After our adventures in Guayaquil, it was time to move on to our friends’ temporary home in the city of Ballenita (which means “little whale” in Spanish). Ballenita was on the coast and by the city of La Libertad (which translates to “the freedom”). We would support the sign language congregation in La Libertad whenever we were there. Ruthi taught us how to get around, especially when we needed to go grocery shopping. She always did this thing where she explained to us as much as she could about everything as we went. She’s a very insightful person!
The house was older and very large. It was three floors (or two floors and a very large attic), but I feel like it also housed endless stories from the family that was raised in there, fully equipped with old photographs. It was mostly made of wood. The house itself felt like it was a boat and the nearby shore made this feeling even more so. Also, the house didn’t have any Wifi, so we really got to know each other, and explored the hidden gems of the home.
BG and I were roomies and the room we chose had a balcony which faced the back yard containing a very large tree which towered above the chicken pen. Now, that may sound lovely (and it was), however, every morning that giant tree would become infested with hundreds of parrots. It was a parrot party everyday starting at 6am. Do you have any idea how loud they were!? What did they even have to talk about anyway? What was their deal? I woke up a few times certain they were gossiping about us. It definitely replaced the need for an alarm and get this: everyday at around 11am, they would simply fly away all at once. They never failed to follow the same schedule everyday. Sometimes today I still hear them in my mind.
To get around, we walked everywhere. From the house to the nearest bus stop was about a 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) away. It took us about 10-15 minutes to walk that distance (20 minutes when we were tired). That walk felt long at first, but eventually it became easier. Every day we woke up, ate breakfast, and geared up for the day that lay ahead.
The bus was 10 cents (fun fact, they use USD in Ecuador). So we started each day with a mile walk, then a bus ride on to our activity be it preaching, grocery shopping, LDC or hanging out at the bus terminal to tap into their Wifi for updates and movies to download so we can watch them when we were offline. We had the amazing opportunity to take part of an LDC project out there too! It was actually my very first LDC anything ever! We were working on a kingdom hall and met so many kind brothers and sisters. It was definitely something to be part of a construction project in Ecuador. We felt right at home.
During our time in this area, we attended the sign congregation and went out in service. I got to join Ziv on a bible study and after the study, I remember feeling hungry and either buying Oreos or a banana. I really liked the fact that there were random food stands as we went equipped with snacks and fruit and lots of bananas.
That’s another thing: most Latin American countries cook bananas as a side dish or as dessert. In Mexico, however, it is not common, or at least not for my family. My parents weren’t raised cooking bananas. In Ecuador my perspective on bananas completely changed from the average smoothie ingredient, topping, or take-away snack. The green bananas (which they called “verde”) were cooked to go with more savory foods. The brown and spotted bananas (known as “maduro”) were more for a sweeter taste to the food. The most beautiful part about these bananaful dishes: they were all vegan-friendly! Yum yum in our tum tums!
Now, on the topic of food, one thing I sincerely missed with my whole heart was spicy food. Mexico is pretty much the only Latin American country that will spice everything up and although I never lived in Mexico, that salsa and chile was never short in my household. Mexican food is also very popular here in Southern California so many Californians enjoy spicy foods as well. It’s a staple! So you see, what I’m trying to say is that spicy food is pretty much a biological necessity of mine. It was around this time I began to have day dreams about the salsa we always have at home. Would I be able to survive? Did I make it? Did I live? Well, if you really want to know whether or not I survived or if I died from a “vitamin-spice” deficiency, stay tuned to find out!