Haley Smith
Haley Smith
Ecuador, 2018
From July -September 2018, I will be interning with Sinamune, an organization in Quito, Ecuador that provides music education and other services to individuals with special needs. I will be assisting with music classes, performances, and more. I am excited to experience the Ecuadorian culture and learn from these incredible individuals! Read More About Haley →

Nucleo and New Heights (Week 5, Part 2)

Tuesday, August 7th

Well, I did not have time to post about the surprise party last night, but it went very well. Pictures to come! I continued at Sinamune today and then went to Nucleo. Some of the same people returned and some new people came! Oh boy, what an adventure.

Wednesday, August 8th

Sinamune is still frustrating, but I am loving teaching the classes at Nucleo. My second group is mostly older adults who have not had much/any formal training in singing, and because they are such a small group, they asked me if we could work more on vocal technique and performance skills. I said absolutely, because that is something that I have been interested in trying to teach. So far it is going well; the difficult thing is that I don’t know all the technical terminology necessary for singing, so I have to do a lot of motioning and demonstrating. Fortunately, however, one of the ladies in this group lent me what is essentially a Spanish textbook on vocal pedagogy, music theory, and IPA! It is a Godsend, and it is so helpful to be able to match up my knowledge with the Spanish terminology, and even learn some new things!

Thursday, August 9th

Today was such a crazy day that Cosette and I told Diana the new schedule was not going to work. Here is how it went:

8:00-8:30 Bus to Sinamune

8:30-10:00 Sinamune

10:00-11:00 Bus/Walk to Spanish

11:00-1:00 Spanish

1:00-2:00 Bus/Walk to Nucleo

2:00-6:00 Nucleo

6:00-7:00 Bus/Walk Home

The bus ride itself from Sinamune to Spanish is an hour, not to mention the 15-minute walk, so of course we were late. And then because we were running late from Spanish, we were late to Nucleo, because it’s about 30 minutes on the bus and 15 minutes walking. I felt like I was trying to catch my breath all day, and we didn’t have time to eat lunch! We are really hoping that we will be able to go to Sinamune just a couple days a week and go to Spanish the other days, since our time there is essentially glorified babysitting, but we will see. Fortunately tomorrow is a holiday, so we have the day off from both Sinamune and Nucleo, but we will still have Spanish.

Friday, August 10th

Today was the adventure of a lifetime! Even though it was my day off, I got up early to ride the teleferico up the mountain to summit the volcano Rucu Pichincha. Ashley came with me to the teleferico but decided to hold off on the hike because she had only been here for a week and was still adjusting to the altitude.

I was on my own, but I felt pretty safe for the first two hours as the hike was not too demanding and I passed by several other people on the way. However, about two hours in, I reached a sheer cliff which was very inclined and rocky, and I became a little worried. I really wanted to make it to the top but this was legit rock climbing and I did not feel safe by myself because if I fell, well, I don’t want to think about. It was also hard to determine the exact path. I also had Spanish class to get back too. Discouraged and disappointed, I started heading back to the teleferico.

However, about 20 minutes after starting to return, I ran into a group of three Ecuadorian girls about my age. They were friendly and asked if I had made it to the top. I told them that sadly I had not, because I was on my own and didn’t think it was safe. Then they invited me to join them! At first I declined, because I had Spanish and I didn’t want to crash their group, but they insisted and said they would love to have me join them! I was getting so close at that point, and they were so persuasive, that I accepted and messaged my Spanish teacher that I would be a bit late.

One of them had climbed Pichincha before, but the other two hadn’t. I ended up climbing mostly with Viveca, who was very friendly. The last hour of the hike was definitely the most difficult, as we were basically scrambling vertically up sheer rocks. Also, it was SO COLD! I didn’t think about how cold it would be at such an altitude, but I just had a t-shirt and a rain jacket and I was freezing. My muscles were aching as well. Once we got to a certain point, Viveca and I were both thinking about calling it a day; also we were both only in tennis shoes and not hiking boots. However, some friendly hikers who passed us encouraged us to keep going, that we were almost there, and it was so worth it! So we continued. My hands, nose, and ears, were numb by that point, and there were little patches of ice on parts of the rocks. However, after about 20 minutes more of suffering, we pulled ourselves up to the top.

Unfortunately by this time in the day it was very cloudy and windy, so you couldn’t see much. But every once in a while the clouds would clear and reveal what looked like the entire world, Quito and much more stretching out as far as the eye could see, surrounded by the valley of volcanoes and beautiful greenery. I was so cold and so tired and so hungry, but I would do it a million times over. It felt so wonderful to reach the summit and see the world. And to think that we almost went back when we were so close!

After resting a bit, taking some pictures, and finding the other two girls in our group, we began the descent. The descent was almost worse than the climb! Essentially, you almost had to just slide down on your rear; it was so steep and my leg muscles were so tired they kept giving out. Some of the rocks were not very sturdy either.

Eventually we made it down to the rolling hills part, and by then I was very late to Spanish. I thanked Viveca and the other two girls, and they said it had been a pleasure climbing with me; then I went as fast as my legs would allow to get back for Spanish.

I took the teleferico down the mountain and there were a few men calling “Taxi, taxi!” I was so tired and over an hour late at that point that I went with the first man I saw. (My phone was dead or I would have done Uber.) I told him where I needed to go, and he told me it was a flat rate of $7. I knew that was false and also there was the fact that I literally only had $5, so I offered $5. He accepted and led me to his taxi.

Except it was not a taxi; it was an unmarked SUV. Oh boy, I thought dramatically, this is the end, I survived that deathly hike just to be kidnapped. But like I said, I was exhausted and late, so I got in. Fortunately my worries were unfounded, the driver was very nice and was learning English and wanted to practice with me the whole ride. Just goes to show that sometimes our intuition can be wrong. (Although usually I wouldn’t recommend getting in any sort of unmarked SUV with a stranger, even if they seem very friendly. We aren’t even supposed to take taxis that aren’t certified. Praise God for watching over me in this instance and allowing me to make a new friend.)

I made it to Spanish safely for the last 30 minutes of my lesson, and then took the bus home. I slept for four hours, woke up for an hour, then went back to sleep for the night at 8 pm. It was a wild but wonderful day!

Rucu Pichincha Pictures


The first part of the hike, lulls you into think it’s just some steep rolling hills. Ha ha.


View from Cueva del Oso.


Cueva del Oso, a halfwayish point.


Somehow I climbed that...


Only an hour and a half to the summit!



Viveca and me, halfway up the hardest part!


After almost deciding to go back.


I made it! 15, 406 feet!


Viveca and me at the summit!


My new friends and I at the summit!



At the summit! You can’t tell, but I can’t feel my toes, nose, fingers, or ears!

One thought on “Nucleo and New Heights (Week 5, Part 2)”

  1. Fantastic! Now you are also a Moutain climber. Hope your cold gets better!
    Love Gramps
    Miss you

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