Dance-able Bingo and other short stories

Trip Start Nov 08, 2004
Trip End Nov 08, 2005

Loading Map
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, June 2, 2005

The other day I was chatted up by a 16 year old boy on the beach. The conversation went like this:

Him: "Hi what are you doing?"
Me: "Sun bathing and going for a swim"
Him: "I am going swimming too, why don't we swim together. Do you have a boyfriend?"
Me: "Yes
Him: Where is he then?
Me: "He is teaching. We are teachers at Nueva Era Foundation"
Him:" How old are you"
Me: "how old do you think?"
Him:" about 30"
Me :"( sniff, snort, and resist temptation to hit him)"
Him:" where are you from" etc etc. Conversation turned to where we had been travelling before we arrived here "Why don't you take me with you to Argentina?"
Me:" What? I just said I have been are crazy...uhhh, well lets see; you're a horrid little 16 year old. Why on earth are you trying to chat me up?"

No this is not a joke. All the foreign girls; however old or young they may be, are a target for young boys to try out there chatting up skills and more on. Apparently, at least ones I know anyway, harbour fantasies about older foreign women. If it's not a 16 year old that trying to chat you up it's invariably a man who is no more than 3ft tall - an equally unattractive proposition.

So we are nearly at the end of our experience now. Teaching finishes this week and I don't want to think about leaving. I am staying for an extra couple of weeks to go island hopping with a friend. Jason is leaving and going to do lots of mega-active stuff like climbing a volcano.. then we will meet south of Quito.

Even after 3 months here we are still ridiculously fascinated by the sea lions and could spend hours watching them and their humanesque behaviours. At night they sleep on the beach in front of town. Mothers and their children sleep soundly with their fins over each other, fathers sleep a little distance away often on their backs with all their fins in the air snoring and grunting loudly. They also have coughing and sneezing fits just like us. When they get in the water they couldn't behave less like humans. The females and pups are so playful. They leap around doing aerobatic displays, a couple of loop the loops here, a few barrel rolls there, then they shoot towards you like a jet fighter and then swerve to miss you at the last minute. Meanwhile the big fat male grunts and snores on the shore (can you see the resemblance now?)

Normally this is a fantastic thing to witness as you are swimming or diving, but suddenly the mood of the males has changed. It's mating season and boy does that seem to put them in a bad mood! Last week I arrived at the beach to find 2 or 3 huge males presiding over the shoreline. As I was coming back to the beach from my swim and I saw Romy standing up and waving at me. "What is she doing, has she gone mad" I was thinking, but then I realized that I was surrounded by about 6 sea lions, 3 of these were huge males. Males can be aggressive and have been known to bite so I was not that happy about them swimming around me. Romy was trying to point me out a path between them, but every direction she pointed in, a sea lion would suddenly pop up. I was barricaded in the sea! All at once one of them was coming for me and I screamed.(Yes Roomy was v embarrassed at this point) I must have treaded water for a full 10 mins before I found a path back, but I swear it felt like half an hour. All I could see was dark circles moving all around me. Scary stuff...

We have been enjoying living in our little room with the great views. There are 3 or 4 other rooms in the house occupied by volunteers who come and go so itīs a great way to meet people. The family who own the house (Nelly and Javier) live downstairs, I can't say they are a typical Ecuadorian family as they must be loaded compared to even the rest of this island, but they are lovely people and we have lots of fun with the 3 youngest of their children. Andres is 3 and the cutest (see pic on last entry) he loves food and has a habit of coming upstairs and eating whatever we are eating from our plates whilst throwing the rest of it over us. Ivan is 7 and is in Jason's class, he adores "teacher Jason" and can often be found with his nose against our window asking for him. Anna-Lia is 9 and a gorgeous little girl who never stops talking.

Last weekend Nelly helped organise a night called "Bingo Bailante" in aid of the eldest child's school. Translated as "Dance-able Bingo" this doesn't actually involve dancing about on gigantic bingo boards as you may be thinking. It involves 8 hours of playing bingo in a school basket ball court, interspersed by dancing to ear splittingly-loud music. When Ecuadorians have any kind of event/party (which is every weekend) they always have a sound system big enough for Wembly Stadium where the music is so loud it's actually distorted. Hence during the "bingo bailante" it was impossible to have a conversation with anyone even sitting next to you. Somehow the 6 games of bingo were made to last until 3 or 4am. We left at about midnight, by this point the tension was high: the prizes were a washing machine and an oven and these bingo players meant business: they weren't there for fun; they just wanted that washing machine! What made us laugh the most though was the fact that outside the gates there were dozens of people camped out with their own BBQ food and drinks who obviously didn't want to part with $2.50 to get in! The funniest was people who had put chairs in the back of pick up trucks so they could watch. When we arrived home we realised we didn't need to miss out on the washing machine after all, the bingo host could be heard clearly in our room (and in Quito I suspect..).

It's not only parties and bingo we hear from our room. This has to be the loudest island I have been too. The (quite small) school just down the road feels the need to use a loudspeaker system to announce any instructions to the children (as presumably, they don't listen otherwise). So we wake up at 7am everyday to "Get in lines please now! Carlos, what are you doing?" etc etc and on Monday mornings we are treated to the school assembly over the loudspeaker system! At weekends we are bombarded with loud Ecuadorian music at during the day and night.God knows how come every family has disco-loud sound system in their house and itīs not like anyone would ask them to turn it down... noise pollution is not a concept they understand!

and finally....

Guide to passing as a local in San Cristobal

1. Firstly it is essential that you bring with you all close and extended relatives - Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc, they must live in the same house as you and your family.

2. If you are male and over 3ft5 it will not be possible for you to pass as a local, in fact you may not be allowed onto the island at all. There is only currently one tall male on the island and his parentage has been questioned.

3. Begin building your house using concrete only. Build one storey and then start the foundations for the next storey. Important: leave the house as it is now and do not finish the second storey, this would be a fatal mistake in your quest to pass as a local.

4. Once settled, partake in the most popular form of evening entertainment: squeeze your whole family onto one moped and drive along the promenade, turn round and come back. Repeat several times until you see someone you know, at this point disembark and have a short conversation before resuming your lap of the promenade.

5. Get a job in one of the local cafes. Be careful to take at least 30 mins to serve your customers with a drink though, and if they order food make sure you do not start cooking the food until at least 30 mins after they order. A drink should never be served until a customer has finished their meal.

6. Alternatively get a job in the local supermarket. This will involve stacking the shelves with bags of rice and boxes of cornflakes for the first few months. If you are successful you may then be trained on the cash register. However you must not have a working speed of more than I item per 5 minutes if you work on the till, and you must do this one handed, the other hand is only for sending text messages to friends about what time you are driving up and down the prom that night.

7. If you are a 17 year old female and not yet married you must find a mate quickly. Having your first child after the age of 18 would cause you to stand out from the locals. If you are a male aged 15-16 it is important to start learning how to chat women up. Foreign volunteers aged at least 10 years your senior are the best people to practice on, if they look at you quizzically do not be put off, simply keep on following them everywhere. If you are aged 18 plus it is important to have a girlfriend, again the foreign girls are good targets, however as they usually only stay 3 months so by the third month you should have your next girlfriend lined up to take over.

8. If you decide to buy a car you must choose a white Chevrolet pick-up truck to match your neighbours and your next door but one neighbours. No other colours or models will be tolerated.

9. Next you must perfect your manner of speaking. You must learn to talk alot without actually saying anything at all. Whenever asked a direct question be very careful not to answer it. Use very flowery language to skirt around the answer, throw in some deep observations about the meaning of life and finally end on a topic of conversation far removed from the original question. If you are female, be aware that on occasions you may be taking part in very normal activities (such as doing the shopping or dancing at the disco) and you may be approached by a young (short) man who will say nothing more than "This is what the meaning of life is, don't you think?". React positively and move away slowly.

10. It is important to have prior training in the art of carbohydrate overload. To do this simply eat a huge plate of rice and mash 3 times a day every day for 2 weeks. Most meals have a special carbohydrate theme and consist of a soup for starter, this will mostly be potato soup but if you are very lucky it may contain a dog bone, chicken head or foot. (This was obviously intended for the dog so be sure to throw it to him.)Main course will be a plate of 2/3 rice, a bit of potato, a small piece of meat (which you will need to borrow the dogs teeth to be able to eat) or fish and a few bits of salad. Be sure that your meals do not contain any nutritional value whatsoever even if you cook them yourself, and that you eat a variation of the same thing 3 times a day.
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: