As we walked through the doors of the Salinas Chocolate Factory, the sweet aroma of freshly made chocolate wafted through the air. We looked to our right to see the slow churning of finely grained cocoa beans and our stomachs grumbled.

After an early wake-up call, we enjoyed a quick breakfast on the bus ride to Las Salinas, a county and town about 45 minutes outside Guaranda. Las Salinas is home to a cooperative business made up of 30 close-knit communities, which have achieved international recognition for their economic business model. When we arrived we were greeted by llamas and donkeys carting milk from local farms to Las Salinas Cheese Factory. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to tour the Cheese Factory and learn about the cheese making process as well as learning about the benefits that Salinas has brought about for the community.

After tasting many different types of delicious cheeses we ventured down the road to the Salinas Chocolate Factory and Salt Mines. There, we took part in the chocolate making process and had the chance to purchase the freshly made chocolate. With our stomachs stuffed with tasty chocolates, we took a small tour of the Salinas Salt Mines and learned more about the uses of the salt and how its production has increased the quality of life in Las Salinas. Following our tours, we explored the Textile Factory and gift shop and bought many souvenirs. To finish off our time at Las Salinas, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of pizza made with cheese from the local factory. Our experiences at Las Salinas opened our eyes to the importance of supporting local businesses and buying fair trade goods in hopes of keeping the money in the community.

After some free time, we prepared for our first class of English Tutoring. Despite the nerves beforehand, we greatly enjoyed every part of the experience. Ranging from “Beginner” to “Advanced”, we organized and executed lesson plans in groups from 2-3. Not only did the English Tutoring students learn a lot but we did as well, learning crucial teaching and interpersonal skills but also brushing up on our own Spanish. Now on to class number two!

Mary Greene
Northampton High School

Nat Walton
Northampton High School