To give you all a visual of where things were at 2.5 weeks post quake.
I purposely did not post all the devastation photos; (just a couple key ones) as we have all seen and heard about the damage for the past 19 days.
There are camps of varying quality of tarps, tents, sheets dotted along the way.
It was good to see only women and children in these camps when we arrived; to me that means the men were likely out working/cleaning somewhere.
Fenced Compounds are now converted to hold guarded supplies. Piled high with water, mattresses, clothes etc. I have no idea why they are being stockpiled and what the plan is to distribute the goods, but it is there and appears ready to be handed out.
We spotted people working, selling fruits and vegies, food on the corner. Auto mechanics and restaurants open for business. Some people were simply cleaning rubble (even if with just brooms) and making the appearance that life is going back to normal.
Except 'normal life' was dotted between the crumbled buildings.
The strain was apparent on their faces. The normal smiles gone; When they thought no-one was looking, the strain, stress and sadness was displayed on their normally smiling, 'tranquilo' faces.
I personally did not smell anything in the air as I have read, but it may have been the area we visited. I am just grateful that I can make that statement.
I did see crosses/memorials placed on top of piles of rubble from time to time.
The military is there; (they checked Mark's truck briefly).
There are large sections of Manta closed off to the public with entrances manned by police and/or military. I am told the same for Bahia, but we crossed the bridge rather than head to the tip of Bahia.
I have never been in a 'war zone' but what I seen in Manta is what I imagine it would look and feel like.
I am grateful that I was able to see for myself, not the devastation but rather the human spirit bouncing back, slow but sure.
Their strength in adversity is something I admire about the Ecuadorian People.
They likely won't remember us, we are one of many trucks dropping in to drop off items., however I will remember them.