Sunday, January 31, 2010

Birthday and la Isla de la Plata!

Since we were planning on taking a night bus Thursday night (the night of my birthday) we all went out in the Mariscal for my birthday on Wednesday night instead. It was so much fun, maybe a little too much fun – we were all a little chuchaki the next morning for school…. It was strange not celebrating at home, but I feel so lucky that I have so many amazing new friends here to celebrate with.

All that was followed by an amazing weekend on the beach! We took the night bus to Puerto Lopez; left downtown Quito at about 8:30 pm and made it to the beach around 10:30 the next morning (there was an accident on the freeway so we had to stop for a couple of hours). These guys picked us up from the bus station in their “taxis” and took us to their hostel - a beautiful cluster of little beach huts right on the water. It was like something out of a story book. We changed into bathing suits and walked to the market for lunch. Nothing looked very promising but we were all ready hungry so we settled on one of the stalls in the market to wait for our food. Taught us all not to judge a book by its cover – the food was incredible, and we all ordered Batidos to go with it – a rich milkshake-type drink made with really fresh fruit. Yum.

Ecuador 2 007 Ecuador 2 008 When we got back to the hostel the owners had set up a bunch of hammocks for us under a little shelter on the beach. We spent the day playing in the water and reading in the hammocks. It was paradise – so relaxing and peaceful. There were Batido stands lining the waterfront, so we indulged in a few more of those before the day was over too…

Ecuador 2 009 For dinner we went to a little restaurant on the water where we could watch the sunset, and all ordered almost the exact same meal (spaghetti with either squid or shrimp) and it was AMAZING. The best seafood I’ve had in a long time. And we got to enjoy it while watching the sun set over the fishing boats that had most likely brought it in to shore that morning.

The next morning we got up early for our trip to La Isla de la Plata. The owners of our hostel set us up with guides to take us to the island, and they dropped us off at the other end of the beach where we all boarded the boat we were going to take. There were eight of us and then another group of about ten people a little bit older than us from Quito. After a beautiful ride to the island we were taken on a trail up into the island to see some of the unusual wildlife, only seen here and on the Galapagos. We got to see the famous blue-footed-booby! Along with tons of other birds wheeling and diving around the island. It was incredible. I forgot my camera on the boat but this is what the birds look like:

After our walk we got back on the boat and our guides gave us lunch, and then took us round to the other side of the island for snorkeling. It was so cool, the fish there were so colorful, and there was one moment when I swam above a HUGE school of tiny fish, and they extended right to the edge of my vision in every direction. I stopped kicking and just floated because I didn’t want to disturb their swimming patterns. I felt like I was in one of the scenes in Planet Earth.

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On our ride back to the beach the other group with us taught us a game called something like “tingo-tango,” which was more or less hot potato, and if you got caught out you had to get up in the middle of the boat and do something embarrassing. It was hilarious, and our guides got a huge kick out of us all acting like 5 year olds.

We made it back to Puerto Lopez around 4:30 or so, just enough time to shower off, pack up and get dinner before getting on our 8:00 bus back to Quito. Such an amazing weekend. This is a picture of our group with our new friends from our island trip:Ecuador 2 022

Tomorrow morning we’re off to Santo Domingo with CIMAS for a week of looking at tropical medicine. Still hard to convince myself that this is school…

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