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Newsletter - April 2003
Newsletter - September 2003
Newsletter - March 2004
Newsletter - September 2004
Newsletter - March 2005
Newsletter - September 2005
Newsletter - March 2006

B.S. News From the Highest Inn on Earth!
APOLOGIES:  Since our last newsletter in September 2004, our computer crashed and we may have lost emails from people asking to be removed.  We are sincerely sorry if you do not want to receive this bi-annual Newsletter.  This is not Spam!  Click Here and we will take you off the list.  We have upgraded our computer’s hard drive and memory, so hopefully we’ll have no more crashes.   Click for current NEWSLETTER

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Black Sheep Inn, Best Ecuador Hotel

Black Sheep Droppings
On the Equinox: March 22nd 2005

Sent in April because Andinatel (the phone company) just fixed our phone lines!
¡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.
Ecotourism Award Ecuador Hotel
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.

Ecotourism Website Ecuador HotelFor more information about “prestigious” ecotourism awards around the world visit:

Also In The News
Ecotourism Club Ecuador Hotel Interview with the Black Sheep Inn by Antonis B. Petropoulos:

Ecotourism Publicity Ecuador Hotel April 2005, Bucking Bronco, Great Drive, by Nick Moss.
Look on page 113. On Newsstands Now!
Ecolodge Ecuador Hotel

  Creating Resources
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.
Special Donations
Tom Clark’s - Annual $1000 Donation to the Chugchilán Elementary School “Juan Jose Flores” for children’s textbooks. MUCHAS GRACIAS!

Ecotourism Community Ecuador HotelMargie & 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 computer.

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.

Elementary School "13 de Mayo"

Ecotourism Education Ecuador Hotel

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British School/Library/Computers
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 packed full!!


Meet the Mayor

Chugchilan Library

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 plastic.

Ecological Community Ecuador HotelThe mayor 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, Ando!!

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!

Bush Visit's Ecuador Hotel

Bush says nothing at Ecuador HotelUnexpected Visitor!
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

Bush Suffers at Ecuador Hotel

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.
Reunion Ecuador Hotel 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 friends (, 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.

Recipe 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 good!
4 Ají's (red hot chili peppers)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
5 scallions or green onions, finely chopped
Purified water

Blend Ají’s together with the “tomate de arboles” in a food processor or blender.
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 concoction.


Permaculture Quote
“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
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi

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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 - Newsletter
From the Equator on the Equinox - September 2004

This newsletter is sent out twice a year, in March, and in September.  This is NOT spam, please do not put us in your bulk mail or block sender folder.  If you do not want to receive this "Drop-ping" let us know by clicking here. OR, if you would like to sign up to receive this newsletter just let us know. 

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Interesting FACTS:
Average amount of water used per person per day in the USA = 80 to 100 gallons.
Average amount of water used per person per day at the BSI = less than 35 gallons.
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 at home.

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.

Ecuador Hotel goes to Switzerland

Swiss Hoteliers Convention - Fanas

Highlights included:
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.
Travel Alps from Ecuador

Swiss Glacier Express

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! Travel Italy from Ecuador

Roman Coliseum

In Greece we were met in Athens by our eco-colleagues Antonis and Frosso, the creators of ECOCLUB, International Ecotourism Club 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. Travel Greece from Ecuador

Black Sheep Bikers on Santorini



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!!



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.
Ecuador Hotel Women's Community

Chugchilán Knitters

Black Sheep 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. Ecuador Hotel Women's Community Health

Women's Health Group

The 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.

The 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.

Ecuador Hotel Composting Toilet

Bunkhouse Bathroom Complex

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 our house.

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 ( 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!
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.
The Wanderer – March 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 with Llamas. 

Masa Acher/Voyager, Israeli Geographical Magazine
- Spring 2004
Black Sheep Inn was featured in an article: On the Map - an Eco-Lodge in Ecuador.

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. 

Wanderer Ecuador Family Hotel

Augusta Chronicle – 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!

The following are thumbnails of pictures we took in Croatia, click each one for a larger view.

Plitvice Nat. Park Dugi Otok Drevenik Dubrovnik Sea Dubrovnik Night Dubrovnik Roofs
Travel Croatia from Ecuador Travel Croatia from Ecuador Travel Croatia from Ecuador Travel Croatia from Ecuador Travel Croatia from Ecuador Travel Croatia from Ecuador
Have a great Spring and Summer.  Until the next Equinox in the spring...

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
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi

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SKY Magazine
Top 10
* May 2009 *

Eco Club Eco Lodge Award
2006 & 2008

Ecotourism Award Skal International

Responsible Tourism Best in Mountain

Smithsonian Magazine Sustainable Tourism Winner

Tourism for Tomorrow Destination Finalist


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© Copyright 2000-2009 ~ Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador. Site Map
Photos by Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador except when noted.
Last updated: September 21st, 2009