Donovan Bisbee ‘12 - This afternoon the chords and words of “Old Wabash” rang out as they never have before. Our school song has been sung at football games, concerts, and at alumni reunions across the nation. However, today we sang “Old Wabash” at La Escuela Superior Militar Eloy Alfara where we performed for an audience of over 600 cadets and their families. It was an amazing experience that none of us will forget. Although performing “Old Wabash” thousands of miles from our alma mater was unique, I will never forget singing “Salve o Patria” the national anthem of Ecuador at the beginning of the concert and joining our voices with the hundreds of audience members as they stood and sang along. La Escuela… is the premier military academy for the nation of Ecuador and the equivalent to our West Point. The school is extremely selective and accepts only 150 applicants out of 3,000 that apply each year. As I’m sure you’ve gleaned from the other blogs, Ecuador is a place of indescribable natural beauty and its inhabitants value this highly. We saw more evidence of this shortly after arriving at the school. The Colonel (who is the ranking officer and runs the school) took us on a tour of the campus which culminated in a tree planting. Each year the cadets and their families plant trees in a part of the campus which the cadets have cleared as part of their duties to the school, to the country, and to the environment, and that’s according to Colonel Aguilar. After our concert, which we all agreed had the largest audience any of us had sung for, we were treated to something entirely unexpected.
We were invited to the school’s stadium and given seats among the families and cadets. Over the next few we watched the performance of the school’s drill team, the presentation of the colors and the sports teams comprised of the different companies (the students are divided up into companies based on their year). None of us expected the 45 minute display of acrobatics that was to follow. The gymnastics squad for the school put on an unforgettable exhibition to close the program that included cadets vaulting over bayonets, springing past each other simultaneously, and leaping through a ring of fire; yes, really a literal ring of fire. After this display we boarded the bus and returned to Quito.
For lunch we stopped at an all you can eat buffet in Quito. Imagine if you will, thirty-some ravenous Wabash men descending on such a place; sufficed to say we probably bore more resemblance to a biblical plague than a college choir. However, we left some food behind and as always, conducted ourselves as gentlemen and responsible citizens…at least everywhere other than the hotly contested ice cream bar. After returning to our hotel we were off to explore more of this amazing mountain city. After a brief nap a large group of us decided to trek across Quito to el fin del mundo or el fin de Quito. These names, meaning “the end of the world” or “the end of Quito”, respectively are given to a place where you can view the sheer cliffs at the eastern end of Quito. After a several hour excursion our group found the viewpoint at Hotel Quito but not before becoming quite familiar with the phrase “?donde esta el hotel Quito?” It was a great opportunity to see parts of the city one might not otherwise and the view from the end of the world was well worth the trip. The rest of the evening was relatively uneventful, but we’re all excited for tomorrow’s trip to the National Cathedral and our journey to Cuenca the day after. This trip has been an amazing experience, and the best part is that we still have eleven days left.