7am breakfast for the entire group this morning. Breakfast consisted of cornmeal pancakes with fresh pineapple and the usual coffee/hot chocolate options. We all met in the front to pick up supplies and get our team assignments; from there we went to up to the road to wait for the taxis to take us to Cabo San Francisco. The taxis in Ecuador consist of a S10 like truck with two benches in the back and occasionally an awning for cover in the rain. The taxis were running on Ecuador time so there was no real rush to be here at the requested 8am. When they arrived, we managed to pile 13 of us into the first one so the second group only had 9 to squeeze in. We arrived at the school right around 9am and quickly got underway. To make things a little bit easier, the students were split up into 5 teams. Each team was responsible for painting a building or series of buildings including windows. The number of classrooms for each building varied as did the color and surface being painted. The students busted their tails throughout the entire morning. We had two days allocated for the projects, but by noon a good chunk of the buildings had already been painted. One of the greatest parts about painting at Cabo San Francisco (CSF) was not just the "doing" aspect of the service projects and witnessing the buildings become more alive with colors, but the promotion of service within a community. This was exactly what occurred in CSF. After we got underway, there were children and adults both that wanted to pick up a paint brush and help. Some were great and wanted to know what they could help with while others just picked something up and started. While the latter was appreciated, it was frustrating at times; it was also important to reminder ourselves that this is about the promotion of service and if that is what somebody did: mission accomplished.
A little after noon, we took a break and walked down the street and ate lunch at a corner building. Lunch consisted of rice, fish (eggs for vegetarians), and an Ecuadorian salad. Following lunch a couple of us took a walk around CSF in hopes of finding cold bottled water. You see, in CSF and in much of coastal Ecuador refrigeration is limited so people are accustomed to drinking room-temp water. We quickly rejoined the group back near the school and found them taking a further break by the beach. This was okay because we were still awaiting the classroom to be unlocked. Once the principle got back to unlock the door we began the afternoon, which was a lot of touch-up work. The various teams went back to their buildings and as they completed these went to help the other various groups. By the end, we were short a large number of needed sticks or ladders to do the higher parts, (or the Ecuadorians were using them) so more waiting occurred. We found more work to do while we were waiting thought. There were a set of bleachers that we were holding off until Wednesday to paint, so we brushed these off and prepped these. As 4pm rolled around we tried to be backed up and ready to head back. We made sure that everything that was remaining could be finished the following day. We got onto our taxis and made the trek back. On the way back we gave the students the option to go to the beach or just return to the station. There were a couple of us however that had to go into Muisne to pick up an extra gallon of white paint. This was a little more of a challenge than we anticipated. White is a base color and most common in the area, however, none of the hardware stores said they had any of it. Andy, Chris, Casey, Andrea, and Erik all went around again asking for the smaller cans that they had. Then one store discovered they had a gallon left which in turn saved us a lot of hassle. We grabbed a batido before heading back and this was nice and refreshing. Batidos are smoothie-milkshake like drinks made with fruit, sugar, milk, and ice. We all had a variety of flavors to share. Once we were done with these we grabbed a taxi and made our way back to the station.
By the time we got back to the station most people were already back, but a few remained on the beach. Everyone that was back was getting cleaned up and dinner shortly followed. Dinner was a paella-like dish consisting of rice, shrimp, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, onion, and garlic in a tomato base and ajote sauce. The ajote sauce is a flavored oil and orange in color. It is very common around this part of Ecuador. Juice was tamarindo which is a pulpy pod fruit that is ground up with sugar and water added to it.
Following dinner we had a brief discussion about perception of culture and the group was free to go. Around 8:30pm the group met and as a group we walked to "Bar Alcala" which is the house Erik's host family on the edge of the reserve. They have a several hammocks and a larger open area unlike much of the station. Here the students played cards, practiced salsa, and conversed with each other and the family for those that wanted to practice their language skills. Our visit there was short but that was because we had a long day ahead of us and sleep was key.
I know we are a little behind in the blog, but Wednesday and Thursday will both be added sometime tonight.
Wednesday we finished CSF and did a waterfall excursion and today (Thursday) we are painting the inside of a nursery and beginning a couple murals in Bunche.
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