So I´m back at home base after two weeks of traveling. It was a lot of fun visiting other parts of Ecuador. The first two pictures are from our first week in the cloud forest. It was amazing how green it was in the subtropics after being more in the mountain highlands for 6 weeks. The second picture is a group of us learning this weird french game that was kind of a combination of risk and monopoly. We got quite addicted to it for a few days, then the attraction wore off (mainly because it was hot and being in the pool was way more fun). After a week of sweating it out in the tropics, it was back up to the mountains, which meant spending a day on various buses. The entertainment on the bus was the high quality movie Death Train. I´m sure it was just an oversight that it wasn´t nominated for an oscar (haha). We were lucky to have made it through the main bus terminal in Quito as a few days later a huge chunk of earth fell away and created this huge sinkhole right in the main interchange leaving the station. The reward for surviving a day on the buses was a really nice hostel in Riobamba (the locals call it frio-bamba due to the cold) and the best shower I´ve had in two months. The water pressure was good and the water was warm, a combination you don´t often get in this area. We spent four days there and in the surrounding area learning about planting crops on slopes and praying that we didn´t fall on those said slopes. There´s a picture of us working on digging holes to plant trees on one of the farms we visited. The other nice thing about Riobamba was the abundance of good (cheap) restaurants and even hand-dipped ice-cream, so I was able to fully satisfy my sweet tooth. After that we headed off to a different town nearby, but met a few bumps in the road on the way (literally). This was due to all the rain Ecuador´s been getting lately which has created lots of mudslides. So instead of taking the bus, we ended up crammed in the back of a truck and upon arriving at the mudslide, we had to climb over and catch a different truck. It made for an exciting day and really dirty shoes. It was all worth it as the town we went to was really interesting. It´s this tiny town that has all kinds of different little factories and micro-enterprises. The picture with the leader of the ag program putting a stick in a pool is where the town gets its salt. There´s a spring that salty water bubbles up from and they´re able to extract the salt from the water. There was also a chocolate factory (with really good dark chocolate), a cheese factory (also delicous), a soccer ball factory, a textile mill, a women´s co-op that made knitted wares, an essential oil factory, a soy products factory and several others. All this in an area with less that 6,000 people! It´s definitely an example for all of us to try to follow at our sites. Plus the town is in a gorgous area near the volcano chimborazo (photo) which is the highest volcano in the world as well as the highest mountain in Ecuador.
So those were the adventures of the last two weeks. We just have two weeks left of training before we´re let loose on Ecuador! =)