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We’re more than 2/3 of the way through the urban portion of the Cuenca Project and we can hardly believe it! This week continued much like the last, with volunteers continuing to get to know and spending time with their host families, as well as a continuation of partner work. Despite a few scheduling hiccups, volunteers remained in high spirits as many of them got to experience and help at partners agencies not assigned to them.

In Barabón, Lucia’s route worked hard on community farming, helping weed and prepare the field for planting seasons to come. At Sayausí, Kate’s route did a variety of tasks: weeding, recycling, cleaning, and moving rocks to support the bases of trees. At Rafalex, Karsen’s route worked hard on youth development projects and fundraisers. All three routes have been working hard and practicing their Spanish, leaving Project Staff very proud.

At Amauta, our partner agency and Spanish school, the volunteers continue to improve their language skills. This week, they went on an excursion to the Quinta Bolivar, with many stops along the way as volunteers each presented the history of the many notable sites of Cuenca. Favorites include the Puente Roto, the Iglesia de Todos Santos, the Museo de las Artes de Fuego, and the city’s beautiful Parque el Paraíso, where they took in the beautiful site of the confluence of the Tomebamba and Yanuncay rivers.

Although it was a standard week in Ecuador, volunteers took time to celebrate Independence Day on July 4th! At Amauta, we celebrated with hot dogs and Coca Cola, which Project Staff prepared for volunteers. At home, many volunteers cooked traditional meals for their families, from chilaquiles to hamburgers to milkshakes.

The weekend also proved to be a wonderful time for volunteers, with many spending the days with their families in the city center at artisan markets and other tourist sites, while other families ventured farther afield to country homes and to Cajas, the national park near Cuenca.

In sum: this was a week full of learning, exploring, laughter, and new traditions. We can’t wait to see what the next week brings!

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