Then came my trip to Pachijal. This is my friend Katie Jones’s site, and it’s everything I ever wanted in a peace corps experience. She lives in a little village in the cloud forest, in a wooden house with a porch and a hammock and bathes in a beautiful river in her back yard. If anyone comes to visit, this might be where I take you, and pretend like it’s my own.
Thanksgiving was a great time. I went to Riobamba where about 15 volunteers came to go to Walter’s hacienda for a veritable feast. Walter came to Ecuador in the 2nd group of volunteers here 40 years ago, and forgot to leave. It happens a lot. We stuffed ourselves silly on turkey and smashed potatoes, and played with a lot of dogs. Walter has a little German Shepard pup (and by little I mean huge), and Mary Catherine’s pup was there, and Pita was there. I guess this is a good time to officially introduce Trompita, or Pita for short. Yes, she’s my pup. That I can recall, a dog is really the only thing that I have been seriously been deprived of my whole life, so when my friends in my community gave her to me, I couldn’t refuse. She’s great.
The next discovery I made was this wonderful crater lake called Quilitoa. My friend Matt and I went on this little day hike jaunt one morning, and I loved it so much I went back with this good lookin’ Belgian guy named Bjorn 3 days later. This time we camped out, and boy did it remind that I love camping. In volcanoes. Actually, that’s the first camping in a volcano that I have done to my recollection. It was beautiful, and I have to sleep in tents more often. Pita loved it too.
So, I guess that since I heard you could camp on the beach in this amazing little fishing village called Monpiche, I had to go. Renee lives in Esmeraldas, so I met up with her, and down the coast we went to meet some others on the beach. Beautiful. I hate all of you PC people that got placed in the beach. I might miss water more than camping. But camping on the water? Yeah. Then, back towards Esmeraldas for the big 24. The birthday was spent in a little drinking town called Atecames. Lots of fun, lots of booze drunk from coconuts.
I had 3 birthday parties- the drunk one in Atecames, the one in my community where I was given a whole rotisserie cuy (or guinea pig for those of us who know the cute little pets) on a giant plate of papas, and left alone to figure out how to eat it, and the traditional family one where my aunt Esmilda made my favorite spaghetti for the joint party for Uncle Matt and me. Does life get much better?
Yes. Who else is lucky enough to have family here to spend Christmas with? It was almost as good as home, especially since Alex is 8. Eight year old boys love getting presents, so excitement was abundant in the house. Then, to the beach… again.
New Years ’06 was a good one. Never even got arrested. It was spent in Salinas, on the southern coast. Some call it the little Miami beach, but since I’ve never been to Miami, it’s just Salinas to me. And it’s awesome. The tradition here is to burn the old year, so they make silly paper mache people, and light them on fire. Well, on this beach, there were about 50 fires with about 100 life-sized old year dolls in each. It was a hell of a bonfire. Or about 50 hell of a bonfires. It was great fun. We stayed for a few extra days ‘cause it was so cool. There was also some boats, one having sails, a boy, sun, sand, and more booze, so why leave? Well, because I left the dog at the uncle’s and I missed her. Oh yeah, and work.
I promise that between these fun times there is work. It’s just not that exciting, so it doesn’t make it here to the blog. I am accomplishing goals, and getting things done, so it’s not really just all travel and leisure as it looks here. I swear.