Apologies for the late update about our adventures in the Andes! We all had an amazing time (for the most part) and had some really incredible experiences which we’ll never forget!
After a rather long (and tiring) journey from Quito we got to Chilcapamba where we were met by Alfonso, who is the head of the Morales family (the family looking after us whilst we volunteered). During the week we had quite a similar pattern of working for a few hours in the morning (work varied from digging trenches, to planting trees and carrying building equipment for a well up a hill) before heading home for lunch which was rice, more rice, some potatoes and on a good day some meat! After lunch we had some time off to sort washing, chill, or practice Spanish before our much needed lessons in the afternoon, as many of us had never spoken Spanish before arriving in Ecuador! After Spanish we sometimes headed into nearby Cotocatchi to organise washing, pick up some snacks (the work made us all very hungry!) or to chill in one of the restaurants and watch the football. Those of us who didn’t go into town usually did yet more washing, read or just lazed about before dinner. Dinner was much the same as lunch and was traditional Ecuadorian fare which comprised of soup, rice, vegetables, beans and meat. After dinner many of us would play cards (I’m surprised no wars started over Uno) before showers and bed.
We had our weekends off and we were lucky enough to visit some incredible places! Our first weekend off was spent in the nearby town of Otovalo, where we browsed the local market which was filled with traditional handmade Ecuadorian goods. It was the perfect opportunity to pick up gifts for friends and family as well as select a few souvenirs for ourselves (Ryan’s Ecuadorian trousers are particularly impressive). After an amazing lunch we headed off to visit the Cascada de Peguce, which is the most spectacular waterfall just outside the town. Initially in the restaurant we were told it was about a twenty minute walk. An hour and a half later we learnt Ecuador time does not run the same as British but it was definitely worth it! After a few group photos Elise, Emily, Ollie and Ryan decided to go for a little paddle during which Elise had a little tumble (it was caught on camera) and slid down the waterfall!
They all emerged absolutely soaking before we headed “home” for dinner. We decided that, as it was Saturday night we should check out some Ecuadorian nightlife, which was extremely entertaining with many of us learning how to salsa! The Sunday was far more laid back with a trip to Laguna de Cuicocha. Some of us went for a hike around the crater whilst those of us who were still rather tired had a more sedate visit and took a boat trip around the lake before having a chat over some chips and a climb to a viewing place where we could see right over the lake which was incredible. We then met up and headed into Cotocatchi for lunch and to watch the European football finals before heading home and chilling before work again the next day. We all spent the evening having tea and making friendship bracelets before we were interrupted slightly by an earthquake, which resulted in the bracelet making being put on hold and all of us standing outside for 10 minutes whilst the house stopped shaking. It certainly added a bit of excitement to our relaxed evening!
Our second weekend was spent in an incredible town called Banos but that trip needs a blog post of its own, which I promise to put up soon!
Our time in the Andes ended with an evening of live music and us cooking for the Morales family, which was an interesting experience and good practice for the Galapagos! We ended up making hamburgers with fried potatoes and salad which appeared to have all gone down well! Once dinner was all finished the whole community thanked us by playing some traditional Ecuadorian music which we all had to dance to! We were also given bracelets which Alfonso’s daughter had made for us as a memento of our time there.
Ryan has won the title of last man standing after being the only person who wasn’t ill even a little bit whilst we were staying in the Andes, but we are now off to the Galapagos and all incredibly excited about it!