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Last weekend, we drove from Cuenca to El Churro waterfalls. It was so beautiful, and lush, and muddy. I have a serious love for the Ecuadorian countryside in the mountains. It is breathtaking. While at this place, we heard a zipping sound and then we realized that there was a zipline set up here! At that point, we had to find out more. I'm not sure if the ziplines were 680m each, or 600m one way and 800m another, but they are the second longest in Ecuador and only $25 for 3 people. Conor and I convinced Gustavo to come with us. And Monica was a saint and watched all 5 of the children. The zipline was incredible and a definite would do again experience. We flew over a valley with a river flowing through it. We had to hike for about 15 minutes between the two ziplines and that definite rivaled the zipline itself. The land here is so beautiful! This was a real treat of a day!

After the zipline, we drove for a lake and got lunch. Fog kept blowing through and so most of the time we couldn't even see the lake. The afternoons in the mountains have very reduced visibility. 

While we were at the Good Friday reenactment, an older women came up to me and asked me in Spanish if I knew Monica. Yes, I know a Monica. It turns out that she was Sarah, the mother of Monica, and she recognized us from photos Monica had shown her! Sarah invited us to her home for lunch with her big family (she has 9 children!). Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. We ate soup and popcorn and drank morocho. Some of the family members played songs on the guitar and Holly and Greta cuddled puppies. It was seriously so great! I had plans to eat Fanesca, a traditional Easter soup, but spending time in a kind family's home definitely trumped soup!

Today, we invited our Ecuadorian family over for lunch. First things first, Juan asked for juguetes (toys) and Monica did Maeve's hair. We so enjoyed spending the afternoon with them. All the fun adventures we've been on and pretty much all the new Spanish we've learned is thanks to them. We've spent so much time with them that now we are all comfortable hanging out together for hours chatting. This is what we came for. We are SO GRATEFUL!!!

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon with our Ecuador family this past weekend. Monica needed help with her english course and the kids played. Monica made us a dessert from guavaja, sugar and egg whites. I love tasting the different foods here! We just love this family so much! Really, really hoping it works out for them to visit us in the USA! Today, we were showing them photos and videos from winter. And photos of our house. Oddly enough, the one thing Monica wanted to take a picture of was of our pantry in our basement. It was really funny to tell them about the ready made chicken stock, etc. It's so different to them!! Conor was telling Monica and Gustavo about some of the food we make like bacon-wrapped dates. LOL!

Another day at the beach! Everyone rents big umbrellas at the beach, which was a relief because the sun is strong and hot! Another thing about the beach is there are constantly people walking along the beach selling all sorts of goods - plantain chips, ice cream, beer, hair braiding, water, a hot meal, empanadas... the list goes on! When we go back, I totally want to fulfill my childhood dream of getting my hair braided on the beach in Mexico like so many of my friends, but through Holly and Greta. They may hate it. We didn't buy much from the walking vendors, but I did buy sliced green mango with salt and lime juice and that was so good, so refreshing! The only thing that would've made it better was if it was cold. Definitely buying that again when I get the chance!

Holly and Greta loved playing in the water, in the sand, and looking for shells (lots and lots of shells!). Maeve was very, very happy in the water and playing on the beach. On this day, she fell asleep almost immediately once I put her in the ergo to go! 

I'm excited to return to the beach and a little nervous too about logistics. Conor will still be working for a week and a half at the beach (didn't take that sabbatical after all, saving it for later). I'm not sure how I'll protect our belongings from being stolen, and swim in the water with my children, and have money to buy green mangoes, and have keys to return to our apartment. Never mind taking photos. It may be time to buy a fanny pack that can come in the ocean with me! Or we may have Conor do an alternate work schedule where he comes with us to the beach for a little while during the day. Our white skin can handle only so much of the Ecuadorian sun anyways. We will figure it out, I hope!

And just to tug at the heart strings, here's Greta in the same swimming suit Maeve is wearing at a pool in California and at Bonavista Lake in Calgary! 

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