B.S. News From the Highest Inn on Earth!
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Black Sheep Droppings
On the Equinox: March 22nd 2005
Sent in April because Andinatel (the phone company) just fixed our
¡Dios le pague!
Mother of Us All
This newsletter is dedicated to Dueña, our first black ewe, who passed
away into Black Sheep Heaven on March 26th. At over 10 years old, she was
the mother of our entire flock.
Chugchilán & Black Sheep Inn are Finalists for
Tourism for Tomorrow Award
Jean Loveland (who was a great Volunteer at the Inn last September and
October) nominated Black Sheep Inn for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards
sponsored by the World Tourism & Travel Council (WTTC). We then submitted
an application for the entire Village of Chugchilán under the Destination
Award Category. This is awarded to a destination of any size – from a
small town to an entire country that comprises more than one tourism
business. The destination must show dedication to, and success in,
maintaining a policy of sustainable management. The winner will be able to
demonstrate maximum positive benefits and minimum negative impacts.
We are honored to be a finalist for such a prestigious award. Check out:
The winners of each category will receive the award in New Delhi India on
April 8th at the World Tourism & Travel Council Summit.
For more information about “prestigious” ecotourism awards around the
Also In The News
with the Black Sheep Inn by Antonis B. Petropoulos:
Bucking Bronco, Great Drive, by Nick Moss.
Look on page 113. On Newsstands Now!
Our new laundry area is almost open… The location of the laundry area,
just above the Great Wall, means that we have created two resources: 1) we
are collecting water from the roof of the drying area and 2) the gray
water from the laundry can be used via gravity for irrigation in new
“Parque Central” and in our “no dig” gardens around the lodge.
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Parque Central -
Black Sheep Inn
BSI School, Health & Public Aid Fund
Our policy when a community or organization asks for
donations is to match the amount of money that they themselves can raise.
Sometimes we give up to $2 for every $1 that they provide for the
purchase. This often means that community members pitch in a couple of
dollars and we cover the rest of the expenses. We feel this is an
important aspect in distributing aid. It provides the community with a
sense of ownership over the aid they are receiving. It also means they
consider the cost of what they want to purchase, and not ask for what they
cannot afford, even with the ‘subsidy’ we offer. This policy stresses the
value of shopping around and prioritizing community needs. It also means
that money donated by guests for the community goes a lot further!
Allocated Aid - Spreading the Wealth
1. Grease Board for a new classroom to the rural Bilingual School “Rodeo.”
They had also received an Amplifier Public Address System in 2004.
2. Recycled-plastic tanks and lids for an organic agriculture project in
Chinaló. The tanks are being used to make organic fermented
fertilizer from cow manure called BI-OL.
3. A water reserve tank for the Subcentro (village Health Clinic). We also
help with maintenance of Chugchilán’s Ambulance.
4. A secure door for the office of an Adult Education Teacher from Cuba.
He is teaching adult literacy.
5. Fabric to make computer and printer covers for the library/learning
center. We also pay the Librarian’s monthly salary.
6. We organized a village clean up and discussion regarding waste
management in Chugchilán. The Community helped clean the plaza and trails
in preparation for the Tourism for Tomorrow Inspection. We were honored by
everybody’s participation and by the general positive vibe regarding
tourism in Chugchilán, which has only developed in the last 10 years.
Tom Clark’s - Annual $1000 Donation to the Chugchilán Elementary
School “Juan Jose Flores” for children’s textbooks. MUCHAS GRACIAS!
& Peter Whatling and Ken James & Di Clark
A donation of $400 collected at the October Harvest festival in Britain
was given to the Itoaló Elementary School “13 de Mayo.” Itoaló is the town
at the bottom of the canyon. The Escuela 13 de Mayo has purchased loud
speakers and paint for the school and they are interested in getting a
Black Sheep Inn thanks all of our generous guests. THANK YOU!! We
are looking into starting a (501c3) tax-exempt foundation in the USA in
order to make donating easier.
School "13 de Mayo"
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Sheep Inn Homepage
There are now seven functioning computers and a new typing program in
Chugchilán’s library/learning center (established 2003). The Police
Station’s computer was upgraded and the Cooperative now uses the Police’s
old computer. The British School will teach another computer training
workshop in April. Thank you for book donations as well! Shelves are
Meet the Mayor
We invited the third term Mayor of Sigchos, Hugo
Argüello and the new local Junta/Town Council, to a meeting at the Black
Sheep Inn this past January. Topics on the table included: garbage
management and recycling for Chugchilan, environmental education, the
Iliniza Ecological Reserve, and the Super Highway Quito-Guayaquil.
The mayor offered to pay for a small property near Chugchilán and to send
the municipal excavator to dig landfill trenches. We insisted that there
should be space available to sort and separate trash for recycling. The
mayor agreed, but stressed that the village first find an adequate site.
We suggested vehicle owners in the village, including ourselves, take
turns doing weekly garbage runs. We have discovered a recycling center in
Latacunga that recycles cardboard, paper, aluminum, and 2 types of
assured us that the proposed and approved super highway from Quito to
Guayaquil would NOT go through Sigchos, but would pass south of Zumbahua.
We were relieved to hear this. We consciously chose to live rurally, and
although a super highway might bring more business, we relish being off
the beaten path!
Nelson Almeida - New President of
the Junta - Looking for a water source for the village
US Peace Corp Volunteers
Laura Schreeg is finishing her Peace Corp assignment in Sigchos Ecuador,
and we are sad to see her go. Laura’s projects include: reforestation,
local tree nurseries, women’s knitting cooperative, shampoo production,
and several workshops for Local Guides, Women’s Health and small community
groups. Laura was honored at a ‘despedida’ last week, and the village will
surely miss her, as will we! Thank you Laura and your special Tico friend,
However, thanks to Laura’s help, Chugchilán will receive two Peace Corp
Volunteers in May. After 10 years of living here we are going to have
“gringo” neighbors! Welcome Casey and Denis!
George W Bush paid us a surprise visit us on December 31st, 2004,
but he mysteriously disappeared at midnight! Perhaps he used the one way
ticket in his pocket to Iraq!
Volunteers & Managers
Big thanks to everyone who has helped us at BSI. We were delighted that
Iain Duncan returned to manage things. From November through February he
was our savior. We have our fingers crossed that his path in life will
lead him back to Black Sheep Inn. Not only was he a super manager, but he
also became a very close friend. Iain, Jim and Lisa (all vegetarians at
that!!!) helped handle a busy Thanksgiving feast, with over 50 pounds of
turkey served! Josie volunteered for a couple months as well, and provided
much needed ayuda y amistad. Thank you everyone!
We are still looking and interviewing for Black
Sheep Inn Managers. We want another couple here on a full time basis
so that the work becomes easier and there is more down time. We are
offering 22 days on with 8 days off per month. We seek a minimum
commitment of 6 months, but prefer several years. If you are interested or
know someone whom you think can handle the B.S. of the BSI please refer
them to our website:
Black Sheep with George W
Iain with the US President
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Two Trips to The States
Good Music!! We were so happy to be able to catch Bob Dylan in
Providence, RI and Ani DiFranco in NYC this past fall. It was also
a pleasure to rendezvous with Matt and Lindsay, BSI Managers in 2002, now
living in Brooklyn NY.
Yes, Big Brother was watching as we went back to Highland Park, Illinois
for Andy’s 20th Year High School -Class of 1984- Reunion!
In Seattle we visited Andy’s brother Arnie, Sister-in-Law Janet, and our 2
nephews, Hadyn and Avery. We also managed to see some Green Tortoise
and catch a Keller Williams show.
Solar Panels/Renewable Energy/Managing Water
During these 2 trips to the USA we were able to purchase a solar powered
submersible pump that will be used to pump water from the pond up to a
cistern by the Arriba guesthouse. In the rainy season, this cistern fills
off of the roof. The pump does not use batteries, it is powered directly
by the sun… so in the dry season when it is sunny it pumps, and it shuts
down at night or in cloudy weather. Therefore the cistern tanks fill from
both the roof and the pump and store the water (energy) for later
use/irrigation. The two solar panels survived the journey to Ecuador as
oversized checked luggage.
As true to the permaculture philosophy of multifunction, we are going to
combine the submersible pump mount with a lounging raft in our pond and
use overflow water from the cistern tanks for a waterslide. We have also
added 14 solar path lights around the property that charge during the day
and turn on automatically during the night.
Andy has been elected to the village water council. With a bit of hard
work we hope to better the water system for the entire village.
for AJÍ; Ecuadorian Hot Sauce
8 tree tomatoes (tomate de arboles- ‘Cyphomandra betacea’) boiled for 10
minutes and then peeled. The tree tomatoes are what make the sauce so
4 Ají's (red hot chili peppers)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
5 scallions or green onions, finely chopped
Blend Ají’s together with the “tomate de arboles” in a food processor or
Put the pureed hot pepper and tomato concoction into a large jar, add the
chopped cilantro and onions, add water to get the desired consistency and
salt to taste.
Ají is usually quite salty, and used as a garnish to bring out flavor or
give zest to any dish. Also, if you like it super spicy, add more Ají’s to
“The desire to solve problems, to experiment and to design is one of the
defining characteristics of the permaculture gardener.”
- David Holmgren, Co-Originator of the Permaculture Concept
Have a great Spring
and Summer. Until the next Equinox in the fall...
Please keep in touch, The Black Sheep
Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman
click here for archived newsletters
Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
tel. (593) 3 - 281-4587
P.O. Box 05-01-240
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© Copyright - The Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador. Site Map
Photos by The Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador except when noted.
Last updated: April 6th, 2005
Black Sheep Droppings
From the Equator on the Equinox - September 2004
This newsletter is sent out
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Average amount of water used per person per day in the USA = 80 to 100
Average amount of water used per person per day at the BSI = less than 35
Minimum amount of water needed to meet a person's daily needs = 5 gallons,
according to the World Health Organization.
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Thank you Iain Duncan and Gail Arendell for
‘holding down the fort’ while we celebrated our 10 year wedding
anniversary. Everything went well at Black Sheep Inn and with the animals
while we were gone, with one exception: our staff decided to eat most of
our guinea pigs!! The guestbook was overflowing with flattering comments
regarding Gail and Iain’s outstanding hospitality. Thank you, Iain and
Gail, for carrying on the Black Sheep Inn tradition of making guests feel
While touring Europe, we noticed the buildings, architecture and
history kept getting older and older: We went from Switzerland to Croatia
to Italy and we finished in Greece.
Convention - Fanas
Visiting former managers Jürg and Cristina.
Spring wild flowers and country life of the Swiss Alps was the complete
opposite of the Ecuadorian Andes. Everything was so clean and well
organized! Also we were at a much lower elevation, so it was easy for us
to scramble up and down the mountains, yodeling as we went along. Jürg and Cristina
are the proud owners of Hitchhaus, a unique Swiss guesthouse that just
celebrated its one-year anniversary in Fanas,
We had a great time hiking and cycling (sometimes in deep snow) near
Lauterbrunnen, above Interlaken.
Croatia was beautiful. A friend of Michelle’s met us in Zagreb, Croatia’s
capitol city, from there we traveled to the coast visiting many medieval
walled cities; we loved Dubrovnik. We ferried to islands enjoying
undeveloped shorelines in the
crystal clear water of the Adriatic. Rome was
incredible. It is amazing to think about the organization of a society
3000 years ago that built the coliseum and filled it with 40,000
spectators. When in Europe, it’s easy to contemplate these things as you
explore the huge ruins!
In Greece we were met in Athens by our
eco-colleagues Antonis and Frosso, the creators of ECOCLUB, International
Ecotourism Club www.ecoclub.com. Their
hospitality was amazing, and with them we toured Athens and the Peloponnese. We
visited Ancient Olympia to run on the track (Greek history dates back even
further than the
Romans), and sat in the ancient Epidavros amphitheatre watching the performance
of a Greek tragedy. Greek food was soooo good! The last days of our trip were
spent relaxing on the Greek Isle of Santorini, enjoying the beach and recharging
before heading back to work.
Black Sheep Bikers
For the first time
ever, we managed to pull off an employee vacation. We planned to do this
for years, and it took lots of dedication, work to pull it
off. Andy took care of the Inn with the help of a great volunteer, Jean
Loveland, while Michelle and all nine of our workers (cooks/cleaning
staff and maintenance/building staff) went to the beach. For most, it was the first time
traveling more than a few hours from Chugchilán, and for all but one it
was the first time seeing the ocean. They even went out in a boat whale
watching and saw a young humpback breach a couple of times! Thank you Andy
for taking care of BSI. Thank you Jean for helping out! And thank you
Michelle for being the tour guide. The BSI staff will not forget their
trip to the coast!!
ON THE FARM
Life and death on the farm continues. Eunice, our very first llama, died
in May, but we were blessed by the birth of Ceniza in July. Andy bought a
young ram as a surprise gift for Michelle’s birthday. The following week
after being chased by the neighbors dogs, the new sheep somehow ended up
stranded on top of a cliff, hence, he earned the name Cliffy. We rescued
him with ropes and ladders. A black sheep was born while we were on
holiday, and since he looks more like a goat than a sheep, we named him
chivo (goat in Spanish). Shakira, our cat, had her fourth litter; we now
have four new kittens. Luckily, 3 baby cuys were born … to up the
diminished cuy population.
This year the dry season was
harsher than ever. One of the town’s springs dried up. To get us through
August and September, we helped the town patch together a temporary
system. Rick Coleman, the Permaculture teacher who was here in 1998 told
us, “If you can convert 20% of any property to water, it makes the
remaining 80% of the land 200% more productive.” Because of this we had
put in a back up water system from a neighbors spring the last year. We
are always trying to catch and hold more water on our property.
We have now offered to install cut-off valves for every user of the town’s
water system to diminish water leaks and abuse. We are investigating wind
and solar pumps to help us through the driest months. We are trying to
calculate how much water we need to store and what kind of storage would
work best: ponds, tanks cisterns etc. There is definitely enough rain
during the rainy season; and we currently have plenty of catchments, our
main challenge is containment and storage of enough water to get us
through the long and dry summers.
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Knitting group is going very well. We now
sell quality scarves, hats and even a couple of sweaters in our lodge. All
products are made out of 100% natural fibers, and hand woven by the
women’s group of Chugchilán. We have sold over 200 dollars worth of
merchandise since May 2004. Thank you Peace Corp Volunteer Laura Schreeg
for her dedication to Chugchilán, and her ongoing support of Black Sheep
Inn. All profits go directly to the women’s group or individual knitters.
Inn sponsored two workshops on women’s health with Peace Corp Volunteers
Nici, Laura, Arjun and Sam. We’ve also been encouraging the local “grupo
de ecotourismo” to organize themselves and set up a guiding association in
Chugchilán. For the last month aspiring guides attended a course
sponsored by the Federation of Indigenous Organizations and the Ministry
of Tourism. We hope the group continues to organize, and provides quality
guide services for tourists in the vicinity of Chugchilán.
Chugchilán Library /Learning Center continues to grow. Many high school
students depend on the library for research, and many of the elementary
school teachers borrow books for classes. Computer Donations: Thank you
Keith Moore and Cathy Carpenter for donating old PC’s, they certainly have
been put to good use. And of course, thanks to those who thoughtfully
donated books and learning materials.
In addition to new eco path lighting, the
bunkhouse now also has its’ own bathroom complex. It is the best bathroom
we have built so far. Design features include two large roof water
collection tanks providing for two sinks and the urinal, a recycled bottle
wall beautifully illuminating and insulating the shower, a panoramic
mirror, landscaped self irrigating gardens and of course a composting
toilet with interior gardens and a spectacular view of the plateau.
Great Wall (rock retaining wall behind the lodge) has progressed, but slowly… we are starting to build the 3rd
and final terrace. From there we can focus on designing the new laundry
area, solar panels and possibly more cabins.
|The kitchen cabinets in our house are finally done. After numerous layout
changes, Andy managed to focus his attention on building the cabinets.
They turned out beautifully and we look forward to spending more time at
We upgraded the Zipline when friends Gaunt, Emma, and their kids Naya and
Eamon came to visit. Gaunt and Emma are friends from way back, when we all
worked at the Green Tortoise (www.greentortoise.com).
Gaunt is a welder, and he is a BIG man, and he wanted to go on the Zipline.
He helped design a new double pulley capable of carrying more weight. The
Zipline is working better than ever. We also enjoyed coloring Easter Eggs
with Naya and Eamon, and having an Easter Egg hunt. If you are looking for
inexpensive tickets to Ecuador, Emma is a
travel agent in the San Francisco Bay Area: see
The Miss Universe Beauty Pageant was held in Ecuador in June:
congratulations to the winner, Miss Australia! We had a small booth
promoting the Black Sheep Inn during the Beauty Queens tour of Latacunga.
Unfortunately no contestants visited the Black Sheep Inn to try the Zipline or our composting toilets!
INN - THE NEWS…
Black Sheep Inn was
featured in the following publications.
Green Hotelier – January 2004
Black Sheep Inn was featured in an article about Hotel Environment Action
Month. September is also HEAM for 2004.
George Kirby IV and family and Michelle were featured in a photo at Laguna
Quilotoa posing with a copy of The Wanderer.
Wild Fibers Magazine
– Spring 2004
We contributed to an article: Shopping in Ecuador, a Look at Andean Life
Masa Acher/Voyager, Israeli Geographical Magazine
- Spring 2004
Black Sheep Inn was featured in an article: On the Map - an Eco-Lodge in
Healing Lifestyles & Spas – May/June 2004
Black Sheep Inn was featured in the article: Lodging with a Conscience;
Eco Retreats That Save the Planet and Soothe Your Soul.
– August 2004
Black Sheep Inn was mentioned in the article: Vacationers seek thrills
during rest, relaxation - Going to extremes
If you’ve seen us in the news please let us know!
Again, we would like to thank everyone who has visited Black Sheep Inn,
and also a special thank you to everyone who has ever worked at Black
Sheep Inn. After many years of being in the same cycle or hiring managers,
we are looking to move onto the next stage of life at Black Sheep Inn. The
business has blossomed, and we need to grow along with it, to stretch and
take time. We have realized that it is not only long term managers that we
need; but we are trying to implement an active volunteer/internship
program; therefore diversifying the responsibilities of running the Inn,
and allowing more flexibility. Even creating the volunteer/internship
program will be difficult until we find long term managers. If you know of
anyone who might fit in with the BSI team, please send him or her to:
Volunteer and Help Wanted.
Local elections are approaching and the candidates have begun to paint and
plaster political propaganda on the walls of the village. It’s refreshing
to see how many women candidates are running for
positions all over the country. It is MANDATORY to vote in Ecuador. If you
are a US citizen we encourage you to get out and VOTE… let’s make
democracy work in November.
Production of excrement by total U.S. human population: 12,000 pounds per
second. That is over a trillion pounds a day! That could be a lot of
fertilizer instead of pollution!
are thumbnails of pictures we took in Croatia, click each one for a larger
|Plitvice Nat. Park
* May 2009 *
2006 & 2008
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