The envy of the mission. The majority of the missionaries who get sent here say it was their favorite sector, and at the very least I haven't heard anyone say that they straight out didn't like it. And I'm quickly figuring out why!
Esmeraldas is situated on the coast of Ecuador. Unfortunately, my sector doesn't include the ocean, but it DOES have an island sitting in the middle of the river (I think it's the only one, but I don't know the name) that feeds into the Pacific. And of course as missionaries we aren't allowed anywhere near the beach, so...sorry! The only pictures you people will get will be from verrry far away.
The people are pretty different. Lots of African descent here. They also generally speak a lot quicker and if there's slang I of COURSE don't pick it up, but it's fun. It's easy enough to get into a house just by contacting - so they tell me. We haven't contacted a ton. Our focus here is mostly less-actives - there are plenty. My ward, Barrio Paraiso (Paradise Ward) is teensy - even smaller than my last one. Actually, it should be a branch, and they're working to get people to come back. We'll work with them as much as we can. For the first time my companion and I are the only companionship in a ward - I'm used to having two.
Anyhow, the coast - it's generally a little bit more dangerous here. We leave a little bit earlier in the morning and come home a little bit earlier at night - at 8:00. That's when we do our language studies. I love that, because it's dastardly difficult to get people to do language studies...it's always the first thing to get cut. I'm making good progress on my Book of Mormon in Spanish. They don't send sister missionaries here - they used to, but don't any more. I'm not sure why. I'm sure one got robbed or something.
It's also unbelievably hot. I'm usually swimming in my own sweat an hour after we leave. I'm so glad we have fans in the apartment. The bugs bite here something nasty as well - thankfully I haven't had it too bad so far, but I should really be more careful. My last companion had a mosquito bite that, almost a year afterward, was still there. And bleeding. Yeah, I should be more careful.
But what else makes the coast amazing? The FOOD. Good heavens I will never find this again and need to take advantage of it. Practically every two blocks there'll be a place that sells "encebollados," a fantastic fish soup. It's eaten with fried plantain chips crushed up and tossed in (in the Sierra, Quito, they add popcorn as well) and condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, hot sauce...which sounds strange, but it's just great. Plantains are also in about every corner. Although for some reason I've had trouble finding the good old normal bananas. It's a bit frustrating. I'm betting they're super cheap here, too...oh, and there are coconuts. We bought some today - the guy just hacked off the shell and stuck a straw in it. And it was pretty darn delicious. And for just $1.50! Oh and CORVICHES. I tried my first one this week as well. It's plantain flour (I think) made into a little oval and fried, which they then cut open and like a sandwhich stick a fish filling in and whatever condiments you desire. To die for.
As for my sector specifically, we live down in the more commercial area, where there are actually a good number of shops and whatnot. But most of the people live up in the hills. I thought that because I was out of Quito I was done with hills. Lies. My companion tells me that the only place in the mission where there aren't hills is in the jungle. Well, we'll see. Not many go to the jungle. But I'm not going to say I wouldn't miss the hills.
Oh, and companion is from Guatemala. Elder Equité. We get along real well - so well sometimes I forget he speaks Spanish and I start talking to him in English. I guess that's also a good sign my Spanish is in a good place.
|Here, way more than Quito, everything truly screams foreign third-world country.|
Up almost at the very top of our sector here.
|My first encebollado here. A very happy moment.|
|Did I mention I'm in the coast?|
Me and Ezequeil (sp?), one of my bestest pals from my old sector. Gosh, I'll miss that family. I was there when we got the dad to propose officially to the mom, I was there the day they got married...good times.