With $25,000 they raised, they created a foundation to protect the water and trees and incredible biodiversity of 100 acres, hoping for a ripple effect in the nearby community.
From the moment you arrive at Maqui Pucuna, you're surrounded by butterflies and hummingbirds.
Arsenio took me on a hike up over the valley and pointed out this transparent-winged butterfly.
And the flowers: orchids and bromeliads and luscious ferns.
It's unimaginably rich and fertile land, less than two hours from Quito, though quite a bit lower.
They planted coffee trees too. I'll be going on a tour Monday of their shade-grown finca.
Hard to imagine a better way to unwind, though not having internet (for four days!) will take some getting used to.
Instead I'm listening to birdsong, chatting in Español, and making terrific progress on my novel (Donna Tartt's Secret History, about to expire as soon as my iPad reconnects to civilization).
Also dreaming of spotting pumas, toucans, and the endangered spectacled bears that live in this Nubian forest. Till then, I'll be hiking, birding, and reading in my hammock.