I think they estimate in a lot of time for traffic and poor weather, so we were over two hours early for our next bus since we didn’t encounter either of those things. Gisela let me nap on my backpack for a while, and then we bought scrambled eggs with fried green bananas and blackberry juice for breakfast. We finally got on a different bus for an hour or so, and then took a pickup truck the last hour of the way. That was a cool way to see the country and enjoy the fresh air.
What shocked me was when I saw the ocean. I’d asked for more information regarding the trip with little luck, and Estero de Platano is so small that there isn’t much information online; I had no idea that we were going to spend time on the coast! I was incredibly excited, but a little nervous that I hadn’t had the chance to find out if I needed Malaria medication, as there are parts of the country where that is a good idea. Luckily, I brought 99% DEET bug spray from home, which I intended to use vigilantly. After asking some of the friendly locals, we found the house of the family that was supposed to host us. The mother wasn’t home, so Gisela and I had some of our class time while waiting.
Less than two hours after arriving, I felt like I was shaking, but I looked at Gisela and her eyes were wide too. It only lasted a few minutes, but we’d felt a “temblor” as they call it. The coast is the part of the country that is very prone to earthquakes, and small movements like this are very common, but we were worried for a minute that it would get worse. During our class time, we also met our new amiga-Valeria, the granddaughter of the owner of the house. She was probably 6 years old, and as adorable as can be.
The grandmother finally arrived and set us up with lunch. We had rice, fried platano verde, onion salsa, and FRESH FISH!! This fish was delicious, straight from the ocean that very day. MMMMM. The only thing we had to watch out for was the small bones, as the fish weren’t huge and the meat was still on the bones.
We then got to rest (aka nap) for a while. The upstairs of the house is all one big open room that is sectioned off with sheets/curtains, and Gisela and I had one room to share with two beds. I was impressed that they had room for us each to have a bed, since the house is not that big compared to American standards. I think the grandmother and her husband, two of her daughters (and maybe the boyfriend/husband of the older daughter), and one granddaughter live in the house. The grandmother also sells ice creams out of her house, so between that and the neighbors, there was always someone coming or going.
Afterwards, we walked down to the beach with our little friend and got to see all of the snails from the high tide, the crabs running away from us, the children playing, and the fisherman coming back for the day. Then we had dinner, not with the family. They eat late. When asked how late, they replied “late.” So after dinner, Gisela and I called it a night. There’s beautiful, lace-pattered mosquito netting (thankfully), and the fresh air coming in through the windows was very refreshing. Regardless, it was still warm and we slept on top of the sheets.
Gisela and I woke up by 8:30, but the chickens, roosters, parrots (they had 2 pet parrots outside), and people were all up by 5 or 6. I think we both slept through it pretty well, though. They fixed fried eggs, “bolsas” made from platano verde and cheese (ground platano verde shaped into a ball with cheese in the middle), and warm milk for coffee. I hadn’t had warm milk before, but I think it was either milk from a different animal (goat, maybe), or it was unpasteurized, as it tasted different and upset my stomach a bit.
I think this is a good place to describe the community a bit, although it’s difficult to describe. Many of the people lived in houses like the one we stayed in, but there were several houses that were falling down, several shacks made of wood and plastic sheeting, and one family that had a tent. In the house that we stayed in, they had electricity for the fridge, stove, and lights. They also had running water in the sink, shower, and toilet (the bathroom was outside, but attached to the house). It wasn’t heated, but they had running water. They also caught rain water outside, and the water that dripped from the faucet.
This morning, there was a problem with the running water in the whole community, so we took showers using the big buckets of water and a smaller bucket to pour it. It sounds primitive and cold, but it was actually effective and refreshing, as it was pretty warm outside.
After some class time at the kitchen table, with stickers and entertainment from our amiga, we took a longer walk on the beach. It’s so beautiful, untouched by tourists. There’s minimal trash, no umbrellas or tents blocking the view, just the kids playing and men fishing. We saw lots of critters and more shells today: hermit crabs, normal crabs, little fish, big birds, a sea urchin…
Lunch was chicken soup with rice, pan cooked chicken, and LEMONADE. For the temperature outside (and remember-no AC inside), it was a lot of food to eat, but it was incredible. The lemonade was the best I’ve ever had. We napped again for a while, and Gisela went to look for someone. There’s supposedly a waterfall, which is too far away to visit, and a place called “Mirador”, which I think is just a place with a good vantage point. The host family told us of a woman who would take us there, but we couldn’t find her. Also, it was really hot to go hiking during the day… Instead, we had more class and tried to talk to the locals to figure out the best way to leave in the morning. At first, they told us that we’d have to leave at 5:00am. **However, I’m quickly learning: always ask twice. If possible, wait a while and ask again, or ask someone else, but always ask twice. After several attempts at asking, we found that we could leave on a bus, from this community, at 8:00am.
In case you can’t see my love for food, let me explain to you our dinner. FRESH FISH. As in caught by a local fisherman, less than 6 hours earlier, and put directly into the pan by the grandmother. We also had rice and a sauce made from lentils (I think), which I really like as well. And more lemonade, which makes my heart happy.
I took another bucket shower, got my things ready to leave in the morning, and called it a night.
The rest of Week Three will be in the next post, as we were in a different community!!