Almost To The Beach…

So, this is a week late, I realize…but I really did write it last week, but as you will read I was not with my computer, so I have not been able to post it till now…This first bit I wrote in the van on Saturday last week:

I have always loved driving along ridge tops. There is something so majestic about being able to see the world spread out on either side of me like that-which I suppose isn't an entirely new insight, yet it seems to strike a chord in me every time, never the less. It's odd too, how similar the feeling is, regardless of whether my path is a winding road through the familiar country roads of the driftless region of Wisconsin, or the new territory of the cloud shrouded Andes mountains of Ecuador. I am sitting in the back of a rented van headed away from Quito towards the coast town of Bahía de Cáraquez pretty much straight west of Quito in the province of Manabí.

Our graduating class with professor Mario. Photo credit goes to Wendy (Chinese girl in the front).

It has been a rough week, trying to balance my level of busyness compared to the scurrying around of last week. We finished our first unit of Spanish-I have now successfully passes Nivel Cuatro at La Catolica (as the university is generally called) but the written and oral exam studying I did were still nowhere near as intensive as last week's essays, which gave me too much time to think I guess, which led to mid program blues at some points in the week, and gloriously relaxing conversations with my host family (about Christmas and Easter traditions, and rambling all the way around to where the actual equator was on the map -Quito is in fact officially in the Southern Hemisphere)

In other news, it appears that the rainy season has begun for real-with clouds and rain for at least part of every day. I took a lovely walk on Thursday through the misty streets when my masculinitys class was canceled.

Tree growing up from under the sidewalk
It looks like tree is beating concrete-this is one of those things I walk past everyday, and smile at, but never documented.
Misty hillside
Misty hillside
Graffiti that reads: A day without smiling is a day lost
A day without smiling is a day lost. A nice reminder on my way home each day.
View from my way home
Delicate white flower next to a large greasy truck
I was struck by the juxtaposition of this frilly, delicate flower and the large truck, its greasy guts exposed for repair in the background…

Friday evening Michelle and I finalllllly went to the climbing gym-good to have those chalked up fingers and sore arms once again…

My hand in front of my climbing gear
Chalky, aching fingers, climbing shoes and chalk bag-good to be back at it at last!
Climbing hold in the shape of folded hands
This is a rock climbing hold of hands-wow.

We met at school at 8 the next day to get in a van for 8 hours to arrive at long last in Bahía.

[As mentioned, I wrote the above on the way here, on Saturday.]

I am currently standing in the bathroom while my phone charges in the only outlet we could locate in the room, dressed in my bikini and my handy dandy all purpose silk scarf that is currently a cover-up, waiting for my groggy compañeros to awaken from their naps so we can swim in the Pacific Ocean that is waving at us enticingly from across he street. Wow-life is good. After tumbling out of the van yesterday, having discussed most of the major problems of the world, as well as napped and attempted to digest the ungodly amount of food we ate for lunch, we finally arrived at one of the most wonderful hotels I have ever seen.

The view of the stunning architecture of the hotel from our room.
View of our hotel room
Sarah, Minori and I stayed in the "Pharaoh Room" and easily all three of us in this gargantuan bed…
View of our extra loft bed off in the corner
Or there is this luxurious princess loft bed…which we used when we wanted eeeeven more space to splay out and let the sound of waves lull us to sleep.
View from the hotel terrace
The terrace—except it is even more beautiful in real life, if you can believe it.
Hammocks on the terrace
It even has a few hammocks!
Looking out at the ocean from the hotel room
The view…

We pretty immediately changed into suits (Minori and I anyway) and went into the ocean (not too deep, since it was high tide) and laughed and romped until sunset.

So this is literally across the street from where we stayed allll week. Yep.
View of the beach where there are lots of large rocks
Happy sandy toes

Dinner was a lovely discussion about the usefulness of "political correctness" as a means to make a more respectful society, after witch we went out and bought some cerveza to enjoy by the pool on the hotel's balcony, where we hung out much too late discussing and bonding into the night. This morning we had a lesson/discussion about participant observation and then we went to the market across the bridge in San Vicente (observation number 1: two white girls walking through the fish/meat section with the almost exclusively male vendors draw a lot of attention) and later to the market in Bahía. After eating a shrimp-less cerviche and drinking some fresh squeezed juice we returned home to a much needed siesta-and are now headed for the waters!!