Jason Loja

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This Summer 16 I was given the amazing opportunity to travel with Rein Teen Tours for Project Ecuador and to do community service in Quito and the Amazon Jungle. Rein’s teen tour Project Ecuador has taught me many things. I am so lucky to have taken part in the 2016 Trip of a Lifetime. This trip has taught and made me realize many things. Seeing the life of poor toddlers from Ecuador made me realize how fortunate I am back home. I could never imagine not having something to eat during snack time as child, it would've been a nightmare for me. Working with the children has inspired me to always help others in a time of need since the feeling afterwards from seeing a smile on their face is something incredible. I also genuinely enjoyed spending time with them every day while in Quito feeding them, playing catch, soccer, hide n go-seek, and building blocks. Rein took us around all of Ecuador's major attractions such as its capital Quito, the Amazon Jungle and the Galapagos Islands. One of my favorite sites during the trip was the Amazon Jungle as we got to do a lot fun activities and learn a lot from the people and the jungle itself. The Amazon Jungle is filled with various unique species that cannot be found in other parts of the world, but the Amazon Jungle. The environment is relaxing and peaceful something I’m not accustomed to back in my hometown where it’s always so loud and alive. I also went white water rafting which was one the most exciting things I have done this year. White water rafting was great since we were allowed to jump off and flip our rafts. Another activity that I enjoyed was cave exploration at the Jumandy Caves. The cave exploration was a whole journey as we had to hike about an hour to get to the cave and another hour to go in the cave and navigate out of it. Inside in the cave it was complete darkness and we did not have a lot space to move around. I enjoyed every second inside the cave as it something i have never done and I thought it was really cool. Knowing that the Incas used these caves to escape from the Spanish conquistadors made the cave exploration even more fascinating for me. In the amazon jungle we also learned about the rich culture and traditions from the Kichwa tribe. The people also taught us the procedures to make chocolate from the raw source, which is the cacao bean. Another stop that changed me was going to the Galapagos Islands. At the Galapagos Island I was able to see the magnificent creatures from the Islands that can only be found at these islands, such as the tortoise, green sea turtle, marine iguana, Galapagos land iguana, lava lizard, and the Galapagos penguin. Seeing all of these animals and all beauty the islands had to offer showed me how beautiful nature really is, something I really didn’t pay too much attention or cared about before. The staff members and our guides on the trip were fantastic because they encouraged everyone to try new things and helped us face our fears. Another thing I loved about the trip were the wonderful Ecuadorian restaurants we went to for our meals, not only were our main courses great, but the desserts were delicious. Meeting other people around my age and spending a whole three weeks with them was also a great experience, it was not hard to make friends since everyone was around the same age and I became friends with everyone on our trip. This trip has changed me in various ways and I will forever be grateful to Trip of a Lifetime for letting me experience one of the best summers of my life.