We are always greeted with an abundance of energy and joy when we arrive, but with the anticipation of the beach excursion, they almost exploded when they saw us (ok, the new volleyball we were holding probably helped). We loaded into a van and were off - hoping we hadn't gotten ourselves in way over our heads. We had 14 boys, a language barrier, an ocean, one soccer ball, and three hours. Don't worry - I brought food! Life was good.
The orphanage has a small "beach house" that lives up to its name where the youngest children/babies live. We unloaded there and hit the sand. The majority of the boys disappeared with Geoff in a rowdy game of futbol down the beach, and a few stayed with me for snuggles and sand castles. Time. Of. My. Life. Again, this was the best day in Ecuador, ever.
The boys returned an hour or so later with Geoff in tow, unscathed - except for a very sore swollen toe that missed the ball and caught a shin! They'll both remember that for a while. The futbol game developed into a water polo of sorts. When we first arrived the boys had unanimously agreed to avoid swimming because the water was "MUY FRIO!" They were right. As the life of a child would have it, however, they all succomed to temptation at one point or another. They found "sand dollars," star fish, dead fish, and all kinds of other fun in the ocean. Geoff had a great time, having finally found friends who could match his enthusiasm for playing in the surf - 8-12 year old boys!
While Geoff swam, wrestled, and flopped in the ocean, I gave photography lessons on the beach. They have had camera usage rights with our digital point and shoot from the beginning, but today I had the grande camera. These energetic boys are impressively careful with the cameras, and love learning how to use them. It likely is the most valuable object they've ever seen, but I would not have expected them to respond to it as more than a fun toy. However, their fascination with the cameras goes beyond play, to really working on getting good photos. I think I'll start my own "Photography School for Boys" when we get back. The majority (and best) of the pictures of any "orphanage" theme were taken by them, as they generally have the camera. Every boy waited patiently for their turn with the camera, stayed by me with it, and made sure it stayed clean. The worst that could have happened to that camera was incomparable to the joy of their faces as they learned how to use it, got a great shot, and turned to show me with beaming faces. Priceless.
Here are a few of the 1,189 photos they took! I did crop/edit a few, but they show their talents pretty well, minus a few focus issues! Only a couple were taken by Geoff or I. Enjoy!
Oh, and on our way to the orphanage today, before any of the real fun even began, we saw two straggling whales waving goodbye below the cliffs! They gave us quite a show, jumping and splashing for us for over 10 minutes as they swam around the point. It appeared to be a mom and baby pair. Almost all of the whales have headed south by now, but I guess this particular young'un wanted more time to play in Ecuador. It's a hard place to leave, I completely understand how it feels.