Week of rest. Sorry I haven´t updated.

My apologies for not updating this blog much in the past few weeks. It has been a little hectic. I am currently in a small beach community called Montañita, where I am taking my week of rest while my group of volunteers is in the Galapagos, working on a hacienda-turned-eco-lodge. Truth be told there was a very serious accident during the program´s Adventure Week, which put one of the participants in the hospital.

On another note, I have received a sort of promotion within the organization I work for. They have deemed me intellectually capable of coordinating all aspects of the program for the next group that arrives early January.  I will still remain my title as Group Leader for this as well. Good things. As I said before, I am taking a short rest to better explore the southern coast of Ecuador, and will be meeting up with my group around the 1st of November. As I am writing this, I totally forgot about Halloween. Damn.

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Ecuador 10/2/13

Since I last hammered out my thoughts on the keyboard, a great deal has changed. We departed from the small highland community of Chilcapamba and made our way to a slightly larger but still very tiny town called Mindo. This little gem is perched amongst mist layered, jungle covered mountains within the region known as the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest.

This trip however was purely for relaxation. After having completed two solid weeks of gratifying agricultural labor, our two days there were spent divulging into all the eco/adventure tourism this tiny place had to offer. Having done most of these activities already, I took some time for myself to reflect on the trip so far, and what was to come. The highlight of the trip for me was a tour of El Quetzal, an organic chocolate factory that produces an array of artisan blends. Seeing the process from plant to bar really inspired me, to the point that I asked to speak with the manager to see if there were indeed any opportunities for an apprenticeship. How cool would it be to learn how to produce fine chocolate? The answer is really damn cool.

Our departure from Mindo was followed by our return to Quito for a few days of sightseeing as well as the orientation for the second phase of the program: The Tsachila Community.

As I said before, Ecuador is contains more diversity than any other country that I have been through. This fact materialized again the in the stark contrasts between the Chilcapamba Community and the Tsachila. Braided ponytails were replaced by bowl shaped haircuts dyed red with plant seeds, dry paramo gave way to dense, lush jungle, and plantain farms forever in every direction. We lost our beloved soups and gain mountains of fried everything. The work here seems to be following the same agricultural pattern, yet seems less organized and more sporadic.

I myself am learned a great deal about how to manage groups in these types of environments. It{s very difficult to be the sole contact for eight travels. We get to know each other quite well, to say the least. This upcoming Monday we depart the Tsachila community, headed for La Ruta del Volcanes. A week filled with adventure activity will do everyone some good. I plan to update from there.