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Volunteers arrived in rural communities this past weekend and they are all doing a wonderful job adjusting to community and beginning their microproyectos! Saturday morning saw our volunteers finally saying goodbye to each other, along with their urban host families, and heading out in all directions from Cuenca. Before they left, we had a few more adventures in the city.

On Saturday morning, we held a despedida (farewell party) with all of our urban host families. The volunteers got the chance to say a few words and have one last cafecito with their host families before we returned to our hostel and held midterm. Aside from some extra rural training and phone calls home, Project Staff and the volunteers took a damp but very fun trip to the beautiful Cajas National Park right outside the city on Sunday morning. Guided by members of our partner agency, El Asociacion Rural de Turismo Sayausi, we climbed to a beautiful viewpoint next a lagoon popular with local fisherman and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before climbing back down. It turns out that Cajas mud is not only good for your skin, but also gets volunteers excited for rural community. We finished out the day by shopping at Cuenca’s Mercado de Artesanos Rotary, where the volunteers stocked up on warm clothing and Ecuadorian souvenirs.

After a second Route Reveal on Sunday night, the volunteers had the night to get to know their new supervisors, bond with their new partners, and rest before the upcoming week. Monday morning our three supervisors, Senior Staff, and Ecuador’s wonderful Country Director, Adam, took the volunteers out to meet their rural host families and settle them into their host communities. Waiting for their buses, the volunteers played cards, painted each other’s nails, and explored the bakeries at Cuenca’s Terminal Terrestre.

Arrival in Rural CommunitiesKarsen’s route, located south of Cuenca along the Carretera Panamericana, have been exploring the wonders of the Canton de Oña and province of Loja. Some of their potential microproyectos include making dance costumes for a traditional dance group, setting up a store for community craft work and organic products, and protecting a community’s soccer field from rain and wind.

Spread across the Cañar province, the Canton de Oña, and the southeast of Cuenca, Kate’s route is our only group who has the pleasure of including a herd of alpacas. This week, some of Kate’s volunteers got the chance to spend time with the alpacas, as well as hike the hills and mountains surrounding their communities. Some of their potential microproyectos include a native plant garden, indigenous cultural murals, a museum, and recreational space.

Supervisor Lucia’s route is scattered all across the Azuay Province. Many of her volunteers are being put to work, helping out community members with farm work. Some of their potential microproyectos include fixing a tourist cabin, supporting a community garden, maintaining cycling trails, and promoting a local museum through social media.

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