographic scenery that feeds the fertile lands of the sector. A charming petrified forest, a commercial invariable boundary zone and an exuberant archipelago with mangrove swamps enriched by the marine fauna of considerable ecologic value

And here is the transport
 for the kids of Machala))
We  do not accidentally select the province to conduct the program. El Oro, Ecuador is in a nutshell, here is everything and I am sure this experience will be very interesting for our volunteers, pioneers of this volunteer program.
To travel around El Oro province is easy due to the short distances among the different sceneries and the inexpensive for the students pocket. Our volunteers will have enough time to discover this beautiful area. If you want to have a speed look at this region you can spend the day at the sea and at the night to have a great dinner in the city of the Palm trees. The next day you can visit a gold mine and another day to spend in the hardest forest of Ecuador. I must say that an exuberant forests and running waters of friendly hydrographic fountains are the part of the scenery.

Sunny day in Machala
What  else? I would like you to know about the city where you probably will live while program. Welcome to Machala, the city that is next to the see and is the capital city of the province. Puerto Bolivar. Some time ago it was separated from Machala but the cities expanded rapidly and now Port Bolivar is a part of the capital. It is an eternal spectator of the richest zone in potassium which provides banana, the fruit that has maintained this province as the best producer in Ecuador and around the world during many decades. Population of Machala is mainly engaged with the banana commercial exportation, which is the reason why it is the worldwide recognized as “The World’s Banana Capital City”. The shrimp farms is another commercial activity, and in a lower percentage the production of cocoa. Fishing is mostly hand carried.

These bananas will go to the kids of El Oro.
Program "Bananito amigo"
But stop, why am I writing just about the economy? Of course students, volunteers are not mostly interested in it. Fiestas) Yes, the province is rich in traditions. Here's an example:
•          Patron festival in honor to the Virgin of Las Mercedes is carried out on September 24th, a beauty contest is held to elect the World Wide Queen of Banana producers and export countries,
•          Canton festival is celebrated on June 25th, with activities that include social and cultural acts, civil and military parades, popular dancing and artistic shows:

•          Battle of the Coachs-Batalla de las Carretas: in homage to the action carried out by General Manuel Serrano on May 9th, 1895, supporting to General Eloy Afaro and is Revolution. The bloodless action was of vital importance for the liberal triumph;
Beautiful Children Park,
Puerto Bolivar’s foundation: on December 18th each year is celebrated the civic anniversary of this important Port, named in honor to Simon Bolivar, the Liberator. Besides, every 24th of September takes place the Worldwide Banana Fair. Part of the celebration is the election of the Queen of the event. Beautiful girls come from producer and consumer countries to participate in this contest. At the same date is the celebration for the Virgin Mercedes, the religious party can be another attraction for our volunteers)

Another issue which I think may be interesting for our volunteers is a traditional food of the province. First of all, we recall that the province is on the coast, that"s  why I can say that the seafood lovers are lucky) and who does not love this tasty and healthy food?
Machala for example offers to the visitors a great variety of dishes. Among the principals are elaborated based o sea food, such as ceviches and “sudados” of black shell, shrimp, fish and crab, desserts, confitures and a wide display of typical dishes elaborated with banana, green or ripen. Among its typical dishes is “Largado”, a soup made with meat and grounded plantain. Regarding the popular among students fast food are the empanadas made with flour of wheat or plantain, the “tamales”, the “humas”, the “bolon” elaborated with boiled plantain and pieces o pork (“chicharron”), the “arepas” and the “bollos”.

So guys, who have already decided to register with our program, you see that you will find not only useful and fascinating work with the young generation of the province but also the possibility of interesting leisure activities in the amazing province of El Oro that's just looking forward to you!

How I realized about the importance of being responsible when traveling to the Galapagos Islands

Everytime I meet a new participant going to the Galapagos, I ask the purpose of their trip, and 99% of the time I get the same answer: " I've always wanted to go to the Galapagos and I figured this would be the way to do it by leaving some volunteer behind"

There are many reasons why Galapagos is so important and known worldwide, Darwin's theory, all the wildlife, the uniqueness of the Islands and about a thousand more like that. Not everybody however, is aware of all the problems the Islands are facing and how a tourist could make a difference by choosing the most efficient way of visiting the Enchanted Islands,

When visiting San Cristobal myself a few weeks ago, I was shocked when I walked into the Interpretation center and I saw a chart of how the tourism revenue is distributed in the less efficient way of visiting the Galapagos, it goes something like this:

64%: Stays outside the country prior to arrival
 30%: Goes to cruises                                   
     6%: Stays with the local community                

My first reaction to this chart was: ONLY 6% stays with the local community???... is worth to clear that this is the less efficient way of travelling, I followed this number and talked to our friend Chriss James who has lived in Ecuador for several years now an is an specialist in Galapagos, after our conversation I learned that if we added all sorts of revenues of ALL the tourism entering the Islands, then it adds up to an aproximate of 20% of the total revenue stays in the local Community, is still not enough considering how much money tourists invest on their trips, therefore this can just mean that the less efficient kind of tourism is still dominating the way that people travel to the Islands,

That is why is so important is the work that we do as Lead Adventures:
First we are a local Ecuadorian company based in Quito, and we support the local community, when our participants arrive to Galapagos, they are received by local guides and they stay in local hotels and they eat at restaurants in town. With our Galapagos experience 75% of the revenue stays in the Islands and 100% stays in Ecuador.

Leaving the economics aside, this particular program combines volunteer and travel: when our participants go to the Islands, they get their hands on flora conservation efforts, by helping the erradication of the blackberry which was introduced years ago and now is endangering tons of endemic species.

Is very grateful to know that we are bringing to the country and the Galapagos, not just tourists, but responsible travelers that are actually leaving an ecological footprint and helping to preserve and save the Islands for future generations, it really makes me want to invite everybody to do this, since besides helping you get to enjoy a great time sharing with the locals, and planning your own activities, (you don't have to stick to cruise schedules), it really makes you visit the Galapagos in a way that just a few can, think about it!