Today we continue to work on the gazebo at the school here in Pastavi. We've been working on it for a couple of days and we are making cement for the second day in a row, which is a process! It is incredible however to see the gazebo slowly come together as we build the foundation. It seemed like we were all a little low on energy but after a delicious lunch and a nap, most seemed to be very excited for the afternoon activity of salsa dancing and bracelet making I was part of the first group to dance and I was beyond excited. I had forgotten how much I love to dance. It brought me back to when days were simple and I didn't need to worry about work or adult responsibilities, but rather listening to music and absorbing myself in what I love to do. In the short hour and a half we had of dancing I forgot about all my worries of being sick or being tired and just let loose, dancing my heart out! Even when we switched groups we could learn to make bracelets I snuck in with the other group for more dancing. Our teachers for dancing and bracelet making were an awesome group of Colombians that shared their culture and talents with us. 

 

Later that evening we met up and had a debrief and played an interesting game of mafia to wrap up the day. the following day we got to be lumberjacks for a couple of hours. As we continued to work on the gazebo we headed to a nearby forest to cut down some trees. It was fun waiting to help pull down the trees as someone is cutting it and getting ready to yell, "Timber!". 

It's definitely a unique experience as was the afternoon picnic. We headed to the Lechero, which is this awesome hill with a very old tree with what I thought was an awesome story. As we sat and had pizza we listened to the story of how this tree came to be. There were two warring clans in this region. A girl was sitting near the lake and along came a boy from the other clan. Of course, they fell instantly in love. Their secret meeting spot was at the lake and they decide the only way they could be together was to run away. As they ran away people noticed and ran after them. The came to the top of a hill and asked the wise mountain Imbabura to help them be together. He granted their wish and turned the man into a tree and the moan into a lake. This way they could always see each other, but the price is that they can never touch.

It was pretty awesome to be on this hill seeing the tree and lake as the bottom and Imbabura in the background. It was breathtaking to see it all. With such a beautiful scenery it was only fitting we all sat together sharing stories and what REACH has meant to us over the last four years. This trip definitely has been on for the record books, but so have the last four years. Tho stories and words shared meant a lot and was just another exciting memory to add to this incredible journey we've had so far. It may be close to the end, but I look forward to these last few days!

Monika Z.