The bus ride through the country side to Mindo, from Santo Domingo, lasted about two and a half hours. The mountainous terrain makes for a very enjoyable ride. Clouds are always at the mountain tops and occasionally one can see a snow capped mountain in the distance. In Mindo, the group stayed in a hostel. It reminded me more of camping than staying in a hotel. It was great to have a warm shower. My room didn't get hot water but at least it wasn't freezing cold.
While in Mindo the group was given many options for activities. One choice was to go hiking and another was to see the butterfly gardens. I chose another option, zip lining. This is an activity I would recommend everyone try if they get the chance. I hate heights but I loved flying down the zip line being able to see the forest and the city of Mindo. We were even given the option of doing tricks. One trick was "superman" were a guide goes down the line with the person and allow them to slide face first. The trick I did was called "mariposa" or "butterfly." This trick consisted of a guide and myself with me going down the zip line upside down. It was definitely a new experience.
Mindo is a small city and tonight, they had a festival to honor the city. Mindo has been around for 149 years. This time seemed shorter than I thought it would have been but I asked the the translator and they said I had the number correct. There were vendors and music playing that could be heard throughout the entire community. There was also a singing contest. While there we met a man who seemed to have a large role in the festivities for the evening. When talking to him he thought it was great how Shoulder to Shoulder was providing health care for people in Ecuador. He gave us a shout out in front of the entire crowd. He also wanted us to take part in the festivities. Three other guys and myself ended up singing for the whole crowd at the festival. Only one of us spoke fluent Spanish so we only had a limited number of songs we could sing. We chose La Bamba. It was a blast. I thought we were going to make fools of ourselves but after watching a recording and talking to other people there, we were entertaining.
I have chosen to go on the earlier bus tomorrow for Quito. The group has more touristy things to do and I can't wait. Every day of this trip has seemed to get better and better.
Jim Buscher, who will start at UK Medical School in August, is a two-time graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences with degrees in psychology (2009) and biology (2010). But before he enrolls in gross anatomy or makes his rotations in the hospital, Buscher has embarked on a journey to Ecuador as a volunteer with Shoulder to Shoulder Kentucky, an international organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in resource-limited communities.
Jim will spend time working in health clinics performing screenings and tackling the issues that confront the community’s wellbeing, but he also plans on doing more than dealing with health initiatives. Following the lead of Jacob Sither, a friend and student in UK’s College of Public Health, Jim will take part in distributing donated equipment to help develop a soccer program in the community, hoping to build a self-sustaining recreational program to supplement their efforts to improve general public health. The whole point of these enterprises, Jim says, is to improve the lives and families in the community by addressing health, education and economic issues.