A three-day long weekend, time to see something of the country! In August, Megan and Ruth visited Puerto Lopez, a small village at the coast of Ecuador. Puerto Lopez is also the harbour of our lovely partner project: soccer school Los Canarios.
By Ruth Hooiveld
Puerto Lopez is both a quiet and touristy place. At the beachfront you can watch fishermen selling their freshly caught fish, while at the small boulevard tour operators try to sell whale watching tours to the tourists there. Since we are tourists as well, and it was whale season, we couldn’t help ourselves and tried one. Whale watching is something I would advise everyone to do if you get the chance! The whales where amazing: a small family with one baby was swimming quietly, every now and then showing their heads and tails. Despite the fact that three people were throwing up constantly during the tour, and that it was very touristy and busy – at one point we were sailing around the animals with six boats – it was worth seeing these animals up close.
In Puerto Lopez we stayed at Fredy Soto’s, an Ecuadorian who has lived in Puerto Lopez for a long time. Fredy founded a soccer school, which is also one of Local Dreamers’ partner projects. When Megan and I arrived, Fredy and his wife Raquel recounted the story of why they started the school years ago. Their son didn’t have a lot to do after school in this (back then even more) sleepy village. They started playing soccer with him, and the boy liked it so much that he wanted to join a club. Unfortunately, this was not possible because there were none. Fredy is a great soccer fanatic himself, and therefore he decided to start a soccer school himself.
Nowadays, there are about 70 children in the school, and they train – on a professional level – every day. The older teams even play in the second league of the country. Fredy and his wife put all their time and effort into their project, as well as about every penny that they earn. Besides giving these youngsters something to work for, it also helps to fight another problem. In Puerto Lopez, as in many other places in Ecuador, there is a big problem with alcohol- and drug abuse amongst adolescents.
I have great respect for this project and for these two people who give everything to what they believe in. I am proud that we help them out a little bit! All in all, it was a great weekend away and it made me curious about the rest of Ecuador. The next feria is in October, who knows where we will be then…