Ecuador 2017 Day #1

August 10 & 11
By:  Stan 
Ready, Set, GO! Our Interact group arrived at the Spokane Ramada Airport Inn the evening of August 10. After settling into our rooms, we proceeded to have our
group meeting to go over flight schedules, airport security, and safety. The group received pins and Canada bracelets for friendship gifts when we meet people along the way. This was the last planning meeting to help prepare us for the events ahead. 
There is a tonne of excitement, and even though we all turned in at 10:00 pm, many travellers commented that it was difficult to sleep knowing what was ahead for us the next day. The morning of August 11 required the group to rise early to ensure that we could get our bags and check in as efficiently as possible. Most were awake between 4:00 and 5:00 am. Interact parents were fantastic in delivering our 32 checked bags (1600 lbs) to the airport at 5:30 am. Parents and leaders reweighed the bags and had to do a small amount of repacking to ensure each bag was under 50 lbs of weight. The remaining group ate a quick breakfast at 6:00 am and then walked to the airport to join the bag organizers with their additional carry-on luggage.
After a quick photo and check in, we proceeded to security for a mostly smooth screening. We were all surprised when an unopened can of dry Gatorade powder mix set off security and put one of our Interact students through a very intense inspection. Chelsea, you handled the episode like a trooper!
Note to all, apparently dry powders, even in their original unopened packaging, can cause a high level of scrutiny from the screening officers. As I reflect upon the checked luggage that we will be leaving behind in Ecuador, I am very impressed by the volume of contributions from our extended community in Castlegar. We are bringing down quilts, soccer balls, clothing, microscopes, sports uniforms/equipment, school supplies, and countless other prayers, support, well wishes, and items donated by friends and neighbours for the communities we visit.  We encounter so many travellers along the way that are so incredibly supportive and thank our group for our efforts. This effort is so much greater than our 16 travellers and I want to extend these thanks to our fabulous community. Thank you all for the collective effort in setting us on this journey.
Our slogan for the 2017 trip is “Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love”, a saying made famous by Mother Teresa.  My hope for the next 21 days is that our group achieves the full meaning of this statement. These young adults and their leaders have all all the right elements to fulfill this mission. The following photos are of our group’s travel and work shirts which were designed by the Interact students. We hope you enjoy the images as much as we enjoy wearing them.
We Arrive in Quito at 11:30 at Night. Got to bed at 3:00 in the morning after moving the luggage to CIMAS for storage. I think we will all be relieved when the bags are finally delivered as some suitcases are starting to fall apart.
Final note – Svetlana, Emily, and Chelsea got a surprise checking into our hotel last night. Bit of a mix up on the room key and room number found them walking into a room that was already occupied by someone sleeping. Shock and awe was expressed by everyone. Good thing they already know how to say I am sorry in Spanish – Lo Siento.