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!