Tungurahua Tea Room
After leaving Baños, I think that now is a good time to write about the second WWOOFing experience of our journey, which occurred there…
We arrived in the afternoon on a bus and took a quick taxi ride to the edge of town. The farm is really only a 10-15min walk from central Baños, but with all our stuff it would have been a long hike. The owner of the farm, Carol, a talkative Canadian ex-pat, warmly greeted us and gave us a quick tour. The property is a skinny pieces of land located on a hill with a front wall of sugarcane and Carol’s house resting on the top. The Volcán Tungurahua looks down upon it and is usually snow-covered in the mornings. Near the front there is a citrus garden with several very nice lemon trees and about a dozen others that grow small tangerines of sorts. As you walk further in you will find a small volunteers’ room with a bed, a tool shed, and a locked storage room. Following these are an open air kitchen with sink, stove, and table, then a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. Near the kitchen is a very nice spice and tea garden containing basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, and other lemony things used to make delicious teas. Past the herbs there is a “spiritual circle” surrounded by flowers and such with a fire pit in the center. If you walk even further there are two shade structures with hammocks and between them a garden of large cactus. Under one of these we placed our tent, with another tent already under the other. Between our tents and Carol’s house we could also find anise, lettuce, green peas, spinach, and some red potatoes once we knew what the plants looked like. Other than that there were a few plantain trees and several avocado trees (only available if you could beat the dogs to them).
Usually we would wake up around 7am and make breakfast. There are two other yard workers that Carol employs whom would show up around 7:30. Carol also has two large dogs who need walking so one of the workers takes them on a hike up the volcano every morning. The hike is very nice and terminates at a natural spring with amazing carbonated mineral water produced by volcanic pressure. Probably the best hike you will find in Baños. After 2 hours of dog walking we had tea from the garden and sometimes a snack then after tea we went to work on Carol’s projects around the yard. This work almost always involved randoms projects such as assisting in building walls, or sweeping dirt sidewalks, or weeding around the pathways. Sometimes we felt like we were fighting the jungle for superficial reasons and I’m sad to report that at no time during our stay did we actually do any farming. The work was really easy though, and no one was ever looking over your shoulder telling you to try harder. It just wasn’t farming, and we weren’t really there to push rocks around.
We loved the location, and the work was generally easy and laid back. However, food was not included. Yes, whatever you could find on the farm was yours (unlimited tea, herbs, and lemonade) but most our food came from money from our pocket. This probably contributed to our underachievement, and eventual departure when our housesitting opportunity arose. But the property is extremely beautiful and we had a whole lot of fun there. Just know before you go that it’s not your “normal” WWOOF experience. After working on only two farms, we will continue searching for exactly what that “normal” experience is!