Travel is not a reward for working, it is education for living @BlackSheepInn
Ecuador / Black Sheep Inn

flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blacksheepinn

As seen in Planeta.com's World Travel Directory:

Black Sheep Inn Ecolodge
PO Box 05-01-240
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
Contacts: Michelle Kirby and Andrés Hammerman
Phone: (593-3) 270-8077
Email
http://www.blacksheepinn.com

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http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1061560-d480897-Reviews-Black_Sheep_Inn_Ecolodge-Chugchilan_Cotopaxi_Province.html

http://www.thecultureist.com/2014/02/20/hotels-echugchilan-ecuador/


Letter from Andy (2014)

Ecuador has had some incredible development since the popular President Rafael Correa took office in 2007, but development should not only be done with a bulldozer.

IMG_4220.jpg
US$250,000 for a rural police station - completed quickly

My wife and I, owners of the Black Sheep Inn, have lived in rural Ecuador for the last 20 years. In our first 10 years we saw 10 different presidents, which meant constant turn over of the government, economic crisis, the fall of the Ecuadorian currency (Sucres were replaced with US Dollars), frozen bank accounts and a multitude of strikes that often shut down the entire country. We never felt to be in danger, there were hardly armed revolutions. We always said "How can the people finance weapons if they often cannot even buy shoes?" This is not meant to sound like an insult to Ecuadorians, but an indicator of poverty and also in contrast to Columbia, where rebels have been sometimes well financed through drug money.

The pattern that we did see was that approximately every 1 to 1.5 years there was a major change in the government either through democratic elections or protests in the streets. If the population had recently voted then the people had a feeling of being heard; after 1 to 1.5 years anxiety levels would rise in the population with the frustration that no real development was being done and for one valid reason or another organized protests would bring about some kind of change. If it were only so easy to bring down a government in other parts of the world. But every time a government fell: money disappeared, ministries changed, laws were rewritten, jobs were lost and refilled - in other words the spiral of problems increased. Imagine 2 decades of completely halted infrastructure development.
IMG_4216.jpg
US$40,000,000 for a 16 km road?


Now, President Correa, following many examples of the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, has stabilized the country and begun to build an array of necessary infrastructure improvements in all sectors of the society. In order to circumvent yearly protests he has made sure that there is regular voting and polling either for public officials or public referendums. If the people are made to vote (voting is required in Ecuador) on some issue every 1 to 1.5 years, then they feel placated and the society is less likely to protest in the streets. It is a good democratic strategy. Unfortunately it has also been a tool to consolidate power little by little into the hands of a very powerful popular leader. The key is that Correa is still popular - yet in the last elections of provincial governors and regional mayors it has become apparent that Correa's strong hold is beginning to dissolve.

Some of the development around the country is incredibly long overdue. We used to easily complain that the Ecuadorian government did absolutely nothing, but now our complaints are more pointed. Now the government often is doing too much, so we complain about how something is being done. Government development priorities are health care, schools and education, communications systems, bureaucratic efficiencies, taxation, security, roads and transportation, energy and more; but not in that order. When there has been a vacuum of development for several decades you can imagine that all of these things need attention; but how can you do it all at once?
IMG_4225.jpg
US$498,000 for a rural clinic, but it should have been finished 1.5 years ago.


First of all default on the World Bank loans saying, "Why should we pay for what all the previous leaders have stolen?" Second find a new lender: CHINA. Third make international companies pay their share of taxes or get out of the country: mostly this is a focus on the extraction industry, namely OIL/PETROLEUM production. Fourth is spend SPEND spend and spend like crazy on public works. Ecuador is building roads like we have never seen before. Every area of the country both rural and urban has seen new roads, lane expansion, by-passes, bridges, guardrails,signage, and train track renovation. The train system in-particular is at an enormous expense and only for national historic pride and tourism, not for mass transit. Fuel and cooking propane are still heavily subsidized so Gasoline remains at US $1.48 a gallon. The government is also building hospitals and clinics, schools, police stations, dams, and has nationalized portions of the communications infrastructure dropping phone and internet prices for the consumer.

So, you might be thinking what are the problems? In my opinion the priorities are backwards. In this day and age of global warming and overpopulation that is stressing the natural environment, roads and fuel subsidies are not solutions. Financing all this with petroleum extracted from the Yasuni National Park is not going in the right direction.

Schools and hospitals are being built, but there is a huge shortage of qualified teachers and doctors. In the rural area where we live the hospital has been under construction for years and remains unfinished, but there is a new 3-story police station with new police cars. Schools have been closed and students have been forced to attend different institutions, but there is a lack of teachers. Medicine is now free at the government clinics, except they don't have medicine available and even some of the commercial pharmacies have shortages. But a super highway is almost finished specifically to our community. Roads in rural areas are so over financed that I find it insulting. How can they spend almost 40 million US Dollars on 16 km of road to a rural village of approximately 200 people when there are insufficient teachers and doctors?
IMG_4230.jpg
Inside the abandon clinic

The road from Laguna Quilotoa to Chugchilan has always been in pretty bad shape since we moved here in 1994. It was 23 km of a winding twisting 1-2 lane dirt road dropping from 12,400 feet to 10,000 feet through sandy volcanic ash soils. It typically took an hour to drive one way or the other. I agree that the road needed improvements, but instead of following the same route and contours and putting in adequate drainage and resurfacing it they have decided to build a super highway. They have cut the distance down to 16 km by plowing through sandy mountainsides, destroying several homes, filling in ravines and stream-beds, straightening curves and allowing 20% grades which are dangerously steep. The new paved 2 lane road is too fast, requires guard rails and already 3 vehicles from the road construction company itself have gone over the edge. The gullies and canyon-like stretches of the road have already begun to collapse due to poor volcanic soil qualities. They have begun to cover over large sandy walls with metal mess and sprayed cement to try to prevent landslides and they are building added buttresses to land-filled sand bridges over streams. How can they spend 40 million dollars on a road when there are still not enough doctors or teachers?

None of this mentions how ugly the road itself is and how it has taken the beauty away from the rugged natural landscape. In contrast, public officials claim the road will help tourism. I have found myself trying to explain the concept of a scenic tourist route: a road that is designated as beautiful, often taking longer to drive than a thoroughfare, that has informational signs and pullouts for view points. In the 20 years since we have lived here we have seen vehicle ownership by our neighbors increase by 100%; this means there were 10 vehicles in the area and now there are 20... of course the community deserves a safe passable road, but we do not have the volume of traffic that justifies this type of construction. The worst part about the new road is how alone I feel in my criticism of it. It makes me feel very sad. I fear the changes that this new access will bring. In the 20 years since we have developed tourism in the rural village of Chugchilan, it has been sustainable; I wonder what the next 20 years will bring.

IMG_1712.jpg
Moving mountains at the expense of ... ???Have we defeated the purpose?

I do know from experience that building structures is costly, but far easier than training, educating and changing people. The current government would prefer to build solid things that they know they can have control over than to take the harder step and train and educate its population in a way that help social services to improve. Building roads buys votes. But Ecuador is now extremely in-debt to China (as is the rest of the world) for many generations to come. Chinese companies have become one of the largest contractors in Ecuador: building hydroelectric dams (flooding pristine bio-diverse forests and valleys), bridges, mines and oil wells. There are roads signs in Ecuador at this time in the Chinese language because many of the workers do not speak Spanish. For the loans that China has provided, Ecuador has promised natural resources, namely the OIL in Yasuni National Park, arguably the most biologically diverse spot on Earth.

Development seems to be inevitable and the infrastructure of Ecuador was indeed desperately lacking, but the real challenge in the current world is to create sustainable development. My priorities would be to focus on Education and Health and the Environment because all other development will ultimately not be sustainable.

- November 7th, 2014
- Andres Hammerman
- Black Sheep Inn

Tourism Industry

Many tourist hotels and agencies are jumping on the bandwagon and calling themselves ECO tourism operations. There are several very good ones out there, but as a traveler beware of green washing. As an eco conscious traveler look for the following from your accommodations. This Eco-Definition was written in 2001-2002 by the Black Sheep Inn through online research and personal experiences.

1. Conservation takes place on many different levels. It can be in the form of private reserves, native tree reforestation, or supporting an established Ecuadorian Reserve area. Although pristine protected areas are extremely attractive for tourists to visit, it is important to know that the purpose of a protected area is to maintain habitat for flora and fauna, allowing species to exist and thrive without human interference. Whenever visiting a protected area, your visit should be made with minimal impact.

2. Low Impact and Green Efforts have to do with how a hotel or agency manages its own impact and waste. Ecological management practices include recycling, water and energy conservation, ecological waste systems (such as composting, and gray water systems), and allowing the guest to decide whether to change linens or towels. These simple efforts make a huge difference in the long-term impact of tourism. In nature there is no waste, everything is recycled and used over and over again on the planet. Tourist facilities should have the same "No Waste" practice.

3. Sustainability means that many of the products consumed at a facility are locally produced. Good examples of sustainability are construction using local materials and methods, organic gardens for on site food production and using renewable energy resources. Ultimately sustainability means a lifestyle that is in balance, and can easily be maintained in the future. This is especially important when visiting ecologically sensitive areas.

4. Community Involvement is one of the most important parts of ECO-tourism. Is tourism helping the area? Is the establishment sensitive to its effect on the community? Tourism needs to benefit the local population and culture. Ideally, the community should own the establishment, but if this is not so, the locals that are employed should have non-menial jobs and paid fairly. The community should benefit from the natural and cultural resources that they are willing to conserve and share with visitors/tourists. Ecotourism can be a tool for alleviating poverty.

5. Environmental Education and Interpretation means that as a guest you leave an ECO-facility having learned something about the environment, the culture, or even new ways of recycling. It is important that the spread of information is clear and relevant. Also look for educational programs that help the community to preserve their environment and culture and further their own education.

The wonder of traveling is that not only does it change you, but it also changes the world. Take care of each other!!



PRESS RELEASE – JUNE 1st 2012
Black Sheep Inn ~ 100% Community Operated Ecolodge
Chugchilán, Cotopaxi, Ecuador

In May 2012 Black Sheep Inn became 100% community operated: Edmundo Vega Estrada, the new administrator was born and raised in Chugchilán. He graduated from the local elementary school Juan Jose Flores over 40 years ago before tourism had developed in the area. He moved to Latacunga and then to Quito where he began working in the hospitality industry. From dish washer to kitchen manager to banquet administrator to restaurant manager; he worked at the JW Marriott, Hotel Quito, Hilton Colon and high-end restaurants. Edmundo returned to Chugchilán in April 2012 after being away for 30 years. He wanted to live close to his elderly mother and brother and he wanted to run the Black Sheep Inn. Edmundo speaks a bit of English and French, in addition to his native Spanish.

Edmundo’s team consists of original Black Sheep Inn employees: Narcisa Sigcha, Esther Cunuhay, Olga Pastuña and Martha Cuyo, who have been involved with Black Sheep Inn for years. Cesar Cuyo and Jorge Guamangate are the maestros who helped build the Ecolodge and still maintain the property.

Black Sheep Inn is open year round for individual bookings.
Black Sheep Inn founders Andres Hammerman and Michelle Kirby reside on an adjacent property and are assisting with the transitional period to ensure quality and to maintain the high level of sustainable practices that made the Black Sheep Inn famous.









Black Sheep Inn : Globally Recognized Services




Worlds Best Hotels - South America STAY LIST - National Geographic Traveler 2011
Top 10 Eco-Resort - Delta SKY Magazine 2009
Top 50 Eco-Lodges - National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2009

Winner - ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006 & 2008

Skål International Ecotourism Award 2006

Smithsonian Magazine/Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award 2005

Finalist for Tourism for Tomorrow Award - World Travel & Tourism Council 2005

Highly Commended - Best Mountain Environment - Responsible Tourism Awards 2005

Short-Listed - Responsible Traveler Award 2004

Top 10 Ecolodges in the World - Outside Magazine 2003

Eco-Certified - Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism & Ecuadorian Ecotourism Society 2003



Elsewhere on the Web
http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/responsible/articles/slow-tourism-in-ecuador-black-sheep-inn.shtml
http://ecoclub.com/headlines/828-120506-blacksheepinn
http://www.ecotourism.org/news/black-sheep-inn-ecuador-community-operated-ecolodge
http://greenloons.com/ecotourism-blog/central-america-green-travel/examples-of-sustainable-travel-through-cotopaxi-ecuador.html


Best Website - Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism 2002
Black Sheep Inn’s rural Andean location offers world renowned day hiking, horseback riding and excursions to: Laguna Quilotoa, Rio Toachi Canyon, cloud forest in the Iliniza Ecological Reserve, indigenous markets, and local cooperative workshops producing handcrafted furniture, handmade woolen knitwear and Swiss-style cheeses.
Eco Permaculture Features include: solar panels, adobe construction, composting toilets, recycling, roof water collectors, gray water systems, organic gardens, community education & aid work, reforestation, erosion control and more.

In September 2011, Black Sheep Inn had converted to a Retreat and Learning Center that exclusively hosted workshops and group events.






    Black Sheep Inn is Ron's personal favorite ecolodge in the world. In the 15 years I have hosted the Planeta.com website, which highlights ecotourism around the world, I have seen few other enterprises treat environmental conservation and community development with the respect. Planeta’s forte is linking environmental conservation and tourism via orginal features and online conferences, many of which have benefited from the participation of Black Sheep Inn. These forums have had a great impact at elevating the dialogue around the world and sharing best practices. Often ecotourism operations can feel geographically isolated, but Planeta’s online forums bring colleagues together from far away.

    The owners and creators of the Black Sheep Inn, Andres Hammerman and Michelle Kirby’s, have a commitment to the environment, community and transparency that permeates everything they do. The infrastructure of the inn fits seamlessly into the mountain hillside and the natural environment of the site has blossomed since the building of the Inn. Conservation practices are top notch; although this does not necessarily mean high tech. Appropriate technology takes advantage of steep slopes; water systems run on gravity; buildings are constructed with local natural materials of adobe and straw (bricks are handmade onsite); everything is composted and recycled even human waste; toilet rooms double as greenhouses and collect rainwater for hand washing; multi-functionality connects useful features such as solar powered irrigation system to fun things such as an adobe waterslide.

    Because Andres and Michelle live fulltime in Chugchilán, they are essential participatory members of the community. Michelle has been teaching English and computers skills in the high school since 1997. Andres has served on the local water committee for almost 5 years. With generous contributions from guests and the winning of Ecotourism Awards, Black Sheep Inn has built a Recycling Center, Native Tree Nursery and Public Library/Computer Learning Center for the community of Chugchilán. These features have had an enormous impact helping to transform the mountain village of Chugchilán to a model of responsible travel and ecotourism.

    Black Sheep Inn is a homespun ecolodge, but it has achieved many of the qualities of a mainstream eco-resort. Their latest additions have been a massage room (they are starting to train local masseuses), weight lifting/gymnasium (including homemade weight and exercise benches), hot tub (heats off of solar energy combined with the sauna stove), and a world class yoga studio.

    Links
    http://www.ecoclub.com/headlines/719-110914-ecuador

    Quotes

    Ewe can't fit a black sheep into a white sheep mold
    Balance your account and don't go in debt with the planet!


    New
    http://www.changemakers.com/project/black-sheep-inn-ecolodge

    Weather

    http://www.accuweather.com/en/ec/chugchilan/127596/weather-forecast/127596

    More about chugchilan
    http://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Chugchil%C3%A1n




    #rtweek2009 Responsible Tourism in Ecuador on Flickr



    PRESS RELEASE – JUNE 1st 2012
    Black Sheep Inn ~ 100% Community Operated EcolodgeChugchilán, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
    In May 2012 Black Sheep Inn became 100% community operated: Edmundo Vega Estrada, the new administrator was born and raised in Chugchilán. He graduated from the local elementary school Juan Jose Flores over 40 years ago before tourism had developed in the area. He moved to Latacunga and then to Quito where he began working in the hospitality industry. From dish washer to kitchen manager to banquet administrator to restaurant manager; he worked at the JW Marriott, Hotel Quito, Hilton Colon and high-end restaurants. Edmundo returned to Chugchilán in April 2012 after being away for 30 years. He wanted to live close to his elderly mother and brother and he wanted to run the Black Sheep Inn. Edmundo speaks a bit of English and French, in addition to his native Spanish.
    Edmundo’s team consists of original Black Sheep Inn employees: Narcisa Sigcha, Esther Cunuhay, Olga Pastuña and Martha Cuyo, who have been involved with Black Sheep Inn for years. Cesar Cuyo and Jorge Guamangate are the maestros who helped build the Ecolodge and still maintain the property.
    Black Sheep Inn is open year round for individual bookings.
    Black Sheep Inn founders Andres Hammerman and Michelle Kirby reside on an adjacent property and are assisting with the transitional period to ensure quality and to maintain the high level of sustainable practices that made the Black Sheep Inn famous.


    Black Sheep Inn : Globally Recognized Services
    • Worlds Best Hotels - South America STAY LIST - National Geographic Traveler 2011
    • Top 10 Eco-Resort - Delta SKY Magazine 2009
    • Top 50 Eco-Lodges - National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2009
    • Winner - ECOCLUB.com Ecotourism Awards 2006 & 2008
    • Skål International Ecotourism Award 2006
    • Smithsonian Magazine/Tourism Cares for Tomorrow Sustainable Tourism Award 2005
    • Finalist for Tourism for Tomorrow Award - World Travel & Tourism Council 2005
    • Highly Commended - Best Mountain Environment - Responsible Tourism Awards 2005
    • Short-Listed - Responsible Traveler Award 2004
    • Top 10 Ecolodges in the World - Outside Magazine 2003
    • Eco-Certified - Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism & Ecuadorian Ecotourism Society 2003
    • Best Website - Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism 2002
    Black Sheep Inn’s rural Andean location offers world renowned day hiking, horseback riding and excursions to: Laguna Quilotoa, Rio Toachi Canyon, cloud forest in the Iliniza Ecological Reserve, indigenous markets, and local cooperative workshops producing handcrafted furniture, handmade woolen knitwear and Swiss-style cheeses.
    Eco Permaculture Features include: solar panels, adobe construction, composting toilets, recycling, roof water collectors, gray water systems, organic gardens, community education & aid work, reforestation, erosion control and more.