Before my trip to volunteer in Ecuador, people asked me how I thought it was going to be and I had no answer for them. The fact that I was going to be living in another country didn’t register in my head until I looked out the airplane window and saw the bright lights of Quito. I´m glad that I didn’t have any assumptions about anything, because Ecuador has already surpassed any sort of expectations I could have had.
I’ve been in Puerto Lopez for two days and already I’ve fallen in love. This town is so vibrant, so alive, and so beautiful. The beach is just 10 minutes’ walk away and surrounded by mountains. The buildings are every color of the rainbow and the streets, though muddy at times, are filled with shops and markets selling all sorts of handmade trinkets. The house I´m living in is definitely not what I´m used to–no flushing toilet and no hot water, but the warmth of the family makes up for the freezing showers.
Whenever I would hear about someone’s visit to another country, the same line always came up: “Everyone is so nice.” It’s absolutely true. La familia Gonzalez are the nicest people I’ve ever met. Hotman, the grandfather, is so friendly, chatty, and hilarious. Miguel, my host “dad,” is so genuinely nice, knows something about everything, and so helpful. I feel so lucky to have him as our guide–without him, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy all that Puerto Lopez has to offer.
For example, Miguel took us around Puerto Lopez at night because we wanted to see what it was like. We walked through all the souvenir shops and he showed us which shops give discounts and told us about how they make each bracelet, necklace, earrings, box, figurine, etc out of shells and bones. He took us to El Mirador, a spot up in the mountains where you can see the entire town and the beach. He tells us about fish markets, asks about Korea and Japan often, tells stories about other volunteers, and is always eager to learn about us and teach us about Puerto Lopez. ¡Que suerte que estemos con él!
The kids at the school are a long story which will have to be told another time because I´m out of time. One word to describe them: enthusiastic. Que monos.
Christine (Or Cristina, as I´m known here)