Mashpi Shungo

What an adventure we have had since our last post! It seems unbelievable that such a short time has really passed, given all that we have seen and done, and the drastic change in landscape and culture. We left Black Sheep Inn early Monday, and set off for a long bus ride. Although we prepared for 6 hours in the car, our bus driver unknowingly took the wrong route and we spent an extra couple of hours on a winding gravel road. Despite the stiffness, the views through this tropical cloud forest were striking, and we even took a break at some point to put our feet in the water. We also exhausted a list of bus games, spurring unstoppable laughter.

When we finally arrived in Mashpi, relief doesn’t even begin to cover the feeling. We really didn’t know what to expec. We knew that there haven’t been too many groups coming through here before and that this was a community-run initiative, rather than a conventional tourism business. The accommodations were rather sparse, and we ate our first taste of plantains for dinner, not knowing then that they would be a staple in each of the meals we ate here. Maclaine, who spent two years in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, described it as a really authentic rural Latin American community.

The next morning started early, with a 6:30am bird watching tour. We spotted fly catchers, parrots, tanagers and even a type of pigeon on our hour long walk along the river accompanied by the music of other birds we were unable to see.

Next, we went to a farm with a variety of fruits and had a short lesson about restoration and sustainability, and about soil ecology and micro organisms. We tasted salac, azara, gum fruit, and even more that can’t be named and then went out into the fruit forest, hunting for coffee to harvest.

Before lunch we had just enough time for a quick swim in the river, and then what we had really been waiting for: the cacao plantation. Alejandro, the owner, explained his process of restoring the land from pasture to an incredibly fertile and bio diverse forest and cacao plantation. We were blown away by the chocolate we tasted, and everyone bought at least one bar.

When we finished, we rushed back to the town center for a soccer game with the community — which quite possibly included more laughter than scoring. We still managed to work up quite the sweat though, so as it got too dark to play we ran to the river for the most refreshing swim that could be imagined.

The evening ended with dinner and saying goodbye to our hosts, reflecting on what an incredible experience it has been here in the Mashpi community. We’re currently enjoying a delicious breakfast in Mindo – an awesome cloud forest town a couple of hours from Mashpi on the road to the coast. In a bit, we head to Rio Muchacho!!

Saludos, Seeds of change 2016