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P1140840 ocean waves

“What if it lines up like it did in the Trojan War … Athena versus Poseidon?”  

“I don’t know. But I just know that I’ll be fighting next to you.”


“Because you’re my friend, Seaweed Brain. Any more stupid questions?”  ― Rick Riordan- The Lightning Thief

Late afternoon - Feb 02, 2014 - El Matal Ecuador - Homeowner photo

Late afternoon – Feb 02, 2014 – El Matal Ecuador – Homeowner photo

screen shot from video

screen shot from video

Coco Beach Village/El Matal Ecuador

Coco Beach Village/El Matal Ecuador

The good fight is the one that we fight in the name of our dreams.  – Paulo Coelho (The Pilgrimage)

P1140725 rolling waves z

Imagine having a nightmare where a wall of water threatens to wash you, your friends, your home and your village away.  You see it approaching on the horizon.  You’re watching as if a voyeur and unable to awaken others who might be able to help.  You’re screaming, yet no one hears, as if they are deaf or your voice is muted.  There’s only a short amount of time, and a cluster of neighbors and several strangers leap into your nightmare and project a united front as the clock ticks backward.

Will this woman's home survive the high tides?

Will this woman’s home survive the high tides?

The monster’s first attack arrived in January, and a diet of sand and driftwood kept it quiet for another month.  Developing a taste for a more refined diet, it returned in February and nibbled at the foundations of homes while upending open-air boat shelters and pondering ways to devour the street on its next attack.

P1920985 el matal

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait.” – Paulo Coelho “

Sometimes we’re not sure how to help others when we have no solutions;  we don’t want to appear as voyeurs, yet we also don’t want to stand back with apathy and appear heartless.

Between high tides, people scrambled to place sand barriers to buffer the waves.

Between high tides, people scrambled to place sand barriers to buffer the waves.

My vantage point from the nearby river tells me when the sea monsters are angrier than usual, but hearing the distant crashing waves at night fills me with foreboding. Unable to sleep well, I wonder what is or is not happening at El Matal.

P1970157 el matal end of march 2014

The most important experiences we can have are those that take us to the very limit. That is the only way we learn, because it requires all our courage.” – Paulo Coelho

Where beach restaurants once stood,  a withering young palm stands guard while 70-plus locals gather for the community meeting.

(Feb. 2013) Where beach restaurants once punctuated the public beach, a withering young palm stood guard while 70-plus locals gathered for a community meeting. *( )



I now step into that arena and show my support by photographing the fishermen, the restaurateurs, the children, the dogs and even the vultures!     I arrived one ‘work day’ with my shovel, but the reserve crew worked happily and efficiently without a need for volunteers!

One wonders if a fortified wall of sandbags will hold back the high waves.

One wonders if a fortified wall of sandbags will hold back the high waves.

I witnessed faceless online critics who, like armchair quarterbacks, offered toxic criticism of those in the front line, but dared not step onto the playing field. Sometimes I am saddened that people cannot put away egos and live with compassion for his or her fellow man – especially in a crisis.

I am proud to witness a community pulling together and standing tall against this approaching monster, although the elected officials offer little assistance.

Comparing notes - after the meeting. El Matal Ecuador Comparing notes – after the meeting. El Matal Ecuador

The panel of experts ilustrate united body English...

As the outgoing mayor Alex Cevallos defended his opinions, the panel of experts illustrated united body English as if to say, “Don’t blame us!  We’re here to help!”

Jama's new Alcade Angel Rojas listens to Victor's pleas. (Restaurante Punta de Victor)

Jama’s new Alcade Angel Rojas listens to Victor’s pleas. (Restaurante Punta de Victor)

Several business owners spoke out at last night’s tourism meeting, and as with other meetings from the past six months, the word ‘GRAVE-serious’ surfaced many times.  The word “Grave” (or muy grave) always seems to hang midair, quivers and then falls flat as my friends’ pleas echo into silence.

P1140836 ocean waves

Mother Ocean has no language barrier, and those on her menu take her threats seriously.  Although different ends of the beach have different needs, the entire community unites in its desire to endure the upcoming “Aguaji” tidal surge and find solutions for rebuilding the beach.

P1960452 ll sand bagging

“We are all about working together because this isn’t just about houses; this strip of coast, this village, the town of Jama are where we call home.” L. Flaman

Although only 5 or 6 of the homes at Coco Beach Village are occupied by owners, 30 of the 55 property owners contributed to the cost of short-term sand-bag protection recommended by coastal specialist Engineer Daniel Santana.

P1960434 thre has to be a faster way to load a sandbagoo

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. Vince Lombardi

These aren’t just little easy-to fill sandbags;  these are sacks that hold about 3500 pounds of sand EACH, and a 600-meter line now faces the ocean like a miniature wall of China.

el matal sand bags 04 photo by lesli

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. e. e. cummings

el matal sand bags 03 photo by lesli

In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it’s more dangerous to lose than to win. George Bernard Shaw

Using those bags at the other end of the beach would prevent the fishermen from launching their boats and returning again at high tide.   Most everyone agrees that the Geotube solution would fit el matal’s needs best, yet official funding requests continue to move laterally from desk to desk.

The battle resumes with this weekend’s spring (Aguaji) tide.

For the peak high-tide hours, see: http://www.tide-forecast.com/locations/Puerto-de-Bahia-Caraquez-Ecuador/tides/latest

el matal sand bags 05 photo by lesli

It is impossible to win the race unless you venture to run, impossible to win the victory unless you dare to battle. Richard M. DeVos

Surely you can guess where I will be this weekend; my friends at El Matal extend their thanks for your concerns.