One week of work is under our belts! Last Monday, we set out on a one-hour long bus ride to the southern part of Quito where the site of our first project is. We are building this greenhouse on the roof of an elementary school so that the children learn about sustainable farming practices and healthy eating while having the ability to produce their own crops year round.
Luis, the agricultural engineer from ConQuito, taught us the basics of the tools we would be using and then we got to work building the framework of the greenhouse. The older children from the school came to help us as well, and this allowed them to be a part of the building process and also gave us the chance to practice our Spanish. Although chiseling the beams into the right shape and hammering in the wooden poles straight was sometimes difficult or tiring, everyone definitely had a lot of fun and easily got into the groove of our workdays.
In addition to the greenhouse, we had several small side projects. The school asked us to paint a mural on a wall in the main courtyard that was educational and incorporated themes from the greenhouse. We had a blast coming up with ideas and having the kids help us, and the picture shows the final product. We also weeded a small plot of land in the nearby kindergarten so that we can plant a garden for them. We have not begun planting yet, but we will this week. While we were cleaning out this land, teachers from the kindergarten asked several of us to help teach English to the students. Amanda, Sarah, and Diva were each given about 30 kids to attempt to control and educate, and that was definitely quite the experience. Hopefully they retained some of our lessons.
Luis also took us to another one of his greenhouse sites and we helped with this project as well. This greenhouse was located behind the Contemporary Art Museum our job was to wrap each metal pole with plastic to protect it. An amazing feature of this greenhouse is that it was constructed entirely out of recycled materials.
At the end of this working week, we had finished the basic framework of the greenhouse. All that is left is the roof, crossbeams, and plastic coverings. While Amanda, Sarah, and Kristi were painting the mural, Dan, Steven, and Diva were building the planter boxes so we will also need to transfer the plants into those. We can all agree that this first week has been a great success, working efficiently on our projects while making friends with the local community.
With the weekend came time to explore Quito! On Saturday, we went to Papallacta, a small village in the Andes where there are natural hot springs. Soaking in the water and relaxing our sore bodies while looking at the beautiful mountains was the perfect way to unwind after this first week of work. On Sunday, we went to Yanacocha and enjoyed an amazing ten mile hike where we saw different kinds of hummingbirds and butterflies. Because we were so high up in elevation, we were literally above clouds and the view was breathtaking.
This coming week, Steven will be going back home so we will finish the greenhouse and garden at the school on Thursday and then go back the the one at the museum on Friday. We have some special guests from Sacramento coming to visit the site on Tuesday and one of them is a journalist who will write a story on our work here. We can’t wait for another week of work and to finish this greenhouse!