Volunteering with CRACYP & Life in San Luis de Pambil, Ecuador

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By Adam Edwards (UK).

For my volunteer work (in 2004), I was based in San Luis de Pambil for 5 months and had a great time staying with Raul and Anisita. It was an experience that I shall never forget. San Luis is in an agricultural area and you will pass plenty of plantain fields and fincas on the way to the small town. During my stay, I got to know the people of San Luis as well as the neighbouring communities - walking in to town always meant seeing somebody I knew and the locals were keen to know more about the work I was doing. Living in San Luis meant living in an area where very few people spoke English - I felt that it gave me a good understanding of the area, of people's daily lives and was great for the progression of my Spanish. Working with the Non-Governmental Organisation CRACYP meant there was always a number of projects going on - I was focused on community banking, but also worked with the fair trade organic alcohol project and with the Piedra Blanca Community Ecotourism Project.

Piedra Blanca is higher up than San Luis and is a sparsely populated area of farmers. The road up to Piedra Blanca is great and the views are stunning. I came up to Piedra Blanca fairly regularly and it was impressive to see the construction of the cabana (ecolodge) and the kitchen area take place. Piedra Blanca is pure rural Ecuador and is was probably about as far away as I could get from the temping job I had in London prior to my trip.

Day to day life in San Luis was varied and comprised working on several different projects - each however, worked very closely with the surrounding communities. There was constantly people dropping by the office and it was good to meet new people and find out about the work they were doing and aspiring to. I met some really interesting characters and also got real insight into what people's needs, frustrations and hopes were. San Luis is pretty tranquil but I enjoyed getting to know people and spending time with some inspirational people.

To anyone who is willing to throw caution to the wind, enthusiastic and willing to get stuck into everything that is going on - I would say this is an experience like no other. I am still in contact with the people I met in Ecuador and have returned since my initial trip. It will broaden your horizons.

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Volunteer Work in Ecuador at Piedra Blanca