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Michelle – Sunset at Playa Tarqui/Ecuador

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Suess

Click your heels together and get moving! Otherwise you might miss amazing experiences that await you!

About ten years ago while spending a week in the San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua area, I met a perpetually-cheerful university student who became an instant friend.  From New York, multi-talented Michelle was on vacation,  and we shared mutual interests in horseback riding, art and music.  She later spent time with me in Costa Rica, and we’ve kept in close contact over the years.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

After coordinating plans via email for her first trip to Ecuador, Michelle arrived in Guayaquil on Saturday night for an 8-day visit.    We spent Sunday morning saying, “Hello-Hola” to the resident reptiles and pigeons at ‘IGUANA PARK’ before touring Guayaquil’s Malecon 2000 area.

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At noon I coaxed Michelle to pose for a photo-shadow moment.  I tried to visually balance the light house on the top of her head, but the effect looks a bit silly!

Noon Shadow underfoot

Noon Shadow underfoot

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We visited my favorite artifacts at the MAAC Museum, where a special (surprise) exhibit by Billy Soto showcased Jama Coaque sellos with a graphic-arts twist.  We lucked out, as it was the final day of the exhibition! For more information go here: Billy Soto

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We checked out of our Guayaquil hotel and took the Manta Express mini van from Guayaquil to Manta. About half way between the two cities, a beautiful young woman turned and asked in perfect English, “I’m curious; why are you two ladies going to Manta?”  We seemed to be way off the tourist trail, but she had also overheard us talking about the ceibo trees, the cuisine of Manabi Province and even the unique uses of bamboo for construction.  She thought she heard us mention Jama!

Dady mentored young artists during the post-painting competition.  The artist selected designs from the Jama Coaque sellos (stamps)

Dady mentored young artists during the post-painting competition. The artist selected designs from the Jama Coaque sellos (stamps)

Fast forward several minutes, and we were amused that beautiful Kathleen has family in Jama, and she will be spending the week with her cousin – my dear friend Dady! (See: Who’s the Boss on this Shrimp Farm?)

Dear Dady - Helped with judging the posts.

Dear Dady – Helped with judging the posts.

Kathleen grew up in New York, though she is very attached to her grandfather’s beloved community of Jama.  She named many of her cousins that I knew well, and at times I named people that she knew. We’re looking forward to spending more time with Kathleen and Dady this week in Jama.

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Michelle and I reached Manta just before sunset, and we spent the final hour of daylight along the beach.  We discussed the contrasts of staying in the comfort of home where there are few surprises (Some people don’t like the element of the unknown) or how one can embrace an opportunity to visit new places and enjoy new experiences.

We’ll be rolling towards Jama after breakfast, with a stop in Bahia de Caraquez so that Michelle can meet Miguelito.   I suspect that it will be a case of love at first sight, but Michelle will have to realize that he’s too old for her!

Bahia's oldest resident, MIGUELITO.

Bahia’s oldest resident, MIGUELITO.

Stay tuned!  Z

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