Before I begin, I have to apologise for the the lateness of this post. How on earth do I write about 3 weeks of total craziness in one single blog post?! Upon leaving home I was given a huge amount of encouragement and advice. But of course, you don’t realise how wise the words of friends and family are until you’re in the situation where you need the words. So with that in mind I will head each part of this post with the two most appropriate quotes that sum up my time here.
“Prepare for the unexpected.”
Quite naively, I left for Ecuador under the impression that things would go according to plan: I would spend my time doing conservation work with two different communities, Yunguilla and La Hesperia – doing my part to save the world! However, after only 2 weeks in Yunguilla I realised that although the work I was doing was important it wasn’t what I expected and it wasn’t enough for me to justify staying on the project; thus I came to the difficult decision to leave this project early.
The description of the project I applied for gave the impression that Yunguilla was a village dedicated to conservation, which is not the case. The community aims to preserve their natural life and surroundings through volunteers participating in community work such as sweeping paths, construction work, teaching in the school, helping cater for tourists, making cheeses and jams etc; conservation is only a part of this.
Of course I have a huge amount of respect for Yunguilla – not just the ethics of the community, but the simple life and the determination of the people to achieve something so important in a world intent on destroying itself. Upon receiving a grant in the mid-1990s the village rapidly developed into the self-governing community it is now and although the work wasn’t what I expected, I learned a lot from the short time that I was there. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have worked on such an inspiring project!
However a part of me feels like I have failed to live up to the goal of my time in Ecuador. I really wanted to work on conservation and reforestation here and while I´ll get my chance in 2 weeks when I move to La Hesperia, I can´t help but feel like I´ve let myself down. But I guess that ties into the other piece of advice I was given,
“Travel with an open mind.”
I´ve come to realise how important it is to travel with the mindset that things are going to happen that you don’t expect, and that doesn’t make what happens bad or wrong, just different. Unexpected.
I think I’m taking the whole open mind thing to heart: my new project is working in a day care centre for disabled children. The work is really challenging but rewarding, and I really feel like I´m making a difference. I´ve been here for 2 weeks so far and I have 2 more to go until I move to La Hesperia for the rest of my time in Ecuador. That is, if it all goes to plan!