The second week in Ecuador has been steady yet diverse. During the week we continued to work in the fields, guided by the maestro, Ernesto. Our host, Alfonso, decided that we should install an irrigation system in the small field that we had tilled and planted the week before, and this was to be the most important project of the week.
Irrigation, Irrigation, Irrigation
After installing a wooden platform upon which a water tank was placed, we ran irrigation tubing throughout the furrows of the tilled land. The purpose of the system would be to water the field in times of drought, though it is easy to operate on any day and is mere feet from a small canal that the community usually uses as its water supply.
Whiter than White Alfonso
Having completed the irrigation system, our host Alfonso was so pleased that he decided to have one built for a garden outside his house. This job also involved preparing the land for food, so we had to shovel pig manure into wheelbarrows before pushing them up a very uneven cobblestoned road. Alfonso worked alongside us this time, but his shining white trousers seemed immune to the dusty terrain that was Chilcapamba. Scarlett and Katya had the joy of working in the children´s nursery on one of the days, which no one volunteered for afterwards!
Tupac Lives…and celebrates a birthday
Our group was lucky enough to be at Chilcapamba for the birthday of two of Alfonso´s children: Tupac (named after an ancient South American warrior) and Consuela, whose birthdays were on consecutive days. Judging by these events, birthday´s in the community heavily emphasize family connection, and in the case of Consuela´s 15th birthday, a special coming-of-age was marked. For females in Chilcapamba this happens at 15, when they start wearing the traditional dress. For males this happens at 18, though the occasion is not as specially celebrated as it is for females.
Spanish Lessons get Fruity
We finished our last spanish class on Monday, which involved a fruit-tasting session as well as a few games to test our spanish. The losers would be forced to perform some punishment which was dictated by the winners of the game. For Scarlett and Grace this meant pretending to be slugs (Maxwell´s idea), whereas Dylan and I had to (try to) dance Salsa at a club in nearby Otavalo town (Katya and Jemima´s idea).
Hiking the Laguna
On the weekend we took a day trip to Otavalo (which we had visited on our first weekend) as well as visited the Laguna de Cuicocha. The Laguna was definately a highlight, which is an island centered in a lake which sits at the top of an extinct volcano. It took us four hours to hike (nearly) the circumference of the mountain, which left everyone exhausted, except for Scarlett, who seemed as energetic as ever.
Adios Andes Volcanoes, Hola Jungle!
This second week with the Chilcapamba community was to be our last, so we parted with heartfelt goodbyes after presenting a poster with our pictures and comments on it to the host household. Alfonso gave each volunteer a special bracelet, black for the boys and pink for the girls.
Though we only worked for two weeks in Chilcapamba, we definitely felt like we made a difference for the people we worked with. Our first volunteering segment in Ecuador was full of memorable moments and people. None of us will forget our host Alfonso, our instructor Ernesto, or the sociable and cheeky nine-year-old Tupac. It was also a first for all of us to witness an erupting volcano whilst on a late-night group walk, a truly enthralling sight where the viscous magma starkly contrasted against the murky darkness of the night.