Ecuador is a country of a totally different culture than that in the United States. Upon arriving in Bahia, I discovered that my original anticipation of the city and culture was not quite what I had expected. That’s not to say that the culture is not amazing because it is wonderful. It has been about a week now, and I feel like I am starting to find my place.
At 7:00 a.m., my alarm sounded, and I knew it was time to start the day. Another student and I made our way to our first bus stop. As we ventured through the city in the bus, we observed the different kinds of people getting on and off the bus. It ranged from young children traveling alone to school, professors going to teach, and elders headed to the countryside. We also had to go to the countryside; therefore, we had to take a second bus further out of the city. After 20 minutes on the second bus, we prepared ourselves for the trek through the hills of the countryside. We walked about 1.6 miles to the school where we could experience the nature of Ecuador. The greenery was incredible, as the leaves vary in different shapes and sizes. Random flowers sprouted throughout the greenery. When I heard the donkeys yelp and the different birds chirp, I knew I was getting closer to the school.
We went to a school where the children are less privileged and they literally have two small rooms where they learn and a small concrete slab to play. Granted, there are only about 45 children in the school: it is a whole different ballpark than the school in the city portion of Bahia. Our children are much more timid, but they listen so well. I enjoy being with them and teaching them English during our physical activity classes!
After our journey back to the city of Bahia, we had a lunch prepared for us by the most awesome Ecuadorian I have met thus far. He is a hero of all heroes. A typical lunch always has soup, fried bananas, and rice along with other delicious food. Since I am a vegetarian, I am allotted different food. My favorite is the vegetable tortilla. ¡Que rico!
My favorite part of the day was immersing myself with the locals, so I could practice my Spanish and learn about their culture. I have met a wonderful friend named David, who actually lived in Asheboro, North Carolina! How ironic is that? I leave the country to meet an Ecuadorian who understands my culture but has been teaching me his own culture. He took me to a beach called Punta Bellaca. It was so beautiful. We walked along the beach and chased crabs, admired the birds, and watched the sunset. The beach was surrounded by beautiful, tall hills. It was so relaxing. We sat on the beach for hours just talking the night away. When I meet up with Ecuadorian friends, we will just dance in the street and enjoy our surroundings. The people here are wonderful and full of life. They do nothing but make me laugh and smile.
I am so excited to see what the rest of the trip will bring. The one thing I do know is that I will not want to leave this extraordinary country, but I certainly will return!