We (the Lydias) are honoured, excited, and completely amazed to have been given the roles of Head Girl (Lydia Bear) and Deputy Head Girl (Lydia Iremonger). We hope we can do much through our mutual roles to try to help the More House community. Together, we want to welcome everyone back and hope you all feel refreshed and ready for the Autumn term.
We began our year by participating in the More House induction day – welcoming the new girls and introducing ourselves to some of the new parents. It feels like an academic lifetime ago since we walked through the daunting Pont Street front door but trust us, in no time at all, More House truly will feel like a second home.
We want to make it clear that both Lydias are here to help in any way we can. We are happy to answer the most trivial questions. It took one of us a good month to consistently work out the difference between the library side of the school and the chapel side, so we understand how a little help will probably be necessary as you navigate your first academic year here.
A brief retrospect on our summer, before we begin the year in earnest. We were both privileged to have the opportunity to travel to Ecuador during the holidays. The purpose of the trip was to get a better understanding of environmental issues and to assist indigenous tribes in getting their message to the outside world about their rich culture. In doing so, they hope to preserve their lifestyle for future generations.
Eight girls from the school, two heroic teachers (Mrs Hunt and Mr Robertson), together with Louis, a fantastic guide from the Outlook organisation, landed in Quito having left Heathrow a day and a half earlier. Despite our jet lag, we soon settled into our first home, a hostel in Quito.
After a day of acclimatising, we travelled to the Cloudforest Project. We had enormous fun bumping along dirt tracks in the back of an old pick-up truck. When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the Tschilla tribe. We stayed with one family, sleeping in huts or tents. Over the next few days they taught us about chocolate making (our dream come true!) and weaving. We planted trees to counter deforestation and were all allowed to wield machetes, which I’m sure caused the teachers some anxiety but gave us a real sense of getting involved and helping out.
We then travelled to the Amazon Rainforest. It became apparent to us that we were in the jungle when we were warned to close our doors or a tarantula might snuggle down next to us for the night. Mr Robertson manfully volunteered to do a wildlife check for the foolish few (including both of us) who had left their doors ajar. Happily, there was nothing to be concerned about on the first night but during our time in the forest we encountered moths the size of our faces, a large number of poisonous snakes, and an endless supply of over-sized arachnids, one of which was a large furry grey spider hiding in a bunch of bananas poised to surprise Mrs Hunt. Luckily, it was spotted in time but apparently its bite results in three hours of agony, a lucky miss for Mrs Hunt.
We spent a day white water rafting, an incredible experience. Lydia Bear managed to be propelled out of the boat into the fast-flowing water on three occasions and we also managed to capsize the boat resulting in a few worried gasps, but to the teachers’ relief we all somehow got to the end of our thrilling rafting experience in one piece.
Another challenging activity was hiking up through the Pimilala waterfalls. We were shown a rope and told to climb. Being hardy More House girls, we scaled the cliffs with water pouring over us – initially a frightening experience but the sense of achievement and amazing views made it all worthwhile.
We then met the Quechua community who told us about their very different way of life: arranged marriages and an initiation ceremony, which consists of chilli sauce being poured into their eyes and individuals being abandoned in the middle of the jungle until they find their way back to the tribe – this sometimes takes months.
With a slightly heavy heart, we left the friends we had made in the rainforest and travelled back to Quito. We took a cable car to a peak, high above the city, and admired the spectacular views and reflected on our incredible experience. We finished off with some shopping in the colourful markets and wondering what Ms Hunt would do with the travelling pharmacy in her bag.
By the end of the trip, we are sure the teachers were glad to be rid of us, although they still managed to wave us off with cheery smiles at Heathrow. We are so grateful for this wonderful experience we were able to share together. Look out for our assembly on the 19th and 21st of September, where we will be discussing our trip and even showcasing a video of our adventure!
Until next week,
Lydia Bear and Lydia Iremonger