Vacations are amazing. I just got back from 5 restful days in the coastal region of Ecuador, in Milagro, Guayaquil, and Chongón, to be exact.
We left from Otavalo Wednesday night. The way people travel here is mainly by bus, and they try to take long bus rides in the evenings and arrive in the morning, where they usually continue with only a bit of a nap (or no nap) to catch up on sleep. I'm still getting used to this type of travel, but I can sleep generally pretty well on a bus, so it was no big deal for me. We arrived in Milagro early Thursday morning, and took a cab to Bahieh's lovely third-floor apartment. The cab was a bit of a shock into the accent of the Coastal Ecuadorians--it was like learning Spanish all over again!
It was so fun to see Bahieh again! She was so welcoming to us and introduced us to all her neighbors, including those that lived on the bottom floor and invited us to their traditional 12:00 Christmas Turkey feast! She has a wonderful apartment, with thick, glorious mattresses and a fully-equipped kitchen. I slept beautifully, without the need of sweatshirts and thick blankets, and wore shorts every day, absorbing the sun!
We spent two days in Milagro, traveling a bit but mostly walking around the neighborhood and meeting Bahieh's extremely welcoming and kind neighbors. It reminded me strangely of my Freeport family: when we go to the Lakes for our family reunions, everyone spends their time chatting with their doors open. It was the same here, everyone knows all their neighbors, and invites them in for a soda or fresh papaya. A really excellent way to spend time during the season when everyone is with their families: with a neighborhood that embraces you as their family right away!
Next we traveled to Guayaquil on Christmas day. Christmas here is usually a day where everyone sleeps in: they stay up until three or four in the morning on Christmas Eve, dancing and playing music and lighting fireworks (We didn't partake in this part of Christmas; after the dinner I was OUT until morning) and so they sleep in and have a very restful Christmas. Or in our case, a slow morning to clean up the house, a devotional with the neighbors, and a bus ride to the huge city of Guayaquil. We met up with some dear friends Jim and Susanna, and spent the night at their huge, beautiful home, with air conditioning and hot water and friendly faces that arrived the next morning for a Book 7 refresher, which I didn't attend. Instead, I spent the morning gloriously reading the ample supply of English Literature in that house before meeting up with yet another beautiful friend, Tahereh, who lives in Chongón, a tiny little town about 30 minutes outside of Guayaquil.
Chongón is very quaint, and staying with Tahereh, even for a night, was amazing. We got a few new taste treats such as Choclo (corn) on the cob rolled in mayonnaise and grated cheese (sounds disgusting, but tastes deliciousssss) and passion fruit (We made a new Mystery Fruits video, to be posted soon) and got to visit with Jordan and his sister, who are working with the media project there.
All too soon it was time to go home. The bus ride back was less than enjoyable: we had no air conditioning or heating, so the first half of the bus ride was unbearably hot and sticky, the second half freezing cold. But taking time away really makes coming home feel more like an hogar rather than a casa. Sure, maybe we have thin cochones instead of actual mattresses. But after 10 hours on a bus, they felt swell, and they were all my very own. Well, for this year at least!
So I had a great trip, a little more of Ecuador seen, and most of all, I'm happy to be home!