Right before Christmas my parents made it down to visit me in Ecuador! My last day of classes was December 15th and I hopped right on a bus after class to go meet them in Guayaquil. They got in late so we stayed at a hotel and then got right back on a bus first thing in the morning to bring them to Portoviejo. Yes, my dad rode in Ecuadorian buses. I am pretty sure that they would have failed his safety inspection miserably but they got us to where we needed to be. My family fixed us a huge Ecuadorian lunch with shrimp as a treat. They were somehow shocked when my parents got here and they really didn't speak any Spanish... they looked at me and said "you weren't lying...not one word." My host mom was really cute and tried to use her limited English to communicate. My favorite was when she said "you English, me Spanish, big problem." Even though there was a lot of translating involved I thought the conversation moved along pretty well. That afternoon I took my parents to my University so they could see my classroom and office and also because there is nothing else to show them in Portoviejo... we got back to the house and had dinner with my host family and then my friend Krista came over to meet my parents. We all sat around and talked and then my little brother insisted that we play both playstation soccer and soccer on the patio to "show my parents how we play." My host family took off work and school for my parents visit so they decided to take us on one of their epic beach trips... this always beens hours in the car and limited time at the beach. On this particular day they decided to invite our housekeeper to come along for the first time which meant we were packing 8 people in a 5 person truck. It also happened to rain for the first time in 4 months so we couldn't ride in the back. There is nothing like sitting on top of each other for 4 hours to bond some families... We made it back to Portoviejo in time to catch our bus to Guayaquil but on our way there with about 15 minutes to spare I remembered that I had left my passport in my room. AHHHH We somehow made it back to the house and to the bus before it left-- it was the first time I was happy that everything runs behind schedule.
In the morning we left from Guayaquil to the GALAPAGOS!!!!! We stayed on Santa Cruz island where we got to see a bunch of giant turtles up close at the Charles Darwin Station. They were surprisingly active but every time I tried to get close for a picture they had this creepy deep throat sound... it freaked me out. Santa Cruz is also home to Tortuga Bay... a beautiful white sand beach. We had to walk 30 minutes from the entrance of the park to even reach the beach but it was beautiful. We planned two day trips and the first trip was to Bartolome Island. We took a two hour boat ride to get there and then hiked up the volcanic comb to an amazing view where we could see the Penacle Rock- it is the most photographed view in Galapagos. We went snorkling around the Penacle rock and got to see some Sea Lions swimming and active on the beach. We even saw a penguin but it looked surprisingly like a duck when it was swimming. The next day we went to Isabela island where we saw Flamingos, a white tipped shark, penguins fishing :), and TONS of iguanas. We even saw a giant turtle on the beach that our tour guides helped back to sea. We went snorkling again and then headed back to Santa Cruz for dinner and drinks.
We flew back to Guayaquil the next morning and had all day to explore the city. We walked along the river and people watched for awhile and then walked up 444 stairs to a nice view of the city. Guayaquil is one hectic city! That night we took advantage of the hotel and mom and I spent some time in the hot tub and pool. We had a nice breakfast the next day and then mom and dad headed off to the airport. I took advantage of that hot shower one more time and then went to the terminal to catch a bus to Portoviejo.
We had a great time and it was definitely the best Christmas gift I could have asked for!
New Years is coming up and I am looking forward to the fun Ecuadorian traditions... then my best friend is visiting for a week! I am feeling lucky these days... anyone else want to book a plane flight?