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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alexandra Cale shows the kids some of her photos.
Some of our Nossi students took part in showing the kids some dance moves!
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.
Gabby Karademos offered one of the locals her earplug as a gift and he graciously accepted.
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.
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.
It was hard to believe we were there almost two years to the date of the 2016 earthquake.
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.
Chantel and Alfredo joined us on the beach for sunset and photos later and shot out last group photo on the beach.
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.