History of the Lodge

Who We Are

A Little History

We, Andres Hammerman & Michelle Kirby, started building the Black Sheep Inn in 1995.  We’re both from the USA.  For years we were hardcore backpackers, searching out destinations not mentioned in guidebooks, always looking for an adventure off the beaten path.  And in 1992 we discovered the town of Chugchilán.

The beauty of the dramatic countryside and the friendliness of the people won us over.  We did not want to leave the village.  We stayed with a local family for two weeks who took us in as their own.  But when they offered to sell us land, we thought they were crazy!  The longer we stayed in Chugchilán, the more we realized it was the right place for us.  We finally tore ourselves away, teary eyed and promised the local family we would come back in a couple years to buy their land.

We went back to the USA and worked hard determined to save money.  In 1994 we returned to Ecuador and bought a piece of property in Chugchilán in 1995.  We knew we couldn’t survive by farming potatoes, but had faith that the beauty and remoteness of Chugchilán would be enough to attract tourists to the ‘Bed & Breakfast’ we would build: “The Black Sheep Inn”.

Dreams Come True - We are Conservationists

Now, over 25 years later, we look back and marvel at what we have done.  It has been an incredible learning experience.  We have both become “Jacks-of-all-Trades,” installing electrical and water systems, learning permaculture farming techniques, making adobe bricks, cutting trees for firewood and beams, building furniture, and learning how to run a business in Ecuador.  We are now accomplished architects, we have earned doctorate degrees from the International School of Trial and Error (ISTE).  Our dissertations were filled with many major errors!  With an average of over ten guests per night at the Black Sheep Inn, the village of Chugchilan is now ‘on the tourist map.’  Our dream became reality.

Community Involvement

Chugchilán has not lost its charm due to the influx of tourism.  We are deeply involved with the community.  Michelle volunteered teaching English and basic computer skills in the local high school for 20 years.  We have received and donated several dozen computers and a copy machine to the community.  We established a small public library with over 1500 Spanish reading books and 10 computers for educational programs.  We provided the first public internet connection.   Tourism has provided a new source of income for the village and the people are friendlier than ever.  Humberto Ortega now has a thriving business leading horseback rides and several families have also opened their own hostels.  Check out Hostal Casa Mama Hilda, Cloud Forest Hostel, Hostel Vaquero, Hostal Dona Clarita and a few more!   Chugchilan has something for everyone.

A Work in Progress

We are constantly building and improving the Black Sheep Inn.  The newest features include a Massage Room with woodstove, Yoga Studio, Weight/Exercise room, Waterslide and Frisbee Golf. A new laundry area was completed in 2005 along with large adobe storage room.  In 2003, we opened a new bunkroom, with a fantastic view and bigger beds.  The old bunk room has become a volunteers’ room.  Other improvements at the Black Sheep Inn since 1997 include a Guest Lodge, Common Area and Dining Room, woodstoves in all the private rooms, extra set of pillows, larger bath towels, path lighting, a Sauna, 3 new composting toilets, FREE Tea and Coffee, a tree house, a Zipline Cable Swing, Internet Service and more.

In 2006 we finished a new managers room with bathroom and shower, expanded and remodeled our office, installed an Ozone Water purification system, installed Satellite Internet and wireless access in the main guest lodge, opened a new cold food bodega and a wine cellar and Andres now has his own tool and hardware storage room.

Daily life At the inn