Squelching amoebas, carbon monoxide poisoning, and your daily Wyclef reference.

The fridge in the musty cockroach-corpse kitchen didn’t work (and one of the big veggie drawers at the bottom was full of about three gallons of…is that lemonade?) so every morning I’d run around the corner and buy two of those little bottles of yogurt to have with the fresh fruit we bought in the market the day before. Strawberries, uchuvas (called uvillas here), and bananas, which, this being Ecuador, cost $0.05 each.

Lunch was usually the “almuerzo” lunch special in the shack with bare concrete floors under a palm frond roof where the waiter came to love us for our polite thank-you’s and lack of demanding-customer rudeness. If they had veggie soup for the first course then K would get an almuerzo too, scooping her fried fish filet onto my plate when the mains came. I’ve never eaten so much fish. My blood’s got more iodine than a Cub Scout camping trip, and more mercury than a thermometer; it gets hot and my nose turns red, I’m like a summertime Rudolph.

Dinner might be the Colombian place with the impressive salad, a pizza in the hippie place’s loft, and/or street food, most likely corn-on-the-cob slathered in mayo and cheese then carried down onto the beach to watch the night-white waves sliding onto the sand as the cabanas ratcheted up the reggaeton.

Puerto Lopez was another broad sandy beach, which at low tide became a swamp of squirming squeezing squelching things in shallow salty splendor. There were of course crabs, ejecting water from their wave-flooded dens to create a miniature moonscape of pebbles and craters. And I was now familiar with the tiny corkscrew snails and the filter-feeding creepy-crawlies, but I’d never noticed the little amoeba things that went sliding around like escaped particles of paisley.

I saw one approach a snail, and the snail extended itself violently from its shell to push the amoeba away. Not friends I guess. (Does it show up well enough in the bottom middle in the left picture?)

Puerto Lopez is scattered with helpful tourist info signs like Hotel, Travel Agency, and my personal favorite: Karaoque. I applaud the Tourism Board who believes we all need to be aware of the nearest karaoke bar.

There were a few cars in town, but it was mostly motorcycles and motorcycle-taxis, the world-famous Tuk-tuk. Their drivers were often suave young men with slicked back hair and an absence of sleeves. Waiting for fares they would lounge on the half-bike, somehow making it look comofortable.

One long (iced) coffee break I watched a lad lounge on his bike, chatting to a friend who was filling scuba tanks with a compressor. It didn’t occur to either of them that maybe the idling tuk-tuk’s exhaust pipe shouldn’t be directly next to the intake valve for the compressor. Did I mention they were filling scuba tanks? Yum yum.

Gotta love Ecuador. And I do. But tomorrow morning at 4:00 AM I’ll be heading to Curacao, a wee island off the coast of Venezuela, to visit some friends for about three months. Hasta luego Ecuador, I’ll be gone ’till November…