Howdy folks. This post is coming to you from the small coastal town of Canoa. Being out of Quito is lovely-- big cities are interesting, but I feel that unless you have the time and knowledge to find the interesting pockets contained in them, they´re more or less the same.
I took a night bus from Quito to Bahia, a ride which was supposed to take about 8 hours, but somehow turned into almost twelve. I was listening intently to éveryone´s conversations trying to figure out the reason for the additional four hours, but never quite got the specifics. I think the driver simply got lost. At one point we were going in circles in some unidentified town, and after we drove around a few times and turned around, all the townspeople started coming out onto their balconies to yell at us and try to point us in the right direction. Buses in Ecuador don´t necessarily have bathrooms, so you have to keep yourself dehydrated lest you unintentionally end up going 12 hours without a servicio.
Bahia was a super interesting little town, almost certainly my favorite place thus far. A few years back Bahia declared itself an ecocity and has (to some extent) dedicated itself towards sustainability. How well that ideology translates into practice is a wee bit nebulous, but there are all sorts of fun murals about how we are all a part of the solution and other such nice sentiments. The really awesome thing that comes of this sustainaility is the fact the official form of transportation is the cargo tricycle. The whole town is awash in wandering cargo tricycles. Bahia itself is pretty small: it´s located on a sort of pointy type thing that juts out into the ocean, so the whole town is only about five blocks wide. It is quite possible to find a centrally located cafe and be able to see the ocean on both your left and your right. There is a fairly large hill behind the town, and there is a gigantic looming cross perched at the top of it. You climb up a bunch of winding steps to get up to it, and then you climb the cross itself (there´s a staircase in it) and can see the entirety of the town. I have pictures but can´t load them right now, I´ll add them later.
After a night in Bahia, I took the ferry across to a little town called San Vicente and then headed for Canoa. Canoa is apparently a great town for surfing, but the waves haven´t been so great since I arrived. I got in on a beautifully warm and sunny Saturday and the beach was crazy swamped with people. Various little beachfront bars were all playing very loud reggaeton, and swimming in the ocean was like being in a very warm, loud jaccuzi. I spent my first day in Canoa sitting in a hammock drinking pina coladas, getting up from time to time to go splash around in the ocean. My plan was to continue doing that for the next few days, but it started raining like mad and now the entire town is more or less a swamp. But! It is a warm swamp, so it´s still all good. The locals have a huge variety in their footwear when it gets this muddy: a lot of people don´t wear shoes at all, and some people opt for rubber boots. But some women are wearing like 4 inch heels with little rhinestons on them, and by some miracle they are not covered in mud. It is astounding. Maybe their shoes come with little miniature hovercraft devices.
I went running along the beach at sunrise in the middle of a torrential downpour and it was pretty lovely.
I´ve been meeting lots of interesting people and am currently travelling with a freelance journalist from Norway and an aspiring author from New Jersey. I met some surfers from Utah, too, and then a bunch of people on an exchange program from U of O. I keep meeting people from Oregon, it would seem there are a lot of us wandering around down here. Small world, eh?
The spanish is coming along quite well. While still in Quito I went on a quest to find a copy of The Little Prince in spanish, but none of the bookstores had it! I settled instead on The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Reading in spanish is slow going, but I´m learning a lot. Granted, many of the words I´m looking up are not necessarily terms I expect to need, but it´s nice to have such terms as fairy, driad, nymph and witch under my belt.
Conversing in spanish is coming along nicely- yesterday I figured out I´d been confusing the words for tired and married, so it made many of the conversations I´d been having make waaaayyyy more sense. The word for tired is cansado and the word for married is casado, so I´d been wondering why people kept asking me if I was tired. And why they then would reply with such things as, It´s ok, you can have an ecuadorian husband, too.
Ok, well I think I´m going to jump back in the ocean for a bit. I´m heading south tomorrow or the day after and have yet to come up with plans, but that´s really the fun of it. Much love,