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. What started as an 8 day assignment teaching a photography travel abroad class, ended as so much more. I tried to put the events of each day into perspective but didn’t have the energy to write down any words for my planned blog series. I had not connected to any social media the entire week and the only connection to my life back home was a few texts on WhatsApp 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 nowhere 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!
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 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.
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.
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 forever 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 posts 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.