Service Work And Self Introspection

Posted: Sat, Jul 30, 2016

Location: Chugchilan
Author: Tom P.

It was our first day in the Andes. Luckily, unlike some of the previous locations, we were allowed to sleep in until around 8:45. We were slated to leave at 9:30 to do some trail work. As I walked into the main lobby of the Black Sheep Inn, I saw a fluffy serving of scrambled eggs accompanied by fresh local Ecuadorian cheese, a homemade English muffin, homemade jam, fresh coffee and tea on the table. All that has to be said about that breakfast is, we all ate very well that morning.

After our delicious breakfast, the group loaded into two separate pickup trucks that would take us to the trail we would be working on. After a ten-minute drive the group arrived at the trail, which was split down the middle by a trench that was no wider than my shoulders. Our goal for the day was to make the path, in Devins own words, as wide as a two-lane highway. Obviously, to make the path that large was inconceivable, but we tried our hardest to make it as wide as possible. This work was strenuous and tedious, but also extremely necessary. Many people in our group played games to pass the time while working through the pain of hoeing the trail. This pain originated from the blisters, which had been caused from the constant hacking at the trail throughout the day. Some of the group, most notably Will and Felix, fought through the pain even though their hands were ripped apart with hot spots and blisters.

After a morning filled with hard work, we all had lunch situated in a cloud forest, surrounded by an endless stream of mist. After lunch (and a 15-minute nap) the group went back to work. Soon after lunch we finally began to witness some of the fruits of our labor as a family of five rode through the newly tilled trail on horseback. Just a few hours before, our group was walking single-file through the narrow trail, and it was extremely satisfying to see that our work had paid off.

At around 4:00 our group headed back to the Inn. There we were divided into two groups, one group, consisting of around 8 people, would explore the lands of Chugchilan on horseback. The other group, which I was a part of, was able to enjoy some quality free time to relax and hang out at the Inn after a hard days work. Most of the free time was spent in either the sauna or the hot tub, which the wonderful manager, Edmundo, had prepared for us ahead of time. Both groups reconvened at 7:00 for dinner, which was a serving of delicious vegetarian lasagna.

After dinner, another forum was held in the yoga room. This forum was a bit different than others, because rather than talking about what we did that day, each group member came up with three words to describe themselves. This was a great experience as it required each member to go deep into thought to analyze themselves. This forum helped each member learn more about their peers, and possibly learn something new about themselves. Once the forum had concluded, everyone went to their respected rooms and called it a night. Looking back on this day really instills the idea that working as a collective is much more productive than working as an individual.