It is pronounced sam-eh, and is a small coastal town towards the north of Ecuador. We were told the coast would be our host for the mid-term retreat. Since I am from PA, I was expecting a beach like New Jersey. Instead, as we drove through the mountains, all of a sudden the mountains tumbled out of view, revealing a pure blue coast. The Jersey coast is level and flat until you are at least a 2 hour drive away. Whereas here, we essentially fell out of the mountains onto the beach.
For seven hours, we had been cooped up in a bus, and despite being eighteen or nineteen years old, we got antsy after being still for that long. We streamed out of the bus, almost forgetting small bags and snacks in our rush to get to the ocean.
The sun had spent the day beaming down at us, and after an exhausting day, ambled back to it’s nightly watches.
we learned new dances,
we stared in wonder at iguanas in trees,
we studied effects of foreign aid and American tax dollars,
and we bonded talking late into the night around the bonfire.
The photographer got pulled into a dance, so took photos while swinging instead of risking missing shots.
The ocean washed over us as we swam, cleansing our bodies and relaxing our minds, giving us the energy to focus during our sessions. We discussed the GirlEffect, our individual apprenticeships, relations with our families, and cultural acclimation. Working, we put our full energy into cutting to the chase and figuring out what needed to be done.
Playing, we put just as much energy into music jam sessions up on the cliff.
The beach drew our attention during each free time we had: talking with friends, swimming, or taking a walk.
We gathered round to say our goodbyes, to each other and to the shore.
As the bus turned towards the mountains once again, a spattering of tuk-tuks lead us away from the beach and towards home again.
It was a wonderful time to recharge and refocus on what our purpose is in Ecuador. Now, heading back to our homes and our jobs, with our doubts relieved and our passions rekindled.