Friday, Dec 23, 2016

The sun is out and the morning is filled with the sound of waves hitting the shore. Shorts, flip-flops, and a tee shirt is the uniform everyone wears here. I’m in my element. Heidi, Donna and Don, and Melody have headed into Portoviejo to Supermaxi to get our groceries for Christmas day.

Chase and East

The rest of us get to hang out either at the ocean or the pool while they are gone. I found Chase and Easton at the Ocean. Chase had his earphones on and was doing his Spanish lesson. What a great place to study Spanish.

At lunch time Chase, Easton, Roy, and I went to a small open air restaurant across from the beach. The menu was ceviche, shrimp in various presentations, and fish. We walked in and sat a table surrounded by red plastic chairs. The crew going to Portoviejo isn’t back yet, so while we waited for them we had a beer.

There is a very small bamboo thatched bar stand across from this restaurant. A few local Ecuadorians are gathered and drinking in their board shorts, dancing to the beat of beach music blaring from the blue tooth speaker. The backdrop of this scene is the beach, white-capped waves breaking and rolling onto shore, and the Frigate birds swooping and swooning over the waters off shore. They also like to rest on the power line along the road.

Frigate birds

We all enjoyed our seafood lunch and watching the ocean activity while we ate and talked. When we finished, Roy wanted to take me, Chase, and Easton on a walk around San Clemente and point out where things were at. The four of us walked along the dusty road that bordered the ocean and then cut into the quiet little town.

Chase, Roy, Easton, and Fishermen

Christmas Tree in Main Square, San Clemente

I really like San Clemente. It was my favorite spot when Heidi and I traveled here in 2014. When we lived in Bahia we never got here much, even though it is only a 30 minute drive, and it continues to be a quiet, hidden gem on the coast of Ecuador.

As we rounded a corner we ran into our friend Maik who had helped us find transportation out of Bahia after the earthquake. He is in San Clemente with a friend to pick up Christmas cookies from an expat woman who is a legendary baker. Maik said he was in Cuenca last week and saw us going into the Pumapungo museum as he drove by in a taxi. It amazes me how small our circles of connection are in the world.

As we were talking to Maik, our friend from Cuenca, Aurobindo, came walking down the street carrying his backpack. He has been in Canoa the last week helping with earthquake relief. He is traveling with another friend from Cuenca, Miguel, and the two of them are now in San Clemente through the 26th.

Clean toes

Kim, the owner of The Cottages, arranged for everyone, including the dudes, to get a pedicure as a Christmas gift for us. After a little hesitation I decided what the hell. It actually wasn’t bad, other than my feet are ticklish, so when she was rubbing them with salt it was all I could do to stay in my seat.

Tonight at The Cottages by the Sea, Donna’s brother Doug is catering our dinner. He has prepared meatballs with marinara sauce, fresh shrimp in an alfredo sauce, brushetta, and Ceasar salad. It is absolutely delicious and so much food I can’t finish it all. Auro and Miguel came over for dinner too.

San Clemente Christmas Tree at night

We are eating under a thatched roof cabana, around a huge polished tree trunk table. Sometimes we have one conversation going and sometimes several as the eleven of us enjoy each other’s company.

Wide bamboo poles create a see through fence enclosing our courtyard with the ocean and beach on the other side. Night has rolled in as quietly and peacefully as the gentle sounds of the waves that caress the beach on an outstretched tide.

I’m in heaven.