Trip Start Aug 07, 2008
Trip End Dec 10, 2009

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, April 6, 2009

Well, it seems that i have been of the grid for a couple of weeks now, with no Facebook or TravelPod updates. And, indeed, i have been away from technology (and electricity and flush toilets), volunteering at a vegetarian permaculture spiritual-retreat community...

A girl i met in Cartagena had spent Xmas here and had had a great time. 4 hours a day work for room and board (5 days on, 2 off) and only 2 hours north of Quito seemed like a perfect chance to get away from it all and cram in some more Spanish grammar in my spare time.

Needless to say, itīs not the kind of thing i thought íīd be interested in - and a year ago iīd have probably laughed about it. But maybe that was the whole point - to get away from it all, try something new and meet people that i would not likely have ever crossed paths with only a short time ago. Thank god i did - it has been awesome.

The Rhiannon Community Center is run by two girls from the UK that decided to eschew the conventional lifestyle and develop the community here in Ecuador. It started from just about nothing 6 months ago and is being developed in a vegetarian, permaculture and spiritual.

In my first 2 weeks we doubled the size of the greenhouse (encountering problem after problem with drainage for the sake of saving one sheet of plastic...), started constructing a chicken tractor, enlarged the guinea pig enclosure - amongst dozens of smaller projects and tasks. Iīve watered, weed (is that a verb?), baked and painted. In the pipeline is a solar water heater, wiring the house (electricity, finally!) and constructing a a bicycle powered water pump to fill the water tower to run a yet to be designed irrigation system. Lots of interesting projects, lots of skills to be learnt. The beehive (and itīs 10,000 occupants) arrived last week so thatīs another thing to get upto speed with soon!

The people are varied and awesome. Brits, Europeans, South Americans, Americans and everything inbetween. Most do all have a slightly green bent, but there is more sense to what they believe than what i would have assumed a year ago! And then there are many others who donīt fit any mold - from those that come for a few days to those that want to stay for years.

The food IS vegetarian, but it IS also damn good, filling and healthy. Thatīs not to say it wouldnīt be better if accompanied by a steak though... And the lifestyle shift is complete with a 7am bell clang announcing the start of 1.5hrs of yoga before brekkie. More often then not i roll over and savor the extra sleep, but every few days i do give it a shot - itīs pretty good actually :-)

So...how much longer here? No idea. Probably a week or so more, then itīll be time to hit the beach, explore a bit more of Ecuador and then head back to see how things have moved on. And after that i really should get moving - Peru perhaps?
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