Today was a big day, I was going to the cacao festival in Tena with my supervisor David. At approximately 5:30am I awoke, surprisingly not to roosters or the Spanish music my family blasts at that hour but instead to a torrential downpour. Upon arriving in the rain to David’s house 3 hours later  I was taken aback that he wasn’t
there. According to his wife he just left for Tena without me despite me being only 5 minutes late. This was completely my fault, the typical Ecuadorian time of being late is getting to me. Prior to moving here I always need to get places at least 10 minutes early but now I think of meeting times as a suggested time frame which is both good and bad.

Although David was already in Tena, I still needed to make the 30 minute bus ride there. I waited nearly an hour for a bus until a neighbor offered me a ride. Upon arriving, I saw my beloved Spanish teacher and friends Aitran and Sari who were all going to the cacao festival. Once I walked to La Isla (a park), the location of the festival, I immediately began to search for David. I finally located him in a bamboo constructed building were for the next 7 hours we listened to speakers talk about cacao and chocolate.

During the first break we received a snack of fried yuka, chocolate cake and hot chocolate—all delicacies made in Napo.  I noticed two other fellows, Aden and Calvin selling chocolate cookies at a booth. I always get really excited to see other fellows because I can effortlessly talk to them; today was no different. It was nice to catch up on their lives and hear what new projects they are involved in.

Instead of going back to the meeting I decided to walk around the festival and visit cacao and chocolate booths. I also socialized with Liz and snuck her snack. It’s a drag to go to meetings in the US let alone in a different language. Although, I can understand some of the cool information being presented it gets to be exhausting sitting for hours. After going to the meeting for a little longer, I decided to stay in the lobby and help distribute books and other flyers on cacao. I’m finding that doing what I think I’m supposed to do is not always the best option for me. In this case I was more useful doing physical labor than sitting in the meeting with my supervisor.

Finally lunch arrived, the grilled beef, potatoes and mushrooms and rice were very yummy! After lunch I went on a hike with David. I was proud of myself because we had a conversation which involved a lot of the new forest words I have been studying. This was a major high point for me because I can finally indicate that my constant studying is paying off! After the last set of meetings I helped David and Herbert, a man I work with on Monday’s at the Municipal carry books. Before leaving the park we were stopped to try chocolate cake, which to date is the best chocolate cake I have ever had. Made with chocolate in the area, coconut from the coast, topped with a strawberry from the mountains and soaked in chocolate milk.

Upon arriving at Herbert’s car which was located near the fellow’s and gringo’s favorite café, Café Tortuga, I saw more Fellows and notified them that trying the cake was a must! They immediately packed their laptops and dashed to the park.

I finally made it home around 5:15, as I sit in my house alone typing this blog post, I’m reflecting on how great my day was. It’s day’s like this that I’m happy to be living here and experiencing a culture so different than my own.