The beginning of week 3 found me and 5 friends from UBECI headed to the beach for the weekend! After a long day of work Friday, I arrived home with a couple hours to pack and shower before catching an overnight bus to Guayaquil. However when I arrived home I was ushered to a surprise party for my families 4 year old nephew who lives in the apartment above us. What a blast, chocolate fruit, cake, juice, and lots of games and me dancing for the whole family, I had them laughing pretty good. Time flew by and before I knew it I had to leave for the bus station. As time was of the essence, I skipped the shower, didn’t change my clothes and threw some swim trunks and a towel in my backpack. Our bus left at 10 and after a cold, sleepless night on the bus. We arrived in Guayaquil at 6 am and through confusion and our tiredness purchased the wrong tickets to Montanita and missed the 9 am bus. We returned back to the ticket window to buy different tickets and found a line of 60 plus people and security guards around our window… Apparently everyone wanted to get to the coast. I used my Spanish and explained the mistake and a guard was nice enough to let me in the back way and I got us tickets for the 1 pm bus which we did not miss.
We pulled into Montanita three hours later and were greeted by humid beach air, tan bodies, music, and dreadlocks. The little town was basically party central year round and was home to a lot of young, hip tourists from almost every country. Since we arrived so late in the day almost all the hostals were booked, however we lucked out and grabbed a random little apartment just outside of town by a minute or so. It came complete with two hammocks outside, a patio, a leaky toilet, and mosquito nets. Also the door locked behind you so if you left upon returning you had to climb through the window. My kind of place. The water was warm and the waves were big, perfect for a lot of body surfing and of course some sun burning. Night life there was pretty wild and I am thankful I outgrew my fiesta phase before coming to Ecuador. Instead I settled for some peaceful night swims, wandering through the town and getting into bed before 12. I did unfortunately lose my flip flops one morning as I went for a swim and found them
gone when I returned. Hopefully whoever has them now is putting them to good use. It was finally time to go and after a full day of riding back to Quito on the bus, I was so happy to get back to work and being with the kids.
My 3rd week at Ubeci included more volunteers coming and saying goodbye to Debra at the end of the week. Debra is this amazing lady from Canada who was volunteering with UBECI. She basically took on the role of everyones mom and was so caring and sweet with all the kids in the market, especially the crying babies who she was able to calm like no other. She took the above picture of me and a few of the little ones on her last day. Very cool to watch and learn from someone who has experience working in orphanages around the world and is simply a kind soul. Being the 3rd week, I recognized a majority of the kids though we still met new ones daily. One of the new ones who stands out most in my mind was “spider-man”. A little boy who loved to pretend to be spider-man and would climb on my back after lunch and pretend I was a car. While it was fun giving him a piggy back ride everywhere, the old me would have simply left it at that. But thanks to experience and practice I have learned to turn something as simple as a piggy back ride into a teaching lesson. We practiced directions, left, right, back, and forward. Every time I came to a barrier in front of me I taught him the directions and made him pick which way we went. At first we made a lot of wrong turns but after 10 minutes and a longer than normal walk back to the UBECI site, he had his directions down. Teachable moments come in almost every situation and game with the kids. From naming colors of blocks they are playing with to having them pick out shapes and animals in books.
There are sad moments in the markets as well however. One little boy, Sergio, showed up this week with huge scabs on his face. He wouldn’t say what happened but it definitely had to hurt quite a bit. I hope it did not come at the hands of an adult, but most likely as the children have a lot of time to run around unsupervised, he probably had a crash and burn moment. He is a sweet little boy but he can be quite the mischief maker, which doubles as an attempt to gain attention. His mom is 21 and works all day as a construction worker. His father is addicted to drugs and largely out of the picture. Therefore he goes to the markets each day with his mothers friend and spends a good deal of his time by himself. I learned this about him after a difficult day where he repeatedly climbed on the windows of parked cars and wouldn’t come down. A good reminder for me to maintain patience when working with these little ones as many have similar stories.