Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Secret beaches and a stroll in the tropical forest….

I want to say I did something worth adding to the blog Friday but I can’t remember what it was… Almost no one showed up for class (as has become the trend, I’m just doing individual lessons now. They seem so eager to learn but then stop showing up. So frustrating!! It’s hard to cater to everyone’s needs when they are at so many different levels, but it was going so well for the first 2 weeks. Oh well, I have a job for January/February now so my fingers are crossed for that!)
Anyway, Friday Sara and I were talking with one of my students and his friend and they spontaneously invited us to go a ‘new’ beach with them. ‘New’ because they wanted to check out the surfing conditions, he thinks it could be the next hot spot. So Saturday we hopped on the bus and hiked into a random beach to the north. It would’ve been picture-perfect except for all of the garbage. Fisherman haul out loads of garbage and dump it in the ocean thinking it will just disappear… thinking ahead is not the forté of this area. You just live in the moment. Hence the lack of infrastructure, health care and a decent education system. But despite both Sara and I’s first thought being “I wish I had a huge bin to clean up this mess”, it was a nice little beach. We did some ‘rock climbing’, chatted for a bit and started to make our way down the beach. About halfway down the guys spotted an old net and decided that would clean up the beach after all! So we made a rope out of the fishing net and strung almost 300 bottles together. It felt rewarding but you really couldn’t tell that we had done anything. Amazing how 300 bottles can just ‘hide’ on a beach. And apparently there is a way to recycle them here…. I sure hope so after hauling them the rest of the way down the beach and into the back of the first truck that passed (that happened to be his friends from Manta heading to Montañita for the weekend, everyone knows everyone here!). Julio cooked us an amazing dinner (he used to own a restaurant) and we contributed dessert. After they taught us to play the national card game ‘cuarenta’ (forty), which I quite like since it’s different from any other game I’ve ever played and does have some strategy involved… which I have apparently picked up quite quickly as I beat Julio 2-0 on Monday!
Sunday Sara and I got up early and were originally going to go into the tropical cloud forest via Agua Blanca but we ended leaving later than planned and right after hopping in the taxi-moto, I realised I would really rather hike up Rio Ayampe (much closer, no need to pay park entrance fee and we could take a bus back whenever, although perhaps not quite a cloud forest). So we apologised to the taxi-moto driver and jumped on the bus to Ayampe instead. I had seen Rio Ayampe briefly last year but hadn’t hiked up it. It is down the coast and in the ‘humid’ forest as opposed to the dry tropical forest surrounding Puerto Lopez. All of the water for this part of the coast is pumped out of that river and trucked to the various towns and villages. It was really worrying to see how low the river was since this is supposed to be the rainy season and it really hasn’t rained. No one seems to be worrying except to remind you that water is precious but we’d better get some rain soon or I might not be showering in Jan/Feb….
We started by hiking up the river, which proved to be difficult seeing as we had to take our shoes off every hundred metres to wad across the river. It finally became nearly impossible and I was wondering how they take guided bird watching tours up there when we spotted a road up the mountain, and lucky for us, a tiny and very steep path up the mountain that we successfully scrambled up all the while praying the road would lead back so we wouldn’t have to slide/fall down it… but we were lucky. The road was obviously how most people went up the river and we continued to follow for a while, until it turned into more of a path and criss-crossed the river again after an abandoned mine. We ate out picnic lunch on a concrete couch in the middle of nowhere surrounded by greenery, the river and a decent amount of insects. (I ended up with so many mosquito bites, repellent and all. I don’t know why, they just love me! And most of the time here I don’t even see or hear them, I just get bitten. I’m quite used to being perpetually itchy.)
Headed back along the road, waited for ever for a bus, ended up getting a ride back along a detour route through the forest, rather bumpy, and then just napped for the rest of the day.
So far this week has been preparing classes that keep being cancelled, walks to the beach and back(not enough time to stay there before I have to head back), planning our trip and trying to figure out my visa, and finally this morning I got up and actually biked to the entrance to Agua Blanca and back in 45 mins! I feel like I did something. And am really going to try and do that everyday. But the air is so heavy here I don’t have nearly my normal level of energy or motivation. But I really am going to try!
This weekend I am going with Sara to Guayaquil as she flys out of there on Sunday morning and it happens to be Guayaquil’s independence day or something on Friday along with the end of the fair, so hopefully something interesting to do!
(ps feliz cumpleanos mi hermanita! tqm!)

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