Panama hat trees and explosions

This morning was my day as leader, after being deputy yesterday. I got up early to make sure everything was in order before breakfast at half seven. After breakfast a few of us did the washing up and I delegated people to clean the house. There were also a few other jobs I had to assign this morning. Two of the boys took the donkey carrying the cow’s milk down to the bottom of the hill. The cows were milked every morning and we could go and help if we wanted.  Two of the girls went to collect some seeds, whilst the rest of us cleared forest in a small area nearby the house. Here we made holes and then planted the tree which panama hats are made from. Panama hats don’t actually originate in Panama, but here in Ecuador, so it was very fitting to be planting them. We saw a tarantula while doing this!

Panama hat. Image not my own.

After lunch Miguel told us they were blowing a hole in the rock by the river to divert it, and create a dam. In case of falling rock we were all to be inside by 1:55pm, and go back to work at 2:15pm. So we started work at 1:30pm, and then stopped at 1:50pm, so I could tell everyone to go back inside. However, just as I was about to do this we learnt the time had changed to 2:30pm, so I had to get people in for 2:25pm and back out for 2:45. The explosions sounded far off, but it was quite exciting all the same!

The afternoon work involved continuing to clear the forest where we had in the morning, and some of the guys helped dig a pond nearby. Just as we were starting up again at 1:30pm one of the girls had seen a snake with a red head and green body, so in reality we got little work done before the explosions were meant to happen. I had to explain to Raul, the workman who was helping us, what it looked like as he didn’t speak English. He wasn’t concerned though and was more worried about us falling in the septic tank!

A similar snake to what was seen? Who knows. Image not my own.

We finished work at 3:30pm in time for the boys to play their vital match against the Ecuadorians who worked at La Hesperia and who were determined to beat them. Davids, a German volunteer joined the Ecuadorian team. It was tipping with rain, as is the tendency in a cloud forest, but we all still turned up in true English spirit. We were winning 2-0, then it was 2-1, but then all us girls left as we were drenched to the bone. Later we were reliably informed that there was a spectacular draw of 2-2 in the final few minutes. Then they played penalty shootouts, where first person to score wins, and they won! The boys proceeded to come back, use our showers and clog them with mud! Nothing interesting happened this evening as we were packing to leave and we went to bed early again. However, our male teacher cut his finger washing up and got a fairy princess plaster!

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