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Santo Domingo de Onzole

July 3 to 14, 2019

This trip to the lush interior of Esmeraldas Province is an adventure like no other. You will find yourself entering a culture isolated from the rest of the world for most of its history. Because of its seclusion, the settlement of Santo Domingo on the banks of the Onzole River has created a singular, thriving community based on longstanding traditions handed down undiluted. Legend says that the original settlers were escaped African slaves. They banded together in prior centuries and lived in secrecy for generations.

Cost — $900 plus airfare

Included —

Grant Opportunities — Grants of up to $100 are available to current and retired school staff and university faculty who are paying full cost out of pocket. In order to be eligible, you must complete the following requirements:

Wednesday, July 3 — Arrival in Guayaquil

You will fly into Guayaquil, Ecuador, and catch a taxi at the airport to get to your lodgings. The well-rated Hostel Nucapacha offers a pool and delicious complimentary breakfast. If time permits, you might explore some of the nearby neighborhood with your new team members.

Thursday, July 4 —  Guayaquil and Travel to Santo Domingo

Today you and the team will tour Ecuador’s largest and most populous city.  From Las Peñas to Iguana Park, you’ll sample a bit of everything this fascinating city has to offer. Your day will allow you to experience the week with a deeper understanding of the wonderful people you will meet. After your tour, you’ll take an overnight bus ride north to the outpost of either Anchayacu or Lagarto.

Friday, July 5 — Santo Domingo

After arriving at the Onzole River, you will take a short break before embarking on a two- or three-hour, motorized canoe ride upstream. You will have some time to settle in at the dorm-style guesthouse, explore the village, and meet your hosts. In the evening, the team will gather for an orientation to the week ahead, including team building and reflection exercises.

Saturday, July 6 — Santo Domingo

Experiencing a day in the life of a Santo Domingo resident will be the entire agenda. You will be matched up with a local family who will show you how to eat, work, and live just as they do. This location’s rich culture could take years to experience fully, so this will be a busy day!

Sunday, July 7 — Santo Domingo

Because today is Sunday, you will have the option of joining the community in their church worship service. Afterwards, the entire team will have an orientation, including team-building activities and reflection exercises. Also, the local teachers will be invited to get acquainted with the team before school starts tomorrow.

Monday, July 8 through Thursday, July 11 — Santo Domingo

During the mornings, you will spend time with your partner in her/his classroom. The afternoons will provide opportunities to build on previous trainings with additional support and collaboration.

Friday, July 12 — Santo Domingo

Today presents another opportunity to collaborate with your partner by co-teaching or experimenting with a new activity. Afterwards, the group will gather together to review the week, celebrating friendships and professional growth.

Saturday, July 13 — Travel to Guayaquil

You’ll want to wake up early today for the journey back to Guayaquil. The team will make the journey back downriver and onto a bus.

Sunday, July 14 — Departure

Time to say goodbye for now. Your flight back to the US will give you plenty of time to reflect on your adventure and plan for your next visit to this wonderful place.

In order to create the best possible experience for you, we might need to alter this itinerary. We will let you know about any significant changes.

Our partner on this trip is the Onzole River Project. This NGO serves Afro-Ecuadorian communities along the Onzole River through culturally relevant education and empowerment. The local school in Santo Domingo is named after Gaston Figueira, who was a writer and poet in Uruguay during the early 20th century. He visited the northwest part of Ecuador at the invitation of an Ecuadorian priest. The founders of the school named it after this renowned author to honor his visit.

The language spoken in school and in the community is Spanish.

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