Nadia’s Adventure!

Here is a note from Nadia…

Hello All,

Well it has been a while since I have had the opportunity to hit the road again for any significant amount of time. And as many of you also know it has been a dream of mine for the last 6 years to return to my beloved Ecuador. It would appear that the stars have aligned for me this summer, and here I am writing you from the coastal town of San Vincente.

This time I have come back with more than just a travellers itch, although I do currently have an unrelenting rash, possibly from a plant I touched yesterday, a hopeful possibility of the millions of other things it could be. Anyways, as I was saying I came with the goal of giving something back to Ecuador, for all it shared with me the first time around.

Thanks to the magic of google, typing in the words ´Andes´ ´Volunteering´ ´Agriculture´ and ´Montessori´ lead me to an amazing foundation called The Tangare Foundation, where I could find a position as a volunteer in agriculture and conservation, and teach English at a Montessori school, while living in the pre mountain/cloud forest of the Andes.

The weeks before leaving were filled with, cutting, pasting, laminating, bargain book hunting, and everything else that went with making English materials, like those that I made for French at my school in Toronto. As well as a 2 part yard sale, that brought in a whopping 150 dollars for the building of a new classroom. {three cheers for Jade and all her help}

So after a long sleepless night of packing and making copies at Kinkos, I was laminating my last page as my brother pulled in front of my house to take me to the airport. I arrived in Quito 2 saturdays ago and have been working like a busy busy bee.

After the weekend in the beautiful old town of the second highest Andean capital Quito, I was off to La Hesperia reserve that I would call home for the next 4 weeks. You are immediately greeted with a 20 minute walk up the steep trail to the main site of the reserve. It set the tone for what was expected of the volunteers. With a quick lunch and tour, we were put to work filling plastic pop bottles with sand, which is the eco method of construction that will be used to build the next classroom.

After dinner all 9 volunteers including myself, returned to the volunteer house. It is very basic, a mosquito net protects me from the enormous bugs that manage to find their way in {thanks Jody}. We played a little cards before retiring at 9pm. I had to check the clock a few times to be sure, as I don´t think I´ve gone to bed that early since I was 10 years old. Sleep was going to be needed though as the next day was tree planting Tuesday.

After a yummy oatmeal and volunteer hand made bread breakfast we set off with Donkey and a cart of baby trees to the awkward, sloping, densely overgrown site to start planting. One person machetties through the forest to clear the trail while the other one plants and then you switch. It is as exhausting as it sounds but also extremely satisfying. It feels a bit counter intuitive to destroy everything in your path in order to conserve, but the trees need a chance to compete against all the other vegetation, which don´t take as long to grow. Machettying is a good release of any frustrations I´ve learned and cold showers are a welcome after each day, which is good, cause cold is the only kind they have.

The next day for me was a school day. I spent the day observing the children at the Montessori school on site. I was right at home in their beautiful little class, not only filled with Montessori materials but colourful butterflies and insects that fly in through the open aired building. I marveled as a child sat doing some cutting work and then called out ¨mariposa¨ to her friends as a beatiful butterfly flew past her. She followed it with her eyes for a minute and then carried on her cutting work. Would have put a smile on Maria Montessori´s face for sure.

I then had my first English circle time with the kids which went splendidly. Since then I have been alternating between the school and slave labor, I mean agricultural and consevation work. They switch it up to keep things interesting, like weeding and planting in the organic garden, clearing hiking trails, and as of now I have done every step of producing coffee, except grinding the roasted beans, which I could do at home anyways. We will hopefully get a chance to taste the fruits of our labour next week. We also have the job of taking the mule down and back up the 20 minute steep trail back to town, which takes more like 2 hours with ¨Mula¨. It´s a good time to stop and smell the flowers, or look for monkeys, or any of the plethora of birds.

Wednesdays we play soccer with the locals, who are way better than us, and Fridays we either have a hike or an extra day off for a long weekend. Last weekend I headed to the market town of Otavalo, to check out a festival and hang out with a long lost friend. Otavalo´s views did not dissapoint. It is a beautiful Andean town, surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, a lagoon and some waterfalls. I also satisfied my craving for brunch, or as I call it here ´desalmuerzo´ complete with bacon, eggs, pancakes, fruit and tea. I hope to leave something else behind, my obsession with brunch. I´ve got my friend thinking about opening up a cafe specializing in Desalmuerzo.

And that brings me to San Vincente, where I will leave you. I am about to meet up with the rest of the volunteers to enjoy a beach weekend in the chill town of Canoa minutes from here. I think it´s about time I get my ¨Salsa¨ on.

I will try and update you again soon. There is essentially no internet at the reserve, so on weekend when I leave, I try to find a moment. Don´t let that stop you sending messages and letting me know what´s up on the top half of the world. I can´t wait to bore you all with pictures, I have tons already!

Ambrazos a todos. Hasta pronto.
Love Nadia

July 2, 2011. Professional Development. No Comments.