Day 12: Sea Garden Hostel
We arrived at the Sea Garden Hostel in Olón , Ecuador yesterday evening. This place is stunning!! Lolo, the host of the hostel, welcomed us and, after he recognized our fatigue, showed us to our rooms. Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean waves was exquisite; the most peaceful sleep I had since we got to Ecuador. The food at the Sea Garden is absolutely wonderful: everything is freshly made or caught and is prepared with love and care, producing only the most tasteful and mouth watering sensation. Yeah, it was that good.
Today is a holiday representing the battle of Pinchinacha, part of the war of independence of Ecuador; in other words we had a free day to do as we pleased. First activity of the day: Exploring the new terrain. The city of Olón is vastly different from our previous stay in Guayaquil just three hours away. Unlike the fast pace, hectic and uptight atmosphere in Guayaquil, the population in Olón seems to be more laid back and relaxed, this could be attributed to the constant peaceful rhythms of the ocean. Initially we started out with the group of us taking a long tranquil walk on the beach, but as the beach came to an end some of us admitted that our curiosity had not been satisfied but instead amplified by the pile of rocks that wound around the bottom of the cliffs edge. We, less than a handful of us, commenced our exploration on the rocks and stumbled (almost literally) upon a beautiful view of the beach and its coast line. After taking a giant number of photos, we pressed on until our quest, to reach the end of the rock pile, seemed slightly too dangerous for us to complete on our first days of exploration. Casualties throughout the adventure: a sweater washed away by the tide, scrapped knees and elbows from falling, and a small cut to the foot from poor footing during our rocky decent.
Next on the list of activities is surfing. Lolo made a call and less than an hour later, everyone was on the beach lounging, or getting ready for surfing lessons. Unlike previous surfing experiences, the instructors insisted that we went for a mini run and stretched even before we even touched the boards. A little strange to me, but I understood the reasoning behind it; after all it is Ecuadorian ‘winter’. It was interesting being on the other side of the language barrier, being taught a skill rather than teaching. The instructors were patient and did not all speak the same degree of English (not unlike us speaking Spanish), which made life interesting when they were trying to correct or guide you. Something that I appreciate (and was only recognized once we left), is how the teens at Colegio 20 De Abril looked at you with a confused expression when they did not understand, instead of the international norm of nodding and smiling until the other person stops speaking. The first few tried for surfing were less than successful because each surf instructors used the same countdown or warning before pushing you off into the wave, but after a good chunk of time we got to know which instructor said what as they prepared you for launch. The other issue came when some of us were ready to try catching the wave on our own: imagine trying to understand what your instructor is attempting to explain in Spanish while the waves are crashing behind, beside and in front of you; you cannot see and can hardly hear them so visual demonstration is out. Luckily, it was understood that those who were able to see and hear the instructors would shout and mimic what the instructors were doing. Similar to the physical education classes, when one of the teens understood what we were struggling to communicate, and would explain to their peers what was happening in Spanish; struggling in confusion then someone throws you a life line. The difference between the surfing instructors and us teaching at the school is in our final goals: the surfing instructors are there to teach us, and the get paid for their services; where as we are teaching students with the intent that they will grow and develop, and get rewarded with the personal satisfaction of volunteering. I am fairly certain that we, the people that taught at Colegio 20 De Abril, are getting more out of the teaching experience, and I hope that the students at Colegio 20 De Abril got more out of our physical education classes than we did out of surfing.