Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rio Mu¨Manchas¨

Hola Amigos y Familia!

I (we) are writing you this update from the small town of Canoa, located on the Northern coast of Ecuador. Currently I am lounging in a hammock at our beach front hostal after being woken up by a pan flute enthusiast who decided to raom the streets at 7:15 this morning, not that I´m complaining. Thus, I now get to sit and reflect on this past week (thanks to my duty as ¨blogger¨) so that the rest of you can live vicariously through our experiences.

We spent our time up in hills by this coastal town at the lovely organic farm of Rio Muchacho. The surroundings were green and lucious (especially considering the season); the buildings were glorified wooden cabins that were dripping in hammocks, bugs, and pen air window-walls; and the food was primarily fresh from the finca (farm) - organic, vegetarian, and full of flavor. The lack of meat certainly started to wear on a few individuals as the week went on, most likely a withdrawl from the westernized diet, but no long term damage seems to have been done.
In short this place is a perfect representation of sustainability, so much so, that they didnt even have trash. All food waste was either composted or fed to the pigs, all humand and animal waste was turned into fertilizer to be used on the farm or sold, and natural rain water catchements, as well as, water conservation and treatment processes were used for drinking, cleaning, and irrigation. The garden itself was then planted in a way that emphasized biodiversity (in plants, animals, and bugs), seasonality, lunar cycles, and the local ecosystem. Nicola and Dario, our hosts, have been improving their practices for the past 20 years, more or less, developing new projects that encompus sustainable agriculture and livelihoods. This includes their environmental school (the only school in their region), indroducing new crops that will thrive in the coastal ecuadorian climate, and buliding their popular ecotourism/volunteer lodge that supports the many locals and traveling individules who are interested in this type of work. But what might we (the volunteers) do you might ask?
Well each day they provided a new lesson on either organic framing principles, the concerns with conventional farming, the ¨how to¨ on being sustainable at home, composting, and the influences of lunar cycles on farming and life in general. Speaking for all of us, I would say we learned a lot, especially considering the work it takes to run a place like this.....
Each morning we started our day at 6- 6:30 with daily ¨chores¨ before breakfast. This meant cutting grass-hay with a machete for the horses, collecting vegetables from the garden, feeding the chickens/pigs, helping in the kitchen, and for the lack of a better term - shoveling shit. I think we can all agree that Simone can atest to the wonders of shit shoveling seeing as she lost her boot and nearly her whole leg to a 4 ft deep pool of pig cacca during a terrential down pour.
The rest of our days were then spent in the previously mentioned lessons, touring the farm, making handicrafts our of seeds and mate (goard like fruit) , eating, siesta, lounging in hammocks, making Nick and Michael L do the dishes for sleeping through morning chores, playing with Manchas (the 3 month old dalmatian puppy.... so cute), participating in ¨band practice¨, √§nd doing farm activities.¨¨Farm Activities¨ is code for weeding, heavy lifting, shoveling shit, squating in mud, planting seeds, and pretending to understand spanish.

Our last day we took off back to Canoa and found this beach side hostel thanks to Sarah... our ¨cribs¨for the week. Luckiliy we got the last rooms! And friday night we spent a better part of our time salsa dancing - pretending to salsa dance at a local spot right on the beach, my personal favorite. Jealous yet?

That about covers our past week, and now we are off on our next adventure - the language school in Cuenca with our homestays (which are so far amazing... but more on that later.)

please direct all questions and concerns to personal emails.


Erin & SAM I AM (our band... we are unbelieveably talented so stay tuned for recordings and CD artwork)

photos: valentines gifts homemade, SAM I AM album cover, seedlings, manchas, the lodge-cabin, and the beach at canoa.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hola! I have arrived safely for all those who were worried. I have 4 limbs, my passport, sanity, and a water bottle so we are in the clear. Yesterday was our first real day on the ground after 24 hours of traveling and no problems. Currently we are staying at a beautiful retreat center in Bahia Ecuador called Siananda. To sum it up its a place with a plethera of animals (peacocks, chickens, bunnies, horses, quail, goats, dogs, cats...), great food, right on the coast filled with delicious cerviche. Yesterday afternoon we boated over to Isle del sol  (island of the sun... sounds lovely right?). It was an island made of knee deep mud... so refreshing and good for the skin. We basked in a mud bath, played with crabs-small mud fish, and practiced some mud slides straight into the water..... photos coming soon. For the ride back home I and a few others insisted on swimming across the river back to Siananda :). So for a good mile/hour and to the amazement of the locals: Ari, Nick, Joeseph, and myself cruised through the tasteful warm brown aqua as athletic prep for the machu pichu hike. I found an orange half way across which proved useful for mid-river catch until Ari speared it with his thumb. Our night then concluded with a jam sesh with SAM I AM - an up and coming new band with a phenomenal album cover....

The people, food, and scenery are amazing.

Ciao for now.

- Erin

Hey everybody its Joseph.
I´m just dropping by to say that everything is going great and I am having a wonderful time here in Equador.
hola from ecuador!

everything has been great so far! we played on an island made of mud, had a group jam session that involved guitars, tamborines, a drum, and tibetan singing bowls. This is a beautiful area of the world and I am very excited to experience it with such a great group of people. 




Dear blog,
The trip has been great so far. I don,t know what has already been written on here but I,ll update it with the most recent thing we,ve done. Miguel Campos, Erin, Joseph, Sarah and I just ate ceviche at a little restaurant in Bahia. I,m having a great time. The place we.ve been staying at is awesome and I want to live there.
Hello to friends and family of the SAM Spring 2011 group (now better known by our spontaneous jam-band name, Sam I Am.... hopefully we´ll get some recordings up soon)
Three days in Ecuador and every moment has been amazing.
Hope everything is well wherever you may be.


ecuador is awesome

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This is Amy from headquarters and I'm happy to report the South America group has arrived safely in Guayaquil! Ari and Simone phoned the office today to say they had landed, all accounted for and all were healthy and happy. (Albeit, a little jet-lagged.)

The group is currently on a bus heading for the coastal town of Bahia de Caraquez where they will begin their orientation to each other and the semester. You should be hearing from them very soon after they get some much needed rest!

Check back here often and journey with them through Ecuador and Peru!

Headquarters, once again, signing off...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The group is found!

Well, it's a little past 10pm and the group, its leaders, and loads of enthusiasm have united what promises to be an excellent journey. Stay tuned to this page for more blogs everyone, and for tonight, rest assured that everyone have boarded their flight and will be heading South ... waaaay South, soon enough!

Yours truly,

Friday, February 4, 2011

No podemos esperar!

Hola, from your very enthusiastic trip leaders, Simone and Ari!!

This blog is a place for you to post photos, tell stories and share your experiences with friends and family back home. Send your loved ones this link so they can see and read about the places that your adventurous spirit is taking you.

Throughout our semester, each of you will have the opportunity to post to this blog, documenting our journey for the world to see. Blogger is one of seven roles that each of you will fill as the semester progresses. There are six other roles, and you'll have at least one turn in each. They are:
  • Hot Wheels – arranging transportation
  • Cribs – organizing our housing
  • Bleeding Heart – who reports on social issues
  • Librarian – who will carry and care after our books
  • Culture, History & Headlines - who reports on the local culture, and finally...
  • El Capitan – the person who pulls it all together and MC's group meetings

Sharing the responsibility for success will help our group build a tight-knit community, and help each of you develop great travel skills.

Reminder: We are meeting at the Tom Bradley Terminal in LAX, at the eatery tables on the second floor. Just look for some goofy looking people with giant backpacks. We'll gather there at 9:30 pm and reconvene at that spot every hour until our entire group is together.

We're looking forward to an educational journey with you, full of adventure, smells, toil, sights and laughs. Hopefully you've already had a chance to read through the itinerary. For now, eat the foods you love, hug your families and pets, and pick up those last minute travel-essentials. Next stop, Ecuador!

Simone and Ari