Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 4 - Bastion & Baños

August 9, 2013

We were treated to more warm hospitality at Maria's house.  This time, the girls went all out for breakfast (eggs, fresh rolls, butter & jam, cheese, mandarins, fresh orange juice and a special drink), which was delish and featured a new taste for us:  Colada de avena con maracuya/colada de Guayaquil!  This is an Ecuadorian oatmeal drink with fruit and we had it warm in the morning.  Absolutely lovely.  If you click on colada de avena above, it gives you instructions on how to make it.  Getting naranjilla or maracuya maybe a bit difficult in small town Canada or USA, but mangoes and pineapples are easy to find and would make a tasty substitute.
Maracuya (Passion fruit)

Breakfast in the works.  Tisane to drink, hard boiled eggs, & colada de avena con maracuya (oatmeal drink).

Panchi straining the colada de Guayaquil

Yummy breakfast! (I've got my trusty notebook out to take down how to make this delightful colada!)

Three sleepy sisters

Not completely awake yet!

We hadn't actually expected to see the younger kids that morning, since they head off to school pretty early (before 7am), but we discovered they had an acute case of "sponsor-itis" and needed to stay home.

Nikki came and got us at 9am and with our expert tourguide & guard, Jay, we walked around Bastion to take in some of the amazing physical changes in the area. 

Nikki explaining that the physical improvements are only so far into Bastion,  back further in and up that hill, things are still very under-developed.

Even inside the improved parts of Bastion, there is still so much need. Spiritually & physically. So many teenaged girls get pregnant very young and then are either abandoned by the boyfriend or stuck in an abusive and controlling relationship.  It's a cultural cycle that has been going on for generations and is very hard to break, nigh unto impossible without the light of Christ.

After our quick tour we headed over to the school to be there for "recreo" (recess).  Something that hasn't changed in Bastion Popular is how cute the kids are and how much they like to be photographed!

Primero (Kindergarten)

The snack ladies

Juice & snack folks

Felipe, lots of older grade students, us & Willian, the VP

Panchi, Maria's older sister and one of the school's first graduates, is currently studying at University to get her teaching degree and does some special ed with the younger kids at Hope of Bastion school.

Felipe & Rolando, two familiar faces from our trip 10 years ago.  Both very involved in the Bastion church and school.

 One of the neatest things we got to witness was how many of the Youth Group kids we met 10 years ago are now playing a vital role as leaders in their community.  A real testimony to what effect the Lord has had on their lives and how sponsorship has helped them.  2/3 of the staff at Bastion are locals and there were at least 5 former Youth Group kids making a difference in the lives of the younger generation.  Praise the Lord!

I want to let you know that there are still children available for sponsorship from Hope of Bastion school.  Please contact me (I have a few profiles for the next week or two) or contact Nikki and/or Becky at info(at)sponsorhope(dot)ca.

We went back to Maria's house and we were treated to another wonderful meal, this time one of my Ecuadorian favorites "Seco de Pollo"  If you read Spanish, here's the recipe I've used at home.  If you don't read Spanish, here's another one, but I've never made it, and the Spanish-language recipe above doesn't include beer.  They served it with rice, an avocado salad & fruit juice.

Nikki took us to the bus station to begin our next adventure.  A trip to Baños (de Santa Agua) with Maria and one of her cousins as a vacation/celebration of how far she has come in her schooling. We bought tickets for our bus trip, but there weren't any direct buses at a reasonable time, so we took a bus (5.5 hours) to Ambato and then caught another one to Baños.  Which was quite an adventure, because we weren't exactly sure where to catch said bus.  Thankfully, we had our Spanish speaking sponsored daughter and her cousin with us and we figured it out and caught the bus to Baños just as it was pulling away.  An hour on that bus and we arrived in Baños.

Two happy campers!  We got to watch more movies in Spanish.  One that I can't recommend and one that I'd watch again in English "Jack, the Giant Killer"

Leaving the coastal area

Banana plantation (I think)
Terrain changing!

Lots of curves on this road!

Higher into the mountains

Once in Baños, we took a taxi to our hotel.  We checked in to our hotel (which, coincidentally, tried to charge us more because it was the 9 de agosto holiday, but I argued that they had quoted me a specific price knowing that we were coming that date and they agreed to honor the original quote) and then wandered downtown for supper.

We found a place with lots of people eating and figured that was a good sign, but many of them seemed to be related and they all left at the same time.

Maria had the churrasco.  This dish features grilled steak that is seasoned with chimichurri, it is typically served with plantains, white rice, French fries, a fried egg, and slices of avocado.  It was a massive plate of food:

My meal was Carne Empanado.  I like to think of it as Chicken-Fried Steak!  (note the Canadianism on the top left side of the plate)
Dee's meal was the smallest of the lot.  She had the Pica Pollo. With Mora (blackberry) juice.
Super-Awesome gets embarrassed when I take photos of food, so I don't have one of his, but he had the Carne Asada, which is basically a marinated steak.  We all had very tasty mora juice.  The crowd we saw when we entered wasn't really indicative of the quality of the food, not terrible, but the meat was on the tough side.  But it filled the holes in our bellies and we were thankful for that.

We headed back to the hotel and slept well after a very full day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 3 - Bastion & Malecon

August 8, 2013

Thursday morning saw us enjoying breakfast at the hotel again.  This time I took a picture of the food.

 Herbal tea, watermelon (sandía) & pineapple (piña), fresh juice (jugo), rolls (pan) and scrambled eggs (huevos revueltos).  All included with our stay at the Hotel De Alborada.

I was confused by "Manzanilla", since apple is manzana, I thought perhaps it was an "little apple" infusion, however, manzanilla is chamomile and has nothing to do with apples.
Nikki H., our Hope of Bastion School contact & Tim & Lil's niece, picked us up from the hotel at 10am that morning and drove us to Bastion Popular, the large squatter community where the church and school are located.  She actually had to tell us we were in Bastion, it had changed so much since we were there 10 years ago.  All the streets are paved, there is electricity, running water and a sewage system.  It was just dirt and mud ten years ago and many of the houses were less structurally sound.

This is the front of the little assembly in Bastion.

And the front of Hope of Bastion School (Escuela Esperanza de Bastion).
We delivered our toothbrushes and toothpaste to the school and also a single library book that had been donated to our chapel in Ontario, which was actually in Spanish and of no real use to be sent to Zambia or the Congo, so we brought it along and gave it to Amaryllis, the librarian.  We toured the school and got to meet some of the other missionaries and locals who make up the school staff.

The Gymnasium

Second year students (equivalent to our Grade 1)

One of the older classes.

Becky M and Nikki H
We got to see Jay, Donna's brother in his class, but Donna was home with a bit of a fever.  We went over to Nikki's house to leave our extra luggage there, as we were traveling to Baños the following day and wouldn't need all our baggage.  She treated us to some yummy gluten-free muffins and a little visit and some internet access.

We headed back to Bastion and got to meet Maria & Donna and her family and they had cooked us a lovely lunch of Coca-Cola Chicken (a local special occasion dish, where the chicken is marinated in a sauce including coke and lots of other ingredients, and then cooked down till the sauce is all absorbed by the chicken), rice and a carrot and onion salad in a tangy lemon vinaigrette (think vinegar based coleslaw, only no cabbage).

A surprise to us was that Maria's older sister, Y., was staying at the house.  She is Donna & Jay's mom and isn't usually around.  That same day, Maria's older brother and his wife had a baby boy and Maria needed to take all the supplies to the hospital (including food which the hospital does not supply).  She took a bus there.

Nikki, Brent, and I took Donna & Jay to a new park only to discover that the playstructure was closed for cleaning.
The new park (name forgotten by me...)

 Our plan B was to head back to the Malecon, since it also has a lovely playground for the kids.  The kids had a blast playing on the swings and then the monkey bars and slides.  Donna could win medals for her agility on the monkey bars.  They both had colds but were trying their best to have a good time.

Donna, the monkey bars queen!

We all had to get in the act...

What a cute pair!

Just hanging out!

 We had walked past a "race track" on our way to the playground.  It involved battery powered 4 wheelers for kids and we thought that it looked like lots of fun and not something they probably wouldn't get to do again. 

 We finished up the racing and then walked up to Maria's sister's work. 

Madge works at a gelato shop, so it wasn't too much of a sacrifice to go visit her.   (And we hadn't gotten to meet her yet, so we did really want to go, even if she had worked in a shoe store...)
 And then, sweetheart that she is, she insisted on paying for all of our gelato.  I got Naranjilla, which is a tart citrus-y fruit.  I loved it!  Brent and Donna got pistacio.  Jay got chocolate mint and Nikki got Nutella flavored gelato.  Who knew?  Nutella gelato!!!

We headed back to the car and both kids fell asleep on the way back to Bastion.  We went back to Maria's house as we were to meet up with her to head to prayer meeting and Bible study at the church near the school.  We were running late for prayer meeting at this point, but the family was cooking us food so choosing between the rudeness of being late to church and refusing the food that they made us... we ate some patacones (double fried green plantains) and promised to eat the rest when we got home after meeting.  Unfortunately, Maria wasn't yet home from delivering the supplies to the hospital, so Nikki dropped us off at the church and made arrangements for Felipe to bring us back to the house, if Maria didn't make it in time.

When we arrived at prayer meeting, it was a pretty small group.  But as time went on, more and more people came.  We sang & prayed and they even asked Brent for a song request.  Brent flipped through the book and came across a song that he remembered from our last visit (mind like a steel trap, I tell you!).  So we all sang "Todo Poderoso" and they were impressed that he remembered a song from 10 years ago.  Felipe spoke on Psalm 51 and then we broke in to small groups for more personal prayer.  All of this of course in Spanish, with ours starting to improve by virtue of necessity, but was still pretty brain exhausting, nonetheless.

We walked back with Maria to her home and were fed once again.  This time some breaded white fish and rice.  With Maria's brother and wife having a baby born that day, the 2 year old nephew and his grandmother were also at the house.

Since we expected that the kids would be off to school early in the morning, we decided to do all our gift giving that night.  We didn't actually take too many photos, but I can tell you that everyone was very excited by the clothes, backpacks and Bibles.

I made a quilt for Maria, and while I didn't get to take any photos of it when I gave it to her, I do have some photos of it that I took here at home.

Panchi gave us her room that night and we slept under mosquito netting for the first time.  With the coming of paved roads, running water and sewer systems, the mosquitoes seemed far fewer in this area, but always better to be safe than sorry.