Hi United Staters! Our names are Tiffany Ho and Flora Chang and we are the leaders the day!

Economia solidaria.

What does it mean?

Economia solidaria is Spanish for the phrase “economic solidarity.” Salinas is a prime example of rags to riches using the solidarity philosophy of working together to help the community grow.

After waking up at the break of dawn, (not really lol) we trudged down to Feroz for an early breakfast, preparing for the long day ahead of us. On the hour bus ride to Salinas, we jammed out to authentic Ecuadorian music. Our driver Andrea did a fantastic job navigating the steep roads to Salinas. Upon arrival at the Salinerito cheese factory, we were greeted by Luis and his crew. He introduced the extensive cheese making process to us as he brought us into the factory. He explained the history of the city to us, detailing how Salinas’s many industries allowed them to rise from a poverty-stricken land to an economically healthy city. Luis brought us into a room where we could sample various types of cheeses while enjoying the breathtaking view of Ecuador’s landscape. Surrounded by the unique aroma of pasteurized milk, the scent allowed us to truly immerse ourselves into the experience. As we left the room with our appetites satisfied and our bags full of Salinerito cheese, we headed to our next destination: the spinning mill and the textile factory.

We toured the spinning mill and watched the machines in awe as they transformed dirty sheep wool to thick yarns of sheer fluffiness. We even had an opportunity to buy the freshly woven sheep and alpaca yarn. Afterwards, we followed our tour guide into the quaint textile factory. We listened to him explain how the whole industry relied on the work of a few talented women. These brilliant women made a living out of hand-woven bounties of sweaters, ponchos, scarves, and other goods. After his presentation, we rushed into the store to try on and purchase the eagerly awaited goods. The store was filled with kind women who assisted us in our selections. Unfortunately, our time was limited as we had to attend lunch afterwards.

We ate a delicious lunch of cream of zucchini soup, bread, and chicken & rice at the Italian-themed restaurant, La Vaca (The Cow). Once we filled our bellies with the amazing lunch, we began to say our goodbyes to the tour guides and leave the beautiful city of Salinas.

We rushed back to the hotel to prepare for our English tutoring class later in the day. After dressing in our semi-formal gear, we trekked to the school to begin our 3rd English lesson. We were pleased to be surprised with a much greater attendance of students than the day before. After two hours full of games and lesson plans, we left happily knowing that our students were one step closer to becoming fluent English speakers.

Knowing that today was the 4th of July, a couple of glimpsers were crestfallen that they could not spend the day with their loved ones. To our amazement, upon arrival at Feroz for dinner, we were greeted by American cheeseburgers and soda! Everybody’s faces lit up as they discovered what was for dinner. In a flurry of happiness and American spirit, glimpsers eagerly rose from their seats to get their food. The meal was concluded when the owner of the restaurant requested us to come outside for a surprise. Standing in the brisk air, we glanced amongst ourselves in confusion until a loud bang filled the air. We looked up to find the source of the ear-deafening noise, and watched as the colorful fireworks illuminated the starry night. The atmosphere was filled with smiles and laughter as we all sung the Star Spangled Banner (we accidentally woke up half the neighborhood, oops!). Our eventful night was concluded with our daily nightly meeting and an enjoyable free time. As we all recollected about the day’s events, we realized that we had learned a lot from the small town of Salinas and the history behind it. We learned so much in the span of only one day and we’ll eagerly await our next adventure in the magnificent country of Ecuador.

Signing off,

Flora Chang and Tiffany Ho

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