Hola from Riobamba!
Today, we glimpsers were presented with an unique challenge- we had to spend the day living like a local, using no more than a single dollar. From the moment ‘Lights Out’ was called the night before, we did not have access to electricity in our hostel. It’s surprisingly hard to get dressed at 5:30 in the morning without an illuminating source of light!
We left Riobamba at 6:30, travelling to a beautiful farm in a small town, Guamote. As a part of the experience, we were not allowed to use our cameras for the entire day (which was extremely difficult, because the route we took was so scenic). The road to Guamote was stunning, surrounded by emerald green hills, tiny streams, and rolling fog.
The farm we visited is owned by Cesar, a humble and ever smiling farmer. Once we reached our destination, we got a tour of the farm and were able to meet a baby calf (only 8 days old), pigs, cuy (guinea pigs, which some of us were lucky enough to hold), along with Cesar and his family.
At this time, the group split up, some of us cooking, others planting peas, and yet another group harvesting corn. I took on the role of a ‘chef’ along with three other glimpsers and our leader Amanda. Together, we shelled fava beans and shucked corn, encountering quite a few beetles and worms in the corn husks.
The group that planted peas worked with Cesar and expressed admiration at the wonderful stories he told and at his never ending patience. Even when the glimpsers were struggling to create holes in the soil and to drop exactly five seeds into the dirt, he continued to encourage them and teach them. And that’s why they returned to the main farm three hours later, barefoot, muddy, but with glowing smiles and laughter.
Harvesting corn became an amazing memory for the other group. They started off thinking it would be easy, but the glimpsers quickly realized that it was a strenuous task, especially carrying sacks of corn up a small hill. However, they found motivation within themselves, singing songs as a group and bringing back beautiful dried corn in vivid hues of pink, orange, red, and black.
Everyone arrived at the main farm for lunch. While we sat together in a circle, sipping quinoa with milk, it began to rain. The perfection of the moment is almost indescribable. Every face was bright and genuinely happy, our hearts as warm as the drinks we held, and no one seemed to mind the gloomy clouds or rain. I’m sure many of us entered Living Like a Local Day expecting demanding and uncomfortable situations, but I know we all left it truly moved and inspired.
During our nightly meeting, we share ‘roses of the day’, moments that we cherish, and every single glimpser chose one from the farm. This experience truly changed the way we thought, allowing us to discover that we could extract happiness whenever and wherever we wanted to.
The night before we began to live like locals, we were presented with a quote, “At least once in your life you will need a doctor, a lawyer, and architect, but every day, 3 times a day, you will need a farmer.” It’s incredible realizing how ignorant most of us are about how much love and effort goes behind the food that we consume every day. After visiting Cesar’s farm, the group understood what it truly means to be humble, happy, successful, and how much work farming really is. We gained a new appreciation for generosity, watching the family happily share what they had with us, and seeing how truly excited they were to have us with them. Cesar revolves his farm around his family; he doesn’t farm for himself or for profit. He truly cares about his farm, and even though his organic methods of growing have garnered him attention, he pays no attention to it. Cesar surrounds himself with his passion and his family, two things that make him seem like the happiest man in the world. And after being touched by his sentiments and love today, I can surely say that we glimpsers walked out of the farm genuinely happy too.
“Today we worked in the field. I harvested corn. It was an inspirational experience, because working in the field showed me how much work farmers go through and how we take food for granted in the U.S. I can’t wait to tell you more about the experience!”- Abbie
“Hello everybody!”- Christian
“Hiiiiii! I might meet the mayor tomorrow! And I harvested corn today with two cute kittens! (We named them Nala and Charlie). I love you all and I’ll talk to you soon!”- Laynie
“I am so grateful for our in country staff, who arranged our schedule so we can watch the Mexico vs. Ecuador game tomorrow. So excited and can’t wait to see this game! Still haven’t received any info from that conference, but I’ll make sure to tell you guys when I can, Mom & Dad.” – Emanuel
“To Alondra: And I miss taking you out ): You were right about the dehydration thing… I wasn’t very good about drinking water yesterday! But I’ll be working on that because I don’t want to get sick. I love you!
To my family: I had an amazing time working in the fields today. The dirt was like powder snow, and I loved the simple action of digging holes, tossing seeds in, and kicking dirt over it. Love you all!” – Arjun