by Areli Hernandez
on November 10, 2017 on 11/10/17
What is up, my people! I just returned from our one-week Fall Break. Some students from the program took this opportunity to go to the Galapagos Islands, Chile, and Perú. My friends and I sadly didn’t have the money to travel outside, BUT it was so so so beautiful & convenient to be studying in Ecuador where there are soooo many different types of terrain and geographic locations to visit. We picked the coast to do a beach road trip (on various buses which is like really cheap here) to do “La Ruta del Sol” where we started down in the port city of Guayaquil, travelled to Montañita, Puerto Lopez, Los Frailes, Isla de la Plata, and finally Manta.
I love love swimming in salt water, but being from Northern California, I get lucky if our beaches are warm enough to even put my feet in. So I was basically in heaven this whole week with the warm, tropical climate and warm clear blue water.
My trip was pretty eventful including catching a really bad stomach infection or something that made me real close buddies with the toilet to say the least. A memorable moment included me at the start of my sickness feeling so nauseous at a really nice restaurant, but not being able to throw up. I am too much of a baby to make myself throw up so there we were, kneeling at a bathroom stall, hovering over a toilet, trying to make me throw up and my friend Kimy offered to stick her fingers down my throat to provoke it but I chickened out. Unfortunately, I only got more sick after that.
Accurate pic of how I should have felt on this trip with everything that ended up happening to me.
Accurate pic of me trying to ignore all the inconveniences
On our boat ride to Isla de la Plata, I got superrrrr sea sick/ I was already sick so I was getting ready to vomit my life out in the deep blue pacific ocean. BUT I didn’t because they came out with a delicious “torta de maduro” or banana bread and actually invited me to go up to the top part of the boat with the captain to get fresh air. This ended up being my best decision ever because I got to sit on the edge on the outside of the boat and got to see humpback whales jump out of the water. Apparently, it is no longer whale watching season so this was a very unexpected pleasant surprise. Being so close to the whales, eating my banana bread and finally not sea sick was one of the best experiences ever.
A Jelly Fish Sting?
During our stay in Montañita, I tried to play it safe by swimming near the shore, since I was still recovering from my stomach thing. As I was soaking in the good vibes of Mother Earth, I felt my whole arm get stung by something that made my skin burn really bad. I looked down at it and there was a chunk of a blue jelly fish thing and I started to get really itchy big spider-like bumps on my hand which my imagination thought it was poison. So I thought, oh no, this is the end, it’s been a nice life, but I am gonna die now. I was pretty scared but honestly not surprised that this happened to me (I tend to have a lot of strange things happen to me if you haven’t noticed already). My friends took me to a restaurant and the man said I got stung by “bad water” or agua mala at the beach. I just googled it and it’s called Portuguese man o’ war? And looks kinda like this:
Some Thoughts on Back Home
Honestly, my time at the beach was the most I have thought about my family back home. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time with my friends at the beach, but the whole time I kept thinking how much my family bak home would enjoy a beach vacation where we got to swim in the waves all day. My siblings love the water, my father is always so curious about different geography, my mother would have loved the nature, my grandma loves birds and would have loved to see the blue-footed boobies, my cousins would have loved to go out and dance at night, and my tias and tios would have loved every minute of it. Coming from a huge family, I really do believe that life experiences like these taste better with my fam by my side. Unfortunately, we do not have the financial ability to take a vacay like this one, but hopefully one day, they will get to visit the places I lived in and loved so much this semester.
Some Thoughts on my Privilege
During my whole time here in Ecuador, I have been really thinking about my own privilege. It is such an uncomfortable feeling that I am not used to. I guess this is because back home in the U.S., I was always part of the minority group: with the low-income kids, with the Latino kids, being the first in my family to go to college, etc. It is so strange to be on the other side of this spectrum and be privileged enough to go to the beach, have a beer, and know that I will have a hot meal that day. Meanwhile, kids are forced to sell candies in the street to beachgoers, the immigrant/refugee is struggling to find housing and employment, and I am over here sipping a mojito. Like no, just no. I just can’t.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but how on earth do I balance working towards a social justice goal and having fun and “treating myself”? I have no idea.
I got to see my favorite Colombian reggaeton artist, Maluma, LIVE in concert (first concert ever) right before our beach trip. I’d post a pic or video of my man but I have no phone.
Watching humpback whales leap into the air
Seeing the turquoise blue footed boobies
Snorkeling and seeing all the biodiversity of bright-colored fish in the coral reefs, but then in all honesty, not getting the hang of the snorkeling goggles, choking on salt water and getting mad at and giving up on snorkeling so just joyfully swimming in the water with the luscious sea life.