June 05, 2017

Ayampe



We have very little time off these days, so when the occasion to leave the city presents itself we try to make the most of it – finally, I have a week without work, my love gets somebody to cover his hours, and we decide to go to the coast, where we haven't been before. I choose a name on the map that sounds musical and peaceful : Ayampe.

We take a first bus to Guayaquil, but as ever we haven't planned very well, and when we get to the sprawling, hot and sticky capital of the coast, it's already nightfall and the buses are becoming rare. We manage to get on a very slow bus that goes up the seaside road, and then, when we reach Montanita under a heavy tropical rain, to find a taxi willing to take us the remaining miles. By then it's about midnight. We've been traveling for ten hours, my back is starting to feel very tense, and the temperature doesn't help. Luckily, snuggly inside, my little girl lets me know she's okay by kicking up a storm. When I sit down I look quite obviously pregnant now, and in the reflection of the bus window I catch several women looking at my belly and smiling.

The taxi drives too fast down a very dark road, and I squeeze my love's hand without being able to stop glaring at the glowing signs signaling a dangerous turn. Right, left, left, right. When we finally get to Ayampe, the owner of the house has left the light up to guide us, and the door of our room is open. We finally crash.

When I wake up, it's about seven. My love is still sleeping soundly (as he always is since I've started waking up at dawn), so I get up, put my lightest skirt on – I can already feel the rising heat through the door – and walk out. Along the dirt road, the first turn takes me to the ocean, just a minute away from the house. I sit on the fine, brown sand and listen to the waves. This early in the morning the beach is deserted, and a swell is coming to crash at my feet. I breathe, deeply. Finally, by the ocean. I haven't been in front of the Pacific in about two years, and it makes me smile to think I've been on the other side of it, and that from where I stand, Indonesia is right across the water.

The house we're staying in is beyond words. A three stories bamboo structure, with a garden in the middle and an open kitchen with a mosaïc floor. On every floor there is an open balcony with hammocks and mattresses. On the last floor, an open plan looks out to the ocean. Everything here is simple and uncluttered. A lovely breeze circulates freely throughout, keeping everything cool. Every morning, a farmer comes to the house, his truck filled with bananas, tomatoes, fresh herbs and so much more. We buy baskets of fruits and vegetables for a few dollars and snack on them all day. Mostly we wait out the heat in the hammocks, listening to the waves, and when the sun comes down we walk up and down the beach until the tide rises. At night we sit on the third floor and enjoy the fresh air and the songs of birds and insects coming from the jungle nearby, the stars shining so brightly above us.

I take as many pictures as I can before my roll of film runs out and my battery dies. I want to capture every detail of this, all the beauty and the peace. I feel so grateful here, with the sun and the salty air, so grateful that we took the time to go, to spend these few days together, before there's three of us and everything changes. This place is really something special, my love says on our first day, and I smile. We tend to find those in our way when we need them. When we leave, we promise each other that we'll return before we leave the country, and bring our daughter to see her first ocean swell.




























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