Saturday, October 17, 2009
The 16 exchange students from around and in Machala met and headed up the coast of Ecuador. We stopped and ate some cheese empanadas (with sugar!) and peach juice at this little gas station/restaurant. On this trip I listened to Bob Dylan, the Clash, and the Ramones. We arrived in Las Crucitas at the hotel/resort place and reunited with our exchange buddies! The hotel was amazing because it was right on the shore of the ocean. We hauled our stuff to our rooms - we had to pass the pool on the way and they were throwing people in. I evaded that luckily, and arrived safetly - I think most of the others got thrown in by the end of the night. We had an introduction and then party. Marcelo and his parents came too! I got to talk to them for a while. Now I finally believe it: Marcelo does live in Ecuador. He let me call Gramma on his phone because it was her birthday!
The next day we (120 students) went to a parade in Portoviejo (Marcelo's city). We had our blazers and flags. We were singing songs from our countries and taking millions of pictures. We then went to Montechristi where Rotary organized street vendors and a band to meet us. This is where the original "Panama hats" came from. Everyone was buying them - so we were a group of foreigners wearing matching shirts and Panama hats. I actually didn't get one. I just meandered through the artisans.
Monday morning (before sunrise) there was an optional walk along the beach to a fish market. We walked for a good hour in total. It was really interesting. Approaching the shelters, there was a cloud of birds above, circling. Men would fish on the boats in the water. They'd bring the boats on the shore and pass the fish off in crates to other men. These men would run up to the little shelters. While running, the birds would swoop down and try to take a fish! At the shelters, there were rows and rows of tables. They'd then dump out the fish and start chopping away, at incredible speed, cutting off the head and tail and such. There were blood trails leading to the ocean and piles of the scrapped fish parts - disgusting. We spent the day on the beach, bathing and burning. Burning in two senses: 1)sunburns and 2)jellyfish stings. I applied and reapplied sunscreen so I got burnt only a little: on the backs of my legs, tops of my feet, and a stripe on my back. We played some sports, too. My soccer team won the tournament! Champions! We went on a walk to a little mountain where we took a group picture and could see the city and ocean. During the night we had a presentation from each country. We were going to do songs from Grease, but that fell through. We ended up singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and the national anthem.
More beach Tuesday. We traveled again to Portoviejo to new hotels. At night, we rode on chivas: open-air buses with seats in and on top. We even had a band, complete with drums, trombone, saxophone, trumpet, and washboard, join us on top, as we circled the city. That was crazy. We ended with a presentation in a large, elegant meeting-room. They chose a queen and king, they presented awards to the winning sports team, and there was a mariachi band. We toasted (with champagne! look how sophisticated we are), ate, and danced the night away. It ended kind of roughly. They were doing the limbo and a girl from the USA (in our group from Machala) popped her knee out of place and it was serious. She is now in a full-leg cast.
Wednesday we headed home in our little bus again. End of a great trip with a ton of exchange students. I still don't have very many pins from others, though. I thought I traded quite a bit. I don't know what the deal is. My host parents were still on their "Ruta de Vino" trip in some South American countries.