We have been having a busy time in Ecuador and I felt that it was time to give the world a bit of an update.åÊ This will be all words and no pictures,we are having a few technical issues at the moment; lets start with them. The Ecuadorian president is a man called Raphael Correa.åÊ He is a firebrand of a politician, a socialist, who believes very much in the people of the country and their potential.åÊ He is not a big fan of the corporate world, which means he is absolutely happy to turn a blind eye to the copying (ripping off) of Microsoft products, and the products of all other software companies, Hollywood, music companies etc etc.åÊ This means that you can get dodgy copies of anything you want for $2 in high street shops.åÊ It also means that you can not buy original copies of anything at all.åÊ If the hard drive on your Mac laptop goes and is replaced, getting the software back on it is not easy when that originally came from the other side of the world as genuine programmes.åÊ Welcome to Ecuador – a fabulous country, full of contradictions and challenges and a place in which almost nothing works as you might expect.åÊ It makes life here endlessly fun and occasionally frustrating; and it means I can not add photographs to this blog. We are now in what you might call our third cycle of Gappers.åÊ We have a team of them working on the projects and they are doing fantastic work.åÊ In almost all cases they are pioneering.åÊ The first groups worked on projects that we thought they could complete and that were clearly defined by that need.åÊ That means that this group are starting, in some instances, projects that are going to be going on for years to come: they are laying new ground and that is really exciting. At Camp Maqui in Santa Marianita they have been working on the Guarderia.åÊ It is a big building, which we will be working on throughout the rest of this year and into 2013.åÊ Once that work is done, there is the small matter of actually running the place – as a day care centre for 0 – 5 year olds, as a workshop for artisanal craftsmen and as an adult education centre, focusing particularly on ICT.åÊ I’d love to show you photographs, but Û_åÊ We are also now running the organic vegetable garden built by the first Gappers, which is now feeding the chidren of the school. The group are at the moment working hard in the heat of the Amazon jungle, building an interpretation centre for the conservation project near Misahualli; using recycled plastic bottles in the wall construction.åÊ They need to complete that during their visit, along with some monkey feeders and some reforestation work.åÊ It sounds demanding, but they are working really hard and really quickly. They then move on, in some cases to the coast and in some to Camp Maqui: in the former case there is work to be done on the school infrastructure and with turtles, an aquarium and octopus house building; in the latter there is a campsite to be built, as part of an on-going protection of the spectacled bear and its habitat. Meanwhile, there is fun to be had on the rivers of the Amazon basin, on the beaches of the coast, in Banios with bungee jumping and other scary / exciting activities and, of course, in Quito. It is really great, after years of planning and after the work of our first volunteers, to see things being developed in the way that we had hoped and in great ways that we could not possibly have predicted.åÊ Each Gapper brings their own character and leaves their own mark – both physically and in the memories of the people who have met them here.åÊ What these guys are doing will have a lasting impact on the environment and people of this country and will be carried on by all those who follow them out to Camp Ecuador.åÊ We will soon say a grateful good bye the guys here but we look forward to welcoming those coming in the future.åÊ And maybe soon we will have solved our technical glitches (my phone doesn’t work at the moment either and the wifi in the office keeps cutting out) and we’ll be able to share some photos with everyone.