1/3 Highlights

As of January 27, we’ve been in South America for three months!  That’s about 1/3 of the total time we’ll be down here (assuming money lasts) so it’s quite a milestone.  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been on the road forever and other times it feels like it was just yesterday we landed in Medellin.

To celebrate our 1/3-iversary, let’s list some fun stats!

Days in South America:  95

Dollars Spent (not including flight): $3005

Countries Visited: 3

Books Read: 8 (Carrie), 7 (Zach)

Number of Laundromat Visits (not including hand-washing): 3

Bacterial Infections: 1 each

Things We’ve Lost
iPhone (Carrie)…The Infamous Bird Poop Incident
Water bottle (Zach)…just left it at a Couchsurfer’s house
Glasses (Carrie)…stupid lake
Sunglasses (Zach)…stupid ocean
2 rings (Carrie)…two separate places
1 shirt (Carrie)…I think this girl on our first WWOOF farm thought it was hers because she always wore orange!
Dr. Bronners soap (Zach)…”It’ll turn up!” he says
Umbrella…who knows???

And now, since it is Awards Season, we hereby present to you….

The 1/3-iversary Superlatives…a.k.a. the Best Of “So Far”

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee

Most Missed Food: Graeter’s ice cream and peanut butter (Carrie), Mexican food and cheddar cheese (Zach)

Most Missed Event: holidays at home

Most Missed Activities:  watching Oscar films (Carrie), cooking/baking, snowboarding

Most Annoying Phenomenon: loud music and movies on buses

Favorite Activity: The Inca Trail

Nicest People: Colombians

Favorite City: Cuzco

Most Times We Said “What a Crazy Place!”: Huacachina

Best Beach: Canoa

Best Shopping: Otavalo

Best Person We’ve Met: Oso the dog

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Authentic Cultural Experience/Cutest Kids and Puppies: WWOOFing at Finca Campo Bello

Biggest Party/Least Authentic Cultural Experience: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador

Goals for the Next 2/3rds of the Journey

1. Save money and get ahead on our budget in Bolivia!

2. Find a WWOOF experience where we actually get to farm!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

I know, I know, we really need to stop losing things and wash our clothes more!  Do you like this silly little superlative round-up?  Should we do one again after 2/3rds?

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Ecuador: Financial Summary

Ecuador is CHEAP, yo!  Here´s the breakdown!

Days in Ecuador: 37

Total Money Spent: $858

That´s an average of $11.59 per person per person per day.  So we came in under budget by more than $3 apiece!

Nifty pie chart breaking down the categories

Transportation was MUCH cheaper than in Colombia.  Buses cost an average of $1 per hour of travel.  So we saved there.

We continue to save on lodging by WWOOFing, housesitting, Couchsurfing, and camping.

Food was pretty cheap but we liked Ecuadorian food better than Colombian food so we ate a lot and splurged a few times!

We even bought a few souvenirs, but they were all so cheap it only counted as two percent of our spending.

If this doesn´t convince you to vacation in Ecuador, I don´t know what will.  You might actually  SAVE MONEY by not living in the U.S. for a couple weeks!

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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.

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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 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
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WWOOFing Colombia at Coffee Farm Finca Campo Bello

Playing with the awesome kids.

WWOOFING Colombia was something that we wanted to do for a long time.  Our first WWOOF experience at Finca Campo Bello outside San Agustín, Colombia, was pretty easy sailing.  And by easy, I mean, we really hardly did any work!  We stayed with a large Colombian family on their big coffee farm.  The house was rustic and largely open air, although it did have power (which went out frequently) and water (pumped from the nearby stream).   The farm also had pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, various dogs cats, and parrots, a fish pond, and a couple horses.  You´d think  with all that there would be plenty of work, but with such a large family and many hired hands, we actually weren´t needed for too much.  So we had a great time playing with the kids and puppies, hiking in the area, learning Spanish, and getting fed 3 huge meals per day!  In the end though, we did get a litle bored with not enough to do, so we left after one week.

WWOOFING Colombia WWOOF Coofee
And more kid fun on top of a mountain of bagged coffee.
Thomas the puppy!

Enjoy this post about WWOOFING Colombia?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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Maya Hostal, San Agustin, Colombia

Maya Hostal in San Agustin ColombiaThe Maya Hostal in San Agustín, Colombia, was a pleasure to stumble into late one night after a long day of buses.  When our taxi dropped us off at the door, we were greeted by a chubby and animated man named Mario.  “Super Mario”, we later learned, is his preferred nickname.  He and his wife Yaneth run the hostel with some help from their young-adult daughters.  We ended up staying at the Maya Hostal for one night before going to our WWOOF farm and then for two more nights at the end of our time in San Agustín.

Maya Hostal in San Agustin Colombia
Spacious, airy dormitory

The hostel is reasonably priced, with private rooms with shared bathrooms for about 15,000 COP per person per night, or dormitories for 10,000 COP per person per night.  Mario will also give you a increasingly better price the longer you stay.  The dormitories are spacious and the beds are comfortable.  We actually had a whole dorm room to ourselves!  The bathrooms are clean and modern.  The whole hostel is really interesting looking, as it’s built into the side of a hill so the giant rocks which form the hillside protrude into some of the rooms and are painted vibrant colors to fit in with the decor.  The hostel spans about 4 stories with all the common rooms exposed to open air.  There’s a kitchen available for guest use, 2 dining areas, laundry, and an awesome rooftop lounge with hammocks and a great view over the town.

Maya Hostal in San Agustin Colombia
Rooftop chill space

As we entered the hostel for the first time, Mario described the amenities in slow, easy-to-understand Spanish.  Free coffee, free juice, free hot water, free Wifi, free use of the kitchen, cheap meals available, and information on local tours.  We had a great time at Maya Hostal, as there is always an energetic young crowd of travelers hanging out in the hammocks, as well as the charming and hilarious Super Mario and family.  I would highly recommend the Maya Hostal to anyone passing through San Agustín!

Disclaimer:  I didn’t receive anything from Maya Hostal for writing this post.  I just like to give credit where credit is due!

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