From the Equator at the Equinox- Sept 22, 2003

On August 7th the Black Sheep Inn received Eco-Certification from Ministry of Tourism

Eco Tales
On August 7th the Black Sheep Inn received Eco-Certification from Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) and Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association (ASEC)  The government has given us, along with 11 other businesses in Ecuador, a Special Mention as an Ecological Business.  Andy spiced up the otherwise dull awards ceremony by presenting the executive director of ASEC, Diego Andrade, with a "Premio Ecologico"; a hand painted toilet seat that said "Thank you! For a job well done."   Now the BSI will be even more famous for it´s toilets!

As an extension of the Eco-Certification program, the Black Sheep Inn has been invited to be part of the Grupo Nacional de Trabajo (GTE) en Ecoturismo whose main function will be to help create the National Strategy of Ecotourism for Ecuador.

Through ASEC we found a place in Quito to purchase biodegradable soaps and detergents.  We've also installed hand-wash sinks in all the bathrooms.  These sinks fill with rainwater collected from the roof and drain into the small flower gardens.  Now we are waiting for the rains!  It´s been incredibly dry for the past 4 months.
We presented the 7 Recommendations for Strengthening Ecotourism in Ecuador otherwise known as the GIFEE Document (Grupo Internet en Favor del Ecoturismo Ecuatoriano) ( to the local Mayor and Counselors of our County government.

We also gave a power point presentation at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador (PUCE) and another to the Ministry of Tourism about the GIFEE recommendations.  We hope to use the 7 recommendations as a tool for working with the GTE.

Travel Tales
After living in Ecuador for 9 years, we finally made it to Cuenca.  It is a beautiful colonial city.  We climbed to the refuge on Chimborazo at over 5000 meters, 16,300 feet with Evie (Andy´s Mom).  That day, in the thin air and fresh snow, we were really high! Cuenca was a great place to celebrate Michelle´s 35th B-day. We took a short beach vacation to Ecuador´s north coast in June.  We visited a fellow Ecolodge in Mindo called Maquipucuna (  They have done an incredible job with their stewardship of over 15,000 acres of Cloud Forest, all the while providing very comfy accommodations.

Family Tales
Many guests ask, "What do you miss most about living in the US."  The answer is usually Frosted Mini-Wheats, Micro-Brews and good dill pickles.  NO no no, we really miss the social life (going out for beers with friends etc) and going to concerts.  In Quito this past June we did our best to get a concert fix, when we got tickets to see the Mexican Rock Band MANA. We were practically trampled while waiting to get into the stadium the pouring rain, but the show was great and we had an excellent time. Another thing we miss is being close to family.  This past April Michelle´s Grandmother passed away. Although it is terribly sad losing our last grandparent, it was great that we could fly home to help with funeral arrangements, and say a few words at the funeral about what a wonderful woman Ruth S. Kirby was.

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Andy´s brother Jim and nieces Hannah and Aviva visited for 2 weeks in August.  This was their second time in Ecuador; their first visit having been in 1999.  They noticed many changes made at the BSI in those four years. "There are so many more buildings, the Inn is really much more like a resort, with the sauna, zipline and lodge, than it was 4 years ago.  The Black Sheep Inn is not just a good place to visit, it's a good place to BE."  Aviva loved the horseback riding and Hannah left us with some excellent water color paintings.

Building Tales

New bunkhouse opened on June 9th complete with hammocks on the second floor balcony.  Immediately the 10 beds were full during busy season. Guests love the view and the top floor of the A-frame with the huge glass skylight for sleeping under the stars and viewing Mars. We have extended our CUY hotel and planted more flower gardens.  We built a silt trap for the pond, and laid a hardwood floor in the music room at our house.  We are currently installing a glass skylight in the Cabaña.

Reading Tales
In late June, Chugchilán's first Library/Learning Center was opened.  Thank you very much to Matt and Lindsay (and Shannon) for their grand effort and dedication to this project. The library has over 500 books (mostly donated by guests!) as well as four computers, a printer and a local librarian.  Thank you to Clare Willey, Nancy Cardno, Dianne Hall and Craigan Usher for their computer donations. Also, thank you to everyone who has donated books. The library is open three days a week.  Spanish books are always welcome and can be sent to:

Black Sheep Inn
P.O. Box 05-01-240
Latacunga, Cotopaxi

Publicity Tales  click for:  BSI in the News!
Black Sheep Inn continues to make the press!  In Florida's Sunday July 6th Miami Herald, an article entitled "Wild Ones; Eco Lodges around the America´s" listed the Black Sheep Inn as "one of the 10 favorite holiday options in the Americas."   The article was accompanied by a great photo of Laguna Quilotoa (thank you Jurg Buhler).  In one of England's national newspapers, The Guardian, The Black Sheep Inn was listed as one of "The World´s 20 Best Eco Resorts."  Check out The Guardian Article:,8922,1000747,00.html

Party Tales
Busy Season was busy!  It started with the despedida (going away party) for Matt and Lindsay on the 4th of July. We drank English Gin, smoked Cuban Cigars and lit off homemade Ecuadorian Fireworks. We are EX-patriots! Hung over the next day, July 5th, we had the bienvenida (welcoming) for the Familia Wiltink: Nancy, Hans, Roos and Anneik are all settled in.  Hans and Nancy were indispensable throughout July and August. Roos and Anneik have started school at Escuela Juan Jose Flores in Chugchilán and their Spanish is getting better every day.  Matt and Lindsay are now managers of Las Palmeras Inn near Otavalo.

Lost the Trail
There has also been bad news, and very bad luck.  On July 21st two Dutch guests went missing on the hike back from Laguna Quilotoa. On July 22nd they were found murdered. John and Minke Kleimeer were attacked and robbed, and left dead in the bottom of a canyon.  Our deepest sympathies go out to Lindy and Fenna Kleimeer.  We are still working closely with both the Dutch and Ecuadorian police to bring justice to this situation.  There have been 3 people detained, but the case has not yet gone to trial. Even though we feel this is an isolated incident of a robbery gone bad, it does not make the loss any easier.  We´ve never even had robberies before.  It is a hotel owner´s worse nightmare. On August 21st we held a memorial service and placed a marker at the site of their deaths. Thank you to Ana and Jan of the Biking Dutchman ( and to the Dutch Embassy for supporting us through these difficult times. We will always remember John and Minke and we will continue to work hard to ensure safety in this beautiful area.

UPDATE 2004:  The trail from Quilotoa to Chugchilán is now marked. Two men and a 14 year old boy have been sentenced to jail for this murder.

Community Tales
We have been working hard within our community as well. We've attended meetings with the Federacion de Organizaciones Indigenas y Campesinas de Chugchilán (FOICH-CH) regarding Ecotourism and it´s role in the community.  It is challenging to try to figure out how to spread the benefits of tourism to the surrounding communities.  WE have sponsored 3 training sessions/workshops for local guides. Michelle has been working with Women´s groups to encourage local artesania and crafts, etc. We have started a tourism association in Chugchilan, where all three hotels (BSI, Mama Hilda´s and Cloud Forest) work together to improve the community, not just for the tourists, but for the local population as well.

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Laura Schreeg, from Michigan, is a United States Peace Corp Volunteer in neighboring Sigchos.  We have enjoyed working with her towards many of our long-term goals.  She´s has been lending a hand with protecting the Iliniza Ecological Reserve, training local guides, and with her help we started a native tree nursery at the BSI.  Andres Vega, her Costa Rican boyfriend, led two workshops with locals interested in becoming guides. The first workshop focused on the ethics of being a guide, and the second on the natural history of the cloud forest.

Animal Tails
Miss Kitty Shakira had 3 kittens.  We have 15 cuys, countless chickens and a baby llama named Booboo!  We've got 7 llamas, 6 ducks, 1 goose, 3 dogs and 5 Black Sheep.  Also, we thank the lizards in the bathroom flower gardens for keeping the fly population down!

Goals for the next year:

  • Mark hiking trails in the area, and offer locally trained guides.
  • Finish our house, which we have been living in for over three years.
  • Take a sailing vacation in the Mediterranean.
  • Focus on employee education and realize an employee excursion.
  • Build a new laundry area that recycles roof water and gray water.
  • Convert half of the Black Sheep Inn to solar power.
  • Hire a computer teacher for the community.

In September, Cesar, who has been with the Black Sheep Inn since 1995, turned 50 years old.  He still can work harder than Andres!

Since the arrival of the telephone, and the creation of the Black Sheep Inn's website ( in the year 2000, business has doubled.


Once again, a special thanks to Tom Clarke for helping the elementary school with the purchase of text books this year.  Also, gracias to Anne Gleacher and family for their generous donation to school and community projects.  Jim Patterson also continues to demonstrate his commitment the community of Chugchilán. Thank You - Thank You - Thank You.

We are not sending this newsletter with the purpose of soliciting donations, just to let you know what´s happening at the Black Sheep Inn and to keep in touch.  We appreciate everyone who has visited the Black Sheep Inn and has supported our ongoing projects. If you want to help out, there is a continuous need for books in Spanish and high tech equipment such as used computers, fax machines, copy machines, printers, typewriters, microscopes, a centrifuge, etc.  BUT, any item must be in good working condition and the shipping must be paid by the donor.

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Keep in touch!!
All the best from

The Black Sheep of the Family, which is EWE!!

Michelle Kirby & Andres Hammerman

Black Sheep Inn, Ecuador
tel. (593) 3-281-4587

PO Box 05-01-240
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi

Black Sheep Drop Ins - Newsletters

Newsletter April 2003

The Black Sheep Inn is honored to have appeared in the March 2003 issue of Outside Magazine as one of the Top 10 Ecolodges in the World.

From the Equator at the Equinox- Sept 22, 2003

On August 7th the Black Sheep Inn received Eco-Certification from Ministry of Tourism

From the Equator on the Equinox – March 2004

For all of you in the northern hemisphere, your days will be getting longer and warmer.