Saturday, August 29, 2009

La Hacienda Picalqui

After a few misunderstandings about where to catch the bus to Picalqui, I was excited to be dumped off on the side of the road a few hundred meters from the Hacienda. I arrived much later than intended, but still had a dash of daylight left to get me there.

My arrival felt festive as I had come on the perfect night. Cody and Angela, the two other volunteers at the Hacienda, and Stuart, the volunteer coordinator, were gearing up to make homemade pizzas in the brick oven outside. All the vegetables were organic and fresh from the garden, with the exception of some olives Cody and Angela picked up at the market. Six delicious pizzas (of the 8 total made) and several cervezas later we were all satiated and ready to hit the sheets.

The next morning was an early rise to go watch and help with the milking. Eladio tends to the milk cows and his sons Manual and Jonathan come to help and play donning their Batman and Superman capes. They are quite cute and full of energy. After milking it´s back to the hacienda for breakfast followed by 4 hours of work in the garden and various other parts of the farm. They grow over 50 types of vegetables and raise sheep, cows, chickens, guinea pigs, and on ocassion pigs (none right now). We break a little early to cook lunch for the crew, which is generally about eight people then I dive into 4 hours of language lessons which feel more exhausting than the mornings work. This has pretty much been the schedule for the week and I´m enjoying it.

The evenings have been a lot of fun, be it playing soccer, heading into Cayambe, or just cooking and hanging around the fire with Cody and Angela. They have really made this experience amazing, be it helping me get acquainted with the ways of the hacienda, giving me the proper Spanish words for things, or just being good company and cooking companions. Cody is a journalist and has written a few articles about some archealogical sites and environmental issues in Ecuador while he´s been here. Angela has just wrapped up her second year with Americorps (impressive!) and will be heading back to the states for school in a couple of days.

The weekend has arrived so we get some rest and free time. I took my first shower in a week this morning and struggled to get the balance between pressure and temperature just right. Ecuador uses electric shower heads that heat the water as it flows through the head. Same concept as our on demand/in-line water heaters back home, but not nearly as flawless in performance. If the water pressure is too high, the water is cold so you end up with a warm to hot dribble. Adding to things is a water system with inconsistent pressure and for the better part of the week we had either no water, or an intermittent flow. Seems to be back on track now though. You kinda take water for granted until there is none. We worked around it all with no problems though.

This evening we get to attend a local feista and tomorrow is a guinea pig feast hosted by Jimena, whom we work in the garden with. She´s very knowledgable about the local indigenous ways and even taught us how to make corn bread earlier in the week.

FBU ( is the organization which provides for volunteer stays at the Hacienda and with family´s in Pichincha communities. They seem to be doing some great work and I´m excited to head out to my family in La Crista on Monday. I hear I´ll be getting to do some farm work and teach some English at the local school.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the awesome and detailed update--very cool to know what you are up to. And I love the picture--you look SO happy! That's the best:)

Stacey said...

Yeah!!! I can comment.

That's awesome, April! Good thing there are some Lucky-like dogs for you to hang around. (Don't worry, he's still very much yours. The other day at football practice he got all upset because the gal running the track looked a lot like you.)

Milking a cow! Love the pics. I love all the pics and the reports and hearing about pizza and other adventurist like yourself. Keep'm coming!

~Stacey and Fam!

Mindy Ryals said...

Hey You!
Your looking udderly fine! It's good to see you doing the farmer thing. I have to say you are one up on me, I haven't actually used my hand to milk a cow! Hee Hee
The kiddos send their love and a big Icky for the huge cow pie!