Day 5: My Birthday in Ecuador!
This morning was an early one. Departure time was 6 am meaning a midnight face squint at my 5:15 am alarm. Before even saying good morning, Jaime (my roommate) reminded me cheerfully with “Happy Birthday!” before I had even realized it for myself. Washed up, packed for the beach, and hopped on a two hour bus ride to see bananas and cocoa plants. First we were served a breakfast of plantaines (potatobananas) and cheese (that looks like feta but tastes like nothing) with wonderful fresh and icy cocoa juice. I got to experience my first hammock and relax in the sway and morning air. We took a tour of the farm and animal sanctuary which held a variety of treasures.
I was able to try fresh cocoa cracked right in front of me from an oddly shaped red/orange fruit. We were able to see how bananas were grown and harvested for Dole which I found out takes an additional 6 weeks to ripen after being picked! Safe to say I didn’t get to try one of those! There was a bunch of animals that were rescued such as a speckled bear (only kind of bear in South America) that had no claws because they had been removed by a circuis. There were spider monkeys bouncing around on little islands with trees and playground equipment that are surrounded by water (no cages needed since they never cross bodies of water-who knew!). There were A LOT of macaws; they are cool but noisy and annoying. Some of the little guys were able to mimic us back and by lunch we could still hear them screaming “Hola” and “Hello!” from our table 500 metres away.
Lunch was awesome. Chicken with some yellow sauce, rice and a plantaine. What was even better was that we got to enjoy the afternoon off at a lake on the property right after! We cooled off and relaxed from the crazy busy week by swimming, kayaking, and resting in the hammocks. I think this was a very important part to our trip. After a week of culture shock, food changes, sleeping routine alterations, and language barriers, many people in the group have ended up with some form of illness (mostly involving the good ol´GI tract). Although I had a scare, I can safely say the ¨Night Owls¨remain strong and without the runs. I think taking this afternoon to catch up on rest, social time with each other, and our homework will be useful in preparing for our next week of work at our agencies. Or so says Nurse Shellie!
Best part of my evening though, was just an evening to walk with the group and grabbing some food all together. We laughed, talked, and shared stories even though we knew coming home late meant a late night of homework. The ladies all got dressed up and when we got home from the evening we shared my birthday cake. A surprise cookie cake with lit matches for candles. A birthday abroad is never a birthday I´ll regret. A birthday abroad with friends makes it that much better.
I am glad I could build strong bonds so quickly. I am glad that I have strong social supports here in Ecuador when things are not necessarily going according to plan. But, I am most glad that these two weeks will not be the end of PERL 300 2013-.
Shellie … No longer 22. ilu Tay Swift!