Santa Cecilia ColombiaDay 1 (5/21/2014) – Bogotá

This morning, the interns woke up ready to face the challenges of the day. As we all ate breakfast, Rich and Elisa explained the kind of outfits that would be a good idea to wear without giving away too much. They emphasized that all interns should carry their water bottles the whole day. I actually did not follow this rule because Melissa had forgotten to bring one, so I gave her mine. As everyone was split up into teams of four, I left with the videographer, Isaac, and one of the Colombians to one of the stops on the race in order to capture the interns going through the race on video. As we traveled by bus to the “Museo de Oro” (Gold Museum), Isaac mentioned that he would be worried about finding his way around the city if he were part of a team. Thankfully, though, all of the teams made it to the museum within minutes of each other. Isaac got some footage of all of them when they arrived and then we followed the last team to the next clue—the presidential palace. On our way there, we passed through a plaza that was covered in pigeons! In order to win extra points for his team, intern Matt caught one of the pigeons and got a picture of it with his team. (He washed his hands as soon as he found some water.)

After the presidential palace, Isaac and I ran into my parents, so we traveled with them in a taxi to the next clue, which was a gondola ride to the top of a mountain. We waited until the first two teams arrived and bought their tickets to go up with them. Since the gondola did not open until later in the afternoon, we all rode the train up the mountain. As the teams completed the challenge of writing down all of the “Estaciones de la Cruz” (Stations of the Cross), Isaac took some videos on the top of the mountain. The view was breathtaking. It was very similar to the view I had grown up with—Quito, Ecuador. We stayed on the mountaintop for over an hour taking in the view and praying with the interns over the city.

Interns Rock Climbing ColombiaAbout an hour later, Isaac, my dad and I took the gondola back down the mountain and waited for the teams to complete the challenge of counting the stairs that led all the way down to the base of the mountain. The total count was over 1,200 stairs! Every single team that finished this challenge said their legs were shaking after walking down so many stairs. After the last team left, I took a taxi with my parents and went to the finish line of the race. This was at Santa Cecilia, a little town on the top of a mountain where one of Inca Link’s ministries is situated. The final challenge for the interns was to take a taxi truck up to the eighth street on the mountain and walk the rest of the way up (about a mile walk). The first team to arrive was Luke, Dana, Katey and Jeanie. Their reward was a delicious lunch in the basement of the Santa Cecilia church. The last team to get there arrived at 4:30 p.m. with Patrick, who had accompanied them to make sure they did not get hopelessly lost since none of them had a cell phone. That team ended up taking a bus in the opposite direction they needed to go, and when they finally arrived and we asked them how they had gotten lost, Patrick said, “We weren’t lost. We knew where we were the whole time, it’s just you guys didn’t know where we were.” The rest of us died laughing. This has now become the common excuse that teams give when they get lost.

Interns Eating in ColombiaAfter everyone finished lunch, all of us took the taxi trucks down the mountain and walked back to the church guest house we were staying at to have free time for the rest of the afternoon. At supper, another team from North America, who had been there for 4 days already, came to the house and ate with us. They invited us to worship with them that night, and we sang worship songs in English and in Spanish for about two hours. It was just what the interns needed after a long day of racing. After the other team left, we had our first debrief, where we went in a circle and chose one word to describe the first day of the race. A common theme that influenced the choice of words for the interns was “walking.” Many of the interns used words such as “hilly” and “mountainous” since they had to walk up so many mountains that day. Little did they know that the walking and the hiking was far from over.

Day 2 (5/22/2014)- Bogotá

The next morning, we all woke up at around 8 a.m. and got ready for the day. They were told to wear clothes that they did not mind getting dirty. As the interns packed the supplies they needed for the day, Patrick Watts announced the teams for the day. The night before, we had decided to keep the same teams, but the interns did not know that, so Patrick decided to make it interesting. He called out the first names on the list from each team and split them up in different corners of the room. He then called out the rest of the names one by one and told them to go to the different corners. No one realized they were the same teams until Patrick was already more than halfway through!

Colombia Day 2When the interns finished packing all of their things for the day, we walked to the taxi truck stop to get a ride up to Santa Cecilia again. Two teams had to walk up the mountain from 8th street because they had not completed that challenge the day before. The other two teams ate breakfast and got their clues a few minutes before the other two teams. The last two teams arrived ten minutes later and received their clues as they ate breakfast. Their first challenge was for everyone in the team to memorize the provided Spanish verse. Throughout the day, the teams were required to repeat the verse before completing certain challenges so that they would not forget what they had memorized.

The interns were thankful that all of the challenges took place on top of the mountain because they did not have to walk as much as the day before. But, the challenges became more difficult. For one challenge, they all had to crawl through mud with balloons and try not to pop them. People who were wearing jeans looked like they were wearing black pants after crawling through that! Another difficult challenge was the one right before lunch—climbing a rope to get up a muddy wall in the mountain. Interns were allowed to choose to attempt climbing the easier or harder side. Almost all of the interns gave it a try, but only half of them actually made it up since it was so difficult. Justin (a cheerleader) made it up the harder side in about five minutes, which was faster than anyone else. There was only one girl, Anna, who was able to make it up the harder side. Of course, the men at the top were able to help her more than the others because she is so light.

ColombiaAfter everyone attempted this challenge, Rich had Jhonny, Lucy and her husband, Ricardo, share their testimonies. Jhonny was originally from Bogotá and had attended Quito 08 and decided to become a missionary. He now helps Lucy run Inca Link ministries in Santa Cecilia. Lucy started many ministries in Santa Cecilia, including a soup kitchen and a child sponsorship program. Ricardo admitted that he did not originally want to be involved in these ministries, but then God led him to help anyways. Now the only work he does is for the ministries, as he is unemployed.

After we heard from Jhonny, Lucy, and Ricardo, we all walked back to the church to have lunch. As all the teams ate together, the leadership got together and decided to throw everyone off by having them switch teams! They wrote down the new teams on pieces of paper and put them in the envelopes that held their next clue. When the teams were given the envelopes, some of them immediately began reading the clue instead of the paper first. Those who read the team change first were able to get a short head start, but in a race like this, it can make a difference. The challenges for the second half of the day took place around the church and involved more crafts instead of physical challenges. The interns agreed that the hardest challenge for the afternoon was having to crochet two rows on a purse. This challenge actually allowed the last team to pull up to first because they had so many people on the team who knew how to crochet. It was a very big turn-around.

When the interns finished their last challenge, they went to the chapel. As they arrived, Isaac took pictures of each of them because he was so excited about how great the lighting was. It was a good thing he got that over with then, though, because it turned out that he did not have another opportunity the rest of the trip. When it was Matt’s turn to get his picture taken, he, with his sense of humor, grabbed a rose and put it in his mouth while he got in a provocative pose. When Isaac went to take his picture, he laughed and quickly took some photos before Matt moved. After everyone got their pictures taken, we began walking down the mountain to catch a taxi truck and head home. That night, the routine was similar to the night before. After dinner, we had debrief early so the interns with an early flight to Lima, Perú could get some sleep.

– Olivia Brown, Intern 2014