From Quito, Dave and I took a bus ride to Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. I will have to say that this was the longest, most uncomfortable bus ride we’ve been on so far. We got an estimate that the bus ride would take anywhere from 6-9 hours. Well, it took 8 hours and 45 minutes.
The most unpleasant part was that the bus arrived at 9pm at night and the room we reserved at Coco Bongo Hostal apparently didn’t exist. The owner had mistakenly given it away to someone who she thought was us. She then proceeded to direct us in a city that we didn’t know to a hotel that might or might not be open and have rooms. We were not very happy after a 9 hour bus ride. I don’t suggest staying at Coco Bongo if you need a place to stay in Bahia. The hotel su descanso ended up having a room and it all worked out in the end, it just was one of our first, but I’m sure not last, unpleasant experience with not getting what we expected.
The following day we took a boat taxi across the river to San Vincente and then a bus to Canoa. In Canoa there is an office for Rio Muchacho, the farm that we volunteered on, where you take a taxi to go to the farm. I say taxi because that is what they called it. It’s actually a pick up truck where you sit in the back and ride for a good 20 minutes on paved roads and then another 20 minutes on dirt roads. Don’t worry, we were assured it was “safe.”
When we arrived Kevin and Nicola greeted us. Kevin is an intern who has been there for over 6 months and Nicola is one of the owners. They had saved lunch for us, which was very nice of them. We proceeded to start helping out with the activities in the afternoon and got our routines for the following week.
The farm has a consistent routine:
6:00 am – wake up and get ready for the animals
6:30 am – put on your rubber boots and head to the animal area or kitchen depending on your routine.
- Chanchos (pigs) – mix sugar cane syrup with water and give it to the pigs, mix grains with water and then feed to the pigs, shovel out any wet area of the pig pens and by wet that means urine and crap. After that, put a small amount of sawdust where the pend was shoveled. And lastly, collect dry leaves to give to the piglets to rest on.
- Caballos (horses) – see chanchos. The chanhcos were a lot of work and whoever was on caballos was helping with chanchos. I was on Caballos the second week.
- Pollos (chicken) – Feed the baby chicks ground up corn and fill up their water and feed the adult chickens corn. Dave was on Pollos the first week.
- Cuyes (guinea pigs) – Cleaned out the cages and feed the cuyes
- Concina (kitchen) – cut up watermelon and pineapple and wash dishes. I was on the concina the first week and the second week Dave was doing the concina work.
7:30 am – routines are done and breakfast is ready. Breakfast consisted of fruit salad with granola, tea made from the pineapple peels, and some sort of starchy bread.
7:45-8 am – wash breakfast dishes or rest if you’re not on dish duty
8:30 am – Morning work
- Some days we had a “Minga” which is an indigenous word that means group work. This could have consisted of moving brush, moving compost and so on.
- Working in the vivero and semillero (nursery)
- Transplanting leeks
- Planting lettuce
- Digging trenches and/or holes
- Moving the Chancho Train
12:00 pm – Morning work is complete and lunch is ready. Lunch consisted of soup as the first course, and then rice with a vegetable side, salad, and juice.
12:15-12:30 pm – wash lunch dishes or rest if you’re not on dish duty
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm – Afternoon work
- Making marmalade
- Drawing instructions
- Decorate cups
- Plant flowers
- Ride horses for visiting students
- Every Wednesday was cultural day. So we made rings from a local nut and visited the giant tree.
6:30 pm – Dinner, which consisted of rice and some vegetable sides
6:45 – 7:00pm – wash dinner dishes or rest if you are not on dish duty
7:30 pm – Night activity
- Watching movies on dirt or permaculture
- Making coffee
- Making chocolate
- Hanging out and making friends.
Overall we had a fun time on the farm and it was a good experience. We now know how hard farm work really is.