. Her parents come in each night to sit in the room with the children while they are busy with the restaurant. They are anticipating a full house this weekend, and think that they were pleased to receive our cash. They are very welcoming and helpful.We are missing our niece, Katy, as this was where we were going to spend time together after she had been on her Galapagos tour. She is back in Britain after her nightmare abduction in northern Ecuador, but she is lucky to have come out of it unharmed. She is understandably not going to come back to South America, but is carrying on with her planned trip to the East later on in the year.So while we wait (for longer than we thought) for our vehicle we will just chill here and see the local sights…… I got very sunburnt in Paraty so am not very keen to be in the sun, but will go for a swim this evening. Lovely to just walk down to the beach – and along their malecon. In the evening a huge flock of squawking parrots roost in the trees close by, and children ride horses in the streets…. A big pig was wandering around in the streets last night!
Saturday: We have had a really good time here and feel that it has been a time that hasn’t been wasted as we have certainly been learning a bit more of the language. Each day we dedicate some time to our Spanish books, and staying here with this family has been like a language “home stay” as there are constantly people talking Spanish around us and to us
. We felt very good today as we bought things to eat on the beach (they were actually rather awful – like banana fritter things!) and the vendor was all set to short-change us… but Andy insisted (in Spanish) that we be given the correct change! It has also been good to just absorb a bit of the culture, and relax… We take long walks along the beach daily, and when we feel tired we get a taxi back. The taxis here are so inexpensive and easily available. It only costs a dollar to get from the farthest end of the malecon back to our place. The area we are in is called San Lorenzo…We have spent a great day sightseeing with the father of the owner of our hostel. He doesn’t speak English so it was good for us to practice our Spanish. He took us to Santa Elena where we visited La Casa del Cultura. There we saw the remains of Ecuador’s first permanent sedentary culture – the Valdivia, from nearly 6000 years ago. We also went to a fascinating place high on the hill, overlooking the sea, where an ex sea captain and his family have been collecting “treasures” from shipwrecks. It was like something from an Isobel Ellende book! When we arrived, the family was busy eating lunch in a huge room filled with over the top furniture… two of them at either end of a long table with candelabras and a butler hovering! They are a well-respected family in the area, and everyone just calls him the captain. They were most gracious and got up from their meal to receive us……!Last night we went off to La Casa del Cultura again as it was advertised that there would be traditional Ecuadorian music by a popular singer called Juanita Cordova
. Caught a taxi there, as it is a bit out of town, and asked him to come and fetch us after an hour. Well, there were so many speeches, and poetry readings (all a bit wasted on us!) that by the time the music started – with beautiful Ecuadorian dancers in bright and flowery traditional clothes, doing traditional dances… our taxi came to fetch us! Such a pity as it was an occasion to remember in a high-ceilinged, intricately-constructed bamboo building with no outer walls, and just local people, all dressed up and enthusiastic! The navy boys were also there in smart white uniforms. Juanita sang beautifully – almost flamenco style stuff - and she wore a billowing, full-skirted dress that she swept dramatically around, to the delight of the audience. They don’t wait for the song to end to applaud, but applaud, it seems, after each verse! They also loved all the speeches, and when someone had made a speech, lots of people went up to shake the speaker’s hand!!! We were certainly the only foreigners there and in fact we haven’t really seen any other blonde/fair-skinned people here. We have been very spoilt with the meals here. The owner of our hostel is a fantastic chef. Every morning we get coffee and either fresh fruit salad, or bacon and eggs – all presented “chef style”. In the evenings we just eat here, as it is cheap and amazing. We have an interesting couple that sit at our table with us to eat. They have retired to Salinas and just come to our hostal for evening meals… Couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw them as I couldn’t work our what was going on….!
! They are both busty big women, one from the US and the other from the UK. The one was once definitely a man as his voice is deep and his hands are huge. He has a “Dame Edna style” auburn wig (but Andy thinks that it is natural!) that looks as if it is just “plonked” on his head, and he wears make up. He has very masculine looks but I think that he must have had a sex change…thus the ample bosom…!The other lady refers to him as “she” but once said “He…. I means SHE…!) But, apart from their obvious gender issues, they are extremely friendly, and interesting to talk to. She was with the US navy and “he” has lived in Botswana (doctors without borders) and in South Africa. They are loving the life here as it is cheap and warm and I suppose that it is easier for them to maintain their unusual lifestyle here… As I write this the noisy parrots are flying over to roost….
Wednesday: Salinas is about 140kms from Guayaquil on the coast. It is a holiday town with huge apartments and hotels along the coastline, and a simple little town behind that. The beach is rather beautiful - clean and warm. This weekend is a bank holiday, so tomorrow it will be busy with town people coming to the sea. We are staying in another hostel and it is really nice. It is quite basic but new and clean. (I am sitting at the outdoor bar counter in the shade, and the cleaner lady is giving all the rooms a real spring clean – wish that I had her at home!) The owners are a young couple – he is a Brit and she is Ecuadorian. They have 2 little children and live in one of the 7 rooms here. He is a chef so they also have a little restaurant on the premises, and we ate here last night – very good….He is certainly talented! He tells me that he was Jody Scheckter’s private chef in England. They are obviously trying very hard to make a go of it, with limited finances, and it must be very difficult