My second placement was at Guandera, another reserve, this time near the Columbian border at 3200m, pretty high! We arrived and immediately had to walk about half an hour up a hill, then down a really steep hill and then cross a river a few times- all wearing huge backpacks- fun! The reserve was pretty isolated, the nearest small village was about an hour and a half walk away and the nearest town another hour from there. The work was really different to La Hesperia, and not nearly as hard! Most of my time was spent hiking, the odd day farming and also teaching English in the local school. The hikes were cool, usually going up through primary forest (complete with Guandera trees a thousand years old or more) and then onto the Paramo, a weird kind of grassland with spiky plants and grass and little else. We mostly went up to look for evidence of the Spectacled Bear, which lives on the reserve, unfortunately I never saw any bears, but I did see poo and eaten plants! Going to the farm was fun, it was named `Rancho Alegre' (Happy ranch), there was always random music blasting about and millions of cuy (guinea pigs) running around! These were fun to chase and pick up, until one day when two of the girls picked up the stud, who was absolutely massive, and it had a heart attack! Luckily Don Jorge (farmer) and his wife saw the funny side! We also got some cuy from the farm to eat, was quite nice but tasted kind of like salty chicken with less meat on it.. though I guess you would expect that as they are pretty small!! Teaching English at the local school was an interesting experience, once we managed to find the classroom and persuade a teacher that she wanted to let us teach her class (we were supposed to have two classes but none of the teachers could make up their minds what time the English lessons were!) the first class was great- well behaved and I think they learnt something! At break we were coerced into playing some random game, a cross between baseball and rounders and dodge ball, which basically consisted of trying to hit a deflated ball with a stick and then being pushed around a square with loads of kids trying to chuck a ball at us! Not sure exactly what we were doing but was quite amusing! The second class was another story altogether, there was no teacher most of the time and when she did come in she was trying to teach them something else, so the classroom was chaos, lots of screaming kids chasing each other with pen knives- scary! Not so sure that they knew any more English at the end of the lesson!! As we were at such high altitude the weather was really cold, which wasn't so bad until it rained (which was at least every other day!) and everything got soaked and just didn't dry, we had a fire but there was fierce competition for drying spots infront of the fire! However, at least it means I really appreciate the warm weather now I'm back in Quito! The last night at Guandera we had a party, which started off with a local tradition when anyone is leaving or having a birthday etc.. Basically, they bake a cake for you, make you take a bite with your hands behind your back and then shove the cake in your face! Mark, Matt and I were all leaving on the same day and so we all had to bite at the same time- I ended up with icing everywhere, even up my nose! Wil put some pictures on soon....!