Santo Domingo de Onzole, Ecuador

This trip to the interior of Esmeraldas Province is the most adventuresome and rugged that T2T-I currently offers. If you’re willing, you will find yourself entering a culture isolated from the rest of the world for most of its history. Because of its seclusion, the African-Ecuadorian settlement of Santo Domingo on the banks of the Onzole River has created a singular, thriving community based on longstanding traditions handed down undiluted through generations. Legend says that the original settlers were escaped African slaves from either Columbian mines or a shipwreck. They banded together in prior centuries and lived in secrecy until very recently. With the assistance of the Onzole River Project, Santo Domingo has built a school that is populated by committed teachers and enthusiastic students.

Trip Details

Dates — July 13 to 23, 2017

Cost — $600 plus airfare

Grant Opportunities — Grants up to $100 are available to current and retired school staff and university faculty who are paying out of pocket.

Contact us at [email protected] to learn about donating or receiving

frequent flyer miles for this or any other trip.

Trip Itinerary

Thursday, July 13  — Guayaquil

You will fly into Guayaquil, Ecuador, where an affiliated driver carrying a T2T-I sign will meet you at the airport after you claim your baggage. If time permits, lodging for the night will allow you to explore some of the nearby neighborhood with your new team members.

Friday, July 14  — Guayaquil and Transit to Santo Domingo

Today you and the team will tour Ecuador’s largest and most populous city. Framed within the larger narrative of the Onzole community and the country’s history of injustice, you’ll sample a bit of everything this region has to offer. Your day will allow you to experience the week with a deeper understanding of the wonderful people you will meet.

After your tour, you’ll take a 10-hour bus ride north through the night to the outpost of Anchayacu.


Saturday, July 15 — Arrival at Santo Domingo

After arriving at Anchayacu on the Onzole River, you will take a short break before embarking on a two-hour, motorized canoe ride upstream. You will have some time to settle in at the guesthouse, explore the village, and meet your hosts. In the evening, the team will gather for an orientation to the week ahead, including team building and reflection exercises.

Your lodgings for this portion of the trip will be secure, dorm-style rooms, with some sharing. Prohibitions on smoking and alcohol consumption requested by T2T-I’s host will be discussed with you before departure.

onzoleboyriverSunday, July 16 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

Because today is Sunday, you will have the option of joining the community in their church worship service. Afterwards, there will be a variety of other cultural activities to enjoy.

Monday, July 17 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

Experiencing a day in the life of a Santo Domingo resident will be the entire agenda. You will be matched up with a local family who will show you how to eat, work, and live just as they do. This location’s rich culture could take years to experience fully, so this will be a busy day!

OnzoleguysTuesday, July 18 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

During the morning, you will have the opportunity to observe your partner and her/his classroom. The afternoon is for professional development workshops centered on the week’s theme of collaborative group work in mathematics. PD leaders will have a lot of autonomy to plan the specifics of their workshops.

Before dinner, you will pair up with your partner for a 30-minute feedback session based on that morning’s classes, again connected with the wider theme of collaborative group work. This is a time for you to provide suggestions and recommendations for next day’s class.

After relaxing over a meal, you and the team will wrap up the day with a group discussion about what you experienced.


Wednesday, July 19— Santo Domingo de Onzole

In the morning, your partner will implement the recommendations you two generated during the previous day’s feedback session.

The afternoon will be a PD workshop for the entire group, including planning tools such as backwards planning. Through modeling, teachers will be introduced to the approach of connecting science and math to everyday  life.

Individual feedback sessions with your partner will follow. Pairs will develop lessons for the next day using strategies presented in the workshops. The theme of collaborative group work will continue.


Thursday, July 20 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

With assistance from your partner, you will model the lesson that you two developed together the previous day. During the afternoon, discussions will focus on reviewing the day’s lessons, including the hands-on activities used with students. Questions to ask will be, Based on what you saw from your students, how do you think the lesson went? and Where do we go from here?

You and your partner will have an hour to plan for co-teaching tomorrow, using the Backwards Planning Tool.

You and the team will meet during the evening to share your experiences and reflect on goals for tomorrow.

1428758461santo_domingoFriday, July 21 — Santo Domingo de Onzole

Today presents an opportunity for co-teaching. You will support your partner as she or he implements the lesson you two planned. This is a good time to try out a new activity together.

Afterwards, pairs will evaluate how the lesson went, and the whole group together will review the entire week. A closure ceremony will recognize the growth that has taken place.

You and the team will conclude the week with a wrap-up discussion.

Saturday, July 22 — Transit to Guayaquil

You’ll want to wake up early today for the journey back to Guayaquil. The team will retrace its steps back downriver and onto a bus.

Sunday, July 23 — Return to U.S.

Time to say goodbye for now. Your flight back to the U.S. will give you plenty of time to reflect on your adventure and plan for your next visit to this wonderful place.


Our team will be housed in The Onzole River Project guesthouse while in Santa Domingo de Onzole (see pictures below). The guesthouse was built by volunteers as a way to welcome visitors. Accommodations are spartan; you will share a room with one or two other individuals. Mosquito nets and rain boots are provided. The guesthouse has shared bathrooms; however, running water depends on working electricity and river level. There is no internet access within the village.

While in Guayaquil, you will stay in the well-rated Hostel Nucapacha. Shaded by palm trees, this hostel will bust all your preconceived notions of budget-friendly travel, as you enjoy its beautiful pool and complimentary breakfast. It is also situated in a great neighborhood.
View from Onzole River Project Guesthouse
Interior porch of Onzole River Project Guesthouse

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