Review of Lodging/Dining/Massages in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Vilcabamba is famous for it’s handful of local residents who not only live over 100 years old, but these people will easily hike a mountain for 3 hours to get to their farm to milk their cow and carry back the milk themselves. The people are friendly but the town is changing as the tourism industry continually grows. I see it as good and bad. A LOT of foreigners are buying up land in the valley and building houses, which employs the locals but at the same time raises the value of the land and most locals can’t afford to buy land or houses. Regardless, it’s a beautiful town with friendly locals and ex-pats. There IS an ATM in the main plaza, but it’s picky with credit cards, especially if you are from Switzerland. I don’t know why.

Madre Tierra
This “hostal” was a bit strange. The land is beautiful, the rooms are rustic yet modern and they offer a wide variety of spa services. We arrived on foot (2 km north of town) to find that the one receptionist that worked there was in Loja (1 hr by bus) and they weren’t sure when she would come back. No one else was there to fill in; no one would tell us how much the rooms cost when asked. A man called the receptionist on her cell phone and he told us it would be $30 US for a room, which seemed normal according to our guidebook. He brought us to a beautiful cabin with a view and porch and then told us it was $30 a person. Who charges by the number of people? Most places in Vilcabamba. I think it’s strange. We were not going to get taken advantage of and went back to the front desk. My guidebook says there are dorms at this place, so we asked about them and he told us quite adamately, “You don’t want to stay there. It’s very dirty and above the kitchen and rats run around at night.” Are they trying to keep our business? Rats above the kitchen…that doesn’t make me say, let’s take the penthouse then. I don’t think Matt or I look wealthy, covered in dirt and sweat from our hike with our backpacks. We said we’d take the rat room and asked the price and he wouldn’t tell us the price and kept telling us we didn’t want it…so we waited about an hour for the receptionist to return, but she didn’t. Finally the same guy said he could do $25 per person and we said no, we wanted a price list. Are they used to business traveller’s who don’t look at prices or rich people who don’t care? What about the rest of us. It’s such bad business, even their website won’t list prices, but you can make a reservation. Finally, we bargained on $20 a person (which I still think is a rip off, but we didn’t want to waste our day and needed a shower) for a room and dinner and breakfast. The grounds are beautiful, the pool is small and there is a pool table and little tv to watch next to the bar, which was dead all night. Dinner was a multi-course affair, elegantly set but the meal was definitely for the western meat eater. Course one was hummus, aji and homemade bread (yum). Course 2 was an okay tomato soup. Course 3 was mashed potatoes, a handful of boiled carrots and a hunk of beef (for us, 3 spoonfuls of eggplant parmesan…) Not impressive, but we were full.
Your room price also includes 15 minutes a day in the lukewarm jacuzzi, which you must make an appointment for. We induldged in the Spa Special, which is a 3 hour ordeal of 3 face masks, hair treatment, body scrub, mud bath, foot massage and a steam vapor treatment which made me almost pass out (but still wonderful). The treatments use all natural ingredients (honey, salt, mud from the area, oats, aloe, egg whites). The body scrub was okay; the room was cold and it was a bit short. The face masks and hair treatment were standard. The mud bath was wonderful. They bring you a pot of burning hot mud and you get to rub it all over yourself and lay in a tiled tub (with as much water as you want). It’s like being a child again. The steam vapor treatment is intense. There is a wooden box that you sit in with your head outside of the box and steam is pumped in to simulate a fever (detoxification). After a period of time you come out of the box and the attendant rubs you down with a cold, wet towel. Back in the box. Then you immerse your bottom in a cold pool and splash water everywhere and back to the box you go. The final time out you stand in a shower and get hosed down with high-pressure ice cold water. That’s what got me; I had to sit down and I felt horrible. I was assisted to a chair and layed down, drank water and had a spoonful of honey. In about 5 minutes I was better. Matt felt fine during the whole vapor treatment; definitely drink a lot of water before if you can. They told us the treatment would last 3 hours, but it was closer to 5 hours and we almost missed our bus out of town…overall staying at the hostal seemed like a rip off, the service is horrible and the food was not very exciting, but the spa experience was fun (we paid $45 for all the services together, the normal price was $90 but guests get half off the prices. So at the discounted price, it was still a little more expensive than services in town).

Jardin Escondido
$11 per person for a private room with bathroom. $9 for the dorm.
These rooms are clean and unique, with curvy walls and tiled bathrooms. Pool use is free. The jacuzzi has a fee and the water doesn’t get that hot. Free dvds in the tv room and friendly service. Breakfast is included (2 eggs, homemade bread, jam, juice and tea). They also have a restaurant with Mexican food that’s good. It’s also for sale if anyone is interested. Beware of the noisy roosters who do not understand the concept of dawn. I didn’t sleep very well but enjoyed the amenities and proximity to the plaza.

$9 per person for a room with private bathroom. Includes the usual breakfast.
A hammock outside each room and a little table to enjoy breakfast outside your room, this place has lots of nice touches. A big utility sink to hand wash clothes, boots, etc. You can rent a dvd player and movies from them along with a lot of other services. It’s a few blocks from the plaza, a good location and no roosters screaming, although the walls are VERY thin and I had to listen to our neighbor sing christmas songs at 6am while she was packing. No pool but lovely gardens and hummingbirds everywhere.

Hostal Mandago
The budget pick in the Lonely Planet guidebook. We didn’t make it there at the advice of a local: they slaughter pigs at dawn on the weekends…so if you don’t want to hear Porkey screaming his last words, avoid it.

Valle Sagrado
$5 per person.
Ragged rooms, no screens on the windows, peeling wallpaper and no breakfast or pool. It’s clean though and if you can find the receptionist (it took us a half an hour) you can get a cheap room without the frills and a decent bed to pass the night. Surprisingly, our room had a tv and hot water. Located next to the internet cafe west of the plaza.

Hosteria Izhcayluma
$9 per person for the dorm; $13 pp for a private room. $30 for a cabin.
My favorite place to stay in terms of price, amenities and service. Great views, 2 km outside of town (the local bus from Loja goes right by it). Run by Germans and staffed by travellers taking a break, this is the place to feel at home and comfortable. Everyone is friendly (except the waitress who doesn’t seem to enjoy her job), the pool is pure rainwater, the buildings are dispersed enough for that tranquil vibe, and the dorms consist of 5 beds in a room with a loft. The bathrooms are tiled with stones, the water pressure could be better, and the best birdwatching is outside the dorms in a hammock. They have it set: just far enough away from town so they can charge a little more at the restaurant and in the bar, but it’s worth it for meeting travellers for conversation or hiking partners, watching a movie if it rains, shoot some pool, play ping-pong or enjoy a game on a life-size chess table. Maybe the receptionist or bartender is continuing their travels and you could be lucky enough to spend a few months at this Hosteria.

A bit more expensive than in town, but huge portions. Mostly peruvian dishes, german dishes and some pizza and pasta. The bar opens at 7pm with some strong cocktails. Interesting the first night, but once you’ve tried the vegetarian options there isn’t much excitement. (The spaetzle is good, the other vegetarian german dish is disgusting).

Vegetarian Restaurant
About a block east of the plaza, this friendly Belgium-Ecuadorian couple cook up some good vegetarian food that is a nice break from the carne de soya Peruvian joints. She makes nice quiches, a mild curry, big beautiful salads and more. The menu (soup and entree) is $3.50 US.

East of town, across the river, this place has CHARACTER. Shanta is from Cuenca but he’s a snake-owning moonshining cowboy with a big ole’ mustache. His papas fritas are the best, you have about 7 bowls of stuff to dip them in. The pizza’s decent, the spaghetti with mushrooms is good and beware of the snake juice, it’s strong. His wife is one of the best massuses in town. The only real bar in town and a fun place to hang out.

Jardin Escondido
Mexican food. Comforting and delicious. The quesadilla and nachos are small portions and a bit disappointing, though the burrito is delicious. Watch out, their cat is the most loving cat in the world and will jump on your lap and demand petting while you are eating.

La Terraza
In the plaza, this place is touted as having Italian, Thai and Mexican plates. There is NO thai food in this joint, there’s a lo-mein dish that is gigantic and okay. The quesadillas are cheesy with a side of beans and the burrito is also delicious. Don’t order the hummus, it’s not hummus.

Natural Yogurt
Tempeh burgers for a dollar! Don’t order the potato spinach dish, it’s strange and disgusting (at least to my palate). In the plaza.

THE place for yummy chocolate, muffins, granola and whole grain bread. On the weekends he’s offering pizza, pasta and lasagna. Sadly, my craving for lasagna was unfulfilled since it was full of meat. The cookies are all shortbread cookies (sesame good, chocolate chip strange). I’m glad they are there to fill the unique niche. Located south of the plaza past the church.


Piedad has the best deal in town. She works out of Jardin Escondido or out of her house (Agua de Hierro, east of the plaza) for the same price. $10 per hour for a full body massage. It’s Shiatsu style and her hands are strong. Worth every penny. If you get the massage at the Jardin, it may be a bit chilly and no music. Out of her house she burns incense, candles and has music, but her daughter will barge in and she may stop the massage to answer the door. Shanta’s wife operates out of Shanta’s in her own little round massage house. Also incense, soft lighting and music, she is a small woman and uses her entire body when she gives a full body massage. Trained in Shiatsu and Physical Therapy, she will rip your arms out of socket, twist your neck and climb on top of you to put all her body weight for the best back massage ever. I never felt so good after a massage, and having it be $11 for 75 minutes, I wish I had more time to return everyday. At Madre Tierra, it’s VERY expensive if you are not a guest, but if you are a guest, you get 50% off the prices (which makes it still pricier than town). The combo deal of 5 treatments is great and worth it if you get the discount. Steam vapor and mud baths are the most intense and fun and cleansing of the bunch.

The Valley of Longevity

After our frustrating week on the farm, we decided to indulge in a week of relaxation and luxury before our upcoming month of volunteer work. Vilcabamba is a little town in a valley of southern Ecuador and it’s filled with locals who are living over 100 years old and lots of foreigners who have brought good food and tourism to the town. We were so happy to find some burritos and quesadillas and even tempeh (made by a local). A Belgian man named Layseca has a store in town and he makes chocolate and cookies and homemade bread! The only hard thing about this town is the money, it’s significantly more expensive than how we had been living in Peru. A typical lunch in Peru is sl.3 to sl.9 ($1-3) and a typical lunch in Vilcabamba is $5. Typical simple hostals in Peru are sl. 20 ($6) and in Vilcabamba it’s between $18 and $25 a night. The hostals are nicer, though and most offer breakfast (which is 2 eggs, toast, jam, juice and tea). But it was nice to have a little luxury after our trials and we enjoyed being in a relaxing town with great views.

By far the nicest place overall we stayed at was Hostal Izcayluma, which is located 2 km north of town. It has a community feel and attracts a lot of travelers in their 20′s and 30′s (and older, but they stay in the private cabins). It’s a smart setup and beautifully done. The dining area has a view of the valley and the town of Vilcabamba in the distance. There’s a bar for the guests at night with a pool table, ping pong and hammocks galore. You can watch movies for free during the day and there’s a pool that I swear is just pure rainwater. We stayed in the dorms because the cabin cost more than the guidebook said it would. But the dorms are nice: they only have 5 beds and is set back into the valley. I think it’s just as nice as staying in one of the cabins, except that it was much more social. We met a lot of interesting travellers and joined a few of them for a hike to the Podocarpus National Park with a guide. This park is one of the most biologically rich areas in the country and has a variety of plant and animal species, including tiny orchids, the only native conifer of Ecuador (the podocarpus), spectacled bears, toucans and more. We saw the plant life but not much of the animal life. We heard the toucans yelling in the distance, which was neat. The most birds I saw was relaxing in the hammock outside the dorm of Izhcayluma.

We decided to do a 2 day horseback ride into the mountains as well and that was wonderful. The guide was Gavin, a guy from New Zealand who’s been living in Vilcabamba for at least 20 years (I think). His assistant was a local and we were joined with a solo traveller from Switzerland. Since I had ridden before (yep, like 2 years ago) Gavin gave me the scared horse that was making his first time on the trail. I did not fall off (no saddle horn) and he listened most of the time. We gallopped through town, along the river, through some rivers and climbed steep switchbacks that would take me days on foot. The views were amazing: lush green valleys with random cows and horses scattered among the hills grazing and waterfalls in the distance. The trail was narrow and with steep drop offs which made the galloping (when the horses weren’t panting up the mountain) much more exhilerating. My mother would have had a panic attack or something with the drop. It took about 3 hours to get to the refugio, a small house on some land that Gavin bought which borders the Podocarpus Park. About 5 minutes before we arrived it started raining, so the timing was pretty decent. Gavin made us a lunch of bread, guacamole, cucumbers and cream cheese with some fresh squeezed passionfruit juice.
The rain stopped after lunch and we went on a hike through his property and perhaps into the park as well (he donated a portion of his land to the National Park when we bought it). The hike was basically a trail that he macheted through the mountain and along ridges so there was plenty of climbing over logs and slipping through the mud while enjoying the orchids, bromeliads and the views. After our hike, Gavin gave us potato chips and olives with cocktails (passionfruit juice with vodka). His kitchen is a wood fire with a grate on top, so it took awhile before dinner was ready but we enjoyed the sunset (his house is at a high enough elevation to look down into the valley towards Vilcabamba (but through a different valley than the hostal is in). The whole area is filled with steep beautiful valleys (which can be frustrating to hike due to the switchbacks…it takes awhile if you are trying to hike to something you see). When dinner was ready, he had a table set up with candlelight and red wine (Clos in the box from Chile, the only wine I’ve liked so far). And we indulged in ziti with a vegetable tomato sauce and banana bread for dessert. We shared stories and adventures (Gavin has quite an interesting life which makes for great stories). The next morning we woke up, enjoyed pancakes, saddled the horses and rode back down the mountain. It was a really fun adventure, I just wished we spent more time on the horses (but I always do).
We spent another day in town then headed back to Peru.

Never Again Land (Neverland farm, Vilcabamba)

I found this really interesting sounding sustainable organic farm in Ecuador called Never Land. It’s run by an American woman named Tina who lives there with a local Ecuadorian named Killo. A couple of local paid workers come during the week to help with the workload. They have a bio-dynamic garden and are doing alternative building. I read someone else’s account on their blog and it sounded like a nice break: work on a farm, be in the middle of nowhere and have a community.
I communicated via e-mail to Tina and planned our arrival and printed the directions (there are 3 buses a day that take you to a small village, 45 minutes outside of Vilcabamba, then you hike for 45 minutes through a valley). A few days before we left town, I emailed Tina to confirm and she told me that she had to go back to the US for some family stuff, but we were still welcome to come and live at the farm. The website states that they don’t charge anything, we work for our food and lodging and help carry food into the farm.

So we headed there, I with perhaps too high expectations of a welcoming, friendly community and projects to work on where we could learn as well as help them become sustainable. My expectations were too high. The land is beautiful, located next to a river that if you hike upstream for 2 hours you find a waterfall. The land was previously owned by Johnny Lovewisdom, a very interesting guy who wrote some crazy books and believed in eating only fruits. He also suffered a lot of health problems, not sure if trying to live off papaya helped or hurt his health. Anyways, Tina now owns the land and runs a WWOOF type project where people can come and help and stay. We arrived there at dusk, were offered dinner and were shown our lodging, which was a bamboo bed (I don’t recommend it) and a mosquito net over it.
I’ll just get to the point and summarize our experience. We were the ONLY volunteers there. The following morning we asked what we could do, how we could help, what were the projects and we got vague answers like, we don’t need help right now. So we just followed around the paid guy and helped him move rocks the first day and I got bored and annoyed. They are building a round stone house for a friend of Tina who’s going to move there but when questioned no one would explain the specifics of the house, why it’s sustainable or any sort of knowledge about what we were doing or why. I got frustrated so I went back to the main house and helped Killo prepare lunch, which is where I learned he was leaving us for a few days to go get his son. I went to town with him on his horse and rode the horse back in the rain, which was a fun experience (the path is narrow with steep drop-offs).
The next day the paid guy didn’t show up and we didn’t know what to do, so Matt macheted the paths and I made bread and cooked the meals for us and the paid guy who was living there for the week. Killo, who supposedly ran the farm was always vague when we asked to help and never gave us direction or a project. We felt unnecessary and alone. There was no community and when the workers were there, they barely talked at all, even when we asked questions, they answered in short answers. There was a list next to the kitchen that said projects for 2007 and it included macheteing the path and feeding the 3 dogs and 3 cats.
So all I can think is that Tina must organize the volunteers and make it seem like a welcoming community because without her, I didn’t have any experiences there that I read of. There was no organization or planning. We moved rocks the first day and next 4 days no one worked on the house again. We helped weed the garden because we followed the paid guy there and we helped week the leeks. Matt asked what was in the other rows and he didn’t or wouldn’t tell us, so when we were left without supervision we couldn’t even weed on our own because most of the rows were not labeled and we weren’t told what was a weed and what wasn’t. It was quite frustrating because we wanted to help and learn and share and we basically were ignored. I would have felt different if the intention was to go and hang out and read books and relax, but we felt we should help and couldn’t. So we basically gave up. I tried to enjoy cooking and I tried to sleep through the night (the dogs are barkers at anything) and I definitely enjoyed the scenery. But we were lonely. Killo left us 4 of the 7 nights we were on the farm and we were left totally alone on the farm for a few days in a row. So much for community farming.

I think the thing that bothered me the most was that the website says there’s no fee (one of the reasons we decided to go), but then we get there and there’s a sign on the wall, next to the exciting projects that says all volunteers must pay $15 US per week to stay there…which doesn’t seem fair to have no advance warning. BUT we were never told of this fee by anyone on the farm during our week or Tina via email. Our last night Killo told us we had to pay $25 US per week per person to cover our expenses and I just about flipped out. We have been having repeated experiences in Peru and Ecuador of people trying to rip us off by telling us a different price for food and lodging and they always do it at the end. These people won’t even be straightforward with us. What a horrible thing to be on a farm for a week, feeling useless and unwanted and then have them ask for money on the last day with no warning? It’s SO wrong and the next morning we showed Killo the sign on the wall that says $15 and he said it was from last year (even though it clearly says 2007) and that the website hasn’t been updated and he thought Tina told us. Jeez, I would have thought twice about going before paying $50 for a week whether we were working or not. We paid about $50 a week to have our own room, bathroom, hot water and shared kitchen in Huanchaco and we didn’t have to work on a farm. So we fought his attempts to take advantage of the gringos and decided $15 a week is fair for the food but unfair in their methods of asking for it and left. One week there was too much. I got to read “The World According to Garp,” which is a bit depressing and moved rocks, baked bread, took a few hikes and weeded leek rows.
While in Vilcabamba relaxing and recovering from our disappointment and anger at the money thing we found a sign for another sustainable farm of sorts, which sounds exactly like what we had in mind. It’s called Sacred Suenos and is 2 hours by foot from Vilcabamba. If anyone checks it out, let me know if it’s anything better than what I experienced.

Ecuador via the road less travelled

Matt and I headed north to Ecuador the most direct way on the map, but the longest and most uncomfortable way, filled with more tests of my patience. We took a 3 hour combi (those 15 passenger vans they cram us into like sardines) at 5am from Leymembamba to Chachapoyas (our other option was the 3am bus). Once in Chachapoyas we had to kill the whole day because they are doing construction on the road OUT of Chacha (making a 1 lane mountain road into 2 lanes…this required the road to be closed from 6am until 6pm every day for the next few months). Chacha has nothing to offer the tourist except guides to the ruins and mountains outside of town. We found an okay vegetarian restaurant across from the combi stop on calle 2 de Mayo and tried to waste the day as best as we could…sleeping in the bus station, emails, sitting in the plaza, walking to the mirador and getting stared at by many locals. I know we’re not the only foreigners that pass through this town but we had a girl stare at us for at least 10 minutes then ask if we would pose in a picture. We asked her why and her reason was that we were gringos. Maybe staring isn’t considered rude in this country but I find it unsettling. I’d much rather have someone talk to me than look at me like I’m some freak. I don’t think I ever ask foreigners to pose in pictures with me. Famous people and drag queens, yes, the average foreigner, no.

Anyways, we took the 7:30pm bus from Chachapoyas (the road is NOT finished, the bus actually went through a cave and barely made it and crossed a river…not the bridge) to Bagua Grande (3 hours) where I almost got killed by two junkyard dogs while looking for a place to pee. Luckily they were on chains and I swear I was 2 feet from the end of the chain. They were foaming at the mouth and I’m proud to say I yelled at the dogs instead of going fetal and crying. I’ve made such improvements over my fear of the man-eating dogs. Within 10 minutes of arriving in Bagua, the Jaen Express showed up (VERY lucky timing. our plan was to sleep in Bagua and try to get a bus at 6am). We hopped on the Jaen Express, which reminds me of those old buses that the gospel people ride in the south. We were the only non locals and we tried to sleep the hour or so to get to Jaen. We found a hostal and slept a little amid the loud music videos the concierage was watching all night.

That morning we hopped on a colectivo (still the same as a combi, except these don’t leave until they are full, so you could wait a few minutes or hours) to San Ignacio. The road was mostly dirt and bumpy but beautiful. The road followed a brown raging rapid river and we passed a lot of corn fields, coconut palms, mango and papayatrees and coffee plantations. Once we got to San Ignacio we walked through town to find a colectivo taxi to take us to the border. The car filled up fast so we were lucky there, too. Imagine a hatchback ford escort and fitting 4 people in the back and 2 in the passenger seat for 2.5 hours on an extremely pot-holed road. I’m glad I’m not big, but I barely fit my shoulders in this taxi…but that was the only way to the border.

Once at the border, we tried to cross but the border guard was at home eating lunch and wouldn’t be back. We relaxed, had some veggie sandwiches, watched the dogs chase the donkeys and when our hour was up (I had to go to the person’s house to get them…but they weren’t ready yet) we got stamped, walked across the bridge into Ecuador, got our entry stamp and learned that our only mode of transport was the ranchera trucks (imagine a giant open air wooden benched bus, perhaps from a circus or farm tour). The next ranchera was in 2.5 hours, so once again we had to find something to do. It was nice and hot outside, so we decided to swim in the river that divides Peru from Ecuador. The was was fast moving, clear and cold and hopefully no parasites found us because it was refreshing and so nice after all the buses and taxis.

When we hopped on the ranchera, we endured the 2 hour ride on wooden benches and were practically underneath a thunderstorm the whole time. Luckily the truck had a roof, but we had plenty of rain whipped at us from the sides. The lightening was beautiful, though and when we arrived in Zumba, we were just in time to hop on the bus to Loja (a real bus with seats that recline and doors and windows). I don’t remember the 4 hours on that bus but we arrived really late at night, found a cheap hostal and passed out.

The next day we found an ATM (Ecuador is on the US Dollar and we didn’t have much on us) and caught another bus (1 hour) to Vilcabamba, the valley of longevity. Our guidebook states there is no ATM in Vilcabamba but there is. It didn’t like my debit card but Matt’s was fine. I have also heard it won’t accept cards from Switzerland.

So that was our off the beaten path journey to Ecuador. It was about 18 hours in transit plus too much waiting time. Our return journey we’re going a different way and will only take 3 buses instead of 6. It’s 2 hours longer by bus but I think we’ll both be happy to not deal with all the bus changes and wait times. It was definitely an adventure and once was enough.

Moving through the frustrations

Our plans are constantly changing, which is difficult for me but is a good lesson for me to learn to go with the flow. The current volunteer coordinators at Otra Cosa are highly disorganized and led us to believe we could do a project in the cloud forest, teaching English. (Apparently they promised another volunteer the same time frame as us…but she got fed up and found a different project run by other people). We confirmed it before we even arrived in Peru, then for our whole time in Huanchaco they wouldn’t discuss it with us–it was always let’s talk about it next week…until we were ready to leave and forced them to tell us there were volunteers there and no room for us.

I’m finding it difficult to get most people to give me straightforward answers…it’s nice they don’t want to disappoint us but I’d rather hear a no a month ahead and make new plans than believe something is possible. I get me hopes up too easily. Anyways, we decided to just head east anyways and see the cloud forests and travel on through. Three days before we left town, the coordinator told me the volunteers were leaving and there was room for us (hooray!) and lucky for us, the guy who runs the program (Maibel) was in town (he’s the brother of one of the girls who runs the restaurant) so we met with him before we left…only to hear him say the volunteers were NOT leaving and he doesn’t know why she thought they were (booh!). So apparently the communication is poor among the locals as well, but poor Maibel, he’s organized and is a man of his word. He was disappointed to lose us and after many discussions and ideas and plans changing and seeing the program in Leimembamba, Matt and I decided to spend a few weeks in Ecuador and return to Leimembamba in December to volunteer when there will be guaranteed work for us.

I’m learning to take a big breath and just move forward…but it’s frustrating when we only have so much time in South America and to be pushed and pulled around like we can just waste time and money…it’s not right. Otra Cosa is paired up with some really great projects, but the new coordinators both work full time and have a family. I don’t know why they are coordinating Otra Cosa if they can’t even be organized and tell volunteers what is available when. It’s a great concept and I hope it improves, but for now I recommend to just deal with the projects directly if you are interested in it…