Ecuador 9/18/2013

“Oh gees, not again.”

These were my thoughts and I awoke in the middle of the night to my stomach grumbling and gurgling. I quickly pounded some Pepto and hurried back to sleep, hoping all would be well by morning.

This was not the case. To make matters worse(funnier), we were to depart the community we had been working in and travel a good six solid hours to our next destination. Six hours. On. A. Bus. Thank god for bismuth subsalicylate.

Anyways, to catch everyone up. We have left the indigenous of Chilcapamba, the first phase of the 10 week session. I can´t put into words how much I have learned. Actually, I can, and I will when I get a free day. These people might not be as technologically advanced as others, but they know EVERYTHING about the earth and how it functions. To see the citizens of this community interact with their environment was truly humbling. As first world citizens, we know next to nothing about how the earth works. About how it REALLY works, and how it can provide for us on an incalculable scale.

Side trips during our stay included hiking around Laguna Cuicocha, and two trips to Otavalo. We are currently in Mindo, an eco-tourism devoted town in the western part of Pinchincha province. Pictures below.

Thanks for reading. Check back for more.

-F

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Ecuador 9/12/13

Finally. Me time. I’ve walked 30 mins to the nearest town, Quiroga, to write this.

I need it, as insuring the physical safety and mental stability of eight gringos can be quite a challenge. If only.

Yet, they are my responsibility, and hey! my job title is indeed group leader. I absolutely should be there to answer ANY question. No matter how dumb I may think it is. As I mentioned in my previous post, we are in a small community of indigenous peoples. Who’s first language is Kichwa. I’ve learned a bit, but it’s really unlike anything I have ever come across in my travels. The sounds and tones register as ancient to my modern ears. Truly interesting.

Now, on to the matter of what we are ACTUALLY doing here. Our main project has included the from-square-one construction of a small garden to help feed the adjacent school. We worked the land, tilled the land, incorporated compost, constructed a border fence, shaped the rows, planted beans and potatoes, built a water tower, and installed a drip irrigation system. More pictures to come. We have been helping out with other agriculture related projects, but the garden has been our main task.
There are a few of my volunteers that seem less than pleased with the thought of digging in the dirt. They shall soon learn that it is the best therapeutic activity available. Indeed.
I’m going to play the lazy card and throw everything in a gallery. Here it is.
Check back soon for more.
Thanks.
-F

Ecuador 9/8/2013

“How do you say (insert random english word) in Spanish?”

“Where are we going next?”

“Gap yah!”

These are the phrases that have been most commonly heard by my poor ears since my group of eight volunteers arrived in Quito five days ago. Aside from D (who spent five or so weeks before then bouncing around the Ecuadorian coast) the rest are oh so new to the wild west that is this equatorial country. The savory scents of grilled street meat fill their heads with horror stories of traveler´s sickness. The congested buses give them a taste of the fact that most Ecuadorian´s do not have the same sense of personal space as they do. As one of my volunteers (we´ll call her S for now) found out that coffee takes a bit longer than in her native land. I explained that they had to grow the coffee beans, and milk the cow. Tranquilo.

It´s my job, among other things, to guide this group. To ease them into life in Latin America. To show them the absolute beauty in the fact that in order to pay for a group meal, we must work together and pay each other as the restaurant simply does not have enough change for all of us. Bills higher than 20 USD are absolutely useless here due to the fact that there is not the same amount of cash flowing through the economy. They will learn. Oh yes they will.

The first part of this ten week program takes place in the small indigenous communtiy of Chilcapamba. We have been graciously hosted by Alfonso Morales and his family in their sprawling finca. Our project so far has included the development of a garden that will be devoted solely to feeding the school located next door. Gratifying.

I forgot to charge my camera so unfortunately I’ll have to come back and add photos to this post at a later date. We are currently in the town of Otavalo for the weekend, widely known for it’s craft goods that are sold at the weekend market in the center of town. Overwhelming.

More to come. Thanks for reading.

-F

 

Ecuador 9/2/2013

Quito, looking north.

Quito, looking north.

Quito, the Andean jewel of a city, perched high in the sierra. It’s magical, it’s slightly polluted, it’s ancient, it’s delicious, and it’s home. The first thing any traveler will notice (at least I did) is how freaking close you are to the clouds. All the time. This photo is a perfect example of just that. Condensation.

Since leaving my host family’s farm, the organization has put me up in a lovely hostel, owned by an even lovelier family (photos to come). The organization has a great working relationship with the hostel, so they put all their volunteers and some employees (me) there when in Quito. Word.

If you have never gone backpacking, or stayed in a hostel for that matter, you should. It’s an experience, to say the least. The pool of people you come into contact with are always fascinating, and sometimes annoying. I proceeded to befriend an Aussie guy the first day, and we went on a self guided tour of the meticulously preserved colonial part of Quito. Which happens to be a UNESCO world heritage sight, and the largest in Latin America. This is due in part to the extremely dry climate up here. Here are a few examples of the kick-ass colonial style that dominate the old part of town. No power tools.

Today is Monday, and I finally get to meet the group of volunteers that I will be leading around the country. They fly in tonight to the new airport, most of them from the UK, so I can imagine they will be utterly exhausted. Have no fear, they’ll be greeted by a Fenner, all jacked up on exquisite South American coffee. IMG_20130828_103552_736

 

I am excited and still slightly unsure about what the future holds, but hey that’s all part of the adventure. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more.

-F