2017 Ecuador Blogs

Emails from Ecuador 2017:


December 8, 2017

Hola from the lungs of the planet, the Amazon!

Wednesday early morning we drove through the Andes, contemplating the magnificent Tungurahua volcano from the window. We had a delicious lunch at Baños de Agua Santa, a little town surrounded by waterfalls.

Finally, after some hours on the road, we made it to the Amazon!

Thursday, we joined a local farmer across the river from the Minga Lodge, to show us what a day in his life as a farmer in the Amazon is like. We trekked water from the river up to his farm, where we emptied on a tank for him to use in his home. While there, we learnt about his tragic, yet inspiring story regarding the trials he faced to get clean water.

In the afternoon, we went to a cacao farm where we learnt about how to grow cacao, as well about the history of making chocolate. The first use of cacao to make chocolate was found in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle over 5,000 years ago! After that our guide, Miguel, taught us how to make chocolate. We roasted, grinded and boiled it. It was delicious!

Tomorrow, we'll be visiting the shaman and an artisan’s group, so we'll have new stories to tell.

Until then, hasta luego!

Me To We Trips Team

 


December 6, 2017

Hola amigos!

Monday morning, we drove to Gulaghuayco, a community of around 300 families who produce milk and a variety of crops. Here we met Mercedes who told us how, up until a few years ago, community members had to walk up 30 minutes of more to retrieve fresh water, often doing this many times a day. This is something that people from remote communities in the highlands of Ecuador need to do in order to have water. We were touched by her story and that’s how our water journey began; we grabbed our jugs and started walking through fields of grass and cows until we reached a stream where we filled our jugs with water. The way back was very difficult as the altitude and the weight from the jugs got us tired. But we made it! We helped her bring water to her house, even though this community already has access to clean water thanks to WE and groups of kids just like us who helped build the water system.

After an emotional morning, during the afternoon we met Margarita, a member of the WE country team in Ecuador who works closely with the Health and Food “pillars” in the communities in Chimborazo. We learned more about those pillars and she also prepared a cooking lesson where we learned how to make a local dish, commonly made by mothers in the Andes to send with their children to school. Chapo is made from roasted and then hand-ground barley (which we all got the chance to do) and then mixed with cane sugar water. The sweet treat was definitely a reward after the hard work that took to make it, although it’s hard to imagine waking up every morning to roast and grind barley by hand to make a meal for your children. It was a great experience though to get to try another local dish, and get to have a better understanding of the communities we are working in.

Tuesday, our final day in the region, we again spent the whole day building and were able to get quite a bit of work done! We were very happy to see the progress in the school and felt proud to be the ones responsible for all those smiles we saw earlier that day while playing a soccer match with the older kids from the school who are also our age.

After dinner, we were surprised when a local band called Chusik Andinos (“Owl from the Andes” in Quechua) played some music for us. This band works hard to preserve local Andes music and we were happy to be able to share this moment with the group. We ended the night on a high notes with lots of dancing and laughter!

As we head out to Minga Lodge in the Amazon Rainforest, we are feeling so happy for our experiences here at Inti Sisa (our quarters) in Chimborazo. Looking forward to telling you about the next part of our journey!

Me To We Trips Team

 


December 4, 2017

Buenas tardes, Trinity College School!

On Saturday we drove through the patchwork of green that characterises this part of the Andes Mountains. We arrived in Pulingi, a small village close to the foot of the Chimborazo volcano, the mountain closest to the sun due to its location on the equatorial bulge. There we visited Sumak Ahuana, a women’s group dedicated to handicrafts and female emancipation. There we learnt about their difficult, yet inspiring story. They were born as serfs, working on the hacienda and land of the landlord, who owned all the land that stretches out into the horizon. They had overcome enormous obstacles to acquire their own freedom and secure control over their own lives. In the evening we went with one of the ladies to help her with one of her daily chores and learned about what life in the village looks like. We worked in her field and got an insight into how hard their lives are.

On Sunday we returned to Sablog for another day of work in the community. Throughout the day we got to prepare the remaining part of the floor of the school with rebar grids; we made adobe bricks and we cut and bent rebar, to mention a few things! It is hard work, especially considering that we’re almost at 4,000 metres above sea level. But being surrounded by majestic mountain peaks and having the children come up to us and talk to us provides a motivation which is unparalleled.

Today we’ll be having another cultural day. In the morning we’ll be going on a water walk and in the evening, we’ll be having a cooking class. We’ll let you all know how it is in a couple of days. Until then, hasta luego!

Best,
Me to We Trips Team

 


December 1, 2017

Buenas tardes a todos!

Trinity College is checking in from the Andes! Today we found ourselves surrounded by clouds as we drove through the rolling mountain landscape on our way to the girl’s club in San Miguel. San Miguel is one of the first communities which Me To We started working with in Ecuador, and a community which TCS has been a pivotal part in helping build. It was exciting to see what a finished community looks like and knowing that we are part of the same process with our work in Sablog.

At the girl’s club we learnt about the life of teenage women in rural Chimborazo and the value they put on education. These girls, who are our age, make and sell their own handicrafts to afford to go to school and finish their education. We got to try to make handicrafts and had the chance to interact with them, despite the language barrier. We’re not too different, despite the different situations!

In the morning we went to the local food market. The day before we had been divided into groups and provided with a family profile each. Based on our profile we needed to go to the market to buy food for our family. The catch was that we only got 50 cents to buy our food with; an amount which is quite normal for families in Ecuador. Needless to say, the task was hard and it put into perspective the food we take for granted.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading back to Sablog for another full day of working!

Hasta luego!
Me To We Trips Team

 


November 29, 2017

Hola from Chimborazo!

Monday morning, we headed to the province of Chimborazo. After many hours on the bus and contemplating gorgeous landscapes we finally got to a little town called Guamote, where we are going to be staying the next few days.

During the night we learned a lot more about the history of Ecuador and it helped us understand about the importance of the work we are going to be doing here.

Tuesday morning, our group drove on the beautiful mountain roads to go to the community of Sablog. We’ll be working there for several days to help continue building a new classroom. That evening the group did an activity called “Issues Bus” that asks everyone to practice choosing sides on difficult issues and practice debating in a respectful, logical manner. We’ve both run this activity many times and that evening we heard some of the best arguments yet!

Looking forward to working in the classroom, especially after seeing the kids smiling and running around us saying hi.

We will tell you more about our experience in Sablog.

Goodbye for now,
Me To We Trips Team

 


November 27, 2017

Hola amigos!

Hope you are having a good time at home.

After a long flight we finally made it to Ecuador! We arrived late but we were very excited to meet our facilitators, Michelle and Henrik, who are going to be with us guiding our group through this amazing adventure.

On Sunday morning, after having a delicious breakfast, we got to meet a very special lady, a Yerbatera. That's the name of the woman who is in charge of studying herbs and plants of the region in order to heal people from common illnesses. The Yerbatera took us on a walk around the historic downtown of Quito. The architecture and lifestyle is very different than back home, but we loved it!

In the afternoon we had lunch, picnic style, at Itchimbia Park, where we enjoyed the nice weather and the view. Later that day we visited the museum at the Equator and we were fascinated by physics after trying some interactive activities, and we learned about the "Coriolis effect" and some other interesting things about the Indigenous people in Ecuador.

Tomorrow, early morning, we are heading to Chimborazo province where we will be working in the community of Sablog, but we are going to tell you more about that on our next update!

Greetings from Quito,
Me To We Trips Team

 





November 25, 2017: Students at Toronto Pearson Airport

 



November 25, 2017: Students prepare to depart TCS