So I havent wanted to be negative but I have had disappoints during this trip, but with disappointment comes learning and often appreciation. I havent always gotten out of the trip what I have hoped for or wanted. I knowingly chose this trip to be the way it is for many reasons. I chose not to pay for an expensive volunteer vacation where you dont really work and often dont really help but more observe and learn and are herded around like visitor to a zoo observing locals as if they were a strange species of animal. With this path I am more in the thick of things but also more unknowns, and also some disadvantages such as not having a translator and working with people who dont speak English or learning as much as I could if I had gone on a tour. But I also have enjoyed living without many of the luxuries I take for granted. After a week without hot water (not that I would have wanted it cause it was so hot and humid where I was) the hot shower (even if with only an electric hot water heater) I just took felt amazing. I havent been in a place with airconditioning here yet.. and though I normally hate it cause its too cold.. I think next time I have it I wont complain. I forgot what its like to cook and sleep in a place that is so humid and hot and not have AC, I dont have it in Boston but Boston in not on the equator.
I have spent a week without internet which I did not miss at all, though now that I have access I cant get off of it. I can put vanity behind me, I look like a strange animal. I have been bending over working in gardens and have learned that I need long shirts as there is an area between the bottom of my shirt and the top of my pants in the back that is exposed and I had a nice line where I was sunburned and have a nice row of mosquito bites on top of the red burn. As most people know bugs love me. I am covered in all sorts of weird bites. Mosquitos yes, flies yes, and there is another type of fly that is small and its mouth is too small to bite so it drops a bit of sulfuric acid on the skin then drinks exposed blood. You know when someone is bitten because you see a small bubble of blood. Yep have some of those. Plus the first farm I went to I had a reaction to some other unknown bug (other people had it too) that bubbles up and looks like a wart and oozes puss. Yep I look wonderful in swimsuit, an nice red sunburnt line dotted with bites above my butt, a real nice farmers tan and all sorts of odd bites all over my body.
While I havent learned about farming and growing vegetables like I thought I would I have learned a bit about Ecuadorian workers. I have been told that the average worker makes around 10-15 dollars a day, though I dont know if that is true. The two farms I worked on where drastically different and neither were real farms in the sense we think of.. I enjoy working alongside the workers, though the work is often boring and I am not learning much from it. The first farm I worked on the workers worked 730-330 with a tea break at 10 and an hour lunch at 12. The workers are all men of course. We always made the tea for the workers, I get the impression they expect it made for them. It always fresh from the garden made very weak with lots of sugar (and they seem to prefer brown sugar or honey). All the workers seem to know how to do everything, fix things as well as work the land and seem ready and will to do anything, well except jobs for women, that line seems to be very distinct. The last place I was at the workers started from around 730am and worked most of the day with some breaks and a hour lunch till around 6pm. They really worked hard, tending to and cleaning the animals, horses, sheeps pigs and working the land, putting in drainage for a pool. It was very different though cause there was one woman (the wife of one of the workers) who did the cleaning and cooking for all of us. So food was provided to them which I was told was typical on farms in the country to be provided I assume because stores are not very convenient to get to. None of the workers I have met speak a word of English.
I really liked spending the day with them working next to them, eating with them and living next to them even if I couldnt really communicate with them I was still able to ask simple questions and they were very happy and accommodating to me and always trying to help. The woman cooking noticed what us gringos did and didnt want and would cater the food according to what she saw us eating. The meals were never family style and always plated.
The places I have stayed are very different from each other, but also in very different areas of the country one, in a hot humid climate near the coast the other in near the jungle and first in the mountains.
No more farms and country for me on this trip. I will not miss the work and the work I did was pretty easy compared to what the locals had to do. Although the farms did not produce any vegetables like I had hoped I will miss the few edibles they did have such as fresh tea, such as the lemon grass, fresh mints, herbs, limes, lemons, mandarin oranges, and walnuts. (BTW fresh almonds are actually soft and almost juicy so they almost melt in your mouth with quite an interesting flavor that seems to disappear when dried)