24 March 2011

[Tortoiseland] Day 5; Meandering

I didn't want to use the cliche "off the beaten path" to describe today, but it was indeed a day of surprise revelations and spontaneous adventures.

1. If you don't know where you're going, learn enough Spanish to say "left / right / straight / stop."  Tip generously as gringos.
  • We started off with some official business, heading around Puerto Ayora to particular sites of interest within the urban fabric.  I was trekking with Nancy and Yushiro, and we started with the highest point in the northeast corner, marked by a cross amidst a pile of rubble.  Getting there was a lesson in itself, as we had to figure out how to direct the taxi driver without knowing any street names and with the use of a Google Earth aerial.  Needless to say, he looked at us as if we were crazy when we tried to explain to him where we wanted to go while using the image.  (Architects sometimes forget that our "normal" modes of representation are another language for others.)  In any rate, we explored some of this rubble - sort of a primordial, makeshift quarry in a dead end zone - and then headed over to what was the new territories of the expanded town.
2. If an area looks like it's under construction and you shouldn't walk there... walk there.
  • The town government is planning on extending its footprint by 40% and providing additional housing for those who don't currently own property.  It was bizarre walking around these unpaved roads, amidst mini trash heaps and construction materials lying around, and thinking that in a few years' time, a new town of sorts would emerge from the undergrowth.
3. Make friends with strangers.
  • One key discovery during this time: an artist who carves blue footed boobies out of wood, molds bas relief sculpture, and generally does whatever else for himself and for boutiques in the tourist district.  He was the most chill character and we managed to communicate with him in broken Spanish (and the aid of my phrasebook) while he worked on some carvings for us.
4. What is lost is not lost.
  • There were three points in which we lost track of people in our group and had to head off to our various group appointments (or beach callings...) without them.  Although we worried about these people as they were gone, we discovered later that they were having possibly even more fun adventures than we were.  For instance, Caleb ended up catching a ride with a taxi up to a horse ranch and taking a 2-3 hour ride around the agricultural highlands while we sat in a meeting w/ the city's planning committee.  Juliet missed out on our excursion to German Beach (full of debris, mangroves, and volleyball), but got to see the pristine Tortuga Bay Beach and caused envy in us all.
5. Singing is a great bonding experience.
  • On the way back from a dinner of seafood delight, we came across a karaoke bar and spontaneously decided to hop in for some songs.  We didn't manage to reel in our professor and TA, but we did get a sizable group to belt out renditions of "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Hotel California," and more.  Nads and I sang a somewhat silly version of the duet "Eternal Love" (silly because I didn't quite know all the words and we didn't quite separate out the man's and woman's parts), and I solo'ed on "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You" among others.  We basically sang for all songs we knew, so in the end it didn't matter who had a mic.  We also got some great laughs out of the experience and found out who were closet song lovers and divas in our midst.
Photos to come perhaps tomorrow.  Ciao for now!  Isla Isabela tomorrow for a fun day excursion plus more.