Published on: Wednesday, July 26, 2023
At the start of the second week of a four-week expedition, ten King's pupils embarked on a 10-hour bus journey to Camp Costa near Puerto Lopez, journeying through breathtaking landscapes in the foothills of the Andes, passing through the second-largest city of Guayaquil and then up the gorgeous coastline, during which a whale was spotted.
Camp Costa is a campsite nestled among the small fishing community of Puerto Rico, located adjacent to the community park. Here, the pupils had the opportunity to unwind in the evenings by playing football and Ecuavolley (an Ecuadorian version of volleyball) with local children and another team from Camps International. It was relayed to them that the local community eagerly anticipates the month when the camp is open as it boosts income, and the community work carried out by the pupils makes a significant difference for the rest of the year.
Despite the heat and fatigue from their journey and previous work in the Amazon, the team remained committed. They initiated a project to construct a secure entrance/gate for the community park. This task involved various activities such as digging trenches, crafting wooden moulds for cement structures, and mixing components to make concrete. Since the local river dried up two decades ago, water is a scarce resource, bought in from external sources. This necessitated the pupils to fetch and carry it in heavy buckets from the camp to the park entrance. Their admirable, steady, and consistent provision of water facilitated a smooth operation. Their collective efforts culminated in the mixing of 8 bags of cement and it was greatly satisfying for them to observe the dry concrete the following day and witness their hard work take form.
During their six days at Camp Costa, the team engaged in various activities like planting and watering trees to aid in reforestation, planting seeds and vegetable plants in the shared community garden, painting a bridge to enhance the town's aesthetic appeal, and plastering the community funeral centre building. Additionally, a morning was devoted to beach cleaning, collecting microplastics to make insulating bricks for a home project called "love bottles," and gathering larger items for reuse or recycling. They also helped to protect the four different types of turtles nesting on the beach and numerous residing seabirds.
Daily morning yoga, led by their expedition leader, Dugg, often transitioned to beach yoga at 6.15am, during which whales were frequently spotted. Most afternoons, the students indulged in ice creams and a sea dip, showcasing their fondness for water, especially their group's resident mermaid, Evie P. The evenings were packed with recreational activities like card games, football, Ecuavolley, and engaging in local cultural activities. Upon learning about the difficulties local fishermen face due to large international fishing corporations and their less selective nets, the students expressed their desire to support the local community and tasted the day's catch at Felix's, a local fisherman's restaurant.
They are currently back in Guayaquil, where the staff are relieved to evade the mosquitos and are preparing to catch a flight to the Galapagos Islands, marking the start of the next chapter of their adventurous journey.