Dead people, and double points for the cockroach.

On our way down from the Sanctuary of Olon we stopped by the area-typical small cemetery. A scattering of low crosses, concrete shells in differing sizes (at least one with the regional soccer team’s logo), and burn piles where groundskeepers (maybe they’re official) gather and burn grass and the occassional grave marker. Oops.

The one open restaurant’s barbecue was not quite ready, so we watched the majority of the town’s youth and women assemble in the plaza for free group aerobics. I love it when they do that. Do people do this elsewhere? They should.

Smiles, chatter, and seemingly unconscious little dance moves abounded as people took their places. Occassional little brothers commandeered stretching sticks to practice their ninja moves. Everyone stood behind their step, whether it was wood or a plastic crate, ready to go…but the teacher was missing. The announcer tried to fill for time, but his jokes about where she was sounded increasingly panicked.

She hadn’t shown up when we left for dinner, and after the meal we passed the plaza to find the announcer had had to fill in for her, gamely giving it his all, and doing a pretty good job of it. Atta boy!

We spent the rest of the evening watching reruns of The Office on the one English channel, and left the next morning for Puerto Lopez, breakfasting on crackers on the bus while watching Harrison Ford in the epic conclusion of Airforce One, spraying crumbs when I periodically had to jump up and yell “Ameeeerikuuuuh, phuuuuk yeah!”

Then it was Puerto Lopez, where we stayed the first night in a bargain place owned, run, and slightly cleaned by an adorable pair of grandparents who urged us with giant smiles to start having babies. What, like, now?

But there were also beach cabana bars across the street blasting bass all night, and neither a fan nor mosquito net in the room, so we moved to an odd little hostel whose owner takes in all the town’s abused animals. There were two cockateels, a turtle, a rabbit under the stairs, and a frickin kinkajoo next to the kitchen, pacing and scratching relentlessly, the poor little guy.

And Spike. Spike the massive pit bull, who would climb into my lap whenever I sat down, though only half his body fit, so the back half would be standing while the front half gazed up at me with sparkling eyes in a skull big enough to head-butt a horse. I miss that lug. (That’s not Spike in the picture. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of him, but he was twice the size of this fella, who was just enjoying his sand pile across the street.)

We breakfasted on fresh fruit in the hostel kitchen, which managed to be impressively musty despite being open-air, and each morning it was a game of find-the-new-cockroach-corpse. “Ooh, it’s IN the pot we use to boil water! Double points!”