After another busy week we had a great weekend with absolutely beautiful weather! On Saturday, we went hiking at El Cajas National Park which was amazing. It was definitely one of my favorite places so far. We had all been fitted for rubber boots because it can be wet and muddy, and were warned that people have gotten stuck in mud up past their waist! Luckily, we had a beautiful, sunny day with no rain, so we didn´t have any problems! There were a lot of great views of mountains and glacier lakes, as well as an amazing forest full of ¨snarly¨ trees that made you feel like you were in a scene from a movie. Pictures definitely don´t do it justice! We also learned a lot along the way about plants and flowers that can be used as natural medical remedies. After the hike we stopped and ate lunch overlooking one of the lakes, before heading back to Cuenca.
We got back to Cuenca with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon! Some of us went to Parque de Calderon for ice cream, and then went to explore Parque Paraiso which was down by the river. It was a great place to just sit and enjoy the sun before we have to go back to winter weather!
Sunday was another gorgeous, sunny day! We went to Ingapirca with a couple stops along the way. The first stop was at a church up in a mountain and it had spectacular views of the city! Even though we had to climb 147 stairs to get to the top, it was worth it! We then stopped in a small town at a market with a lot of fruits and vegetables. It all looked so good and the prices were so much cheaper than what we´re used to in the states! In Ingapirca we toured the Incan ruins and it was interesting to learn about why they built in certain places and how everything had a specific meaning and purpose. Again, there were amazing views and a lot of great photo opportunities!
Today, we had our last Survival Spanish class with Bea. It was great to as a class just be able to talk about how much we´ve learned in the short time we´ve been here. Later in the morning we went to Stephen Hawkings for our last visit. We were able to spend time playing with the kids and then we helped them make a craft, which they then gave to each of us. It was so sweet to see them get so excited about being able to make something for us. We then got to sit in a circle with them and sing songs and play instruments. We took turns singing English and Spanish songs and we all had a lot of fun! Afterwards, we were able to spend some time with the director of the facility and give her the toys and cane we had bought for the facility. She was so excited and grateful for everything. It was really sad to say goodbye to the kids since we all had so much fun with them. Overall, spending time at Stephen Hawkings was a great experience. We learned so much from being able to work not only with the kids, but especially with all of the wonderful teachers and therapists there.
After that we had the rest of the day free, so some of us took the opportunity to do some more shopping of course! I can´t believe we only have 3 days left in Cuenca, it has gone by way too fast!