A gold digger

If you want to know how I got to Judith’s farm see my previous post.


I bought food for a week. I don’t trust to much the meat hanging on the hooks with plenty of flies stuck to it, so besides sweet potatoes plantains and bananas in three varieties,  rice, beans and different fruits, I bought some eggs which are, actually, pretty good in Ecuador. I found a taxi, which took me back to Judith’s farm. This time the taxi driver didn’t speak English, so we didn’t converse a lot – only some standard questions about my origins and my stay in Ecuador.

Judith showed me her farm. She had coffee, tangerines, oranges and lemons. The coffee was already picked, and citruses not mature yet, so the work in the orchard wasn’t an available option. I could build a fence or start to build a guest house. I could probably find something else, but neither did I have the ideas, nor Judith special needs.

‘Do you know how to level the ground?’ she asked me.

‘Sure I do,” I answered knowing nothing about it, although hoping that my common sense would be enough to figure it out.

I took a shovel from a tool shed and wen to level the terrain previously cleared by other volunteer. The beginning was easy. After about an hour I realised that a shovel wasn’t enough. I came back with a pickaxe. Work was much easier. With the pickaxe I cut pieces of rocky ground and threw them behind me with the shovel, expanding the shelf from the slope side. I crushed the layered rocks, the quartz crystals full of iron ore broke under my hits. It’s said that deeper in the ground, in the hear of the mountain one can even find gold and I’m not talking about Inca treasure. As I learned later, there is, in fact, gold in those lands. Andes were created by two overlapping earth layers. The upper one contains a lot of gold and other minerals, although in a place where I was, I stood on a top of it, so getting to them would require a really long digging. However, I was unbending. I worked over twenty hours during m stay at Judith’s farm. I dug out a hole over seven meters long and three and a half wide. No gold though.


A gold digger. That means me in my work clothes.


Judith’s husband, Steven, is an addict therapist. He uses his own method, taking the small groups of kids he works with on the farm. Usually he is accompanied by on or two psychotherapists learning from him. I haven’t met him as he was in Quito with a group too big to be taken home. Judith is a painter. Also, she teaches yoga in Vilcabamca.

Judith told me that they had used to live even further from civilisation, somewhere in the forests of Arizona, almost an hour of driving from the nearest grocery store. They’d moved out from US about eight-ten years ago due too the general political tendencies in the Western world.

When they bought that piece of land, a hose was a ruin. They’ve rebuilt it and made it a decent place to live. They got the access to water, creating through the years a still developing system. I learned how it worked a day it stopped working.

‘The pressure is weak. I’m going to see if the water is still coming from above. Do you want to see how it functions?’

That wasn’t a question at all. Judith explained me the system. The water flowed from the source up in the mountains (about an hour of walk). It filled a cement tank (about a quarter of walk). Then it went to the blue tank which is seven-minute-distant from the house and then to two black ones. One of them was in use all the time while the other served as a backup letting the inhabitants to have water for long days in the case of rupture in the delivery. Before there was only the blue tank so any rupture meant a complete lack of water.


The blue tank.
The cement tank.


We climbed all the way, looking in each tank. The last one was in the middle of the field where the co pastured. At least I thought they were cows.


This is not a cow. It’s a bull. A whole herd of bulls.


‘Either the pipe is broken or clogged. I’m going to make a call to report it. Anyway, tomorrow or the day after they should fix it. All the pipe is controlled weekly’.

The next day was Friday. I went for a little walk that finished as a big adventure and about which I’m going to write a post. On my way I found a problem – there was a hole in the pipe and the water was merrily flowing out on the road instead to flowing to Judith’s sink. Further, I met two men. They had small packages. When I came back, the water delivery was re-established. Every week someone has to walk along all the pipe, controlling it. No-one said tat the live in the Andes was easy.


During all of my state at Judith’s farm I was sleepy. I read a lot, wrote a lot and slept even more. Maybe it’s the air, maybe hard work or maybe just a remote place in Andes that let one relaxe. I tried yoga (it’s not going to be one of my hobbies, although it’s something new and, therefore, interesting), I learned that a mango or a banana could replace a meal and I worked a lot. During that time an improbable sequence of coincidences started, which has continued for over a week now and becomes more and more incredible, but I’ll write about it other time.


A sunset. Everyday at 6 o’clock.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *