TTS23 in the Galapagos Islands

TTS23 in the Galapagos Islands
From left to right: Scout, Lindsey, Sophie, Feyza, Erin, Caroline, Lena, Susannah, Charlotte, Rebecca, Allie, Hannah, Alizah, Maisie, Anne, Kate, Courtney

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

From The Middle of the World

Dear TTS Friends and Family,

Our home base for the past week has been an amazing historical site, Hacienda Guachala. The Hacienda has housed royalty, presidents, the French geodesic mission to find the equator, the first slow food festival in Ecuador, and now us. The owner of the Hacienda, Diego, is the mayor of the region, and gave us an in-depth lecture on its history from the 1400's to the present. We were overwhelmed by his vast knowledge and life experience as an engineering student at Stanford in the 60's to his current position as a leader of indigenous movements in Ecuador. 

TTS23 at Mitad del Mundo

We spent one of the first afternoons walking to a nearby flower plantation learning about one of Ecuador's main exports. Across the street from the Hacienda are many rose plantations which we weren't allowed to visit due to their hectic schedule in preparation for Valentine's Day in the U.S. We visited a blue flower plantation instead, which are also exported to the U.S. Students asked our guide Luis thoughtful questions in Spanish about the irrigation system, the wage of the workers, and everything that goes into the life of a flower. Many began to think in new ways, tracing items they see in stores back home to their origins. We spoke of the refrigeration it takes to deliver flowers across the world, the trucks and boats and planes and fuel, the human labor, the working conditions, the pesticides, health effects, environmental damage, and much more. 

After many exciting classes, students visited Mitad del Mundo, a sundial marking the equatorial line. The director of Quitsato, a scientific organization researching the equator, gave us an astronomy lesson, teaching us about the rotation of the earth and  the history and etymology of orientation and directions. Most importantly, he challenged our perspective on how we view the world. Ask your daughters about this when they get home!
Oyacachi Hot Springs

Patricia & TTS23 Group
This past weekend we went on our first overnight trip to a town famous for their hot springs. First we stopped in the highlands, marked by intensely green fields, chilly wind, and Quichua people sporting peacock-feathered fedoras and gold necklaces. A Quichua woman named Carolina led us to the top of a hill with indigenous ruins that are thought to be astronomical markers. Again, the students peppered Carolina with thoughtful questions about her culture and the region. After a fabulous lunch prepared over hot coals, we crossed over into a new region, a mix between the rainforest and the highlands. With thick white clouds above us, we soaked in the hot waters of the area, giddy with the natural beauty. From our campsite we could see Orion and Sirius straight overhead. The students managed their first camping experience together very well, setting up their tents in no time, and celebrating Scout's birthday with chocolate bon bons and kind words said around the circle. The next day our guide Patricia took us to an archeological site near the hot springs in a national park. she told us how the cows and pastures within the national forest we walked by were operating because the chocolate company  NestlĂ© made a deal with the government. She also showed us houses from hundreds of years ago, with living roofs and windows intentionally placed so the light filtering through indicated the time of year. After only a week the students have not only dipped their toes into asking critical questions, camping, and living out of a backpack, but they are also versed in riding public transportation!

Basilica Voto Nacional
Tomorrow we head to Quito for a day trip in the city. We'll climb the bell tower of an ancient church to see the city in its entirety, have a talk from an expert on indigenous rights, eat lunch in the plaza, and visit the museum of Ecuador's most famous artist-Guayasamin.

The students are getting the idea that at TTS learning never ends. It's a beautiful process to be a part of. 

Much love,
From all of your daughters and the teacher team


  1. So so happy to receive the first blog update! Thank You! Having fun playing "Where's Waldo/Courtney" in the group shots. Looking forward to the next update already.

  2. Great pictures and update. Thanks Jennifer and teachers. Looks like the adventure is really on.

  3. We are so excited to hear about all the exciting adventures that the girls get to experience! Thank you for the update, keep them coming!!!

  4. I'm happy to hear from you and even happier for you.

  5. It is thrilling to receive these updates! I just talked with Greta - a TTS Central America Semester graduate - who works here at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. She had many wonderful things to say about her experience & is excited for you all! All the best to everyone!