Friday, April 27, 2012

Retreat! to Cotopaxi

This past weekend, Ecuador PDs and country director Darcy went on an overnight retreat to Cotopaxi National Park, high in the central Andes.  It was the third and final retreat that the team will take together, and it resulted in a productive discussion of Manna Ecuador’s programs, as well as a chance for PDs to relax in a hot tub and enjoy the views. 

We were fortunate to find an incredible and affordable hostel with great views of the mountains Cotopaxi, Sincholagua, and the Ilinizas.  Cotopaxi National Park, along with the Galapagos Islands, is one of Ecuador’s most celebrated parks, and draws visitors from all over the world to see the high páramos (mountain plains with distinctive vegetation), nevados (snow-covered mountains), and of course Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.  This area is also known for its cold and often-rainy weather, and our first day did not disappoint in this respect.  However, we awoke the next morning to rare blue skies, and were treated to fantastic views of the mountains. 

As well as traveling, relaxing, and getting to know Ecuador as a country, our retreats also serve as an opportunity for us to evaluate our programs and discuss issues related to our community development work in the Chillos Valley.  Among the issues we discussed were how to be both disciplined and firm but also understanding with teens in our teen center, a recap on some of our newer programs, and amusing stories from this year.  We returned from the retreat relaxed, focused, and ready to make the most of our remaining three months. 

What is it about hot tubs that get the discussion juices flowing?!

The spectacular Cotopaxi, sitting high above the páramo at 19,340 ft.  "Cotopaxi" is Quichua for "Neck of the Moon."

From left to right, Rachel, Darcy, Taylor, Charlie, and Watkins, relaxing at the end of the day in the  mountain hostel.  

Our lovely lodging, with the Ilinizas peaks in the background.

Charlie, Emily, Nicole, Heather, and our fearless guides, out for a hike.  

No comments: