By: Denise, Lorraine and Elaine (The 3 Chicka’s)
Day 16 and it is the last day at the farm. It is hard to believe we are finished our project and will be leaving tomorrow for the next part of our trip.
Today started with a mix of blue skies and clouds. Many of us took down our laundry and got our suitcases organized and ready to travel. We said goodbye to a hard working teenager named Thomas who joined us with our last week of work on the farm. Thomas is from Quito and his grandmother is a Rotarian and encouraged him to join us. He quickly made friends with the group and became number 17 in our group. Compared to all the previous mornings where it has been get up and go go, this morning was a very leisurely with lots of time to just sit and chat and share.
We loaded up the bus and we were off to Malchingui. For several of us who had worked in Malchingui 2 years ago, we were super eager to see our previous host families. The road to Malchingui travels high into the mountains, is quite windy and passes through the town of Tocachi. Our first stop was at the concha that we built. It is a large concrete area for soccer, basketball and other sports. We were greeted by 2 local women who presented each one of us with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Many local people came to the park to see us. It wasn’t long before there were Malchingui vs Canada soccer and basketball games in progress. Not only are the Ecuadorian youth amazing basketball players, they are very talented soccer players.
We headed off to the local hall to meet our host families. For those of us whose host families came to greet us, it was a wonderful reunion and the bond that we made 2 years ago was still there. Many of us received little gifts from our families, and we in return gave them Canadian gifts. Some of the families did not show, so those interact students were disappointed. And I am sure the families waiting to see their student from 2 years ago, that are no longer in the club were also disappointed. There were the usual speeches and thank you’s then the Interact club presented half of the donated clothing and other items to the community of Malchingui and the other half to the community of Tocachi. These items will be placed for sale at a very reasonable price so the communities do not come to expect hand outs. Lunch of roast pig, corn, salsa, potato patties was served. Then the dancing started to local musicians with typical Andean music. All too soon it was time to say good bye to our Malchingui families and friends.
Before boarding the bus, we had 15 minutes to wander around the corner to the local bakery/candy store. Many of us bought ice cream, candy, cake, chips etc. In every community there are many, many stray dogs and they are at our feet waiting for dropped food/goodies. Today was pay day as Kyle lost half of his cake and Lorraine gave a pregnant dog a croissant. Needless to say, those dogs followed us around until we left the community.
We returned to the farm to sunny skies. Our group spent some quiet time for about a hour….some people had showers, sent a message home, read or just sat in the sun. We mingled and visited for a couple of hours until dinner. Our dinner tonight was very simple…buns, cheese and cold meat. This was certainly enough after our huge meal in Malchingui. Many of us are still not getting used to the Ecuadorian way of doing dishes. No hot water, just one cold tap. You lather up each dish with a sponge that you dip into a soap paste in a little container. After a quick rinse, the dishes may be left to dry or just put away.
It was an early night for many. All the long days of work are catching up with us. All we can think of now, besides coming home to see everyone, is a soak in the hot springs.