'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Blog No. 21 - The Final Blog From Ecuador

Family and friends....your loved ones are returning home after a pretty amazing trip with many tales to tell, However, they would appreciate you coming to the George Best City airport for their expected arrival at 12.05 pm on Friday 18 July 2014. Flight No. BA1424. The staff will be very happy to hand over the responsibility :-) Unfortunately, I won’t be there to meet you all as I’m flying from Heathrow directly to Newcastle The Guys have been a real pleasure the whole trip and I’ve personally enjoyed spending time with them :-)...I know they have done you proud! Enjoy the stories of their adventures.

Below is a short message from each of them:

Robbie Ingham – hello, remember me? When you pick me up bring food and a drink! Also dad am I playing cricket at the weekend?  Looking forward to seeing you all! ps try and be on time!

Brent Whiteside – At the point where I desperately want home for hot showers and decent fast food so obviously needless to say mum fill the cupboards and prepare a large banquet. If the rest of you are lucky I might pick up a Toblorone in the airport. See you soon. 

Josh Hoy – Hey guys! Missing you all! Desperately craving a home-cooked meal and a decent shower.  Not long now though! I’ll see you all soon.

Andrew Mallon- Definitely looking forward to a good old fry so you know what to do Dad! Have had an awesome time but I can’t wait to see you guys, shouldn’t be long now! See you later!

Kiran Robbin-without a doubt, I am looking forward to a hot shower after a strenuous but enjoyable three weeks.I hope trip to Wimbledon was good.I have not really bought much for you guys-my safe return will be my gift to you!

Cameron Powell - coming home at 12.05 please don’t forget me I don’t want to get the train home.  And if it isn’t too much hassle would you be able to pick me up a bojuum (white flour tortilla, Mexican savoury rice, peppers and onions, chicken, tomato salsa, sour cream and cheese please) as it is my birthday.  I know your missing me and all that kaper but ill be home soon enough. Talk to you when im back.

Aled George – Hi guys having a great time but can’t wait to empty the hot water tank and eat plenty of bacon. Doubt Sian’s reading this so wish her a happy birthday from me. See you in a couple of days.

Josh Fenton- Can’t wait to see you all. I’ve had a great time here with everyone and have some good stories to tell you when I get home. Hope you had a great 16th birthday Naomi. Please don’t be late to pick me up from the airport. See you soon, love u all x

Patrick Nicholas – coming to the end of a really decent  trip but looking forward to be being back home. Cant wait to see u guys even though I don’t know/cant remember which sisters are home. Looking forward to catching up with three weeks worth of craic. Miss u all x

Jake Wood- hi all, so pumped to be coming home. Excited to see everyone and Lola. Ive had such an amazing time, looking forward to telling all the stories. Hope the room looks great missing you  lots see you tomorrow xo  

Louis Magowan:- Hi Mum, hi dad- hope you are all well and have had a relaxing summer so far. With any luck the weather will be nice when I get back. Looking forward to my own bed, a clean toilet and seeing you all soon. Lots of love, Louis.

Ally Hill – Hi guys, I’ve had an awesome time in Ecuador, seen and done some pretty amazing things but I can’t wait to get home to a comfortable bed, clean toilet and a warm shower. I’ve missed you all and will have plenty of stuff to talk about when I get back, see you soon!

Jerome Hannan- omg I cant wait to be back to see all my fabulous family only few more hours. See yall soon xoxo <3 p="">

James  Poland – not long till we are back , been an unreal 3 weeks , a warm shower will be very good , see you at 12.05 at Belfast City

Cliff - Family!!!  I know you wont have read this. However, I hope you have brought both of my gorgeous Granddaughters to meet me in the airport!!!!  I have missed them so much!  See you all soon x

Thats it folks....All done here....Enjoy your time with the family x (Cliff AKA Ed.)

Blog No. 20 – The Adventure to Los Frailes National Park

(Ed.  This is Mr Lambes blog effort...and just so you can see how things can be misinterpreted he has done two and would like you to guess which one is the truth.  I won't be making any editorial comments so that I can't influence your decision.  Something tells me Mr McMillan has had something to do with one of these Hahahahaha ) 

Adventure No. 1

After another great breakfast at the Hotel Pacifico we boarded public transport and made our way to the Los Frailes National Park where Ecuador’s world famous beach was situated. After a very enjoyable 40 minute walk along sandy paths and through unusual trees and bushes we were rewarded with the spectacular view consisting of white powder sand and the crashing waves of the turquoise Pacific Ocean. It was a hot and humid day and so everyone enjoyed a dip in the cool water. A game of beach football followed before we made our way back to our hotel in Puerto Lopez. It isn’t often one gets the opportunity to explore and enjoy such a secluded and beautiful coastline and this was certainly an experience none of us will ever forget. It really was a vision of absolute paradise.   We caught the bus back to the terminal where we all jumped on board Tuk Tuks for the final part of the adventure back to our luxury hotel in Puerto Lopez.  For some of the boys this was their first experience of these marvelous contraptions.  We arrived back at the hotel with HUGE smiles on our faces.

Mr Lambe et al

Adventure No. 2

After a decent breakfast at the hotel we embarked on the arduous walk in the midday sun to Los Frailes beach having ignored the sound advise given by the locals to take cheap taxis. Cliff insisted that the walk would do the boys good but soon the boys were wilting in extreme midday heat on the Equator. A lack of water, suncream and sunhats was a concern but Cliff marched them on to a bus terminal that was supposed to be round corner when in actual fact it was 4kms. 

When we eventually made it to Los Frailes National Park the boys had had enough just short of the beach so they had a democratic vote and decided to go no further through fear of heat stroke. Po was already extremely dehydrated so the boys decided it was time to eat the pineapples purchased earlier; however, Cliff had forgotten to pack the team knife. At this point Cliff told the boys that votes count for nothing in a democracy and forced the boys to march on like mad dogs and Englishman in the midday sun.  
When we eventually reached the beach we were all extremely underwhelmed: Portstewart Strand on a wet day is more attractive.

Eventually Cliff permitted the boys to make there way back to the sanctuary of the hotel in Peurto Lopez. 

Lets not even talk about the tuk tuk journey back to the hotel 

That was a day that will live long in the memories of all concerned and for all the wrong reasons.  

Mr Lambe et al

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Blog No 18 - A Fond Farewell & Blog No. 19 - The Kings of the Pacific

(Ed. Hi all, sorry for the delay getting these blogs out to you but as you will see it was the turn of Mr McMillan, you just cant get the staff these days!  We leave for Quito tomorrow (actually today for you guys) morning for one more night in Ecuador.  Time now seems to have flown by and it won't be long until your sons are back.  I will send out flight/pick up arrangement details with the last blog following Mr Lambe's blog attempt tomorrow.  There should also be a personal note from each challenger...if I can motivate them that is ;-))

Blog No 18 - A Fond Farewell

I’ve been reliably informed that all the boys have completed a blog each and Cliff has written a couple, so apparently it’s now down to me.

Yesterday we said farewell to all those at the school project, with whom we had enjoyed four days or so of building fences, painting and, of course, a few games of football.  All at the community seemed sad to see us leave, but I do think the boys acquitted themselves brilliantly and we left the school a much better environment than when we arrived.

Although all our new friends at the project were incredibly helpful, hospitable and attentive, the sleeping conditions were, let’s just say, basic!  Therefore with a certain degree of relief we made our way back to the resort of Puerto Lopez and to the civilization of comfortable beds, good food and, most wonderful of all, a warm shower; who would have known that something we take so much for granted could offer such pleasure and the sense of being complete again?

The pool at Hotel Pacifico

After one night in Hostal Maxima we then moved on to some luxury which came in the form of Hotel Pacifico.  Settling in to the hotel we all explored the beach, restaurants and the ubiquitous (mostly tacky) craft shops.  You can all, I’m sure, look forward to receiving what these classy outlets have to offer: something for the mantelpiece or a dark room perhaps!

The view out front from Hotel Pacifico

Down Town Puerto Lopez

While spending money, which seems to be burning holes in pockets (the locals are only too happy to alleviate this problem) a suitable venue was located to watch the World Cup final: watching football in a straw-roofed restaurant/shack situated on a beach with the Pacific Ocean waves crashing in – life doesn’t get much better!

Simon McMillan

Blog No. 19 - The Kings of the Pacific

The magnificent hump back whales off the coast of Puerto Lopez

 For some reason, unknown to me at this stage, I’ve been delegated the role of compiling a second blog, so here goes.

When I first decided to select Ecuador as a location for the Expedition Society at Inst to visit, one of the main attractions was the fact that it is one of the best places in the world to observe humpback whales, and for as long as I can remember I desired the opportunity to see them in all their majesty.

Time to take the seasickness pills...or is it too late?

Mr Pelican

When we first arrived at Puerto Lopez we immediately booked a whale-watching tour, and when the time arrived for us to venture out into the Pacific, the excitement grew; however, some approached the experience with trepidation, as we had been told to expect a rocky sailing and sea-sickness was likely.
About forty minutes out to sea the engines were cut and there they were: beautiful arching shapes cutting through the waves.  I found the experience almost overwhelming. I had waited such a long time for this experience and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes; another thing ticked off on my ‘things- to-do’ list.  No blog could ever do justice to the experience; no blog could ever capture what it is like to be in the presence of these ancient, wondrous creatures; no blog could ever let a reader really know what it was like to see one of the huge beasts rise clear from the waves, turn on to its back and crash back down, causing our boat to sway and sending a spray of salty water over us – absolutely magical!  These creatures really are a paradox: mammoth, barnacled giants, but they move with such elegance, grace and poise.  Their small eyes seem to see so much, suggesting an understanding, even knowledge beyond what we know.  We all felt privileged to be in such company, to be invited by these wonderful animals to share their world for brief spell. 

They didn't look as happy at the end of the trip

The boys doing a 'Cliffy' (ask them later)

All ready for the off...Shouldn't you boys have waterproofs on? hahahaha

The scene just after one of these beasts breached the water...Life memories!

A small group on their way to warmer climes 

Oh dear Jerome :-(

There was a little sea-sickness for some, but well worth a little discomfort; it was a small price to pay for such beautiful memories.  I know I shall never forget my audience with the Kings of the Pacific.

Simon McMillan      

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Blog No.17 - Heavy Hearts but full of Joy.

(Ed. Its down to me tonight folks as the guys are otherwise occupied)

Eating dinner of grilled fish tonight while being serenaded by a couple of old Ecuadorian men makes the project seems a long way off, even though its only 15 minutes ride out of town.  The contrast between the town (Puerto Lopez) and the place we have been working and living over the last few days is quite remarkable.  The dust bowl, where the small community live, is quite a harsh environment and I'm sure, given long enough, we could have adapted completely to.  However, the hot showers at the hostel were a big attraction as was the purchase of one or two Magnum Ice Creams.

My little foot warmer :-) 

The finished item along with gates

And with the doors painted

We woke to a hot and dry day today, which felt good after a little rain yesterday.  However, it wasn't long before we were wanting rain again it was HOT! .  The guys had worked so hard and efficiently over the past two days that they had used up not only their project funds for materials but also all the tasks required of them.  Following discussions with our project host, Pastor, it was clear that it would be best for both parties to finish early.  So after finishing the last few tasks and having a tidy up we said goodbye to our hosts and new friends (I will really miss my little friend who has put a little smile on my face the past few days :( ) and made our way to Hostal Maxima again.

Some of the Guys with some of the ladies of the community

Following showers and some chill time we went out to sample what Puerto Lopez has to offer on a Saturday night.  Music, cruising and eating seem to be the popular activities with the locals and visitors alike. The fish here is particularly good, which suits me as I like anything which comes out of the sea.

Back at the hostel  the work was starting to take its toll on everyone and it wasn't long before our bed was calling.  Lets see what exciting things we can get up to tomorrow.

The guys are doing well and hopefully making you all proud of their adventures and their achievements.

Cliff (AKA Ed.)

Pastor and yours truly

Blog 16 - Day Two of the Project

The guys chosen sleeping arrangements

Last night we had another awful night’s sleep on a concrete floor. If that wasn’t enough, there was the frustrating sound of cockerels crying out as early as 5am; they seemed to be mocking us as we tossed and turned while trying our best to sleep (Ed. What he’s not telling you is that he went to bed at 8 pm and slept the whole way through until 5 am when the cockerel started, that’s a full 9 hours). The night before, the heat in the room was immense, which made it seem like we were sleeping in a sauna as we woke up in a pool of our own sweat.  (Ed. again what he is not telling you is that they have pitched their tents in the room and are sleeping with them fastened up, no air, no oxygen, lots of heat!  The staff suggested they sleep outside but this fell on deaf ears.)

Pre breakfast jobs/tasks

We decided that we would get up earlier to start our project work an hour and a half before breakfast. This was actually rather easy as the majority of us were up in the early hours of the morning due to the challenging conditions faced while trying to sleep (Ed. early hours like 7.00am hahaha). Our kind hosts once again treated us to a marvellous breakfast and this set the challengers and the staff up well for a long hard day of work, which turned out to be rather rewarding.

The concrete being prepared for the new gate posts
Paddy showing the locals how its done...not sure what colour those shorts are supposed to be though lol 

The never ending 'fence painting'

The tasks for the day were discussed and decided over breakfast. For some this was good news but not for others who had the task of axing bamboo for hours; this proved to take both physical strength and a level of skill. (Ed. it was frightening to watch! ;-)) The locals found it rather funny watching challengers attempt to split the wood, which they seemed to achieve effortlessly. It took the boys a long time to get the hang of it but eventually they got there.

The boys that were working on the fence had some encouraging results as they showed that a combination of hard work and determination allowed us to finish nailing the fence before lunch. This morale booster encouraged the boys to work hard until the finishing time of 4pm, which was also fuelled by the enjoyable lunch the hosts provided for us. Certain individuals proved that they had an artistic side in their arson, as they painted the school crest along with our names and the World Challenge logo on the side of the school wall. This was great to achieve as we have left our hosts with some artwork, along with the set task of constructing and painting the fence. Once these two tasks were completed the boys helped the locals make concrete. This was an educational experience which I’m glad I was able to take part in. Other challengers had the opportunity to pick up the paint brushes and decorate the fence in the Ecuador colours; some proved to be better at than others.

Our new friends, William, his wife and Pastor's wife
Overall, the boys and the staff put in a great effort, which has left us in the position of only having to make the final adjustments tomorrow morning. I think the boys have enjoyed the project experience thus far, whether it be by playing with the local kids, seeing our handy work come to life or enjoying some traditional Ecuadorian food which our hosts have kindly prepared for us. We look forward to what is in store for us next.  (Ed. Chill timeJ)

Josh Fenton                                                                                                                                        

Friday, 11 July 2014

Blog no. 15 -The Project Begins

After a terrible night’s sleep for most Challengers and staff, due to a noisy rooster, a donkey that seemed to think it was a siren, random birds and the various sleep-talkers having incoherent conversations with one another, we received another enjoyable meal from our host, Pastor, and the various wives from the community.

Following breakfast we started work on the project where we were once again struck by the language barrier. The locals were telling us how they wanted the fence to be built, and from the shaking of heads followed by many Spanish words it was apparent that we weren’t doing it the way they wanted. After this sketchy start everyone seemed to find a stage of production that they felt comfortable with and after another large meal that was enjoyed by all the fence was flying up and we were well ahead of our first day’s target; and so by the end we were all both satisfied and surprised with our progress.

After a tough day of manual labour we celebrated with a football match with a few locals, but as time went on the mixture of the heat, sweat and tired limbs took its toll and each team depleted rapidly until only the locals were left standing on the pitch.

As a result of today’s progress everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s work and we will hopefully have learnt from the mistake of wearing too little sun cream (Ed.again!) in the Ecuadorian sun.

  Aled George