Sunday, 30 December 2012

Living the Life Ecuador Coast

War Games

Over the last week, we have seen an increase in activity on the base, and the Navy, Army, and Air Force have been engaged in war games.
Fighter planes and helicopters overhead, ships and submarines off the coast.

The marines are practicing beach landings with fighter and helicopter support.
We were told that there was to be a beach landing in the morning around 10.00, so we got our stuff together and made our way to Chipipe beach where the exercise was to take place. When we arrived, we found that the beach had been cleared and the tide was out. The sky was clear, and in the distance we saw ships approaching the coast. As they got closer, we were able to make out that there were three ships.

 They looked like they were heading straight for the coast line where we were standing, but about a mile out they turned to starboard  and headed towards the base.  At this point, we had a good clear view of the broadside of the ships; two of them had helicopters on the stern. Then their guns began to fire. We could see the smoke and what seemed like a minute later, we heard the noise of the guns. Smoke was rising from the area where the base is and we could hear small arms fire. At this point, we were being strafed by fighter jets at very low altitude. I was not able to make out what type of planes they were, but very low and very fast.

Helicopters were now approaching the base, hugging the coast line and flying below radar.  From our right, we could see small crafts coming towards us at high speed. If they came from a ship, we could not tell as they just appeared. These small craft came right up to the water's edge and men in uniform jumped out, waded on to the beach and took up defensive positions. They were supported by helicopters; the small crafts left the area and the men on the beach moved to the malecon, where they halted and then returned to the beach where the small crafts had returned to pick them up. Then the beach went back to being a place of enjoyment.
This whole scenario lasted about an hour. It was interesting to see and hear. 

Bringing home the fish

The above video was taken while I was walking the dogs along the beach. I do not normally see this because the tides come back  usually earlier.
This was the last boat to come back as all the other boats were parked up below the Malecon. So I was lucky to see this, and to further push my luck, I had my small camera with me.
By the time I had gotten my camera out, the boat had pulled aboard the remaining nets and was at the water's edge.
To see this was like looking at a page in a history book. Using basic mechanics and man power, the crew of three were joined by three members of the family, and among them, they began a well- rehearsed choreography of "let's get the boat out of the water, the nets emptied, and sell our bounty".
This is a process that goes on every day of the year. The video I have sped up because the process in real time would take too long. I do not think that people would sit and watch it in that form.

The New Year's Celebration here in Salinas
As we get closer to the new year, the streets are getting more crowded and the hostels and hotels are getting booked up.
On the eve of New Year's, the malecon is closed to vehicle traffic, as the number of people trying to get to the beach swells. 
One of the traditions here is that they make paper mache figures, fill them with fireworks, and set them on fire on the beach. As you walk or drive around, you will see them on the side of the road for sale and you can see them in people's homes, which they have made themselves.
The whole of the malecon will become a place where, if you can find a place with a good vantage point and stay there, you will get a very good show. Last year, there were estimates of 40,000 people on the malecon. With the population of Salinas only being 35,000, you can see that it will be a bit crushed.
The video was taken while driving back from La Libertad. You can see these all over the place.

This Month
January 1
New Year's Day - The most celebrated holiday around the world.
January 1, 1502 - Portuguese explorers landed at Guanabara Bay on the coast of South America and named it Rio de Janeiro (River of January). Rio de Janeiro is currently Brazil's second largest city.
January 1, 1660 - Samuel Pepys began his famous diary in which he chronicled life in London including the Great Plague of 1664-65 and the Great Fire of 1666.
January 1, 1776 - During the American Revolution, George Washington unveiled the Grand Union Flag, the first national flag in America.
January 1, 1801 - Ireland was added to Great Britain by an Act of Union thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
January 1, 1863 - The Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the states rebelling against the Union.
January 1, 1877 - Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.
January 1, 1892 - Ellis Island in New York Harbor opened. Over 20 million new arrivals to America were processed until its closing in 1954.
January 1, 1901 - The Commonwealth of Australia was founded as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister.
January 1, 1915 - During World War I, the British Battleship Formidable was hit by a torpedo in the English Channel, killing 547 crewmen.
January 1, 1942 - Twenty six countries signed the Declaration of the United Nations, in Washington, D.C., reaffirming their opposition to the Axis powers and confirming that no single nation would make a separate peace.
January 1, 1958 - The EEC (European Economic Community) known as the Common Market was formed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands in order to remove trade barriers and coordinate trade policies.
January 1, 1959 - Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba after leading a revolution that drove out Dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro then established a Communist dictatorship.
January 1, 1973 - Britain, Ireland and Denmark became members of the Common Market (EEC).
January 1, 1975 - During the Watergate scandal, former top aides to President Nixon including former Attorney General John Mitchell, Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, were found guilty of obstruction of justice.
January 1, 1979 - China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations, 30 years after the foundation of the People's Republic.
January 1, 1993 - Czechoslovakia broke into separate Czech and Slovak republics.
January 1, 1999 - Eleven European nations began using a new single European currency, the Euro, for electronic financial and business transactions. Participating countries included; Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
Birthday - American Patriot Paul Revere (1735-1818) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Best known for his ride on the night of April 18, 1775, warning Americans of British plans to raid Lexington and Concord.
Birthday - Betsy Ross (1752-1836) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a seamstress credited with helping to originate and sew the Stars and Stripes flag of America in 1776.