We Love Loki

’80s Night at the Loki bar

“LOKI LOKI LOKI!” someone shouts as we all raise our glasses.

“Oi oi oi!” we respond in Aussie fashion, slam our glasses down on the bar, and proceed to chug our Blood Bombs.  A Blood Bomb consists of a shot of mostly vodka with a few drops of grenadine dropped into a half-glass of Red Bull.  Totally beneficial for your heart and brain; it’s the signature drink of Loki Hostel.

We first heard of Loki from a Couchsurfing host in Ecuador who recommended we stay at the Máncora location.  We ended up staying elsewhere, but we remembered him raving about Loki as an awesomely fun party hostel with opportunities to work and stay for free.  We wanted to try a different volunteer (not WWOOFing) opportunity, so we decided to give Loki Cuzco a try.  As soon as we walked into the bar and offered our help to the manager, we were given bartending jobs and asked to start the next night!

The weekly activities board.

Loki Cuzco is the original of the four Loki Hostels (the others are located in Máncora, Lima, and La Paz, Bolivia) and was opened in 2005 by a group of backpacker friends.  It’s a HUGE hostel (capacity over 200) in a 500-year-old amazing historic building.  The owner and staff are all friendly and bilingual, and the hostel includes free breakfast, a book exchange, a full restaurant and bar, a tour booking office, and daily activities and parties.  It basically has everything you could ever need so that you don’t even have to venture outside if you don’t want to!

Dancing it up on Zach’s birthday night

All of the bartenders are volunteers at Loki.  We worked four shifts a week (either 1-7pm or 7pm-2am) in exchange for a free dormitory bed, one free meal a day, and 40% off on everything at the bar/restaurant.  It was definitely an awesome deal, and we had a lot of fun.  The bar staff during the four weeks we worked at Loki consisted of travelers from Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and a few more of us from the U.S.  We all got along great and every night was a party.  Working behind the bar is not really work; it’s more like serving some drinks while drinking some drinks.  By the end of the night there were always people dancing on the bar, and most of the staff usually went out dancing until the wee hours after our bar closed.  Highlights of our time at Loki included dancing like crazy on the bar at Groove Nightclub, going out for pizza for Zach’s birthday, and all the random hilarious conversations in the staff room.  Being at Loki was kind of like living in a college dorm again, except with the added fun of people from all different countries and none of the hassle of class!

Before you judge us as nonsstop-partying alcoholics, please wait for tomorrow’s other-side-of-the-coin post:  WE HATE LOKI

WWOOFing Ecuador – Tungurahua Tea Room

We arrived at the Tungurahua Tea Room in the afternoon on a bus and took a quick taxi ride to the edge of town.  This was to be our first time WWOOFing Ecuador and our second WWOOF experience in Total.  The farm is really only a 10-15min walk from central Baños, but with all our stuff it would have been a long hike.  The owner of the farm, Carol, a talkative Canadian ex-pat, warmly greeted us and gave us a quick tour.  The property is a skinny pieces of land located on a hill with a front wall of sugarcane and Carol’s house resting on the top.

WWOOFING Ecuador Tungurahua
Carol’s house with the volcano in the background

The Volcán Tungurahua looks down upon the house and is usually snow-covered in the mornings.  Near the front there is a citrus garden with several very nice lemon trees and about a dozen others that grow small tangerines of sorts.  As you walk further in you will find a small volunteers’ room with a bed, a tool shed, and a locked storage room.   Following these are an open air kitchen with sink, stove, and table, then a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower.  Near the kitchen is a very nice spice and tea garden containing basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, and other lemony things used to make delicious teas.  Past the herbs there is a “spiritual circle” surrounded by flowers and such with a fire pit in the center.  If you walk even further there are two shade structures with hammocks and between them a garden of large cactus.  Under one of these we placed our tent, with another tent already under the other.  Between our tents and Carol’s house we could also find anise, lettuce, green peas, spinach, and some red potatoes once we knew what the plants looked like.  Other than that there were a few plantain trees and several avocado trees (only available if you could beat the dogs to them).

WWOOFING Ecuador Tungurahua
Segundo, the gardener, and Zach, cooking lunch

The Work – WWOOFing Ecuador

Usually we would wake up around 7am and make breakfast.  There are two other yard workers that Carol employs whom would show up around 7:30.  Carol also has two large dogs who need walking so one of the workers takes them on a hike up the volcano every morning.  The hike is very nice and terminates at a natural spring with amazing carbonated mineral water produced by volcanic pressure.  Probably the best hike you will find in Banos, Ecuador.  After 2 hours of dog walking we had tea from the garden and sometimes a snack then after tea we went to work on Carol’s projects around the yard.  This work almost always involved randoms projects such as assisting in building walls, or sweeping dirt sidewalks, or weeding around the pathways.  Sometimes we felt like we were fighting the jungle for superficial reasons and I’m sad to report that at no time during our stay did we actually do any farming.  The work was really easy though, and no one was ever looking over your shoulder telling you to try harder.  It just wasn’t farming, and we weren’t really there to push rocks around.

WWOOFING Ecuador Tungurahua
Our “home”…we put our tent on top of that platform.

Overall – WWOOFing Ecuador

We loved the location, and the work was generally easy and laid back.  However, food was not included.  Yes, whatever you could find on the farm was yours (unlimited tea, herbs, and lemonade) but most our food came from money from our pocket.  This probably contributed to our underachievement, and eventual departure when our housesitting opportunity arose.  But the property is extremely beautiful and we had a whole lot of fun there.   Just know before you go that it’s not your “normal” WWOOFing Ecuador experience.  After working on only two farms, we will continue searching for exactly what that “normal” experience is!WWOOFING Ecuador Tungurahua

Enjoy this post about WOOFing Ecuador at the Tungurahua Tea Room? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

House-sitting/dog-sitting in Baños!

Staying in one place for a few weeks rather than a few days is something we really hoped to do a lot on our trip.  The first place we planned to stay for awhile was Baños, Ecuador.  We started off WWOOFing at the Tungurahua Tea Room, where the Canadian owner, Carol, introduced us to a few other expats around town.  Sticking around for awhile and getting to know people led us to the best opportunity we’ve had yet on this trip:  house-sitting!

Our temporary home!

How we got this gig: In our first few days of WWOOFing we did some work on the property of one of Carol’s tenants, an American expat named Patricia.  Patricia was really cool and helped us find all the awesome things to do in Baños!  Then, after we had been in town for a couple weeks, Patricia got called away for a last-minute business trip.  She needed someone to stay in her house (expats are big targets for robbery) and take care of Oso, the dog.  So she asked us!  We happily obliged and moved from living in a tent to living in a nice house with a refrigerator, hot water, and Internet (hence the reason we’ve been able to post every day and get caught up recently)!  Oso did require a lot of work (long hikes, playing, bathing, feeding, etc.) but other than that our only real job was to keep an eye on things!  It was a great, relaxing 10 days!

Relaxation!

I think this experience exemplifies the great opportunities you can stumble upon while traveling if you’re flexible!  If our schedule and plans had been more rigid, we never would have been able to do this.  We had such a great time that now we’re thinking that more house-sitting might be a great option for us as we travel.  I’ve heard good reviews about sites such as http://www.MindMyHouse.com, but I’m not sure there are enough listings in South America to make the $20 membership fee worth it.  Anyone have any tips on this???  Or other ideas for us to get more house-sitting gigs?

This whole house was made from recycled building materials!
Lofted bedroom
Beautiful view off the side yard

¿podemos seguir adelante con ella?

My pack

Because my Spanish is still really bad, google translate helps me out.  What I think I am saying is CAN WE JUST GET ON WITH IT?  I am ready to get out of here.  Not that Arizona is not an amazing place, but after a year of planning, it is time to get this show on the road.  I already have my backpack set and almost everything I need to survive for 1 year is in it.  These next few months are going to be very long.

Exhaustion

Not much news since we bought our flight tickets.  (Which is still big news!!!)  The reason for the lag:  We are friggin’ busy!

Zach works 50 hour weeks AND every other weekend as an electrician.

Mel has a relatively new job, is moving, and training for a triathalon.

I just got a new job but still have two weeks left at my old one.  So between the two I’m working 60 hour weeks and at least 20 straight days without a day off.

AHHH!!!  We are TIRED and frustrated that we don’t have more time to work on things like the trailer, social media, and fundraising.  But the $$ we are making now is enabling us to take off on this year of awesomeness.  I know I will handle tiredness so much better when I’m tired from doing something awesome, like hiking Machu Picchu. 

Eyes on the prize…Also I know I will be able to work more on LAP once I’m back to only one job and only 40 hours a week.  I just can’t wait to get there!