Sunday, April 26, 2015

Daily Walk To School

Click on the post title for our walk to school in pictures. After it opens click on "Slide Show" above the pictures.

Walk to School

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

It Is A Beautiful Day Today....And I suggest that we all enjoy it.

For the past 9 years I have been helping out at a small indigenous school in Salasaka. It has been a wonderful experiences in my life. We have had almost 400 volunteers working here over the years and 99.9% leave with a positive experience. Every once in a while I run across something they have left on the web for the world to see. I would like to pass these on to others who may be contemplating volunteering somewhere in South America. Here is some food for thought. From Jana. Click Here

Monday, April 06, 2015

Volunteering....Baños Or Salasaka

In just a few more days or maybe a week, we will open our Travel Agency in Baños....This will than have the rights to sell any tour or trip to the public, but will probably stick to our own Cultural Tour to Salasaka. The tour will be a full-day tour, starting in Baños and returning to Baños. It will be marketed to the above 30 crowd who want more than just the recreational tours offered by the 100 plus agency that operate on almost every corner in Baños. We will be looking for a couple of Volunteers to help promote this tour in Baños. They would live in Salasaka with the other volunteers who work at the Katitawa School, Library or Nursery in Salasaka. If you are not familiar with are volunteer program in Salasaka check out our Katitawa blog.  For more information about our little school, nestled in the hills above Salasaka click here.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

After Baños....What next. Why Not Volunteer in Salasaka?

When you have had your fill of Baños and want to move on to do something different....Consider volunteering in Salasaka.  It just might be the best thing you have ever done in your life.

Salasaka is a indigenous pueblo just 50 cents up the road from Baños.

For more information our little school, nestled in the hills above Salasaka click here.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

A Beautiful Day In Baños

Yesterday I went to Baños from Salasaka, primarily to take Inti one of our Katitawa School (,  students to the Doctor.  He was born with some problems with his legs and now at 10 years old, we are using some of our Emergency Fund to see if we can get some help.  We met with a doctor who gave him a preliminary examination and would like us to get an MRI so she could get a clearer picture of what are the options to make his life a little easier.  We will try to get this done in Ambato in the next week.

After the examination, I put them on the bus for Salasaka and decided to spend some time getting to know Baños all over again.   I still visit Baños every month or so, but never as a tourist.   I was surprised at how much the city has changed.

Just outside the bus terminal, I saw an old restaurant, with a new name and decided to have a late breakfast. Maybe my memory has slipped over the years, but as I remember the restaurants were always really friendly and eager to please.  It was a large restaurant and there was only two people eating maybe three. I wandered in and found a place to sit down and although the place was nearly empty and at least six employees conversing with one another, in time one of them came by and I ordered breakfast.  When the server came by and brought me the water for my coffee, I tasted it and it was just lukewarm,  I called her back and told her that the water was not hot.  She looked at me as if I was senile and said "It's hot"....I said in a rather loud voice,  "it is not hot"  This annoyed her and without a word she came back, picked up the cup and walked over to the micro and put it inside.   When she brought the cup back it was hot and she said not a word.

After I ate, I wanted another cup of coffee and had to call out to three other servers who were talking across the room and asked if I could order another cup of coffee.  It came, I drank it and found the place to pay and a tall gentleman, maybe the owner came over and told me how much I owed,  He gave me my change, I left and the total words from the staff were, five from the waitress and a couple of numbers from the cashier.

After this memorable breakfast everything changed.  I met up with a friend who had volunteered at Katitawa, and we walked around town and visited the Posada del Abuela, where I was a partner in the past.  We also stopped by  the Sangay Hotel where I had friends and the Posada del Arte , which is a great place to stay, by the way.  I hope I am boring you with all of this memory lane stuff.  You have to remember it has been a long time since I posted on this blog.

Now the fun begins.  There is a new attraction in Baños that was built some years ago, but new to me.  Parque de La Familia....or The Family Park.  It is only about five or 10 minutes from Baños, just across the river by the Agoyan Dam.  Since I did not know exactly where it was, we took a taxi for $3.   It is beautiful.

I do not have a camera so here is the web site....Check it out.  The admission is free and it is open from Wednesday through Sunday. From 10 to 6.  It even has spaces to camp.

There is a new bus service that takes you back to town for 25 cents.

Before I went back to Salasaka, I stopped by Ray Hood's Cafe Hood and had a great cup of coffee and two of his famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Since Sunday's are the worst days to travel to Salasaka, I got a seat on an Ambato bus and before it left the Controller, asked me where I was going.   "Salasaka", I replied.  He said, "One dollar", which is the inflated price to Ambato.  I said nothing and sat there.  When we were on our way he came by and said, "$1".  What about my over 80 discount?  He said  "$1".

It was a great day and now I am back in Salasaka geting ready for my classes on Monday.

Thanks for reading.....If anyone is listening.  Robert.

Friday, April 03, 2015

A New Beginning.

A lot has happened since my last post.  I am still living and working in Salasaka.  However we now are starting a new project in Baños.  Should have a new post on Monday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How To Book Our New Tour To Salasaka

LOCATED ON THE CORNER OF MALDANALDO AND ORIENTE,  Just a block from the bus station.  Reservations can be made at most Hostels or Travel Agencies. 

Or contact  Wonderful Ecuador Tour Operator
Oriente & Maldonado
Baños - Ecuador

Monday, May 19, 2014

Salasaka Cultural Tour....$25 Full-Day Tour Including, Breakfast and Lunch.

We would like to invite you to join us on a cultural tour to a part of Ecuador that is overlooked by most tourists to Baños.   Salasaka and Patate.

Salasaka is a small indigenous community located in the Andean Highlands, between Baños and Ambato.  Patate is a small city located in the fertile Patate Valley.

The Salasakans have a very colorful past and the history is portrayed in a unique museum in the center of town.  The work on this museum took many years  and opened its doors to the public in 2013.  It is housed in the tallest building in Salasaka and is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00

You are welcome to visit this unique museum on your own, however to enhance your experience we have put together  this Cultural Tour with the museum as its centrepiece.

We would also like to acquaint you with the Katitawa Projects, which includes a school, library and plant nursery.....And now a Cultural Tour.

The Katitawa Project began in 2006 and is not part of any government program.  It is also independent of any special interest group. It is an unique organization with only three people who are paid....And that money comes from voluntary donations.  The rest of the work is done by volunteers from all over the world....And that includes the head volunteer who is a resident of Ecuador.

The Katitawa motto is, Sumak Kawsay Yachay.  A Kichwa phrase meaning....Beautiful, Life, Education.  The logo is SKY....The acronym in Kichwa or Spanish doesn't mean much but it does work well in English.

08:30...Orientation breakfast at the Posada del Abuelo.

09:15...Depart for Salasaka.  This 45 minute trip will take us through Pelileo and on up to the home of the Indigenous people called the Salasakans.  The elevation is 2900 meters.  This town is a parochial of Pelileo, but is autonomous in almost everything.

Our first stop will be the Museum.

After spending as much time as desired in the museum, you are free to visit the artisan market which is located across the street from the museum.

A short distance up the street you will find the Katitawa Nursery.  This is part of the Katitawa Project that includes the Katitawa School and the Rosa Maria Library.

11:30....Depart for the Katitawa School which is located on a hill just three Km from the center of town.  On school days, you will have lunch with the children.

12:45....Say goodbye to your new friends and depart for Patate, a picturesque town where they are famous for their arapes and chicha de uva.

14:30.....Depart for Baños.

15:30....Arrival....Mas o Menos.

LOCATED ON THE CORNER OF MALDANALDO AND ORIENTE,  Just a block from the bus station.  Reservations can be made at most Hostels or Travel Agencies.

Or contact  Wonderful Ecuador Tour Operator
Oriente & Maldonado
Baños - Ecuador

After A Long Hiatus I'm Back

I am still living and working in Salasaka, but we have just started a cultural tour from Baños to Salasaka. If you are not familiar with our projects there please visit

Tour Itinerary will be posted shortly.  Robert

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Casa del Abuelo....Lorenzo Is Back.

After a couple years in Mexico, Lorenzo, the popular character who ran the Casa del Abuelo is back at the old and beautiful hostel.  If you haven't been there you are in for a treat....And that does not only mean the pastry bar.

Lorenzo has also decided to be one of the sponsors of Katitawa School in nearby Salasaka. Click here for infomation about the school.  
Thank you Lorenzo and I know you will have another big success at Casa del Abuelo.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Tungurahua Comes Back To Life

On Wednesday Tungurahua started acting up again with the strongest explosions on New Year's Day. The steam and ash emissions reaching 1.5 km above the crater.

The athoraties are keeping a wathful eye on the monitors.

This morning the activity was normal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baños Is Still The Number One Tourist Destination In Ecuador.

I now live in Salasaca and have for several years; However I still visit Baños often and I will try to bring you up to date as to what is going on there.

If you are anywhere near Baños on New Years Eve, you can't find a better place to "burn" in the new year. The tradition of burning in effigy the old at the stroke of 12 is still as popular as ever.

If you are wearing a custom of any type still gives you the right to beg from those who don't. It is great fun to walk the streets and see all of the displays which will be heaped on the fires that will create a cloud of smoke which will cover the whole city. For one night a year....Join the polluters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Internet Prices In Baños Have Dropped.

Many hostels and hotels in Baños are now offering free Internet usage to their guests. This has caused hardships for many of the Internet businesses in Baños forcing them to either close or lower their prices.

Anyone who has ever spent time in Baños, after visiting other places in Ecuador have wondered why the high prices. Now you can spend time in almost every Internet cafe in Baños for $1 or less per hour.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thanks To An Old Friend For All The Pictures

For all of you that have followed this blog for the past four years, you must have noticed a lot more pictures a lot more often.

Last August Homero, my friend for more than 29 years came to Baños for a visit. We had a wonderful time and when he left he gave me his camera. I am told that a picture is worth 1,000 words so he has saved me hours and hours of Internet time.
Thank you Homero and come back soon.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Every Once In A While, Tungurahua Lets Off Steam

This morning the view was fantastic of Mama Tungurahua. but in a few minutes it was hidden behind a self-generated cloud.
This is a common occurrence as it belches up steam and it is much preferred to the destructive ash.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tungurahua Still Resting.

On the way to Katitawa this morning I took this photo of Tungurahua from the main street of Salasaca. There is a little ash being emitted but not enough to cause concern.
Walk to School
Click on the picture and join us on our walk to school. Or Click Here for "Slide Show".

Saturday, February 16, 2008

This & That

It is a beautiful day and I suggest we all enjoy it.

Ryan and Cara, volunteers from the United States went to the jungle for a week or 10 days. They will be back in Salasaca at the end of the month.

I received an e-mail from Enda, a volunteer from Ireland who asked about Maria Antonia. Well I am happy to say Enda, that she is back. After a six month sabbatical in the United States, taking care of some pressing personal business she is back for an indefinite period. She is a good friend and a dedicated supporter of the Katitawa School.

Welcome home Antonia. Your garden awaits you.
During a recent conversation, we were discussing money or the lack of it and she said “have you ever had to budget $0.40”. I had to laugh because I knew exactly what she was talking about, for I had been there myself.

Today I met our latest volunteers, Wendy and Adam from England. They plan to stay for a minimum of three weeks but it could be longer. We will stay at the hostel in Ambato tonight and tomorrow I will take them to Salasaca and up to the school at 7:30Monday morning.

The hostel and spa are now open in Ambato. All of the proceeds from this venture will go to the projects in Salasaca. Since we have no crystal ball to look at for the amount of donations we will receive each month we are hoping that we will be able in a few months time to have a steady income from the hostel and Spa of at least $500.00. This will help with our monthly expenses in Salasaca. We only have two paid employees who work in the spa and give massages. The rest of us work for free.

In the meantime we need to spread to word. We have added an Ambato page to this site which you can reach by clicking here.

Ambato is not a tourist town, however there are tourists that visit. The spa is located in the city center which attracts 100% of the tourists. There are many musical concerts and two or three act plays that take place in the city and most are free. It is well worth a night or two to get to know the city. I will be posting on the Ambato page, a calendar of events so that visitors in Baños could possibly come down for a night of culture.

We will also be looking for volunteers who would like to help out for a week or two. If anyone is interested, leave a comment.

I had to cancel my Internet Service because the service was just tooooooo bad. I have really missed being able to write and post whenever I had the urge, not to mention the additional cost of going to the Internet businesses. Part of the problem with the service was, I am sure, the age of my computer. Recently a friend donated an almost new computer so I am contemplating signing up once again for the Internet service. We will see.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tungurahua Is At Rest....And Baños Is Empty

After a couple of weeks of almost constant activity, Tungurahua is now resting. Some days the activity was violent enough to cause the authorities to suggest that maybe it was time for folks to think about leaving Baños. The explosions were strong, and rattled window as far away as Salasaca. During the day you could see the clouds of ash that drifted to the west but Bañon was generally ash-free. From the center of Baños you are not able to see the top of the volcano although it is less then a mile away, but from the surrounding communities such as Salasaca when the peak was not shrouded with clouds, spectacular sights of the fiery eruptions were visible.

Today was a beautiful day, warm, sunny and empty. Walking around the city I was reminded of Yuma, Arizona at midday in the summer. It was hard to find anyone on the streets, or in the parks.

Even some of the most popular restaurants were closed for vacation.

The news media however, both national and international, continues to pass information about how dangerous it is and recommend that people change their travel plans which causes more financial losses to the merchants in Baños then they have ever suffered by actual damage caused by the volcano itself.

I have grown to hate most 24 hour news channels. It seems that in their quest to fill all the time with something spectacular they commit that despicable act of managing the news without checking the facts. One station announced to the world on January 6th or 7th that Tungurahua was erupting again and showed some footage of the August, 2006 eruption. I received e-mails from friends asking about it and a friend from Mexico arrived on the 8th, commenting about the big eruption that he said “looked bigger then that of 2006”. That was of course news, to the people of Baños who wondered how they could have slept through that one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Project Stilts

Today was a wonderful day at Katitawa School. I repeated a project for the kids here that I had done for my own children when they were about the same age. Click on the title of the post for the story.

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve.....Ambato

I walked around the center of Ambato around 4:30 this afternoon and there was not a whole lot going on. Compared to last year nothing. I will make another round around six. I did get a few pictures on Calle Vela, close to the 12th of November Park.

More later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


My friend Linda, who lives across the Pastaza River from the small town of San Francisco, invited myself and some friends for Christmas. Linda's place is about a 45 minute trek into the mountains. When we got off the bus at San Francisco it was raining cats and dogs but we were not going to let a little rain dapen out Christmas spirit.
We arrived looking like drowned rats but after putting on some dry clothes we warmed up by the fire and had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Let Me Tell You About Fabiola.

I met Fabiola more than two years ago, when Lorenzo, my weaver friend of mine from Salasaca brought her over to the spa and told me she needed a job. She was 19 and a very shy girl, dressed in the typical Salasacan dress. I told her I could use her if she was willing to do whatever needed to be done. She agreed and started the next day.

Well that shy young lady that arrived that day is still with me and helps in all of the projects that we are doing…..But she is not shy anymore. Where at first I would ask her to do something and she would only nod….today she will look at me and say..."I’ll get to that later as I have something more important to do now". She drives me a little crazy and at times I’ll admit that I am almost angry with her. When she sees that look, whatever it is that I give her, she will turn to whoever is around and say “He’s mad at me”, and I have to smile and usually I just say….”almost”.

I don’t think she has ever been to work on time. When she worked at the spa in Ambato, there was always an excuse. The busses were full, I had to feed the cows….or this or that. The list could go on and on.

When she was working at the school and her house was less than 10 minutes away she still had the same excuses except for the bus.

She is now working at the volunteer complex and her work habits have not improved. She knows and I know, that I will never tell her to find another job. And if she ever quit, I would miss her….a lot.

All of the above, I say with all of the love one person can have for another. She is part of my family of friends, that I have here in Salasaca. I am the godfather to her brother and I am not even Catholic. On my 74th birthday she hosted surprise party for me at the home of Jose her “novio”.

Almost a month ago now, Jose and a few members of the musical group left on a tour of Peru, Chili and Argentina. I don’t know who arranged it, but I hope they come back rich and famous. In the meantime Fabiola is coping with the loss. She and Jose have been together for a long time. She jokes about being liberated, but I know she cries when no one is around.

Recently, around the 1st of November when everyone was getting ready for the big party to honor the dead at the cemetery. I asked her if she was going to take care of me when I died. ( Which means preparing you for burial.) She said “yes, I will do that, but you need to leave me $4,000”. I asked her why, ”Because I will need to buy four cows”. “Four cows”?, I said. “Yes, because I will have to feed all of the people who will come to the funeral”. I doubt that it will be a four cow funeral, but it is jokes like that, that make me feel like I am doing something that is worthwhile.

The first of the year we are giving Fabiola a new job. Her passion in life is not cleaning and washing clothes, but dancing and being part of the local folkloric dance group. In fact, Fabiola helped prepare the children for their dances in the Christmas program.. After the program I talked with Rosa Maria about making the folkloric dances of Salasaca part of the curriculum here at the school, and have Fabiola teach the class once a week. She thought it was a wonderful idea so starting in January, Fabiola will be in her own element at least one day a week.

Baños Babes On Parade.

I went to Baños on Sunday to pick a volunteer for Katitawa and caught the tail end of the annual parade that is part of the two week long Baños Birthday Bash. Here are some pic's of some some Baños Babes....
And a few other entries.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

What We Really Need Is Cash.

Many people have asked, "What do you need down there?" Well we need a lot of things, and most of what we need is readily available here and the prices are fair. Some good hearted people have sent us materials and books for the library. The items have been sent priority mail, which is expensive, and we have to pay duty, not on the materials but on the amount that was spent for postage and insurance. More often then not the duty is equal to the cost of the items. If you are making a trip to Ecuador....Bring all you can as the duty is normally zero. If you want to bring a computer or something expensive we would appreciate it, but let us know ahead of time and we will advise customs that it is for the school.

There is a French tour company that has the Katitawa School on their itinerary and brings a bus load of French tourist by about once a month. They always bring a box of the most commonly used supplies which keeps us in pens, pencils, notebooks and such. This really helps and we rarely need to buy these types of supplies.

What we need, is money for maintenance and improvements.

We would also love to be able to raise the salary of our only paid teacher. Luis is a creative teacher, the likes of which you will not find in many schools. His salary is only $150.00 per month.

I know in today's economy, extra money is hard to find. However if you feel drawn to the donate button in the right hand colum, feel free

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Winds Have Changed....Salasaca & Ambato gets little ash.

Monday night the winds over Tungurahua changed and the ash that normally flows to the West, reversed and we got a little fall-out. Not much, but just enough to remind us that our neighbors to the West have this almost everyday.

There is no cause for alarm....If you are anywhere near Baños, plan to visit this weekend. The big two-week long birthday party has a lot of entertainment left....including the annual race of the wooden cars, or carts may be a better word, on Friday the 14th. Here are some pictures from the race in 2004.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tungurahua Is Causing Concern.....Mostly for the farmers.

In the past few weeks the activity of Tungurahua has increased. It is spewing a lot of ash and for a couple of days last week the winds shifted to the east and gave Baños a little dusting.

The newspapers have been giving it a little more coverage then usual and that of course effects tourism. The first two weeks of this month are the fiestas that mark the anniversary of its founding. This is always a busy time of year and this year the numbers are way down. Let's hope the next two weeks will be better.

The farmers who grow their crops on the side of the mountain are getting so much ash that it is causing damage. These poor people who lost so much just one year ago are getting discouraged....They are tough people but there is just so much a mind and body can take.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


It is hard to believe that 2007 is almost history. The year has been full and each day has been an adventure.

Bill and Debbie, volunteers from Scotland will be leaving for home in two weeks and we could use another volunteer, so if you are in the area and want something worthwhile to do please come on by. Our annual Christmas program will be presented on the 13th and you are all invited. Seriously, if you are in Baños we would love to have you visit….You may even want to stay.

When we first started this project, I was a little concerned about having so many different English teachers. I thought that it would be a problem for the kids….Getting attached, (and they do get attached), to one person only to have her leave and then having to get to know another. I have however, dismissed this concern as no problem. The kids are sad to see a friend leave but then they are excited when the next one shows up. They are getting an international course in English and I often wonder what kind of accent they will end up with.

It is wonderful to see the kids learn….I remember just one year ago in October or maybe it was November when we started the program not one word of English was in their vocabulary. Now….I am amazed. The volunteers have been absolutely wonderful.

When I think of the volunteers, I look around and see things that remind me of them….Their presence is still felt. They all left something behind that the children and myself will never forget. The other day Darwin, took the map of the world and pointed to Australia and said Mark and Adriana. All of the kids are like that. You give them a name and they will point to their home country.

Every time I enter the English classroom I see the different colored papers on the walls….showing the alphabet, days of the week, months of the year and “What is your name” and I think of Janneke. The kids will never forget Ian and the trip to the zoo, nor will I. His blue vest that he willed me and I am wearing today….A wonderful person who joined the Salasaca soccer team and helped finish a thatched roof for a family. He was ready to do most anything.

Each time I turn on the water pump I think of Elizabeth who hand delivered the new pump. She hated tomatoes and I can still see her picking them out of salads and soup. She is a beautiful girl and promises to be back next year. When I see the new roof on the old building or see the sign on the library I think of Enda and John. And, Hotel California and Julie are synonymous. Marco from Ireland, said he was born in 1969 and one of the kids said, “We have not had that vintage here since”.

The littlest kids and I water Marco’s apple trees and Adriana’s rose bush everyday. They promised to be back. And when I look at the new school sign or the “Wash Your Hands” in three languages over the sinks by the dining room I think of Ganga and the many nights we sat in the kitchen and played cribbage. And Rachel, a much giving women. I still see her at the kitchen table making up new games to teach new words to the kids and we still play them. And Sonia….from France. One of the easiest women to get along with I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. It did not mater what she was dong, she always loved doing it and if you didn’t giver her anything to do she found something. And now we have Bill and Debbie….They are still with us and when they leave I will miss them as well.

One day we had a couple from Chicago stop by for a visit and stayed three days…. And a young man from Israel who came by for a day and gave us some help.

I thank you all and you can be sure that the children remember you and they talk about each and everyone of you often. You have enriched all of our lives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Library Up-Date

The library is gaining populariaty and we are getting students from other schools who come in the evening to get help with their homework. They also come looking for particular books that are refferenced by their teachers. The problem is that most of these books are fairly new and we do not have them. We are taking note of them and would like to buy some of them in Quito. This takes dollars that we do not have so we are looking for some sponsors who would like to help.

If this strikes you as something that you would like to help with, please feel free to hit the donate button below. This fund has a new number and all the donations will be used to buy books.

Thanks for your help.