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Becci Logie

"Our first week was spent with the four other families, 20 of us in all. This was great because we really had a chance to get to know each other. Although we all have very different backgrounds, we seemed to have one thing in common: a love of travel and interest in other cultures – not really surprising since all our daughters had chosen to go on this Gap-year project in South America. Everyone seemed very flexible and given our action packed and varied itinerary we certainly needed to be. We tended to gravitate into two groups: parents and young people. Emily got on very well with the other siblings whose ages ranged from 11 to mid twenties. At Puerto Lopez they went off and drank a lot of very cheap tequila on the beach where they salsa danced well into the night. By the morning it wasn’t their grief they were sharing so much as their hangovers!

 

We first spend two nights in Quito where, as well as doing a few touristy things, we visited the language school where the girls had learned Spanish for their first two weeks. We met their teachers and also saw where they slept. This was all quite emotional but we only had about half an hour back at the hotel to pull ourselves together and smarten up for our dinner with the British Ambassador at her wonderful colonial-style residence on the top of a cliff  with a wonderful view over the city. It was all very informal but we were served by very attentive waiters in white gloves and enjoyed excellent food and wine. The Ambassador regaled us with amusing stories including Charles and Camilla’s recent trip to the Galapagos Islands.

 

We then flew to the coast and took a bus to Puerto Lopez, sampling the awful state of the roads for ourselves. The next day (Easter Day and the anniversary of the girl’s deaths) we went to the site of the crash where we watched a marble stone being laid on a small memorial by the roadside. We scattered rose petals on the bridge where the crash had actually occurred and stood around the monument holding hands. It was very moving and helpful to now be able to picture where Becci died.

 

After such a reflective day, on the Monday we got stuck into to establishing the reading corners in five different schools in the town and worked our socks off. When we arrived at our school we were eager to get started but first we had to listen to three speeches by the head teacher, an education official and a small boy who seem to have memorised his speech, all unfortunately wasted on us as it was all in Spanish. Then we were just starting to get going when we had to sit down and eat some special food prepared by the mothers. It was like ‘Read Steady Cook’ and ‘Art Attack’ all rolled into one. Emily was in charge of course. (Even Pedro from VentureCo who helped us, picked this up immediately although he spoke no English). Our reading corner (‘El rincon de los libros de Becci’) was in the Bauhaus style – bold blocks of plain colour – not sure if Puerto Lopez is ready for it yet!

 

Throughout the first week we were accompanied by David Gordon, one of the two directors of VentureCo. He was absolutely fantastic, providing leadership when required but staying out of the way when we just needed to do our own thing. The whole week was characterised by a lot of tears but even more laughter.

 

We then parted company with the other families and our second week was in the Galapagos Islands. After Puerto Lopez, it seemed quite surreal, partly because the animals are so tame, partly because everything seems so pristine and partly because the animals are weird, from the enormity of the tortoises, to the prehistoric features of the iguanas, to the ridiculous comical courtship dance and unlikely coloured feet of the Blue Footed Boobies.

 

We then returned to Quito for three nights during which time we did most of our Christmas shopping, buying wonderful local craft ware and visiting the town of Otavalo, 2 hours from Quito with its famous market. We sampled Quito’s excellent range of food in the area known as ‘Gringoland’, where all the young Europeans gather and where, according to Becci’s diary, she would go clubbing during her time there. In fact we read her travel diary whilst sitting in a restaurant and asked the waiter for the location of ‘No Bar’, referred to in the last entry of her diary. It was all a bit sad being back in Quito without the other families. I think we all felt a bit lonely and our loss of Becci seemed more acute, staying in the city where she spent the last days of her life. However, we still had one more adventure...

 

Our last three nights were spent in the Amazon rain forest at Sani Lodge, an ‘eco-lodge’ which is owned by the local 400-strong Sani community who are part of the Kichwa people. After the Galapagos it seemed much more real. We felt we had been brought back to earth and Jane described it as ‘grounding and healing’. We saw many more interesting creatures including caimans (alligators), three different sorts of monkeys, many birds including toucans and Stinky Turkeys, and sampled tiny lemon-sherbet flavoured ants. We visited a house where we were given fish and bananas baked in the fire, wrapped in banana leaves and tied together with the fibres of fireproof panama-hat plant. All these, together with yucca (which they eat like potatoes), pineapples, chocolate and some hallucinogenic tree are available within a few feet of what would be their front door (if they had one).

 

Jane absolutely loved it. We met some Canadians at Sani and the woman asked us, ‘what brings you on a family holiday to Ecuador?’ We all looked at each other, as we had done several times before, as if to say ‘who’s turn is it to tell them this time?’ Then I said ‘it’s a long story’, to which she replied, ‘yes, but I bet it’s a good one.’ I had to reply, ‘no, it isn’t’, before telling her the reason why we were in the country. She looked predictably shocked. Then Jane said, ‘last year I had the unhappiest day of my life but yesterday (in the jungle) was my happiest for the last year.’ Then they were both in tears. "

 

Robin Logie

May 2009

 

 

The memorial visit to Ecuador as experienced by the Logie Family

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