Our final day was filled with a mixture of fun and hard work. The beginning of the day consisted of a scavenger hunt that allowed us to go on a fun adventure and learn about the campground. There were many challenges that occurred during this scavenger hunt. When we as a group had to confront a staff member for help on a question we had to put our knowledge together to overcome the language barriers.
Once the scavenger hunt had finished we split up into two groups. One group worked on preparing a garden while the other worked on maintaining the trees around the campground. Both groups worked tirelessly to complete these task and by no means was it easy. In order to prepare the garden in a timely manner, we needed to split up into smaller groups. One group worked on carrying poles to the garden while the others were applying them into the ground. Once the group who were carrying the poles were finished with this task we joined Erin who was working diligently on expanding the length of the garden. This was very difficult but we had so much fun during the process. Meanwhile, the other group went off to another part of the camp and went to work on the trees. Scraping moss that keeps too much water in the bark of the trees and pulling vines out that suffocates and steals nutrients from the tree. The tools used to get the vines out were 10-foot bamboo poles with a hook on the end that someone from the camp made right before we went out. It was exhausting work, but it was made interesting by Edgar, a worker at the camp, who told us all about the history of some of the plants and trees at the camp. We also got to try some fresh clementines, oranges, lemons, and cherry tomatoes–it was the best fruit I have ever had. Through all of this hard work, we had to overcome heavy rain, but that did not slow down the process. In fact, it made the process that much more fun.
After dinner, we walked down into the town of Santandercito, to a coffee plantation. The coffee plantation was family operated and produced organic coffee. It is one of only two “bird-friendly” coffee plantations in Colombia and one of only about 30 worldwide. We were walked through the process from planting the plants, which can take about 8 months until they are ready to go in the ground, harvesting, then drying and roasting. It was very interesting because most of the machines were homemade by the family who owned the farm, because the manufactured machines were too expensive. We got to try some of the coffee at the end and it was delicious!
Every night we ended with a reflection and tonight’s was around the fire. This is where we talked about the events of the day, what we noticed about ourselves and each other, and some feelings or thoughts that the events of the day provoked. This reflection was bittersweet because it was the last time we would all be together like this, but allowed us to acknowledge how much we had grown in just one short week. We ended the reflection on a positive note by roasting s’mores and singing karaoke songs without any music. We were all rolling with laughter before the night ended.
This week, Colombia truly transformed all of us for the better and hopefully we were able to leave our mark on Colombia as well. It has been a wonderful experience for us all and we highly recommend for all students to take advantage of future opportunities such as this one. Thank you to everyone who supported our group, those who thought on their feet to make it happen, and of course, our leaders, Laura, Pablo, Juan Carlos, Erin, and Deanna.
Thank you to Olivia Seely for the update!