It’s Sunday night and I am sitting on my bed under my mosquito net writing this entry by the light of Maddie’s head lamp. The sound of crickets are ringing outside of our little cottage. The final murmurs of conversations are dying out as people settle into their beds for a night of rest in between two busy days. The last 4 days have been beautiful and fulfilling blocks of 24 hours stuffed with magical and challenging moments. We arrived at Rio Muchacho on Wednesday night and spent our first full day (Thursday) listening to lectures by Nicola, planting lima beans in the garden, harvesting wing beans and naranjilla, and making macadamia nut chocolate. The rustic and raw charm of Rio Muchacho seeped into our spirits and fueled us through our tiring day. After quite a chilly scare in the company of a few large spiders and other insect friends, we fell asleep in our semi-open cabin.
Friday was another full day of learning, laughter and adventure We started off the morning with another lesson and a little farm tour before sitting down to enjoy another of Rio Muchacho’s delicious meals in the company of the other guests. It has been so wonderful to be able to chat with people from all over the world at a large wooden table at a farm in Ecuador. Since we have been here, I have talked with people for Arizona, Oregon, Montreal, Uruguay, Los Angeles, and Denmark. Everyone has their own wonderful and unique story, and, yet, each story has brought them to Rio Muchacho over this week in July. After lunch, we went on a short hike to a strangler fig tree near the farm. This tree was massive, and it looked like a Hawaiian fantasy. Many of us climbed to the first large branch where we were able to look down proudly on the distance that we had just conquered. In the early evening, tired from our tree climbing excursion, we played an amusing and energizing game of soccer with some locals. After some failed attempts at cleaning the field of weeds with a small machete, we began the game. There was probably just as much laughing as there was scoring, and the locals seemed just as amused with our lack of skills as we were. Sticky with sweat and humid air, we walked back down the dirt road, passing front yards of chickens and cows, to Rio Muchacho Organic Farm for dinner. It had been another beautiful day, and we were ready for a day of rejuvenating fun at Canoa.
Saturday was filled with warm waves playfully splashing, plates piled with tasty food, wet sand squishing under your feet, and the sun toasting your skin. We built a pitiful sandcastle in the soft, dark sand, and scratched kind words onto the beach with random rocks. The warmth of the ocean sun revived our spirits, and we rode home in a pick-up truck with salty sea hair and full hearts.
We slept, content, and woke up to Sunday, today, July 9, over two-thirds of our trip completed. Today, like everyday of this trip thus far, was complete. It was complete with challenges, learning, adventure, laughter, trust, kindness, and beauty. I was thinking today, after making a ring from a palm seed and with my clay face mask on, that I have already grown and learned so much on this trip so far. The friends I have made during these couple of weeks will always hold a special place in my memories. The lectures I have listened to will continue to guide me in the years to come. The places I have gone will always be a source of inspiration and awe. The challenges I have faced have strengthened me and helped me grow into a more confident and fearless person. Seeds of Change has helped me plant many new ‘seeds’ into my life garden. Seeds of knowledge, compassion, friendships, culture, experiences, and courage. It has been a wonderful 15 days, and I am both excited and sad for the final days of our trip. To many more icy showers, car rides filled with Latin American music, laughter in good company, hikes through the lush natural landscape, and experiencing the beauty of Ecuador with my Sustainable Summer family.