Well, it has come to an end.
I haven’t written in a while, because at the end of the program it was too busy, and then I just didn’t want to accept it. I have been back in Spofford for about a week and a half now, which is just weird. But let’s backtrack.
The week of May 12-19 was spent with my mom and my sister – so awesome. We spent a day at Mitad del Mundo, so Mom could get her picture at the equator for her students, and then went back to Quito and they met my second host family! I wish we could have gone back to Los Chillos so we could have spent time with my first host family – I feel pretty guilty about not seeing them. Anyway, the next morning we climbed the Basilica before getting on a plane to Manta! (I have no photos because my phone was stolen out of its case, within my checked luggage. Angry phone call to American Airlines, coming soon.)
Manta is in the province of Manabí, on the coast. You may recall that my group ate lunch there on our way to our village studies. Anyway, we then took an hour taxi ride up to Bahía de Caraquez – spent like an hour at a hotel that did not live up to its expectation (Saiananda – don’t go there) before calling Casa Ceibo to come save us.
Casa Ceibo was lovely. As soon as we walked in, they handed us frozen fruit beverages and cool towels for our very sweaty brows. My mom swears that a choir of angels was singing somewhere, probably in her loony-bin head. Anyway, we were the only people there, so there was much pool time to be had. We spent the first afternoon just laying and reading, accompanied by delicious margaritas – my best friend for the week. But we’ll get there.
That night, we ate a very delicious dinner – seriously, amazing meals there. I mean, still scrambled egg breakfasts, but all in all, deliciousness. We then decided to take a group bubble bath in our jacuzzi tub, but when we asked the front desk for the rumored complimentary bath salts, they insisted on setting up our bath for us. (We will talk about all the things that made me uncomfortable in a moment.) So, while that was happening, a hotel staff member named Cesar took us for a walk down to the water. We walked through a small mangrove area on our way down the very long dock, which was cool to see, and he pointed out the city across the bay, and his house not too far away. All in all, pretty cool day there.
The next day was cool too! Lots of laying out, reading, margarita. I was reading The Help if you were wondering. You probably weren’t. Then we kayaked for a little bit, but the wind made Mom nervous, cos of our complete lack of ability, and Becca had a headache (foreshadowing) so we just took a quick toot and saw some birds. Pelicans and egrets.
We then took a taxi into town, cos we wanted to walk on the beach and see the sunset. Additionally, Mom wanted to buy some artesenias – clearly that is where I inherited it. The sunset was beautiful, but I can’t show you, because my camera was stolen. Ugh.
That night, disaster struck. Becca became very, very ill. Fever. Stomach ache. Sadness. So, the next few days were me hanging out by the pool, which was right outside the door of our room, where Mom and Becca watched reruns of Friends and Big Bang Theory, on the few English channels. Thus, my best friend Margarita. She and I spent a lot of time reading, sitting, sitting in the water, moving out of the water … that is all. To be clear, there is not a person. It was just the beverage. Thank you, Luis. You make the best drinks.
So, eventually we take her to the doctor, and he gives her medicine, and she slowly gets better. I don’t want to embarrass her by talking about her being sick, so let’s move on.
I was fairly uncomfortable staying at such a luxurious place. Particularly because we were the only people there, we were waited on hand and foot. When we entered a room, the staff scattered. We tried to convince them to just relax, we are low maintenance, but they still tried to remain behind the scenes. It was awkward. After spending the semester here learning about the people and the culture, and how it is being stamped out by globalization, it was very uncomfortable to stay at a place where the brochures are all in English, and the people wait on you with such attentiveness that it is impossible not to feel like that stereotypical US tourist. But, the staff were amazing, especially with Becca. Shoutout to Rosie, the manager who came with us to the doctor’s office, even though there was a tour group coming through for lunch, and Luis, who was our waiter and was so nice and awesome, and Cesar, who took us on the tour that night and even introduced us to his family when we ran into him in town! If anyone is ever looking for an upscale, English-friendly, luxurious relaxing vacation, I recommend them. It was just very different from anything I had previously experienced in Ecuador because the touristy-ness of it made it, to an extent, separated from the reality of the town’s actual culture.
So, we change our flight a few times, cancel the Baños section of our travels so Becca can rest, and end up back in Quito on Friday. Becca didn’t feel well, but was sleeping, so Mom and I went to the artesenia market in the Mariscal – I will never get sick of artesenias. But, I realized it was a good thing she never saw Otavalo, cos even the small one in Quito overwhelmed her, understandably. Later, we swung by the Alston to get the rest of my bags, and I ran into lovesofmylife Ngan and Becky! (I MISS YOU!) So, after wrapping up and turning in my cell phone, I got coffee with those girls and we said our goodbyes. It was very rushed and sad. I feel sad now, again, cos I am writing it. Meh.
But Becca needed me! I took them to La Ronda to get some dinner, which thank goodness she ate, kinda, and the next morning we began the journey home. Which is where I am now. Weird. Everybody has been very great – listening to my stories, mostly, and letting me reminisce without appearing outwardly annoyed. I miss my friends, gringa and Ecuadorian. I miss speaking Spanish, my host families, eating aji, and dancing to reggaeton. I miss having that sense of wonder and amazement every day. I miss the smell of plantains being grilled up on the side of the road, even though I really don’t like platano asado (maduro rules!).
I am preparing to move out of my parents’ house this week, up to Dover, NH, where I will be working in the aforementioned internship and living with friends. There was not much time between these two adventures, but I am looking forward to the next one even though I will never let go of the last. Entonces, nos vemos, ñaños. Les quiero mucho. Besos.