Kroka Ecuador Semester
August through December, 800 kilometers on foot, mountain bike and whitewater canoe from the top of the Andes to the Amazon rain forest.
Fall semester begins at the Kroka farm and village in Marlow, New Hampshire. We spend four to six weeks here, studying, training and preparing for expedition. Bodies get stronger in response to hard work, hands and hearts relax into the rhythms of Kroka life, and a brand new community circle comes into form.
The natural transition of the fall harvest at the farm echoes our passage from what is known and familiar to the wide open territory ahead. In early September, we set out on expedition by mountain bike and whitewater-canoe in rural New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. We live and work with small-scale organic farmers and paddle the iconic Deerfield River. A brief return to the Kroka farm, to pack and say goodbye to the community, takes us to the airport to travel to the peaks, rainforests and villages awaiting us in South America.
There is no place in the world quite like Ecuador. Three generations of the Dammer-Espinosa family welcome us to this wild and ancient landscape, and to Palugo Farm, the land they have been farming on the Andean highlands for over a hundred years. They re-member us to what it is to live in relationship with place, something our ancestors knew well, and that our fast, screen-based culture has caused many of us to forget.
Immersed in the rhythms of farm life, we take up our studies once again, continue to hone our biking, paddling and wilderness skills and traverse the challenging and rich territory of what it is to live in close proximity with community and connection.
Soon, it is time to set out on expedition in this landscape of extremes: with snowmelt cascading down from the mighty spine of the Andes, to the great Amazon river basin on one side, and through the jungle to the Pacific Coast on the other.
We travel by bike and canoe from Palugo into the Amazon basin and the heart of the rainforest, where we live and work with a local indigenous community, sharing stories, food and laughter.
After a brief return to the farm we depart on foot for our third and final expedition, trekking and mountaineering towards the skylands of some of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Our goal is to celebrate our four months together on the high-altitude summits of Antizana or Cotopaxi. Our circle by now will have summited the challenges and joys of extended, rigorous expedition and true community life. With full hearts, strong bodies and minds alight with possibility and promise, we turn towards home.