Last weekend was our third retreat to Guaranda, a small city nestled in a valley that's surrounded by seven hills of patchwork quilt-like cultivated land and pine trees. The bus ride to and from Guaranda twisted through the high Andes right past Ecuador's highest peak, Chimbarazo. While in Guaranda we climbed up to the statue of Guarango, who the town is named after, wandered the city, ate our fair share of street food and Magnum ice cream bars, and watched an episode of Glee in Spanish (while the boys enjoyed a municipally supported cock fight). From Guaranda we took a day trip to Salinas where we learned about the successful co-op there that employs a large percentage of the town through its textile factories specializing in producing tea, cheese, chocolate, soccer balls, and more. Lucky for us, our guide passed around an appetizing glass of alcohol fermented by an intact snake corpse to get us ready for the walking tour.
This past Thursday most of us participated in locking ourselves in the library for a night. Why would we ever want to do this, you may ask? Well, for one, we got to have dinner at a street side paradilla (barbeque) and experience what an average week night is like in Rumiloma. We also participated in a Halo tournament, played set, watched movies, and celebrated the completion of our quarterly reports.
In general, we (usually) love each other and I for one hope to have many more non-work related opportunities to enjoy each other's company throughout our last four months in South America.
Cheers to being more consistent blog writers over the next few weeks!