By Wendy Elliott
MacKenzie Pardy’s summer vacation was a little out of the ordinary for a high school student.
Pardy went to Ecuador to improve her photography skills and ended up falling in love with the passion of the people.
“The way their eyes light up when they talk about the things they love and the way they fill with light,” says the Port Williams teen.
Pardy spent 18 days in Ecuador during July on a National Geographic student expedition. The South American country is on the map as a biodiversity and environmental conservation hotspot.
She landed in the capital Quito and spent three days at 9,000 feet in a high-Andean valley ringed by snowcapped volcanoes. Then the group travelled to the village of Mindo and the nearby cloud forest of the Bosque Protector Mindo-Nambillo reserve.
Visiting the Cotopaxi Volcano and riding horseback over the páramo, a rare ecosystem found between the dwarf forest and the snow line in the equatorial Andes, was another highlight. Cotopaxi is one of the world's highest active volcanoes and the Earth's closest point to the sun. Finally, Pardy got to the legendary Galápagos Islands, which helped shape Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. She got to snorkel with penguins, sea lions and sea turtles.
The Horton High School student concentrated on taking portraits during her trip. During home stays, she discovered a joyful and happy populace.
“They have nothing, really, compared to what we have here,” she said.
The instruction she received from photographers Ivan Kashinsky and Michelle Cornejo was incredible, Pardy says, and “the biggest inspiration.” In September, Harvest Gallery in Wolfville will be showing a selection of her photos from Ecuador.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Karina Karipache went to new heights this summer.
Born in Africa, she grew up in Wolfville. This summer, she returned at the age of 22 to visit relatives in Zimbabwe and climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
“It’s been a goal of mine since I was 13,” the newly-graduated nurse said. “It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.”
Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak in Africa at 5,895 metres. It is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.
Karipache joined a British father and his two adult sons on a seven-day guided hike with porters and guides.
“They took really good care of me,” she added.
The last seven hours, hiking from base camp to the summit starting at midnight, was the biggest challenge.
“Each step, it was harder to breathe,” Karipache remembers, and cold as well. Overcoming nausea from altitude sickness meant “pushing through it,” for her.
She was able to stand atop the iconic mountain at sunrise.
“I had the courage to get to the top,” she says. “It was more mental than physical.”
Karipache thinks the journey allowed her to see what she wants to accomplish now, and that’s, “whatever I like. A lot of fear is based on gender,” she said.
She also learned not to compare herself to others.
“You have to be competitive with yourself. Listen to your own body, have determination and positive thinking.”
Since returning home, Karipache was hired to work in cardiac surgery in Halifax. She’s planning a hike to Machu Picchu in Peru next.
Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell took part in the 35th Biennial Marblehead-to-Halifax Ocean Race in July.
Cantwell, whose assignment on board was cooking, sailed on the third Canadian boat to cross the finish line. He was proud to note the yacht also came first in its class.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “There was a lot of wind, but we fared quite well.”
The yacht had six crewmembers - all aged between 58 and 72.
This year’s race began in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 7 and finished in Halifax on July 9.
Cantwell had previously sailed on a Bermuda race.
Rev. Barry Morrison of Wolfville Baptist Church spent three weeks in Great Britain earlier this summer and preached for his accommodation.
Morrison and his wife, Jean, stayed in a church manse. Each Sunday, he delivered a sermon.
“It’s the stereotype of the clergy,” he chuckled. “We only work an hour a week.”
The congregation was small, Morrison said, “but we seemed to blend in seamlessly.”
The couple was included in garden parties and some members of the congregation helped the couple tour the region.
“We had such a lovely time,” he said. So nice, in fact, that Morrison won’t reveal the location of their stay lest the resident clergyman be overwhelmed with offers for substitutes.