After leaving the World Vision office behind, we headed out for Muenala, a small community high in the Andes mountains. Along the way we stopped for lunch at a tiny restaurant on the edge of Cotacachi volcano. The crater of the volcano is actually filled with water now, turning it into a beautiful clear lake. As much as possible I´m trying to eat local food so I ordered the Plato Tipicos, a plate full of grilled pork, boiled corn, potatoes and local white cheese. A few of us decided to order cuy (guinea pig) to share but they had run out so we´ll have to wait for another day to try this Ecuadorian delicacy.
After lunch, it was off to Muenala, which was an absolutely remarkable experience. Our driver Franklin (aka coolest bus driver on the planet!) maneuvered us through some of the narrowest roads and steepest slopes I´ve ever seen. We climbed up to 3200 meters above sea level, literally looking down on the clouds, to meet with a small community of 150 indigenous people who had received 16 cows from Canadian donors through our gift catalogue. We were introduced to the community and then a gentleman stepped forward to thank us for visiting and for the cows they had recieved, allowing them to have fresh milk and cheese for their families. It was a remarkably humbling experience to be among these gentle people, to shake their hands, to look into their eyes and see the genuine gratitude there.
In addition to the cows, the village also recieved a pipeline up to a water storage tank that provides them with water to irrigate their crops. This high in the mountains water is extremely hard to come by in Ecuador. The soil is very dry and the constant wind is whipping up dust continually. When World Vision completed the pipeline the community was able to grow crops more easily to provide nutritious vegetables for their families. To stand side by side with these people, to see how tangibly their lives were improved by Canadians half a world away is an indescribable feelign that I wish each and every person could experience.
Before leaving the area for our next stop we shot a couple of thank you videos to share when we get back home, gave the children some gifts, and took photos of the children and their parents among the amazing scenery. Then it was off to our final stop for the day, down the winding roads to Cutambi.
For complete photos from the journey click here.
To sponsor a child in Ecuador visit WorldVision.ca