In the last couple of days we have had two quite different views of the Ecuadorian Air Force...
Tale # 1: The soccer field, about 100 yards from our side yard, across from where the ruins used to be, is the place where the Ecuadorian Air Force lands its baby slicks when it comes to call. Yesterday, the house started to shake, and it sounded as if the chopper was going to just land on our roof, never mind clearing the palm trees that surround it. So, off we run to the side to watch it land, as it kicks up about 500 yards of dust first...luckily the wind was blowing off the ocean, so it all went the other way.
We look over and see a couple of honchos, each wearing a bright red or a bright orange tee shirt, conferring with the pilot, they jump in, and off they go. We didn't think much about it, until they did if four more times in the next three hours. Each time, they landed, conferred, and flew off again.
Now, on the last time, we notice that there are a bunch of husky guys around, all wearing bright orange tee shirts, and sporting "Sam Brown Rigs" over their tee shirts. Here is a Sam Brown belt worn with a uniform...
Now you can see that this rig over an orange tee shirt will get you noticed. And, it turns out, that is exactly what they want to be. The guys in orange, who were decked out in police garb, were searching the hills for a "malo hombre". We asked Isidro what crime this guy had committed to get all of these people and equipment looking for him. Isidro just said and gestured "He is loco". We never could figure out if the loco guy was just crazy and needed catching, of if he was actually a criminal, and was loco to be one.
We never say anyone in custody. But you have to respect the intelligence of the police...they knew that the odds of getting shot by they fellow officer, up in the hills, was probably better than being hurt by a loco hombre, so it was very smart to look like a pumpkin wearing a gun.
Tale #2: There is a restaurant where we stop on the way back from Salinas each Wednesday, but yesterday, we decided to eat in a more upscale place in downtown Salinas--good thing, too. For as we motored on back afterward, we noticed that there were three brand new "Ecuadoran Air Force" buses in front of our restaurant. We were just going to go on by, but Rox said "Let's stop and take a look", cause she had just seen about 100 guys frolicking in the waves. After we parked, we pulled out some Coke and Vino, and kind of enjoyed vicariously the fun all these guys, and a few ladies, were having in the surf and sand. Obviously they had all been fed by the restaurant, and this was playtime. The first thing that struck us was that they were "untanned". They were also tall. Sort of like a bunch of John Elways and Joe Montanas. Well that is an unusually rare trait in Ecuador, and here were about 100 identical looking guys. Also, they were having a huge amount of fun, but anyone could see that it would never "get out of control", if you know what I mean.
We also noticed that the bus drivers stayed in their seats the whole time, and they were in fatigues. Everyone else was in civies.
So...with our brilliant minds, we figured that these guys and ladies were officers in training, and probably Air Force Academy students--after that it all made sense. Take a look... I cropped out a bunch.