Timing is Everything
With the full moon in the night sky, the tide is at its highest. The sounds of the sea never miss a beat and rock me to sleep every night. But as the waves crash closer to our bedroom window, their force often wakes me from my slumber.
Clouds fill the morning and evening sky but throughout the day they often thin and blue sky appears. This evening, clouds have set in but the sun beams through. In the distance, I see the sun’s reflection on the Pacific and the horizon shimmers with Light. Today, being the full moon, I had expected magic but was disappointed with the dull day. As I watched the beautiful sun set, I was reminded that every living moment is magical and a time to be treasured.
Yesterday Captain and I braved our first bus ride for a quick trip to Muisne. It was already mid-day but we had no other plans. We quickly gathered up a day pack, made one last pit stop and headed to the road. As we shut the property’s gate, the huge bus was rounding the curve. I smiled, feeling as though our timing was perfect. There really are no bus stops so you just wave the bus down, as we did. On each bus, there are what I call “Runners”. The Runner stands at the door, collects fair and is often seen getting off at stops to get change. As the bus neared, the Runner began yelling at us. Of course, we had no clue what he was saying-most Ecuadorians speak faster than we can comprehend. “Muisne” was heard and Captain confirmed the bus was heading that way. At this point, the bus had passed us and for a moment, I stalled, waiting for the bus to stop. As The Runner was yelling, I came to and realized the bus doesn’t stop. It slows to a roll and you just hop on! Had I know this, I wouldn’t have worn my flip-flops! Oh, the hazards we have encountered in Ecuador.
Captain got on first and reached his hand out to pull me in. The front door of the bus is always open and this is typically where The Runner stands. Because every seat was taken and the aisle was lined with people going somewhere else, I was riding ‘shotgun’ with The Runner. This all happened so quickly… Before I could get a grip on the overhead railing, the bus driver shifted gears. I nearly fell out of the bus door! The buses do not stop for you to get on and they do not slow down for you to find a safe seat! Note taken…
I rode until the next village with half my body out of the open door. At this stop, more room was made and a seat was found. My expectations of the bus were not high and I thought for sure I would be riding with a lady carrying a cage full of chickens! The condition of the bus was much better than I had expected. The seats were comfortable and the driver had his Spanish tunes playing quietly in the background. A dollar took us at least 20 miles.
At many of the stops, venders would get on to sell their goods; 15 cents for a sweet, 20 cents for corviche, 25 cents for ice cream and 30 cents for a hot dog and fries. As our Spanish improves, we have noticed our price versus the locals price is always a bit higher… we refer to this inflation as “gringo prices”.
Captain had noticed a young boy’s sad eyes when the ice cream man passed through the aisle. The boy was maybe 8 years old and without enough change for a sweet treat. He tried bartering with the ice cream man but got nowhere, not even the taste he begged for! Shortly thereafter, the youngster stood up, walked to the middle of the bus and belted out a sad Spanish song. He entertained the bus load the rest of the way to Muisne. Captain gave him a quarter and sure enough, the boy got right off the bus and went right for the ice cream man. How sweet!
For 20 cents, a taxi boat will take you the 5 minute ride to Muisne, an island town just off the coast. The main road to the beach looked as if it has been under construction for years. There was an occasional every-day store with produce out front and a small restaurant or two. Often ‘Main Street’ was a one lane road with moto-taxis driving head to head. Captain and I made the 20 minute walk where we found ten foot waves crashing against the coconut palm lined beach. Some locals played volleyball, while others napped on the beach near their piles of empty beer bottles. Kids played in the sand as their parents drank merrily and enjoyed the Sunday.
After walking the beachfront strip, we found our lunch options were limited. Two restaurants had their music blaring for the beach goers which would not have been a pleasant environment for lunch. So we found a small eatery that had a few families seated. Captain and I shared a big plate of shrimp and rice for $6. We spent an hour people watching from our vantage point. I hadn’t realized until now, rarely are 12 ounce bottles of beer served-it is always a 32! Fiesta!!!
For a dollar, we decided to get a ride back to the boat taxi. Just when I thought the moto taxis couldn’t get any more dangerous, I spotted a front-seater! The passenger is seated in front of the driver. Captain thought this was hilarious and of course wanted to experience the front-seater! I, on the other hand, felt like we should be wearing a helmet! We boarded and I couldn’t help but think what could happen if we crashed…I was relieved when the driver couldn’t start his bike and we had to ride in another moto-taxi. The back-seat alternative didn’t feel much safer but at least we were not riding as the human bumper!
Heading home we had a much different bus driver. He was blasting Spanish Techno and driving really fast…I was making myself dizzy looking out the window, noticing all the motorcycles we were passing. All of a sudden, I heard a really loud thud. Everyone else heard it too as they stirred in their seats. The bus slowed to roll but resumed speed again. I never confirmed whether or not we had ran over a cyclist, which I don’t doubt, but I am telling myself it was a blown tire!
On the weekend, The Landlord’s brother comes to Same. He teaches English in Esmeraldas and translates for us when our Spanglish just doesn’t cut it. The Landlords were leaving for the week and we needed them to show us how to light the gas oven before they left. What we thought was a simple request turned into quite an ordeal! The brothers got into a deep conversation and I understood that our oven didn’t work. I quickly got the feeling we were getting a new stove but it was someone else’s. To have an oven would be nice but it wasn’t necessary to take it from someone else! The next thing I know, The Landlord is crawling through the window of another apartment on the property and bringing the stove out the door! It turns out, The Landlord’s stove had been borrowed by his brother and put in nephew’s apartment for a cousin (or something like that!).
The Landlords are gone for the week and left Captain’s in charge-gringo party!!!
We have had ample time to stroll the beaches. The beach in Same is beautiful but the locals seem not to treasure this gem…most of the beach is scattered with litter and ocean debree. On our walks, the un-kept beach makes for an interesting treasure hunt. One day the ocean provided us with a whole meal, fresh fruit and a duck! A fisherman surely dumped his boat and lost his dinner. My hesitancy to swim in the ocean has now been amplified after seeing numerous eel and piranha-like corpses slayed on the shore. Eeek! Among my favorite finds are large pieces of blue agate and the patterned pottery weathered by the ocean waves. I find myself carrying home a large bag of every “pretty” treasure I find. Someday I hope to make art with all the ocean’s gifts but for now most of it will be returned to the sea…
Each day that passes by, and we have yet to find our paradise, my anxiety grows. Time is distorted with my worries of the past and future. When ‘the clock is ticking’, moments are lost as I am lost in thought. In the moments of ease, I am reminded by my patient self, “timing is everything.” The tide will have to be just right…