Category: Assignments

Eight Days of Ecuador…Day 8

Semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

By Sheri Oneal

Eight Days of Ecuador…Photography Travel Abroad Class

Day 8 – Friday, April 28

As we sat in the airport awaiting our early flight for our journey back home to Nashville I felt as if I had been on a world wind of a trip. I tried to put the events of each day into prospective but didn’t have the energy to write down any words for my planned blog post series. I had not connected to any social media the entire week and my only connection to my life back home was a few WhatsApp text, mostly checking in on my puppy and some emails for my business. Our flight flew out of Guayaquil at 6:00 AM and we were all very, very tired. They served us fruit on the plane but it was no where near as tasty as what we had experienced on our travels, in fact I had to question if I was actually eating pineapple. The 4 hour layover in Miami was not too bad but boarding the smaller American Airline plane on the tarmac in the rain was not fun. Those of us who had to board last got soaked and once again I had poodle hair, the one thing I will not miss from the trip!

Eric had a blowout with his suitcase and he and Jason were able to fix it with his belt, good thing this hadn’t happened at the beginning of the trip!

 

 

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

As I try and convey my experience in Ecuador with the students from Nossi I am filled with so many emotions. As with all first time visits to a foreign land it forever changes you, this trip is difficult to put it into words but it was so much more than a travel abroad class.

The Cons…

The journey was harder than we anticipated, we traveled miles and miles by foot and by bus. The places we stayed were small and with the exception of 2 nights had NO air conditioning, only fans and windows for fresh cool air. The temperature was a balmy 90-100 degrees with 90% humidity and the sun was out most every day. I believe coming from cooler fall like temps in Nashville into full on summer temp made it a bit harder to adjust for many of the students, being a Floridian I adjusted pretty fast. Mosquitoes were bad as were the bugs (mostly roaches and spiders) which didn’t sit well with our mostly female crew. There were also lizards which I didn’t mind but several of the ladies, one in particular was terrified.

We were happy to have others with us who spoke the language because that is something we would have struggled with due to the lack of English speaking people in Ecuador.

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

The Pros…

The beaches were beautiful and quaint, the lifestyle laid back (something I LOVE) and the seafood, fresh fruit, desserts and coconut water was wonderful. The weather, although very hot was clear with no rain. We were able to get a lot of exercise due to walking so much every day. Unplugging from my life back home was amazing and I did not miss social media at all. The cost of travel and entertainment overall is very economical and the people were so happy you couldn’t help but smile.

It was really nice to feel a bond with the folks over there but also with my students. We learned a lot about each other, certain events we endured and shared reminded me that we all have our own private and painful stories we often hide from the world. There are things about each of us that no one may ever know but our stories and experiences often help others feel connected. When you spend long days traveling together as a group you tend to learn a lot about the people you are spending so much time with, so many things that transpired over the 8 days were inspiring.

Some of the most memorable cultural differences were highlights of the trip. Daily we witnessed families on motorbikes, kids on the handlebars and small babies in front of the driver sitting on the gas tanks wearing no helmets…..something that would likely land someone in jail here in our country. Privacy within peoples homes didn’t seem important, nor did security. When getting fuel, an attendant pumps their gas while the engine is running. You should never flush paper down the toilet, there is a trash can on the side for that. I am sure we created some plumbing havoc somewhere along the way due to this strange phenomenon. On many of the streets, especially in the city there are no lines on the highways and they drive with more aggression than any of us do yet rarely have accidents, if they do they usually deal with it without calling the cops. Most of the cars don’t look like they have been washed in months and all of them have dings, dents and missing parts and I am sure most would never pass our emission test. Most people dress casual all of the time and wear Ecuadorian brand Crocks. I did not see one person applying sunscreen or bug spray (other than us on a regular basis).

My biggest take away was this….”we trade our time for money in this country and spend so much of it working so we can buy things to make us happy. They trade their money for time with no desire for material things and seem much more happier on all levels.”

The people, the people, the people…..how I loved the people.

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

 

Nossi College of Art Travel Abroad Class Ecuador People

As always the trip had some bumps along the way with it being a first for everyone involved, overall I believe most were satisfied with the experience. I know there may have been a few who felt let down, that the trip was not as expected. I realize also that as an instructor you are not always looked up to or liked. What I know for sure is that with learning as with life you have to be curious, stay positive to the best of your ability and apply yourself no matter what is happening around you.

Traveling requires times of taking your own initiative, making the best out of all situations, moving forward and realizing that this is a moment in time that will never happen again…a time that needs to be felt and cherished if not for that reason alone. The beauty of photography is that we have the ability to stop a small part of time for ever and although it can never replace the actual experience it is a way to share a vision of what we want others to see. I love that I have chosen my path in life as a photographer and I hope that my students continue on their path with the same love.

I am extremely grateful for the trust the folks at Nossi had in me, for allowing me to oversee the first ever travel abroad class for the college. I do hope I will have another opportunity in the future, with what I learned I know I can make the next experience much better.

Here are a few of the videos that Mathew put together from the trip, there will be more to see at a later time if you want to follow the youtube channel! Mathew Wijatky, our second teacher who lives in Guayaquil, traveled with us the entire time shooting behind the scenes video. Thank you for reading especially if you followed along on the whole trip! Feel free to leave any comments or to share the blogs! Have a wonderful Friday!

*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2018 by Sheri Oneal. Feel free to share my blog link but any other use of photos or content must be agreed upon in writing.

*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here, here or here!

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Eight Days of Ecuador…Day 7

Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

By Sheri Oneal

Eight Days of Ecuador…Photography Travel Abroad Class

Day 7 – Thursday, April 27

In 2016 scientist teamed-up to prove that the highest point on planet earth is not Mt. Everest, but rather a massive volcano located in central Ecuador called the summit of Chimborazo. Something I was not aware of until doing research on my trip.

This would be out last day of travel in Ecuador and we had a long 4.5 hour drive by bus back to Guayaquil ahead to prepare for our flight home. In the early morning some of us went with Alfredo and Chantal for a walk on the beach. I had become pretty sick at this point with some sinus funk and wasn’t up to the morning swim but I did enjoy the exercise and the beach.  

Beach in Bahia de Caraquez beach in Ecuador

 

Beach in Bahia de Caraquez beach in Ecuador

After our last meal at the Saianada hotel we tipped the staff and thanked them all for the wonderful hospitality.

Saianada hotel, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

We packed up the bus and headed downtown for some last minute sightseeing, wanting to see more of the culture we visited the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez.

The market provides a large selection of seafood and meat such as beef, pork, chicken, fish and shrimp. It also offers a large variety of fresh fruits and veggies. We enjoyed samples of some of the homemade sweets and the peanut butter.

Street vendor, Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador.

 

Semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Fruit and vegitable stand at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Fish in the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Meat vendor in the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Street vendor at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador Clams at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Street vendor at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Fish vendor in the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Fruit in the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Sausage and eggs in the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Street vendor at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Street vendor at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Street vendor with plantains at the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

 

Semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

I learned that Ecuador is pushing big agricultural companies to use sprays and chemicals to help increase returns but much of what they offer at the market seemed free of GMO. The market seemed to have a lot of independently prepared meat, seafood and produce items. The grass fed beef is raised in a valley north of the city and many of the veggies were so fresh they still had dirt on them. From the looks of the chickens they are likely to have been butchered early that morning. All of the items seemed to be fresh and delivered within a day or 2.

Although I have to wonder how they keep the items from going bad in the open air with the temperatures being so hot. The seafood, chickens and meat were sitting out in the free air and most were not in ice. It is apparent the people are accustomed to it but I personally would be afraid of food poisoning!

Chicken vendor in the semi open air market in downtown Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

After the market we left town on about a 2 hour drive to Montecristi. This city in the Manabí province was formed around 1536 with settlers from Manta who left their village fleeing pirate attacks. It was the birthplace of Eloy Alfaro Delgado, president of Ecuador and later the leader of the Ecuadorian Liberal Revolution. It is also known as the home of the Panama hat. We stopped at a few places along the way including a museum and a shop where a woman was weaving a hat by hand outside. Several of the students bought hats while we were there because the prices were much cheaper than in the states.

On the long ride into Guayaquil I was fascinated by the Ceibo trees we passed along the curving road (pronounced “SAY-bo”). I wish we had been able to see one up close because they were so odd, their vibrant green color, unusual shapes and bark texture looked like something from a Disney cartoon. Kapok is the universal name given to the silky fluff produced by the ceibo fruits.

Ceibo trees, Ecuador

From there we he had lunch at a small restaurant along the way and I had my final personal favorite dish (other than Ceviche) of Camarones al Ajillo, shrimp in garlic sauce.

Camarones al Ajillo, shrimp in garlic sauce, Ecuador

We arrived in Guayaquil around sunset and Matthew offered to go with us to see the Las Peñas lighthouse up the 500 steps we didn’t do the first day we were there. I was feeling extremely sick at this point but figured I didn’t want to miss this last adventure by staying in my room. A small group of us walked down the boardwalk one last time admiring the view and the local vendors. We took our time walking up all those steps to the top of the hill where there is a church and the entrance of the lighthouse. From the top of the lighthouse it was possible to see a full 360 degrees around the city of Guayaquil, something I am so glad I did not skip out on!

Guayaquil, Ecuador

 

Photo by Kathleen Munkel

We got back to the hotel around 8:30 PM that night and said goodbye to Matthew, we were sad to see him leave because he really made the trip a wonderful adventure for all of us. I went back to my room at the Manso Boutique Guesthouse Hotel where we had started our journey on the first night. I cleaned up, packed my bags and set the alarm for 2:15 AM so I would be ready for the bus to take us to the airport for our early flight back to Nashville. I was now feeling terrible and couldn’t wait to get home and take something for the cold I had, unfortunately needing to be up in a few hours made for a terrible few hours of sleep. 

I am sure by now if you are still following along you are tired of the trip….I was pretty exhausted by the end of it myself, the days had started to run together. My last blog will showcase a few of my favorite memories and photos from the trip. I hope you will check back for my final insight, I will share how this trip like so many others to foreign countries has somehow changed me. Thank you for reading!

*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2018 by Sheri Oneal. Feel free to share my blog link but any other use of photos or content must be agreed upon in writing.

 

*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here, here or here!

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Eight Days of Ecuador…Day 6

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

By Sheri Oneal

Eight Days of Ecuador…Photography Travel Abroad Class

Day 6 – Wednesday, April 25

Bahia de Caraquez is a city with great tourist potential but its main economic activity is the breeding of shrimp in the bay of the Chone River. There is an abundance of wildlife, bird sanctuaries and mangroves in the area to visit. The thing we continue to see no matter where we are in Ecuador is that the people are friendly and happy.

In the morning a few of us were up early to meet with Chantal for an opportunity to shoot photos before breakfast. We met her near the water under a covered deck at the hotel around 6:30 AM. She talked with us about her philosophy on being a photographer and how important our work was to the community if we use it to help others, something she believes strongly about. She then challenged us to see things through different eyes and asked us to explore the landscape of the hotel with our cameras.

Chantal Fontaine, Saiananda Hotel, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Saiananda Hotel, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Saiananda Hotel, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Saiananda Hotel, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

After about 30 minutes of shooting and challenging our creative vision we loaded up in two vehicles and headed down the road to photograph the local people, their homes and culture.

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Father and his child, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Nossi students, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Beer Bottles, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Girl in store, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Crocks, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Shrimp and fish, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Pig, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Locals in Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Corn fields, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

 

Locals in Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Fruit, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Photo by Jason Lyell

The roads and sidewalks still showed signs of damage from the earthquake two years prior and there were men in hardhats laying new brick along the highway.

Streets damage from 2016 earthquake, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

We then went back to the hotel for breakfast and to meet up with the rest of the students before heading to a local school to photograph the kids. One of our most memorable moments happened at the school “Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba.” We visited the kids while they practiced music in an area that had been build through donations right after the 2016 earthquake. The school works hard to maintain the belief of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian guru and philanthropist whose organization established a network of free hospitals, clinics, drinking water projects, auditoriums, ashrams and schools.

Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

 

Kids in music class, Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador.

 

Kids in music class, Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Music instructor, Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

When class ended the kids one by one came up to each of us with hugs and kisses, there are no words as to how special that moment in time was for all of us. The amount of love that was there was deep and spiritual…we were all in tears. We were so moved by the realization that these kids lived in the houses we visited earlier, were all from poor families with few if any material possessions yet were happier and more grateful than we could ever imagine. We spent several hours interacting with the kids taking in everything emotionally on a deeper level.

 

Around 330 kids go to the school and they start classes later in the morning so that many of them have time to fish with their parents on boats in the bay. Fishing is a very important  source of income for many of the people in this area.

 

 

Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Kids in their classroom, Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

 

 

Bahía de Caráquez Sri Sathya Sai Baba School, Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

Alexandra Cale shows the kids some of her photos.

Some of our Nossi students took part in showing the kids some dance moves!

Photo by Christina Emfinger

Eric Dulberg shares a dance with a student while Matthew shoots video.

Our very own Jason Lyell offered to teach the kids a new exercise called “burpees” with Michiah Posey and Jaime Rock assisting.

After the visit to the school there was an energy around us that I can’t explain. We all felt as if we had just experienced something bigger than life and the rest of the trip we would continue to talk compassionately about the school and the kids. We went into the neighborhood close to the school briefly for a few last minute photos before heading to the hotel for lunch.

Photo by Kathleen Munkel

Gabby Karademos offered one of the locals her earplug as a gift and he graciously accepted.

Photo by Jason Lyell

 

Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador

Our lunch was prepared by the hotel staff and included eggs, rice, gravy, plantains, salad and pan de yuca bread served with fresh fruit juice.

After lunch it was on to the boats from Saiananda to observe the birds on an island in the bay and then to Isla Corazon in the Chone River estuary where we then got into small canoes and were paddled through the mangroves.

Students go on a tour of the Isla Corzon and see the birds.

 

Photo by Jason Lyell

It was extremely hot (like every other day so far) and we couldn’t wait to get out of the sun and cleaned up. As with every day of our trip we were always in a hurry to get on to the next destination. After a quick shower and change of clothes we were off to shoot in the beach town of Canoa, stopping at small towns along the way to capture some of the culture.

A boy and his dog in Canoa, Ecuador.

 

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

 

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

It was hard to believe we were there almost two years to the date of the 2016 earthquake.

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

Canoa is a great reasonably priced destination for people who want a laid back beach atmosphere combined with adrenaline-fueled sports of surfing, paragliding, stand up paddle boarding, and kite surfing. It was the first place we visited where we actually heard some folks speaking English.

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

 

A little girl in the beach area of Canoa, Ecuador.

 

Food on a grill on the beach of the Canoa, Ecuador.

 

A family on a motorbike on the beach of the Canoa, Ecuador.

 

A man sitting near the beach in Canoa, Ecuador.

 

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

 

A man sitting near the beach in Canoa, Ecuador.

 

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

 

Images of the Canoa, Ecuador town, beach and locals.

 

Chantel and Alfredo joined us on the beach for sunset and photos later and shot out last group photo on the beach.group

Before we headed back to our hotel we had some great seafood at the Bambú Restaurant near the water, a beautiful place attached to a hotel that I would love to come back and stay in the next time I travel to Ecuador. Day 6 we discovered so much more than we imagined and was the highlight of our whole trip. Another long day of Ecuadorian culture and only one more full day left before we would start out journey back home. Stay tuned for day 7…..we get to visit a market and I cant wait to share!

 

*NOTE all Sheri Oneal blog post are ©2018 by Sheri Oneal. Feel free to share my blog link but any other use of photos or content must be agreed upon in writing.

*If you would like to leave a review of my work please do so here, here or here!

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