As my time in Ecuador is coming to an end, I am trying to fully embrace every moment. The daily happenings and sense of community I have found here, from the subtle sounds of birds flying to the way the moon reflects on the water are what I will always remember, and what has made San Cristobal my home away from home.
In place of an alarm clock, the faint calls of sea lions and glimmers of sunshine coming through my bedroom window wake me up every morning. Then, while getting ready and dressed for the day, the subtle ocean breeze and the sweet smell of fruit make the mornings joyous and calm. Breakfast with my host mom adds to the cheerful morning, and usually includes fruit, a cheese sandwich, and fresh juice. Over breakfast my host mom and I talk about the weather, what the day will bring, and laugh about my little brother’s latest funny habit. Finally, around 8:00, I say goodbye to my host mom and head out the door, ready for class and the most beautiful walk to school.
One of the best parts of being on a small island is that you can walk everywhere! My walk to school follows the boardwalk almost all the way to the university, adding the sound of crashing waves and feel of ocean air to the journey. The boardwalk is always filled with people out for a morning walk or heading to work, and greeting the same people on the way to school has come to make me feel like a part of the community. As I am walking, I love to stop to watch Blue-Footed Boobies dive into the water - they almost look like they are falling into the water! I pass by a statue of Charles Darwin, several small beaches, statues of birds and sea lions, and a variety of restaurants and hotels. There are also several local bakeries close to the boardwalk, and I frequently stop in on the way to school to pick up a piece of bread for lunch. The bread is always warm, and the bakers are incredibly friendly.
After a fifteen-minute walk to the university, I usually visit Playa Mann, the beach across the street from the University. In the mornings, the beach is tranquil and the perfect place for reading, journaling, or a quick swim before class. Diving into the ocean and feeling the sun shining through the water wakes me up and makes me feel connected to the sea and land, and ready to learn about the surrounding environment that I have come to love so dearly.
Class generally ends at 12:00, just in time for a quick lunch. Most days I either bring my own lunch or eat at one of the restaurants across the street from the school that have daily lunch specials and empanadas. It is funny to watch students file out from the university and cross the street to flood nearby restaurants. Almost all of the restaurants have a vegetarian option, and are incredibly kind and accommodating. After lunch, the afternoons are generally filled with homework, time in the nearby National Park, and volunteering. The National Park is located right next to the university and includes several beaches, hiking trails, and snorkeling spots. While you run into the occasional tour group, the park is one of my favorite places to wander through, snorkel, and visit a beach.
After a day of experiencing the environment, soaking up sunshine, and learning about the environment, I head home in the evening to enjoy time with my host family. One of my favorite parts of everyday is talking to my younger brother and hearing about his day at school. On evenings when I do not have Spanish class, we usually walk to the local park together and play anything from hide-and-seek to basketball. We laugh, try tongue twisters in Spanish, and admire the nearby dogs before heading home for dinner. Over dinner my host dad and I catch up and talk about the latest news and local events. Our conversations have opened my mind to new perspectives and altered the way that I understand and interact with the community in San Cristobal.
Although my time in Ecudaor may be coming to an end, the experiences I have had and community I have found here will leave a permanent mark on my life. Over the coming weeks, I hope to continue to embrace every moment, to appreciate the sublime environment, and to cherish time with the family and friends that I have made here.
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<p>I am a music and environmental studies: policy, culture, society student at Pacific University. In my spare time I enjoy playing violin, hiking, tap dancing, reading, and exploring this wonderful planet as much as possible! I am also passionate about sustainability, social justice, traveling, and old movies or I Love Lucy reruns.</p>