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Adventure of a lifetime

By Staff | Sep 13, 2013

Submitted photos Childhood friends Jenessa (Sjol) Fritel (left) and Sarah Skipper reunited to take a trip to the Amazon jungles of Equador last summer.

Sarah Skipper and Jenessa (Sjol) Fritel grew up as the best of friends in Rugby.

And when Skipper moved to Montana after her sophomore year the pair continued to keep in touch and make occasional visits through college graduation.

Last summer the two friends reunited to go on the adventure of a lifetime, through the Amazon jungles of Equador.

While both had changed since their childhood years, they did have something in common they would have never expected.

Both studied Spanish in college and decided a trip to South America would be the perfect way to travel and get a real-life lesson in Spanish speaking.

Fritel and Skipper spent five days in the jungle, negotiating tarantulas and experiencing the beauty of the Amazon jungle, and plan on traveling to other foreign countries with each other again. Submitted photos

“Since we both love traveling, we thought it was time that we took a trip together,” Fritel said. “Sarah had just recently been to South American, and had visited quite a few countries. We were debating on a few and just decided Ecuador would be a good choice becuase it was small and had everything we were looking to do. Sharing our traveling experience together was amazing because we were both like kids in a candy store everyday because we are so interested in cultures, languages and people.”

After arriving in the country, the women had to reconcile some ticket issues before they could get on the road and then avoided a landslide before arriving in the jungle.

The pair didn’t have any luxuries with them on the trip and got a first-hand experience of life in the Amazon.

“The first meal we had, I had a cockroach crawling on the bottom of my plate so I was going to calmly lift my plate over the floor and wipe it off, but, it crawled on my hand,” Fritel said. “I panicked and I dropped my plate so they had to make me a different meal.”

Skipper said the trip was a combination of natural beauty and danger.

“There were more stars than I’ve seen anywhere in my whole life,” she said. “At first we went in there and were afraid to sleep at night. There were tarantulas on the wall, but we got used to it.”

The wildlife wasn’t all dangerous as the pair also saw a pink river dolphin as it migrated to the ocean.

Skipper and Fritel also had plenty of time along the Amazon River, which Fritel described as looking like chocolate milk.

Skipper, who lives in Portland, and Fritel, who is in her first year teaching in the Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood school district, both said another trip is in their plans.

“Definitely,” said Skipper. “I don’t know when or where, but we loved traveling together. It was amazing after all these years our friendship was just as good. We worked really well together.”

“I want to go to Peru and Bolivia in the near future,'” Fritel said. “Also, on the top of my list are: Thaliand and Southeast Asia, Bali Indonesia, South Africa, Greek Islands, Ireland, and pretty much anywhere that speaks Spanish. Or anywhere in general, as I would love to see the whole world.”

Skipper said the women’s Spanish studies paid off in a big way and they would’ve been lost without being able to communicate.

“The people there were pretty impressed when these two blonde North Dakota girls could speak with pretty good Spanish,” she said.

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