Friday, March 28, 2014

My Volunteering Experience in Quito, Ecuador

Friday, March 28, 2014

I am here because suddenly, life presented me with Life. After having a fantastic volunteering experience in Colombia, I never really looked forward to Ecuador. This is the first time I will be staying short (one month) and I labeled it as a stop over and a rest.

Then, I was wrong. Volunteering in Quito is one of the best experiences in my volunteering history. The first weeks were a bit off as I have a different impression of Ecuador. Within the weeks, I was able to appreciate that not all countries are the same and sometimes, our expectations often fail us. 

Working girl.


... is different from my other volunteering escapades. In Colombia, I was working alone the first two weeks so I did everything -- cleaning, check in/out, changing sheets, cooking, etc. This time, in Ecuador, there are five of us volunteering making the workload less.

Updating the reservation board.
Like any other hostel jobs, check in/out is the most popular task. This is a bit complicated because the hostel I am volunteering in is always full. We have to update the boards, the excel sheet on the computer as well as the availability on Hostelworld and Hostelbookers.

Our reservation excel sheet.
Unlike Colombia, most of the guests here speak zero Spanish. I was surprised with the transition. Most travellers going around South America can speak fluent Spanish but Quito is different. Maybe because almost everyone in the city can understand English or maybe all of the volunteers speak English? Saves us time and effort. What's really funny is among us volunteers, we kept speaking in different languages. For example, we will start speaking in English and then end the sentences in Spanish. It's funny how you can converse in two languages in one topic. It happens all the time!

It's true! We really have bunnies!

And of course, the most important news? I am a part of another family again.

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." -- Desmond Tutu

Meet Valentina, the owner's grandchild.
Colonial House Hostel is owned by the Reascos family. However, this hostel is basically run by volunteers and supervised by the owner's daughter. This is also where they live so the cozy-homey-vibe was always present. We all eat together, go out and have fun on Sundays like a real family.

One day, Valentina didn't have anything to do so she painted my hand.


Ecuadorian coffee and cheesecake during our break.
The first person that I got along with was a girl from Sweden named Linn. Before I arrived, she was working with men and it was a delight for her to have another girl volunteer to join the group. Linn loves horses and have worked in Colonial House for two months now. This week, she decided to obtain a resident visa and live here. She likes Quito so much that she won't hop the plane going home on the 3rd of April. She's funny, outgoing and loves to eat like me. If there is one thing we don't go along well with, that is clubs and electronic music. One day, she and I will live in one place but we don't know where yet. :) It's just been decided. As we always say, "in another life."

Salsa night. L-R: Linn, me and Seth
Then there's Seth, a young man from Iowa -- speaks good Spanish (he studied in Chile), dances good salsa and well-bred. Seth and I love to spend Fridays dancing salsa. He travelled South America extensively and he was always bringing good conversations on the table. I mean intelligent ones. The one that makes you think; the one that makes you ponder. Seth is a reserved person, likes spending time by himself, eats healthy and never fails to make everyone of us laugh... or smile about something.

L-R: Ton, Ornelia, Seth, Paulina, Peter and me.
There are two volunteers who have been here long time (like 6 months) and I consider them one of my closest friends here. Ton (Brazil) and Peter (Ireland) are these two funny guys who gambled on life and went to live in Ecuador knowing that it will bring them a brighter future. It did, by the way. I got along with Ton because I was practicing my forgotten Portuguese with him. On the other hand, Peter is a big football fan and never misses a game (NEVER). If you hear someone screaming "gooolllll" in the TV room, that's definitely him and we're all used to it.

Ton's birthday celebration at Colonial House | 17 Mar 2014
Mate and pizza night with che Alex Cevallo and comandante Borys!
And lastly, my comandante Borys and the rest of his batallion who comes everyday to visit, drink some mate and chat about life. Borys is the youngest son of Ornelia (the owner) whom I got to be super friends with! Young, enthusiastic with life, full of aspiration and dreams -- this is the Borys I know.

Workplace, mate and pizza.
The garden: where the bunnies live.
Tours available.

Two days ago, I had a major breakdown. Something that is hard to get over with when you're far away from home. My beloved grandmother, Concepcion Velarmino passed away and I was devastated. Being here, I couldn't do anything but cry my heart out. My family in Colonial House took care of me the entire day, brought me breakfast, made me drink calming aroma and comforted me with hugs. With this, I knew that I am really a part of this family and I will never forget these people. Ever.

Today is also my ninth (9th) month on the road and I am dedicating this day to my Grandma.

She who supported me when I started this journey; she who hugged me virtually when my heart got broken; she who encouraged me to keep writing; she who always told me to not dream my life but live my dreams. It's hard to grieve when I am far away but I know you are smiling down on me and wishing me well on this journey. I will never ever forget you, Grandma. Ever.

Una cerveza para vos, abuela. Te recordamos por siempre y te quiero mucho!

Paalam, lola. Salamat sa lahat ng itinuro mo sa akin.

I'm off to Peru next week and I haven't figured out how to go there by bus. Wish me luck and my newsletter for March will also be out today!

More photos of my volunteering experience in Quito here.


  1. How long do you have to work every day? We volunteer close by at hostel revolution? Come around if you want a beer :) Cheers!
    BoB, Liane and Lars

  2. I love that you deditcated a day to your grandma!

    I have often wondered what it would be like volunteering in a hostel. A good girlfriend is going it right now in New Zealand and having a great time (she has a working visa, but hasn't worked for money since she got there a few months ago, she's just happy doing what she is doing right now!)

    I am also glad to hear it's not a totally Spanish-speaking city for someone with such bad spanish (me) who wants to go there... would you recommend it as a good place to start your exploration of south america?

  3. I like your post very much i had nice time while reading your post


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