Today was Global Business Day! We started our day early at 7:00 am, got breakfast, and hopped on the bus to the beautiful Salinas: 11,660 feet above sea level (and 2,907 feet higher than Guaranda). Salinas was originally known for its salt production until the 1970s when the community began producing cheese and chocolate (the chocolate is now internationally renowned). Both communities’ brand is known as Salinerito, a name derived from the unity of the cooperative companies from the Andean Mountains in the Salinas area. After arrival, we toured the cheese factory and learned about their daily process: suppliers waking up around 3:00 am, milking their cows, and walking two hours to get to the factory. The cooperative receives about 5,000 liters of milk a day during the winter! After touring the cheese factory, we were tasted the cheeses, admired a 37 pound wheel of Gouda, and learned about the growing distribution of the product throughout Ecuador! Additionally, we learned about the development in employment in communities that have been underserved for a long time. We are looking forward to meeting Padre Antonio Polo in a couple days, who actually helped found the Quesero factory.
After the Quesero tour, we hopped on the bus once more and split into two groups: one to tour the chocolate factory, and another to explore the artisan wool and alpaca wool goods cooperative. Once each group finished, they switched places. At the chocolateria, we learned about the specific process that the cocoa beans undergo to become internationally renowned chocolate: harvest, quality control, roasting, grinding, separating the shell from the bean, and finally mixing and heating to create the base chocolate paste. We had the chance to taste both the milk and dark chocolates, and they were delicious!
At Arteselinas, a fair trade artisan shop, specializing in the wool store, we perused the various selections of keychains, sweaters, ponchos, gloves, and several other goods. This store was originally opened in order to give the women of the Salinas community a place outside of the home where they could earn income for their families. All products in the store are handmade by these women, and we had a lot of fun supporting the economic strength of these communities while trying on and purchasing all of the cozy items!
For lunch we went to a pizzeria, where even though we received no pizza, we had a delicious meal nonetheless! Quinoa soup, chicken, rice, lentils, and oatmeal juice! After an exciting morning we headed back to Guaranda, rested up, had dinner, and prepared for our first English tutoring class tomorrow evening. Each of us met with our fellow Glimpsers in groups to make sure we are ready with learning activities for our local students.
During our nightly meeting, we surprised the birthday girl Amie with a cake and a song (in both English and Spanish). Feliz Cumpleanos, Amie!
“I miss you guys so much, but am having a blast! I’ll call as soon as I can, and will bring you all back some souvenirs. Sending all my love to Mom, Dad, Rachel and the KitKat. -Xoxo Jordan
“Hey fam, I miss you all and am thinking of you, but am distracted with chocolate, fruit juices, and delicious meals! Hopefully I’ll get to call you soon and catch up! Mom, enjoy your free time and Dad and Nans, enjoy jetsetting (bring me back cool snacks and I might do the same).” –Lizzy
“Hey Mama! I miss you so much and hope everything is going well at home. You’re comment on the blog from the first day really made me happy, so keep it up! I love you! (And if you were to bring Gregoire’s to the airport I might cry from joy).” -Sarah