Our time in Bahía is finally coming to a close. We have been here a month, which is half the time we have been traveling. Sometimes I feel like I have been traveling for a year already, or I forget I am traveling at all and think I have been in Bahía for several months. Other times I think how quickly everything is happening and cannot believe only two months have passed. I realize that I frequently mention the strangeness of the passage of time. I think that has to do with my time at Cornell College. When each class is one month, you really begin to compare time to that. For example, I could have completed two classes in the time frame that I have been traveling. Another aspect of thinking this way is that I understand how much activity can go into just one week. A month is a lot of time. Quite a bit can happen is four short weeks. Yet that time can also sail past before you even realize it is here. I suppose what I am getting at is how Cornell has made me more aware of time. That said, Aaron and I both feel the time is right to move on. We leave tomorrow on the morning bus to Quito. We have a few last places to stop in Ecuador but mostly we are heading straight for Peru!
The last two weeks have been exciting. The Monday morning after my last blog post, four guys showed up at 5 AM. These boys are fresh high school graduates from California and are taking a year off to travel like Aaron and myself. Though their travels are quite a bit more extensive than ours. In the next year, they will be visiting Ecuador, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Quite the journey. Well, they arrived with a bang. First waking us up at 5 AM, then one of them (Sam Hayman) was suffering from Cholera-type symptoms. He was in bed on an IV for four days, completely unable to eat or drink because nothing would stay in. They are staying in Margarita´s house around the corner from the Planet Drum house so we hardly saw them that first week except at meals and for work. Like good friends, the other boys spent all their time with Hayman so he had company. Between his sickness and them staying in the other house, our integration started out slowly. However, I can now say that they are a really good group of boys. First there is Hayman, the sick one (though he made a full recovery). He does not have an accent, but he grew up in Australia until he was like 10 years old. He is probably the most amiable person I have ever met. On the boys turn to cook, Alicia and I went to keep him company. Despite becoming incredibly sick after his first meal in Ecuador, hooked up to an IV, and receiving multiple shots a day, he was in a great mood and instantly warmed up to Alicia and me. I think I learned his whole life story during that first conversation. He is admitted into UC-Boulder but possibly switching to UC-Santa Cruz. What I like most about him is that he has goals for himself during this next year, such as learning to cook and growing a Gandolf beard. This kid is very lovably zany. Then there is Sam Sweet, the more boisterous one in the group and incredibly sweet (just like his name says). He does not know Spanish but keeps a journal with him to write down various words. I helped him learn the conjugations for the present tense verbs. Also, he has an incredible ability to lose things! What I like best about him is that he instantly wants to befriend everyone. Even Sol warmed up to him instantly. They are really cute together. This trait is perfect for him because he is a tall and has pale skin and very blond hair. Hence, he is like a beacon for attraction in a country with none of those characteristics (especially with the lack of Spanish). But instead of trying to minimize these appeals, he takes them in stride to brighten every situation. He is heading to UC-Boulder next fall. Next there is Miles, the tall, dark (he is half Philippine) and mysterious one. Miles is difficult to describe. He is very personable. I suspect that he makes friends easily but he only makes close friends with a few people. He is heading to the U of British Colombia because of the skiing possibilities and wants to go into a field where he can make a major contribution to society. Somehow everything he says and does makes Aaron break out into peals of teary-eyed laughter. And he has the nickname The Specialist, for a story I will not repeat here but which left Aaron gasping for breath from laughing. Last, but not least, is Spencer, the responsible and pensive one. At first I thought he was shy, but then I realized that he is actually an introspective observer, completely aware of his surroundings so never fully losing focus into only one activity. Due to this, I do not know him on an extremely personal level, but I can tell that he is probably modestly hiding some really cool things about himself. What I do know is that he has an ipod filled only with rap, he is well collected, and he is pretty dedicated to soccer. I do not know what to say about these good-looking guys except that I am really glad to have met them.
Since Hayman was sick that first week, there were seven able-bodied workers. Our activities changed again from the first two weeks. We still had out obligatory time at the green house, but instead of cutting and collecting bottles, we set about transplanting seedlings into bottles. I truly do not know how many bottles we filled and planted, but it was enough that we added nine corrals with space for three more, converted our entire sitting area into a corral, and filled up most of the front corrals. We also spent one day filling gallon milk containers and carrying them up a hill to water around 700 trees. This was an exhausting day. They have these bike tire tubes with two jugs on each tube, then each tree receives half a gallon of water. This requires a constant motion of hiking up paths and then back down to drop off empty jugs for full jugs, as well as a person left behind to constantly fill more jugs. Then we also went twice to a new hillside to dig holes in preparation for the seedlings that we bottled. This week on Wednesday, we went to the Planet Drum forest area. With everyone saddled up in the back of a truck, it took about 45 minutes to the drop off point. Then we hiked up along a dirt road over a hill and back down the far side to where the preserved area begins. While there, each of us took a machete and we spent a few hours clearing an overgrown walk-way into a clear cut path for a vehicle. The goal for this land is to start getting some sustainable structures built to have people stay out there for prolonged time periods. Currently there is only a large platform, but soon they will have an outhouse area and maybe something for rain water collection, as well as the beginning stages of other buildings. I really like the work we have done here and I feel really good about the messages this program spreads into the surrounding community.
Aside from work, I still had my little schedule going on. Alicia and I stopped running during the second week, but I kept reading more books and spending time at the beach. I had a little trouble with downloading pictures, hence no photos on facebook yet, so I really cannot say when that will come about… Though I really am going to make an effort, eventually. 🙂 My cooking ventures have all gotten better. I successfully made corn bread and banana bread, as well as other foods. I will miss our plentiful meals here. Once we leave, I am sure I will got right back to cheaper and more simple options. Last weekend we stayed in Bahía. The four guys came prepared with beer pong supplies and we all hung out for what was almost the first time we really socialized. On last Sunday, all of us went to the cinema and watched Your Highness, which is hilarious! I also watched the newest Robin Hood with Franco, Sol and Margarita on Margarita´s computer at the house. On Thursday Alicia left to head for Paraguay. It still does not seem like four weeks went by already! This weekend the boys, Orlando, Ramón, Aaron, and I went out to La Gorda one last time. It was just as fun as last time. Though this time Ramón took us up to this area where Incan burials have been discovered. Also, I became aware of the fact that you can find Incan pottery shards just littered all over the beach. It is insane to think that this fragments are about 2,000 years old and still retain the decorative striations. Up in the hill you can find pots that are practically intact. It sort of makes me think of farmers finding arrow heads and other Native American artifacts in the U.S. The most memorable part of the trip, however, is the fact that I put my hand onto a cactus and had more than ten spines that still have some remaining fragment pieces festering in my palm. Also, I brilliantly fell into the fire and now have a gnarly burn on my right elbow. This morning a natural healer man happened to come by our camp and put this aloe salve on it for the pain, which did work. Now it is just an oozing, raw area that hurts to move too much. I will just have to be gimpy for a few days while it heals. I hope it does not interfere with travels.
Alright, I apologize that this entry seems so rushed, but I have been sitting in the Internet cafe for too long and I still need to get some packing done. Not to mention that it is almost 9 PM and I have not eaten since breakfast! So off I go. Until next time,