Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hola from Ecuador! January Term 181 arrived in Ecuador about four days ago. We are all super excited to have finally arrived. The first day we arrived in Quito, January 8, we were greeted by Tomas and family, our hosts here at Palugo Farm. Once we got to the farm, it was as if we landed in paradise. Everything around us was green and full of life. After, having a delicious snack we gathered together as a group and went over some house rules. What we first noticed about Palugo Farm were the kitchen, classrooms, bathrooms, and bunkers. Soon, we were informed that everything around us were built with sustainable materials. Using sustainable materials means using natural resources to maintain life while at the same time conserving the environment from depletion. After settling in, we all went to a hike around the farm. Our day ended with an amazing dinner made with freshly grown
vegetables cultivated in the farm.

The second day at Palugo, January 9, we started our day with class after breakfast. During class we were introduced to the idea of permaculture. After class Thomas took us on a wonderful hike around the farm. Thomas showed us the garden were all the vegetables, fruit, and herbs are grown, where cattles are raised, and two other houses in which both of his brothers and family live in. Thomas allowed us to go into his home, which he built by using natural resources found around the farm. In Palugo farm there are many different types of animals that can be found inclusing cows, alpacas, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Once we were done hiking, we harvested vegetables from the garden and prepared our own lunch as a group. Once we were done with our lunch, we were given time to rest, since we were still extremely exhausted from the previous day. That evening, we had an amazing dinner of vegetable stir fry. The vegetables in Palugo Farm are the best that one could ever eat since, grown organically and natural. As soon as dinner ended, we all helped clean we gathered together for a meeting. During the meeting, Tomas went over some of the jobs that we were going to perform while being here on the farm. After a long day, we went to sleep so as to rest for the next day's work.

My Pie Time job is called Hormigas, meanings ants. The reason why we are given this name is because ants go around picking up little scraps after everyone. What this means is that my partner Ryan, and I are responsible for making sure that the compostable bathroom for use. Our responsibilities also include making sure that the kitchen is swept in the morning, the chuzon (classroom) is clean, the compostable bucket is emptied out, and that our bunkers are clean. The most important job for Hormigas is the compostable bathroom. The reason being is because all of the waste is emptied out to a bigger compose section on the farm. Thus, after a while the compost turns into soil and is used around the farm. My job is done for four days then we rotate to another job. We will keep you posted about what these jobs are in future blogs but it is quite difficult to blog since we only have two computers and limited time to be on.  So check for future blogs!
Best wishes from Ecuador,
Jacquelin Escobar                                                              

Thursday, January 10th began bright and early at 6:30 a.m. for the first day of Pie Time, a time when students are assigned specific chores for four days, then rotate. Pie Time chores include: woodworkers who chop wood for the stove fir; gardeners who harvest vegetables for meals; hormigas who clean the compostable toilet, kitchen, and classroom; milkers who milk cows at  4:00 a.m. in the morning; and cooks who prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for everyone. After breakfast, a resident of Palugo farms, Marcela, talked to the group about social permaculture, the communities and human relationships of our world. Followed by class time, we discussed the indigenous struggle in Ecuador and the basics of permaculture, a holistic, sustainable approach to agriculture as well as a way of life. After a delicious lunch, Tomas took us on an exciting tractor ride to his parent's farm across the street to gather alfalfa for the cows. At the farm, we were also introduced to the livestock of the farm - chickens, horses, and the pig we will slaughter and process for meat. After filling the trailer with alfalfa, we hopped back into the trailer for a sing-a-long hayride back to the farm to feed the cows.

On Friday, January 11th, we took a day trip to Quito after lunch. Four public buses later, we arrived in the bustling and beautiful city of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. We began our visit to Quito with a trip to the house and museum of Guayasamin (1919-1999), a famous Ecuadorian artist. Guayasamin's house is filled with a combination of his own artwork and his personal collections, including Catholic religious art, exquisite woodwork, paintings by friend Pablo Picasso, and erotic Mexican sculptures. Separate to the house was a museum of Guayasamin's artwork known as The Chapel of Man. Adorned with gigantic impressionist art, The Chapel of Man is dedicated to the indigenous struggle of the past, present, and future. Afterwards, we traveled to Gringolandia, a popular attraction for tourists visiting from the United States and Europe. We dined at local restaurant and cafe, CACTUS, and munched on traditional Ecuadorian dishes. After an adventurous day in Quito, we traveled back to Palugo farms to rest for the next day's work.

On Saturday, January 12th, we worked in the garden here at Palugo farm. The garden provides fresh produce including lettuce, spinach, onions, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and many other delicious vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Garden duties included: laying straw on the terrances of the garden, placing mulch on top of garden beds, and weeding. As the sun went down on Palugo farm, it was time to call it quits for the day. That evening, we enjoyed dinner and a discussion with Francisco, the owner of Palugo farm, who conveyed the history of Palugo. 

For Pie Time, I have been assigned cook duty with two other classmates. Everyday, the other cooks and I prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner for fifteen people. Breakfast dishes have included eggs, toast, homemade cheese and yogurt, oatmeal, zucchini bread, and fresh fruit along with coffee and tea. For lunch and dinner, cooks prepare fresh, colorful salads, quesadillas, homemade guacamole and salsa, chicken, garlic mashed potatoes among mny other delicious dishes. We eat good on Palugo Farm! My favorite memory of preparing dinner has been watching Caitlin and Kristina cut a whole chicken with a machete. The best part of cooking is using an outdoor kitchen, a stove heated by fire, preparing meals with fresh ingredients, and chatting with Marcia, Tomas' wife.  

Check this coming week for Jan Term 181's next blog update!

Maggie Powers '14

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