Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ceviche heaven

Well here I am again, sitting at a computer with a loss of what to blog about. I always think of some thing to write in my blog but I'm never near the net. Internet has been a little tougher to come by here in Ecuador. At my last blog, I think, I was still fighting my car out of the port and into Ecuador. That proved to really test my patience and push my Spanish. I am thankful for my time spent with Ricardo and him training me how to interact in Spanish more like the way they do it. It's not so eloquent but it's direct and to the point. Everything is direct and open here and in all the Latin countries. The communication is different, people don't get offended at small things. If someone wants to strip their child down right next to you, at a restaurant and wash them by pouring water on their head then they will do it and nobody will care. Everything is direct and there aren't any hidden messages. If you want your bill or a refill, you get up and tell someone and they don't get mad. And if you want to get anything done at the port, you have to push your way through many windows with a bunch of other people doing the same & get your stuff looked at and dealt with. if you think there is a line, you will be waiting all year. This training with Ricardo definitely pushed me through on getting through the nightmare of a process to get my car but I finally got it and immediately hit the road. Unfortunately the last day I didn't actually get my car until 8pm which meant I was already breaking one cardinal rule of the trip, don't drive in foreign lands that you're completely unfamiliar with after dark. However my options were limited and I chose to shoot the 3 hour drive to the beach town Mantanita rather than spend one more hot and noisy night in the port town of Guayaquil. Driving at night here is dark, no street lights and I am not sure where I'm going so I do what I have done at least 10 thousand times on this trip, I start asking directions. Yet again I'm aware of my surroundings and looking for the worst thing to happen to me as I pass through a small town and the people are all walking on the streets because not many cars really pass through, especially at night. So I am forced to slow down and endure all the stairs because as has been amused a lot on this trip, seeing me is like them seeing a UFO. I ask someone how to get out of this town and on my way to where I'm going and sure enough some guy on a motorbike offers to drive in front and have me follow him. This has happened to me so many times on this trip. It reminded me of being in Panama City when I was searching either for an office or police station or hotel and more than once after driving up next to a car in the city, waiving my hand to have them roll down their window and asking for directions and they offer to just drive me there because explaining how to get this is harder. And these are never just a couple blocks away, I'm talking all the way across the city. I had one guy drive up next to me after he saw me asking another guy and he asked what I was looking for so I told him and he drove us there, to the police station and even got out to tell me to be safe because this particular part of town was dangerous, called the red district. After these things happen, I always sit back and wonder what would happen in New York city if you waived at someone in another car and tried to get directions from them? I always think about blogging something but it's hard to say what to write. I've just searched just about all of the pacific coast for waves, driving on beaches and off road a bit. I could focus on that in a blog. Or focus on that I've probably cooked at least my 200th meal out of the back of my car this year which isn't an easy way to live but it works. Or that my skills with a coconut have improved, I open, drink & eat them quite often. I could write a delicious blog describing every incredible bowl of fresh ceviche I've eaten here in Ecuador. But what always seems to be missing from my blog, that which seems tough to relay, is all the sites of people & towns I pass through. I'm fairly sure this is how UFO sightings get posted, someone like me flies through a town where the kids are working hard with a machete & farming tools at say, 6 years old, and everyone is awestruck just stares with jaws open at the truck & me while I pass thru. I have passed through a good deal of Ecuador in search for surf which has been hit & miss. The sites are still amazing though. I still come across people bathing themselves & their clothes in rivers. Millions of shacks hand made from bamboo or something similar. I'm still avoiding hitting dogs, pigs, goats, horses, cows, and many many people on bikes on the roads. Everyone, every age rides a bike and usually the bike is too big or too small. And there is hardly ever just one person on the bike, a family of 3 or 4 will ride down the road on a bike. And in between all of these views of the local people, and the conversations I try to have to get directions, find bakery's, or anywhere else I might be looking for, I am in the water surfing. After spending my last blog talking about how I can't meet other travelers abroad my faith in there being some other nice people abroad was restored. After an argument over price in a hostal in montanita, one that I was thankful Emily had to handle for a change, we bolted out of there in a hurry. Instead of packing up my truck and reorganizing as I had intended, we split paying less than the guy all of a sudden wanted from us, and I drove a bit and then turned down a beach road to regroup. Up walks a couple, a guy and a girl with a surfboard and surely not from Ecuador. They had seen my truck, as is the case with everyone, and starting asking about what I was doing there with a California plated vehicle. One thing led to another and we hung out at their house for a few nights, 'camping' in the truck. Tom & Shannon are down in Ecuador from California. It was really refreshing to meet some genuinely nice people for a change. After a couple of days together exploring the area for surf, I invited them to go on a little journey with us. They jumped in and we were off. They got to see first hand how fun it can be in a car but also how not easy it is with a car. Searching for places to sleep that are safe and have safe parking. Being lost constantly. I have basically been lost for 7 months. Asking for directions a million times to get anywhere. Being stared at all day. It's fun, it's frustrating, it's exciting, it is still an adventure. 5 or 6 days with those guys & it was time for them to head back to their current house down south so they split on the bus. It was a good experience after I had so many not so good experiences with travelers abroad. Now it's down to myself & Emily. Emily has been traveling with me for a couple of months and now her time is coming to an end as well. She is done with this leg of the journey in 5 days and then it will be down to just me. It's been amazing to have a woman's touch to my casita & to improve the health of my eating, let alone a companion to get through this adventure with. But now this part of the journey will be taking a new turn. So things will change again soon & who knows what effect it will have but the only constant I've had on this trip is....CHANGE.
PS: missing the birth of my brothers baby & Justin's baby definitely makes me miss home. I think and talk about you all constantly....surely to the annoyance of others around. Hopefully I'll meet these new additions sooner than later.

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