RAINcheck and Rice

With 18 AWESOME high school students, theres not much that can get in the way of a strong intercultural immersion in Ecuador!  On Saturday, with the help of Marcello, our craftsman extraordinaire- our group succesfully completed the construction of a commuinity oven.  Bricks, cement, and plaster, the community will now begin to bake breads and other goodies in the newly completed GR Oven.  We are on track to finish the bleachers which will offer the opportunity for crowds to come to La Variante and participate in soccer tournaments, and in the futre volleyball tournaments.  It is our hope that with crowds, and the oven, new recreational and monetary gain will begin to stake claim in the community.

As most places in the world are experiencing drastic climatic shifts, it is no different here on the tropical side of Ecuador.  Big rains have sweeped through the community the last several days, irregular for certain, as it is the dry season here in La Variante!  As the students continue to work hard mixing cement, hauling rocks, and moving dirt…  I am so proud of them all in their positive attitudes toward the rain.  A few days ago, I reminded everyone that in the face of rain we still have the opportunity to cultivate inner sunshine and broadcast such attitudes out unto the world.

Because of the students efforts the last few weeks, Chau and I decided to take everyone into town for a hot shower, a good night{s rest in a wonderful hostal, and a nice hot meal.  While RICE is plentiful in most of our food affairs, we are also enjoying fried Maduros (plantains), red beans, and other yummy fruits.  Before arriving at our hostel, we took an excursion to Piedra Blanca, a reserve on the wing of what would eventually lead into the Amazon.  Our group hiked through lush, green hills, stopping to learn about medicinal plants, and treating ourselves to munching on raw sugarcane….fresh from the stick.  Giant hummingbirds, a variety of incredible butterflies, and a fun swinging vine, and a culminating cascada (waterfall) were all part of this beautiful hike in a land that continues to seek protection of its peoples and places.  We learned that Piedra Blanca is also sought after by miners of gold and silver, and so achieving protected status is an uphill battle.  Hopefully, by bringing more people to the reserve, awareness will climb and one day, the native peoples and plants of this sacred area will be protected.  Please check out to learn more!

With 10 days to go in La Varinate the students are excited to prepare and serve a good ‘ol  North American BBQ for our community.  We are now also exploring possibillities of our secondary service work with the funds raised from our awesome bunch of students.

I am forever impressed by the attitudes, work ethic, and willingness to try new things of our group, and student Spanish skills are improving everyday!

Todo tranquilo aqui!!!
– Daniel



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