We have been here for a little over a month and oh, what a life! Our days have turned into one relaxing day after another. Not many stresses, very little “important” stuff, and absolutely no immediate deadlines. I wake up every morning feeling as though I live in a movie. A movie about someone’s life that is slow and simple and joyful.
Ecuadorian life has a rhythm and flow to it that can be found in most South American countries. The rise and fall of the sun dictate what you do and when you do it. First light is about 5:45 a.m. The sun comes out about 15 minutes later. Getting out of bed early is easy with the sun and sounds of the ocean. From that point, you have 12 hours to get any daylight things done.
Shopping is done early as the tiendas and markets open at about 7 a.m. The panederia’ has fresh pan de sal (savory rolls) ready and hot from the oven. The fisherman have brought in their catch and are setting about repairing nets. If you want their catch of the day, you simply walk a few blocks further to the village market and while you are there, pick up fresh produce to go with it. You must go early as the best is sold quickly and the market closes about 11 a.m.
It is easy to get spoiled here. Once the fisherman and locals know you, they go out of their way to make sure you buy from them! Last week, I went to purchase some shrimp from one of the local fisherman. This visit was my first attempt at sarcasm in Spanish. As he weighed out my purchase I saw that his scale was just shy of the amount I has asked for. One shrimp would have topped my purchase off to 2 lbs even. So I asked for one more. He obliged. And, as he was dropping it into my bag, I told him that that one shrimp was all I would get from the bag. He looked at me and said, “You just get one?” My response, “Si’, que lastima.” (Yes, what a pity.) He laughed with a grin the lit up his eyes and placed another one in the bag. “Now you get 2!” he said, still laughing.
Today, Saturday, he came straight from his shrimp boat to our home. These babies were so fresh that they were still moving! When my purchase was complete, he threw in 3 more saying, “Estos son para ti!” (these are for you!) I think our little joke is going to last a while as he said he would bring me 3 more on Wednesday.
I love the connection that you get with the people here. Without the intrusion of big box, one size fits all stores, you form a relationship with the men and women you do business with. They become your friends. They do special little things. They treat you well.
The market I go to almost daily, is owned by a woman from Spain. She smiles and helps me through my broken Spanish, teaching me as I go. The baker, or panadero, helps me identify items that are in his case that are unknown to me. He is always there with a smile and a bag ready for my culinary explorations of his shop.
Once your shopping is done and stored for the day, you can then begin the exhausting task of relaxing on the entresuelo (balcony), walking on the beach, playing in the surf or swimming in the pool. It is difficult. Really. How do you decide? I usually partake of it all.
Later in the day, some time around 4 or 5, we break open the day’s purchases and prepare our evening meal. Each day is some new flavor, a new fish, a new vegetable or a new fruit. But that is for another post.
Then it is time to enjoy the evening. We have fallen into the routine of “Happy Hour” or maybe “Happy Evening Hours”. As the sun sets, we are treated to a beautiful display of color over the ocean. Marvelous!
(This is the part where you hear a romantic tune floating softly in the background.)
Once the sun is down and the lights of Manta sparkle in the distance, we laugh and talk, or read or watch a movie.
Yes, it is slow and simple and joyful – my movie life.