EXPEDITION ECUADOR: THE ANDES
If you've not read my last 2 posts I suggest you do because this one continues on and will make a lot more sense!! You can read the first one here and second one here.
25th July 2017
We start off back in Tumbaco after arriving back from Galápagos and ready to travel to the Andes. We arrived at the Equator and spent some time taking photos. A guide also gave us a talk about the Northern and Southern Hemispheres including star constellations seen either side and some which can only be seen along the Equator.
|On the Equator|
|On the way to Otavalo|
After lunch we got back onto the coach and travelled 40 minutes to Camp Kuri Kucho which sits at 3300m above sea level and was our highest altitude camp, views were incredible as we could see Cayambe Volcano, part of the Cordillera Central range of the Ecuadorian Andes. It got cold in the evenings so we had to wrap up warm and I was very glad I had bought a jumper at Otavalo Market earlier.
|Otavalo Market, by: instagram.com/samd0herty|
26th July 2017
We got back into project work with an early start and split into 3 groups, I went off to lay a stone road. The morning was quite calm as we adjusted to the conditions covering ourselves often in suncream. It was quite strange considering the fact we were wrapped in warmer clothing.
To build the road the boys were handed a pickaxe to get soil from a hole, lift it into a wheel barrow and lift the wheel barrow over a temporary fence (built by the local leader so the road wasn't in use). We then used surrounding stones and rocks with the soil, a trowel and a hammer to lay the road. It was hard work but fun and we all switch around so that we could have a go at completing different jobs. I started by passing stones to the layers and then swapped to laying the stones.
At 11:30 we were invited to the local school to watch a film in Spanish called 'Mariposa' with some of the children. Although it did not seem to follow a particular plot line and had no particular start or end point, it offered insight into the 1931 Spanish Revolution. We then had a lunch break before heading back out onto the road.
That night it was one of the kitchen staffs birthdays so we celebrated with her as she smashed a piñata and danced with a group of ladies from the village who were all wearing traditional clothing and masks whilst playing violins, guitars and singing.
|Home for the week. The left building was my dorm, inside there were 3 tier bunk beds - unusual. I was on the middle tier.|
|View from my bedroom window|
|Road to Work|
|Temporary Road Closure Ahead|
|The trick to laying a stone road is to pack it with soil so that eventually it will look like the cobbled streets we know of.|
|View on the job|
27th July 2017
A second day of project work placed us all up at the school because the children had broken up for the summer so we could get stuck in without getting in the way of their education. I spent the first hour of the day (around 9:00) painting a white base layer onto a water tank that had recently been built. When we ran low on paint supplies our small group moved to help the others. I split my time between the two other groups: weeding the garden so that the children would be able to turn it into a garden and plant patch and digging a compost hole for waste that when we finished would be 1/2 metre deep. I spent more time composting because I had a reaction to something in my eyes... they went all red and itchy so I had to wash them out, it could have just been the dust! However, once I did that it was straight back to work, thank goodness. Some people were struggling with altitude sickness so I was lucky, in some ways.
|Llama, by instagram.com/samd0herty|
|Feeding Time, by instagram.com/samd0herty|
28th July 2017
Our last day of project work in the Andes and I chose to go back to the road as it had been where I started and I'd really enjoyed doing it.
When we finished, one of the maestros gave us a language lesson in a native language called Kichwa (also spoken by some communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon - one of which we later visited). It's a very old language that doesn't use /e/ /o/ /u/ sounds and only developed a written form over the past few centuries. However, it is sadly dying out because Spanish is proving to be more useful for wider communication and therefore the economy and livelihood of the community. I strongly remember that 'ñaña' means 'friend' and 'yupaychani' means 'thank you' - we used it a lot.
Our Kichwa teacher's livelihood is milk cows and he took us in groups to the vast fields in which they live to introduce us. He showed us how he cares and milks his cows, they roam mostly free and come to him when he arrives. We were given the opportunity to have a go at milking them.
|Where the road will go...|
|Milking the Cows|
Although our time in the Andes was short and chilly, it was memorable and I would love to go back.
Thank you so so much to my good friend Sam for letting me use some of his photos, check out his insta: instagram.com/samd0herty (@samd0herty)