Ecuador 2017 Day #14

August 24

By: Geoff

I love ❤ Ecuador in the morning!! Apparently others are starting to as well. Initially it was Lorraine, Stan and I having our 6 am sessions. Shortly thereafter Svetlana joined us. Now we have a few Interactors joining us by 6:30 am. The mornings at Cinca are cold but you only hear the roosters, chickens and silence. The sun peaks up at around 6:10 am and it starts to warm up. However it takes a bit to dry up the dew and defrost all of us. Svetlana apparently wore two shirts, two pairs of pants, her hoody and alpaca socks to bed last night. By our 7:40 am safety meeting it is a pleasant temperature.

We are working at Cinca. It is a project that is trying to reverse the trend of a dependence on flower production in this area. Ecuador produces the most roses and angel’s breath in the world. However in order to ship these perfect flowers a high level of chemicals are being used. These are unhealthy for not only the workers but also the health of the locals as the chemicals are in clothes and causing high cancer levels. In addition the long hours of workers has put stresses on families which has led to family breakdowns.

Cinca is a project to provide an alternative. It is growing vegetables ( and eventually fruit….I hate fruit but this country is a fruit lovers paradise) organically. The vegetables are traditional popular ones but they are experimenting with ones that have gone out of favour in Ecuador. For example rainbow potatoes. They hope to be able to market these to select sectors in Quito.

In order for this all to work with the locals, education is required. That is our part. In conjunction with our Castlegar Rotary Clubs we have raised funds to build a building that will be used to teach adults and children organic farming, products and marketing. Without our help the farm could not get to the next step.

It is a bit of a United Nations here which adds to the interest. The concept was started by a Frenchmen named Remi. He has added three others. Louis has recently escaped with his wife (Juby) and two boys (Juan – 7 and Mateus – 4) from Venezuela. He directs our work each day and Juby directs us making meals. Margot is a young woman who lives with her family near the farm. She directs us on what to do with crops. Sergei is from Latvia and seems to be be in the know on healthy organic production. In addition there are youth from France, Argentina, Sweden and South Africa. The youth stay here for free in exchange for working from 8 am – 2 pm daily. All of these people are so fun and interesting to spend time with. They have welcomed us in, are patient with teaching us Spanish and happily share stories.

Luis is an especially interesting story. He previously had volunteered with this project because he believed in it. When the political unrest started in Venezuela over the past few months they decided it was not the place for them. They left everything behind and escaped to Ecuador. The people of Cinca loved him so much as a volunteer they hired him to direct our project. Pay isn’t much but they have a new start. Louis is an amazing leader…..organized and extremely motivating. We are lucky to have him.

Today we split the group for the morning as 7 went to visit another daycare. Elaine, Denise, Padn, Andrew, Phil, Kyle and Sierra walked 1 kilometre with three suitcases of clothing. These children were 1-3 years old and tougher to play games but the group still managed to have a lot of interaction. We took a number of great photos. Elaine and Denise at the end noticed a young girl and boy of at the most 4 years old taking their 4 siblings home. With no parent insight they dodged a bus and dragged everyone down the street. To say the least they found this to be different than Canada.

Meanwhile Stan, Svetlana, Cedar, Eric, Matt, Lorraine, Emily and I continued hard on the building. The team over the past two days has been amazing. I love it when, at the end of the last two days, on separate occasions, both Oscar and Adolpho (the tradesmen directing us) came out of the building with smiles on their faces, shaking their heads and saying they can’t believe how much we have done. They are outside preparing the “Barro” for us to wheelbarrow over and mud into the wall, so they can’t see until we finish the day. In Spanish they tell me that I have a good group. Everyone back in Canada should be proud of our youth. They start hard physical work at 8 am and work until 4 pm. All the time with smiles on their faces.

Tonight Is why we wanted to camp the second week. Padn, Andrew, Emily, Kyle, Chelsea and Svet were playing Egyptian war….screaming and laughing at each other. Stan, Lorraine, Matt, Phil and Cedar are by the campfire talking. Because the group agreed to no internet after 5:30 pm it is great. So much fun listening to everyone. What a great group!!

The group decided on 9:45 pm for lights out. Seemed early when we set it but now everyone is almost done for the night and it is before 9 am. The work means early nights.

Good night everyone