by Areli Hernandez
on September 26, 2017 on 9/26/17
[email protected]! This weekend marked my first month in Ecuador & I’m honestly so surprised at how not homesick I am.
I do miss & love everyone back home, but I’m so so so happy here and glad that I picked this country to study abroad in. Aside from having so much freedom, beauty, and culture constantly around me, it’s amazing to take classes where I learn things that MATTER & have so much relevance in the world. To be honest, I came here trying to figure out how I could help the world, only to learn that the world around me has so much to help me. My daily life is filled with random little moments like watching the sun set behind the Andes mountains during my runs, seeing all the stars late at night, that I feel so so grateful for being here.
Nonetheless, the horrible set of earthquakes in México & the deadly aftermath breaks my heart. My Ecuadorian family & friends here are all genuinely concerned & empathetic for México and always ask about my family and how they are doing.
This week, we went on a couple field trips up to northwest Ecuador. One was to Cayambe where we got to visit a rose plantation whose location on the equator makes it a perfect place to grow roses since the sun hits perpendicular to the Earth.
Despite the progressive aspects of this company: there is a child development center that is free for all workers and their children and salary bonuses at the start of the school year to help the workers and their families buy school supplies etc, I also saw some problematic things with this company. First off, this is a Dutch corporation and not an Ecuadorian one. Also, although they pay a little over minimum wage, which is a little over a dollar, making it very difficult for the workers to actually live off of this wage. I also had some reservations knowing that this was it is still very hard for the workers to live off.
Next we went to the county of Pedro Moncayo to a small organic produce farm and learned about sustainable agroecolgy.
Some key takeaways:
The Carchi province in the north of Ecuador has the perfect conditions to grow potatoes. HOWEVER so many chemicals have been brought that it makes this the #1 place in the WORLD where people get sick from & are poisoned by chemicals in their agricultural products. This is horrible especially considering the country’s history of rich soil & perfect conditions to grow certain crops like potatoes, quinoa, bananas, cacao, coffee & a lot more.
The seed is the main problem for farmers here since so many hybrid ones have been brought to Ecuador & do not behave like the seeds that these Ecuadorian farmers have been using for centuries. The solution? to create a center for local seeds which this particular organization aims to do.
A normal hormone-free chicken takes 160 days to fully grow, but most chickens on the market bought with hormones only take 45 days. Can you imagine how many hormones go into these chickens & how many of those people consume?
We should decolonize our diets & focus on consuming as close to the plant as possible (without added chemicals & etc). BUT this is a problem for those who cannot afford to buy organic so a lot of work needs to be done.
We also traveled to Nanegal to visit a coffee plantation & learn how it is produced. The actual coffee fruit is surprisingly sweet & the fruit has more caffeine than the actual coffee bean. The coffee was really good (but honestly I’m no coffee snob & can drink any coffee-tasting thing and call it delicious. What can I say I’m a simple gal.)
I had the most delicious red velvet cake made with beet puree instead of milk. It was so good that I ate it in three bites, got seconds, & didn’t get a pic of it but here’s a pic of a Tres Leches cake that looked beautiful but I couldn’t eat cause it had dairy :)
Ya girl got to ride a horse for the first time & it was in the Andes!!! (I only rode a burro donkey in México when I was like 5 but always dreamed to be a horse trainer except I never had a horse HAHAHA) Not gonna lie, I was so sore & could barely walk after riding that crazy Pamela (she was a 5 year old horse who loved to gallop & I am a twenty year old who was fearing for my life), but YOLO. Jk. No but really it was so beautiful to see the snow capped mountains in the distance. I’d ride a poem but I’m not very poetic & can only rhyme.
Favorite notes from class:
“La ‘pobreza’ de unos países explica la ‘riqueza’ de otros”
“The ‘poverty’ of some countries explains the ‘wealth’ of others”
Ecuadorian vs. Mex Spanish
Farrear-irse de fiesta, pachanga, pistear- to go party
Chiro-sin un peso -broke