The morning got off to a great start! Wake up was at 6:30am, yet Mr. Walker knocked on our doors at 6:55am. As we all walked downstairs to the cafe we realized that this would be our last sit down breakfast on this amazing trip.
As we all filed on the bus one by one still tired from the morning, we were surprised to see Luis was about to do a lecture! He talked about many things, such as the beginnings of Ecuador and the Galapagos, the economy of the islands, and the Spanish invasion of Ecuador.
After we got off the bus after a class-like hour, we finally reached the equator. Along the line there was a big stone circle, and in the center stood a huge hollow tube. The giant circle was a huge sun dial! We learned how in ancient times people figured out that the approximate location of the equator was there based on the sun. Our Galapagroup had reached the center of the surface of the earth - a true Ecuadorian experience!
Now began the fun part. Mr. Molfino taught us the night before the secrets to obtaining quite cheap items. Many of the students today returned back on the bus with many items bought at below market price.
1. Set a maximum price you want to spend on a item. (Never pay for the item above that price)
2. Tell the clerk you want the item for 1\2 of what he is selling it for. Stay firm and do not rise what you want to pay for the item too quickly.
3. Only put the amount of money you want to spend on the item in your wallet, and show this this is all I have.
4. If the clerk will not move his price ask him throw in a smaller priced item with the original item.
5. JUST WALK AWAY. When they see you walk away they will thunk they lost business and most of the time accept your offer.
The students below used a combination of all these techniques to achieve their price.
Rohit's story is below:
"As I was walking around my friend Gabby saw a Poncho which she wanted for sure. It was white with stripes of shades of blue. When I went to ask the shop owner the price of the poncho, (keeping in mind my Spanish 1 knowledge from Senora Moore) the owner firmly replied "Catorce Dollares" Now Gabby was about ready to start and ask for a lower price, but I remembered I saw that exact same poncho at a different shop. I calmly told her about the other shop and we should see their price before even starting to bargin. As we approch the shop which I had seen the other poncho, I became more and more excited, because the last shop had only a few, on the other hand this shop was all ponchos! It was like we stumbled on poncho world! I asked how much it was and to our surprise the owner said "Ocho dollares" which was already $6 less the the other shop before we even started to work our magic! My set price was $6 so I asked the man in Spanish if I could buy it for $5. He said no at first, but he eventually went down to $7 one dollar more then the set price. So I walked away. As I was walking away he finally said "Vale" which means Okay. We went from $14 to $6!"
After we saw all those beautiful wool scarfs and blankets at the market we needed to know how to make them as well! We went to El Gran Condor, where a husband and wife duo fully hand-make all of their textiles! We experienced how different substances are used to color the fur.
We all walked to our last dinner in Ecuador. The food was exquisite! Before the meal was over, a speech was made to Luis who by everyone's standards is LIT. Michelle, Gabby, Natalie, and Rohit all gave a closing speech at the end of dinner.
"Don't be sad that it is over, be glad that it happened."
Natalia's story from the day is below:
Today was definitely one of the many highlights of the trip. We woke up early and took a fairly long bus ride to the equator line. The weather didn't seem completely on our side, but it takes a lot more than that to ruin the Galapagroup's fun. We got to learn so much about the equator such as views on constellations and true and false myths. I decided to put one myth to the test: if you stand on the equator line, it is impossible for you to be pushed over. One of my chaperones Mr. Molfino and I tested it with me standing on the equator line and him trying to push me over. I was able to leave with the information that that myth in particular is in fact FALSE. The group was about ready to leave when I had remembered something. I had brought my fidget spinner on the trip with me solely for the reason of taking a picture with it on the equator line. I realized had left my spinner on the bus, and asked for permission to go get it. When I finally did, everyone was boarding the bus already, so I ran in front to get my spinner and ran back with one of my friends to take my picture. Everyone was asking me what I was doing, and laughed with me when I came back and explained what I did. I was the last one to board the bus, but it was all worth it.
Afterwards, we took another long drive to the Otavalo Markets, which was one of the most fun experiences I've had on this trip. Our chaperone Mr. Molfino had taught us how to negotiate with the vendors the night before, and we were finally able to try it. I bought plenty souvenirs for family and my techniques worked pretty smoothly, but there was this one purchase that was a lot more difficult than all the others I've made. I was in search specifically for a necklace, and I finally found one that caught my attention. I asked how much it cost, and the necklace was very expensive at about $30 because it was supposedly made out of silver and a rare piece of rock. My offer was rather ridiculously low for $12, but it was worth a shot. After long minutes of challenging and bargaining, my top limit had reached $17, and his lowest limit had reached $23. I realized we weren't getting anywhere near my offer anytime soon, so I used the classic technique of walking away. Almost right away I found a different jewelry stand, and found a very similar necklace. After a short bargain with the new vendor, I got him to drop his price to $17. I immediately put the necklace back and thanked him and walked away. I was never interested in buying the necklace, I was only interested in comparing the price. I couldn't return to the original vendor right away, because then he would think I was desperate and keep the price at a high. So I continued to do more shopping, and after a decent amount of time I found his stand again. I passed by it, purposely ignoring him and quickly glancing at the necklace but continuing to walk away. He recognized me of course and stood up calling me back over. His price didn't get any lower, so I pretended to not be any more interested and walking away. He kept calling me back making sure he wouldn't let my business slip away again. After not lowering his price any lower than $23, I mentioned the other vendor selling me a very similar necklace for my price and that I might buy that one instead. In worries that I might lose complete interest, he lowered his price once again, but not to my wanted $17. I came to an agreement to pay full price for the necklace, but only if I was able to to take a bracelet for my older sister. He was hesitant, saying that the bracelet was expensive being made of pearls and another rare rock. It was about time for the group to meet up again and I had realized he had reached his ultimate minimum, and with more long minutes of bargaining, we had FINALLY come to an agreement of $29 for both the necklace and bracelet. I left the market happy with my many purchases. The full price of the bracelet was $12, so I assume I payed full price for it, and finally managed to get a deal of $17 for the necklace. The necklace and bracelet didn't seem so much worth the money, but very worth the story that comes with it because I worked my hardest to negotiate for it.