On The Farm Again – Northern Ecuador

After a year of trying, I finally got a Workaway to work out.  I’m on a farm again, this time in northern Ecuador between the tourist towns of Otavalo and Cotacachi.

I don’t really know what’s going on in this statue in Cotacachi. Is there a dice game that involves whips?

The farm is much bigger than my last one and can handle 15,000 chickens at a time.  The garden extends over various plots and contains many different vegetables taking advantage of the mild weather all year.  There are various other animals as part of their permaculture lifestyle.

Pig tractors help with the hard work by tearing up roots and eating them.

And piglets, well, those are just cute.

There’s also cows but no milking for me this time. This one, Sebastian, is friendly and came up to me to lick me all over. He also once ate a bucket of alcohol infused pineapple and got drunk. I guess teenage cows binge drink too.

Mostly I help with the gardening but I was lured in by promises of butchering.  The mild Ecuadorian climate reminds me of Los Angeles and the ability to grow things all year.  I didn’t even realize that was a thing until I moved to San Francisco.  I feel like I’m getting a nice crash course in community gardening.  As for butchering, sadly, I showed up right after the last batch of chickens and the pigs are still too young to slaughter.  There are some hams being smoked and rumors of sausages to be made.

I already miss my old oil can grill but now I want a giant oil can smoker.

Also around the farm are various pets.  I am enjoying being around a settled environment and playing with the animals.

Leaving your electronics out as sleeping cat bait works fantastically.

There are so many gigantic, friendly dogs. Feeding them takes a considerable amount of effort.

As with most generous Workaway volunteer set ups, you work about 25 hours a week.  Here that means I get my weekends off to explore.  I set out for Otavalo early Saturday to witness the many markets that occur.  The first stop was the animal market where people go to buy their critters.

Finally! I’ve found llamas in Ecuador. Como se llama?

This is the big leagues with lots of big cows.

Known here as cuy, they’re a delicacy eaten grilled on a stick for special occasions. They’re also pretty darned cute.

I went to a few vegetable/fruit markets and picked up a few things.  I passed on the Otavalan goods as I really didn’t need any leather or llama wear.  After my market adventures I visited a condor park.  My host mentioned it was 20 minutes from town but not that he meant 20 minutes by the car I don’t have and the non existent bus.  No, instead I went on a bizarre adventure traversing through farms.  Every time I asked a townsfolk where to go, the would tell me my original direction was dangerous and point me 90 degrees the other way.

At least the view from the condor park was beautiful. The condors themselves always look scraggly to me.

Sunday I attempted to climb a 4800 meter (15000 foot) mountain, taller than anything in the continental US.  Apparently my inclination for sea and vision sickness extends itself to altitude sickness as well.  I still got to enjoy some great views as I made it only halfway up the mountain and the clouds soon rolled in to cover everything.  The other snafu is on the way up a dog nipped me in the calf.  Luckily he just got my pant leg covered in drool teeth marks but didn’t break through.

The last marker I saw although the rest of my group let me know I almost reached 4000 meters. The highest I have ever hiked.

On the way down, a “shortcut” led us past some adorable critters.

Gardening was usually my morning task and the rest was cooking and baking for those here.  My adventures in high altitude kitchen wizardry and the school of learning the hard way will be a whole other post.

1 comment
  1. jenn said:

    Hey, ads! That’s new. So is that the photo of the three kittieballs you told me about?

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