Our week in Pucara came and went. We arrived there on Friday and left early Thursday morning. Within that time, we did tons of hiking, a lot of learning and tons of community work. When we arrived, the town of Pucara had a big welcome for us, where we played games, listened to music and performances and bonded quickly. We each stayed with a homestay family alone, which was a first, but which gave us plenty of time to bond with our homestay families.
Pete was our community leader. He was also an inspiration and great worker. He showed us some of his work around the small town of Pucara. For example: the spanish school he created to help women to have jobs and better finances so they can better take care of their families. Pete hopes that Pucara can be a community that other communities can follow in its footsteps, by creating a way of living where people do not have to leave hoping for a "better" lifestyle. Pucara can be the community where people go there and hopefully stay and live there, rather than people coming in, trying to find solutions, and then leaving with tons of abandoned work with no one to maintain it.
The next few days were filled with a lot of work and walking. We walked to Pete's house where we learned about his farm and the plants he grows – such as the coffee plants. The next day the group split into two. One group planted flowers and the other seperated bottles for Pete's recycled wall then they planted medicinal plants.
Monday we did a few hour hike through the cloud forest where we met Carlos. He told us about mining and what we can do to help create awareness around the issues against mining. Wesenday we planted over 285 trees on a steep slope. There are so many many things we did and learned. I cannot even explain all.
Thursday we left to another small town. There we learned the next steps about what happens to the coffee in the coffee factory before it is sent out to other places for sale. Shortly after we did the tallest zip line in all of South America. Personal shout out to myself for getting on after freaking out for a good 25 minutes. When we got to the other side we stayed in the cabins for the night. The next day after we waited for 3 1/2 for a bus back to Quito, we hitched it on the back of a boxed truck to Otovalo. There we caught a bus back to Quito where we all started. We are already in our midpoint. Early sunday morning (22nd) we will be heading to Peru. The group and I are really excited and cannot wait to spend the rest of our 6 weeks in Peru. Sorry this is extremely long, but we did so much and learned a lot!