Sorry about the lack of contact - I've been rather busy lately! Last weekend was pretty normal - went to school, learnt spanish, looked round quito, etc, etc. But at the weekend we all went to FBU to plant lots of trees! (over 1000 in total) it´s situated about 2.5 hour drive from Quito, along lots of windy roads in a bus driven rather fast in the dark - but it was very safe, don't worry! When we arrived we were met by stuart, the british guy who seems to be in charge - james did tell me about him previously, and he's really nice. After dinner we sat round a campfire with a guitar and sang songs! And then we went to bed.
Next morning we got up at 6.20 and after breakfast headed off to plant the trees - travelling in true Ecuadorian style, in the back of a pick-up truck! we all crammed in the back and drove off very fast along a very bumpy track - and amazing experience that was made better by the fact that health and safety etc etc in the UK would never have let us get away with it!
Arriving at the tree planting site - a huge hillside that was once a pine forest, but will hopefully be an indigenous forest again in 50 years or so, due to the trees we planted. I only actually planted a couple - Catherine (another volunteer) and I were in charge of going round and making sure they were planted properly and picking up any rubbish - which doesn't sound so interesting, but we had lots of fun! Catherine is obsessed with biology, so we had to stop to look at interesting plants, etc, etc!
We finished the reforestation by about 10am, so most of us went for a walk with Stuart and some Ecuadorian guides - back in the truck for another bumpy ride, then walked up a very steep hill to a sort of shack-shelter-thing...i think you'll have to see the photos! We waited around here and sat in the sun, and a man went past with a donkey, which made me think that a donkey would by the most awesome way to take shopping home from the co-op...so when i am self-sufficient and living in my yurt then i might have to have a donkey! Anyway - after lunch, which was brought up to the hut-thing in another truck, we went for a long long walk through a jungley wood, across some fantastic hills (or mountains, possibly - when does a hill become a mountain?) and then down to a waterfall - where lots of people decided to have a paddle - understatement - lots of people decided to jump straight in! I didn't - i think it would have been a bit cold... then we went back through the jungle, where Catherine got very excited about all the plants...to a wooden bridge so rotten that we had to go under, not over it!, and then back to the wooded hut thing, where we got into the truck and drover very fast back to the hacienda, where we were staying. After dinner we sat round the fire with the guitar again. :-) A very good day - the best so far on account of being outside of Quito!
And Sunday was awesome too!! We left FBU after breakfast (we had these weird bread things that were a cross between doughnuts and bread and pancakes and naan bread! which we dipped iin sugar, and also cold scrambled egg. which wasn't so great...) and drove to Otavalo - the closest town - where we visited the market. Which was AWESOME! We've been to the market in Quito a couple of times, but Otavalo was way better! Using our amazing (hmm..) haggling skills we bought some beautiful trousers for $4 a pair (which we´re all wearing out tonight because it's Jo's birthday!), and i got some dungarees...which are awesome...but slightly too big, so I'll have to move the buttons. And a panama hat!
Wow - long email, but it was a very good weekend! This is our last week together as a group in quito, whcih is a shame because the whole group (about 16 of us) gets on really well. Next weekend we're going to Mindo (look on a map) for another action-packed weekend...
Oh, and my adaptor plug doesn't work - silly man in itchy feet with his sill adapter plug manual! But Sze has one which i borrowed to charge my camera battery. And even if i don't get round to buying one here, if such a thing is possible, we have to come back to quito once a month to meet up, in addition to other stuff, so i could always borrow someone's charger then. And i really think i brought too many pairs of trousers, but hey.
Oh yes - could you please put up some metal hooks because i am going to buy lots of hammocks!!!!!! Lauren and I have a balcony outside our room with a hammock which is very nice; and Niall bought one in Otavalo for only $8!
It's still very warm here - but is supposed to rain later this week. I haven't actually used my raincoat yet! Spanish is really good - my teacher is called Christine, and she's really nice,...today we went for a walk to her daughter's school to deliver a memory stick, and she tends to act out random conversations that she has with her children at home!
I've learnt quite a lot, but am not convinced that my Spanish will be much better by the end of the 2 weeks...