Week 6 in a mad corner of the world..
Trip Start Nov 08, 2004
55Trip End Nov 08, 2005
I had thought that this would be the height of the fun, but I was wrong. Much to my surprise that evening the town square was choka block with people - more people than I realised actually live here and the atmosphere was electric. 2 bands from "the mainland" had arrived and were giving a concert, the excitement was reaching breaking point by the time the "headliners" came on stage
For some reason last weekend we and 4 other volunteers decided to take the kids who come to Nueva Era´s Environment Club camping to a beach nearby.
Ecuadorian children look extremely cute on first impressions, but sometimes beneath those huge brown eyes they are not so cute... as we found out. Persuading the kids to do anything was a challenge, if they didn't want to play a beach game or do the treasure hunt that some volunteers had spent all morning setting up, then they wouldn't and no one could tell them otherwise. After serious amounts of persuasion the treasure hunt pretty much bombed since they didn't get the concept of one clue leading to another..
Two Mothers from New Zealand and their children also joined us camping. They are here as part of their 4 year round the world trip on a sailing boat. Their children mixed in quite well with the locals despite not being able to communicate, but I think even they could see how different these kids were to themselves. Ecuadorian children are incredibly loud, energetic and touchy-feely and will constantly be hugging or clinging onto you. Shy children just do not seem to exist here. The eldest Kiwi girl seemed quite shocked by the way the other little girls threw themselves at her. "Mummy why are these kids still so hyper and crazy at 10pm, and why won't they let me sleep in peace", she wailed. The Kiwi kids were so well behaved in comparison to the local kids. I have to say though that despite being little terrors, many of them are so cute. The little boys were desperatly trying to learn some English words to talk to the Kiwi boys, they stood around the fire shouting "Be Carfu" after asking me to translate "be careful" from Spanish.
After finally getting them to bed in their mostly makeshift tents (made out of sheets and towels draped from branches), Jason and I crept off home as we had no tent
The next day we walked into town and had a shock: the promenade was packed with tourists, shops were full of goods and restaurants had popped up where they hadn't been before. Every single shop had tables outside pretending to be a cafe! Normally you will see the odd group of tourists a few times a week, what was going on? Apparently the airport on Santa Cruz , the main island where cruises depart from, has closed for 2 months so flights have been diverted here. It's taken some getting used to having all these people here: although it's given the town a new burst of life (the Disco has gone from once a week to every night opening!) and it's great for the economy, it's been a lesson to us in how tourism is damaging the wildlife's habitat. Before all this sea lions would always come up from their beach into the main square to laze, now with the noise from live music (the stage from the dive festival has stayed) and so many more tourists they stay on their beach, many have even moved to different beaches out of town
After 6 weeks we are just about getting used to life here and how things work. You can never rely on anything here, if people agree to a meeting odds are they won't show up, if a shop should be open odds are it won't be. We tend to eat what the locals eat as much as possible now to save money. At a "restaurant" $2 can get us a 3 course "set menu" lunch and drink - not great food but pretty damn cheap! My cravings for European food get less as I get used to the carbohydrate-overload that is the Ecuadorian diet. They rarely cook with any veg just meat or fish and mountains of white rice with half a bag of salt added! The simplicity of life here was strange at first but now the dirt-floor restaurants with plastic tables and chairs and the pot-holed pavements seem just normal. How will we adjust to life with eclectic kettles, toasters, microwaves and supermarkets I wonder??