Spanish School Team, Football Dream

Once in a while our staff and our students come together to compete in a legendary football match. All the students were prepared very well with their captain Sia from England. They had a professional line-up and a planned strategy to win this match!

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Nevertheless, the staff team was confident that they could win the match. The teams warmed up and had a final team meeting. The excitement was perceptible.
With the kick-off, the football field was alive. Staff in black and students in white, they were running like there is no tomorrow. Playing with all their heart and their soul after a few minutes the students scored their first goal. The audience went crazy and clapped enthusiastically. But the staff didn’t give up and kept fighting.

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Indeed, it was worth it, and they scored the balance. However, the students also fought on and scored 2 more goals. The audience (mainly supporters of the students) was now unstoppable and celebrated their team!

Finally, it was half time and the players had a short break to take a deep breath! In the second half and the student team changed a few players, so that fresh players with more energy could continue. Both teams gave everything again to win this match but the students keep scoring so that at the end the teachers must admit that the students were prepared really good with a lot of talented players. What an exciting game!

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After the full–time whistle our players didn`t have enough and continued playing for a while! What a great group of footballers and what a great night with such a good sportive vibe. That’s the spirit!

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Leaving nothing on the beach but footprints 👣

The beautiful nature  here in  Montañita  is incomparable. Unfortunately, some trash blemished this perfect  scenery, which is why we decided to give back to mother Nature.

Equipped with bin bags and gloves we  started walking down the beach while picking up bigger and smaller pieces of trash.  Even though the beach is cleaned everyday by the government we were still busy picking up litter for a very long time. This was maybe also because of the high and low tide here on the coast. The ocean always leaves some trash on the beach which is really sad to be honest.P1010636

Both, the locals and the tourists supported our group with a big smile and  some of them even brought us some trash and helped us. Some cool street musicians even started to jam and sing about us which was very charming and motivating.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t remove all trash that was there but we did our best to take care of our precious  Montañita and to raise awareness of the problem to the people all around us. Environmental care is one of our core values and we feel strongly about acting upon it.

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We brought the full trash bags to a place where they were collected the next day and then we headed to an awesome bar in Manglaralto to end the day watching a beautiful sunset by the bonfire and enjoying a cold beer with probably the best pizza on the whole coast!

Daytrip to the Isla de la Plata

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Isla de la Plata

A daytrip to the nearby Isla de la Plata is the perfect way to explore the incredible nature around Montañita. They call Isla de la Plata the Galapagos island for the poor but it is way more than a cheaper copy.
We took the bus from Montañita to Puerto Lopez which takes approximately one hour and then we went on our boat trip for another hour. Feeling the gentle breeze of the sea and enjoying the scenery of  the coast was the best  way to start this trip.

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Boat trip to the island

Once we arrived at Isla de la Plata, we received a warm welcome by big water turtles, which we could see from our boat. With our guide we hiked 2 hours on a relatively flat path up to the highest point on 167 meters and back down to our boat again20180114_115548. The view was amazing and we saw a lot of blue-footed boobys. Our guide gave us very interesting information about their life and their habitation. Breeding season was already over but from December to February you can see all the fledglings and chicks protected by their parents which was adorable.The chicks were still completely white or just started to turn their feathers into black before they get the adult colour which is brown and white. But the older they get the more intense is the blue colour of their feet where their name comes from.

 

Interesting fact: the name of the island means island of silver and it is called like this because by night when it´s full moon and the island is enlightened, the white excrements of the blue-footed boobys shine like silver in the night.

After lunch we got the snorkelling equipment and we dived into the water! So refreshing after this hike! The life under water is amazing. You can see coral reefs, schools of fish and colourful Piranhas.

 

Such a cool place to spend the day and it is so worth it!

 

Ecuadorian delicacy in our school

The Montañita Spanish school offers more than just Spanish classes. It´s about getting to know the Ecuadorian culture, the people and the food!
Our teachers Ambar and Isabel took some time in the afternoon and showed some students how to make tasty Empanadas which are typical in South America!
Empanadas are stuffed pastry filled with cheese, meat, chicken or vegetables. You can find them everywhere in the streets all over South America. In every country they have their own way to make it and here in our school we learned how to prepare them in the Ecuadorian way.

Here is the recipe for you if you would like to give it a go yourself:

Dough:
2 libras de harina*
1 royal* (una cucharadita pequena)
Mantequilla* (3 cucharadas)
Aceite* (un poco)
Sal al gusto
Agua tibia*

filling:
con queso y hierbas o carne molida

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Forming the Empanadas

Form small round pieces in the size of a small plate and fill it, then carve it in. Close the edges and fry the Empanadas in a hot pan with oil or in the oven.
As you can see they are really easy to make and so delicious.
Enjoy it!

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So tasty these Empandas!

*harina -> flour
*royal -> baking powder
*mantequilla -> butter
*aceite -> oil
*tibia -> tepid

 

Time for some Xmas Fundrasing

Christmas is the time for presents, merrymaking and to give something back for the community. Montañita Spanish School organized a donation event to do something good for a poor school in a small village located 1 1/2 hours away from Montañita, far inland.

Two weeks ago we invited all the students to participate in a volleyball tournament for a little fee which we then donated to the school. We found a cozy place at the beach on the outskirts of Montañita. We had a volleyball field there, a bonfire and you could listen to the swoosh of the sea. It was amazing to see that nearly 30 people joined this donation event and that every single one of them have a heart for this community around Montañita.

From this money we bought some Christmas gifts for the children in school. The day before Christmas we went to this really small community far away from the next town surrounded by nothing than dry bushes and land. Cows and goats were running wild around the really poor houses. You could see that they deserve this donation more than anyone else. When we arrived there the children, parents and teachers were already waiting for us inside a small hall.

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conga line dance

The children were all dressed up and did a little performance, danced and did a conga line for us. After the show the children received their presents. Toys, footballs, barbies and ornaments put a big smile on all their faces. We also shared a cake and soft drinks which completed this successful day.

This was a great way for our students to give back to the community that they are a part of, albeit even for a short time. A big Thanks to all the students who donated!

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The children with their presents

The fact that we could donate so much and make so many children happy and the students gave with such a kind heart and helped contribute funds to the school make Montañita to a special place!

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All the participants of that wonderful day

More than a holiday – A once in a lifetime experience in Montañita

Ysé Martins, a unique student froppm Belgium spent 12 weeks with us here at Montañita Spanish School. She just finished high school and is now travelling for almost one year to learn Spanish and English. She is super excited about the trip and will tell us about her time in Montañita.

What was your intention to come to Montañita Spanish School?

I always wanted to learn Spanish! I found Ecuador and Montañita Spanish School by a travel agency. I chose to learn Spanish (actually just other languages but Spanish first) because I think it’s such a pretty and helpful language. I saw the offer of Spanish and Surf and I said why not? I stayed here for 3 months because I started to learn Spanish here and I wanted to leave with a little knowledge of it. ( I even think it worked 😉 )
So I found this perfect school in a little town with sun, friends, beach and surf. I think I got filled with a lot experiences.

How was life here in Montañita?

It was like being in paradise. I felt like home with the teachers, the staff, the students and the host family. All so nice. I arrived here and lived in Monañita Cabañas for 2 months. Where I had an amazing time, Jacuzzi Tuesday, the big eating-table, the rooms (dorms for me) even with the company of mosquitos. Just everything was so nice.

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Ysé and her host family

And then I moved to live in a family for my last month and it was awesome too! The kids were all really nice to me but so were the parents, I was well served in food (sometimes too well 😉 ). Far from the town so I could feel the tranquility.
My daily routine was simple here, at 8 or 10am class for 2 hours, then you go eat or cook with your friends. After lunch back to school for an other round of class from 1 to 3pm or 3 to 5pm. And in the pauses I would go to the beach, stay in the town or just hang out at the Cabañas. Then at night we had the parties, starting with a small game at the Cabañas, then heading to cocktail alley where we had an appointment with the fantastic Eugenio. After this we would go to Caña Grill or Lost Beach Club, really nice places to have fun. And the weekends were both, soft or hard, like doing 10 hours of bus to go to an other nice city of Ecuador, which is great or chilling days at the beach, surfing for a while.

What else do you want to mention about your time here?

It wouldn’t be fair to thank only the people from the school when they are so many other super locals. I met so many people during that stay and I think it’s the most important souvenir I can bring with me. I won’t forget any of those.
But anyway, thanks to MSS for succeeding at teaching me Spanish and making a lot of memories I’ll never forget.
The first part of my trip is already done and I haven’t seen the time flying so fast. Happy for the stay and sad to leave….

 

What do you take with you?

I would say experiences. A lot. Other cities-tours, barbecues, bonfires on the beach, cuba-libres, parties, Spanish classes for sure but not forget to mention surf, Spanish and friends.

What are you doing next?

Now I’m returning to Belgium to pass Christmas and New Year with my family. And after this, so the 9th of January I am heading to Canada, Whistler for an other 3 months. And finishing with South Africa, Capetown where I am volunteering. How awesome right?

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Ciao Ysé! We will miss you!
 

 

Caimans, Waterfalls and Chocolate-making – Amazon adventures at its best

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Our lodge in the Amazon

After arriving in The Amazon we got our breakfast in the Gaia Lodge and started our first activity. We went for a boat ride in the Amazon River where we got to see a lot of animals and activity of people. For example the Amazon River is full of gold and there are a lot of locals who are digging and searching for gold in the Amazon River. After an hour of boat ride we arrived at a spot where we could stop and have a swim in the Amazon.

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Boat ride

It was a nice swim. At some point while swimming you’ll realize just how special the Amazon is. You’re swimming in a river that is located in a rain-forest that covers almost a quarter of the South American continent. Lovely. After our swim in the river we got back on the boat and drove back to the Gaia Lodge. While driving back we stopped at some point where we could watch different species of monkeys playing, climbing, relaxing and eating in the trees.

The second day started really early. We started a hike through the Amazon Jungle to go to a waterfall. The road to the waterfall was beautiful and scary at the same time. We saw insects we never knew they exist for example one that looked like a spider, cockroach and a grasshopper in one. The bats were flying during the day in 30 degrees sunny weather. After a long hike in hot weather we arrived at the beautiful waterfall where we had a nice swim to cool off. The water was cool and clear. We had the opportunity to stand on a mini cliff to jump into the deep water. The swimming gave us the energy to hike back to the Lodge again for our lunch.

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Swimming in the Amazon river
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Firsthand experience of the Amazon tubing!

After lunch we had a workshop how to make chocolate of the famous cacao beans of the Amazon. We started from scratch cooking, peeling and melting the cacao for a nice delicious hot chocolate. After the chocolate workshop we had a Ceramic workshop where we saw the most skillful potter of Ahuano making a ceramic pot. After the workshop we got a look inside the workplace of the potter where we saw all of her work. We were lucky to have the sun all day long, because in the nights it rained like crazy. Though the Amazon rain is amazing. Never thought I would ever say these words, but I loved the rain.

On our last day we visited a family in the Amazon where they taught us a lot about their history and customs. After that we made a self-brewed alcohol made of Yuca. The custom is that this alcoholic drink gets drunk by everybody at ceremonies, celebrations and weddings. After visiting the family we went to a reserve where we could see Caimans swimming in the water. Having the same similar look of a crocodile and an alligator the Caimans looked actually pretty cute becauIMG_6998se of their small size. You almost want to step in the water and have a swim with them.

Our last activity was visiting the animal rescue center of the Amazon where you can visit jaguars, ocelots. A lot of monkeys and parrots. Hearing about this visit, made us really excited first to see the animals. However when we arrived and heard the sad story about the animals why and how they were rescued, the excitement disappeared and made room for sadness. Just to hear about the fact that some of these animals can’t cope in nature anymore and have to spend the rest of their lives in these cages is really horrible.

This has been by far the best trip of my life. Just being in the jungle for 4 days and being surrounded by so many different animals has been a wonderful experience. This made me decide to visit the Amazon in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, too.

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Great Amazon Squad!