Beaches, Boobies, Farewells

Wednesday, May 17th: Today started with a trip to a national park beach. There I got to see great views, wildlife, and swim in amazing water. A short hike to an overlook was how we started and the views of the beach beneath us were amazing. Also got to see pelicans, vultures, and frigates flying around. During the hike we saw some lizards and crabs in the sand and rocks on the beach. After looking around for awhile I got in the warm salty water. I spent the time floating, body surfing, playing chicken, wrestling, and throwing Cale and others up over the waves. A little sunburnt we returned to Puerto Lopez.

For dinner we walked by local places along the beach and just picked what looked good. Ended up eating some really good garlic shrimp. While eating a guy came up and pitched the salsa lessons he teaches at his restaurant. Later, back at the hotel, we went out to watch the sunset. While out there we played a pickup soccer game on the sand with the salsa guy and his friends. That evening everyone came out to go learn some salsa basics and it was a great time. Not only us, but a Russian man Dimitri and his girlfriend Denise also joined in the lessons (cool people). My Spanish held up and I held a nice conversation with Omar, the salsa guy, and his friends. I learned that his buddy Mario was a big fan of Tim McGraw which was pretty funny. Sunburnt, tired, and happy, I laid in a hammock for a while before going to bed.

Thursday, May 18th: Today me and Colin discovered a full chess set at this hotel and got to play a real game before leaving for the day. We took a boat ride to Isla de la Plata. It was an hour-long ride, and I don’t do the best on open waters but luckily I got to talk to Elle the whole time. On the island we took a 6-mile hike and saw frigates, whose males have these red balloons under their chins. We also saw pelicans and of course blue footed boobies (also Nazco boobies). Part of my group included a Dutch couple visiting the country and I got to talk to them about our shared love for Hagelslag sprinkles.

After the hike we returned to our boats and went to a snorkeling area. One the way we saw sea lions and ate some surprisingly good sandwiches with tuna or cheese. While snorkeling I saw fish like Dory, a ton of mini fish, and a pelican landed about 15 yards from me. The ride home I was exhausted and dozed in and out the whole way. Back on land me, Colin, and Wyatt, opted out of taking the tour bus back and hailed a three wheeled taxi to take us back to Hosteria Mandela, our hotel. For dinner I got shrimp again, this time on pasta, and we hung out enjoying the beach for the rest of our final night in Puerto Lopez.  

Friday, May 19th: For our last day we stopped at one last place before traveling. It was a hacienda named Hacienda El Castillo. There they grew cacao (the CCN-51 variety), mangoes, wood for furniture, and Nani (a medicinal plant). They welcomed us with a juice of cacao pulp that was very refreshing and crunchy plantain things with a cheese spread that was really good. Next, they showed us around the farm, where they care for seedlings and graft, as well as the fermentation process.

After this was just travel, bussing to Guayaquil airport and flying to Quito. At Quito we grabbed KFC and steaks during our layover and hung out with the group. Then we flew to Atlanta at 11:59 pm. Me, Sachi, and the Philly kids had long layovers and spent them visiting Coca Cola World and getting Shake Shack as a proper return to America. Finally, at 3:30 I flew to Newark.

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