Backpacker Adventure

We have had an amazing backpacking adventure since December.  Our adventure was not in backpacking itself but being introduced to a couple that had such a great impact on our lives, Chris and Yvonne.  We were introduced to them at an event here in Crucita in December.  They had just answered an ad for house/dog sitting here in Crucita Ecuador which is what brought them to our tiny town.  We became good friends and we invited them to stay on with us after their house sit ended as they truly loved Ecuador and wanted to see a few other sites while here in the country.

King Solomon once said Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.  God allowed us brief time together to sharpen each other in so many ways and it will never be forgotten.  We had the privilege of hearing so many incredible accounts of their travels literally all over the world.  We were recently watching a show on Netflix with them called 72 Most Dangerous Places to live and I kid you not, Chris seemed to know each one and in many cases has either visited or lived there!

Our times together have been filled with fun, laughter, joy and they have been an incredible support to us both physically when we moved to a new location as well as mentally and Spiritually.

Their time here has also been a time of growth for them as well.  Chris decided last night that he wanted to be baptized in the Pacific ocean at sunset.

Today is a somber day for us as their time here has come to an end…..for now.  We watched them board a bus headed for Quito and then on to new travels.  We are hoping and praying that God brings them back here in the future.

I’m not saying goodbye…..only hasta luego mi amigos.  Safe travels and come back soon!




Giving thanks on Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving and we are without internet.  I’m hoping to have it up by this afternoon since I have a tentative Skype date with my family (mom, sister, brothers) back home.  I emailed my sister Lin yesterday and we arranged for 3 central but then added in a second email this is providing we have internet.  So, it may or may not happen.

I’m learning to not depend on the internet which is a very foreign concept for me in my past life in the US.  Since I try to be thankful always, not just on Thanksgiving, I thank God that I have the opportunity to type this out on a computer while sitting on my patio and watch the beautiful Pacific waves roll in with fishing boats all anchored patiently waiting for their catch in the distance.

Our neighbors, Jim and Cat, who are both retired truck drivers from the states are without power.  I feel horrible for them because they have been having serious power issues ever since they moved in just a week prior to us.  They are renting the large house next door which is owned by the same couple that owns our beach house.  Unfortunately, for the past couple of weeks, their power has been out almost as much as it has been on.  Daily, it seems, we’ll get a call from Jim asking us if we have power.  Most of the time we do, but they do not.  Since it is common here for the power to go out, they like to know if it’s an area wide thing, or specific to their house again.  Being that these properties are owned by the same people, the internet is basically shared and when their power goes out, our internet goes out.  So, we have been without internet for the vast majority of the month, yet I’m very thankful that we have power.  We are hoping that their problem gets resolved quickly or they may need to relocate to a different property.  Not having power affects so much more than not having lights.  We take for granted that we will have a refrigerator and freezer functioning properly without fail, but obviously lack of power is something serious for food storage when you are in a warm climate.

Today, being Thanksgiving, we were supposed to share a Thanksgiving meal with them at their house, but at this point that has been cancelled.  I was hoping they would come here as I am making two small chickens but they are staying home and sitting this issue out and hopefully getting it resolved.  I’m planning on mashed potatoes/gravy and a version of green bean casserole.    I say this because I was not able to find French Fried onions which is what makes it so yummy.  So, I will improvise and use fresh cut up green beans, mushroom soup from a package and hope it tastes good.  I was able to find Campbells Mushroom soup here as they keep some things on hand for the gringos however you pay gringo prices then, and in the case of the soup it was over $2.50 a can.  So, no thanks I will make up mushroom soup from a package and hope for the best.  Their other dry soup mixes I’ve had the opportunity to try are quite tasty, so I have no reason to believe the mushroom soup won’t be just as good.   

I haven’t been able to find frozen pie crusts here and since I don’t even own a pie pan, making my own crust isn’t going to work.  So, we will not have pumpkin pie or pecan pie etc.  Instead I’m making a peach crisp and hoping it turns out. Since there’s no internet, there is no real recipe, so in times like this you make something up.  I used a large can of peaches which I cut up, an Ecuadorian Torta mix and poured melted butter over the top.  My simple version of peach cobbler. 

I have much to be thankful for though including the ability to cook in our gas oven and stove top.  I’m also very stoked about sitting out on our upper patio on our new wicker chase lounge chair.  We purchased it in Monte Cristi two weeks ago at a reasonable price.  Monte Cristi is known for their wicker furniture (all hand crafted right there in their tiny shops), Panama hats (yes, they come from Ecuador) and hammocks.  The wicker furniture does not come with cushions as those need to be purchased or in our case custom ordered separately.   We were able to locate a tailor in the same town who makes cushions, and we ordered a cushion with outdoor fabric in blue, white and green.  Last night he delivered the cushion to us, which was lovely but was the wrong colors.  In my broken Spanish, I explained that we ordered it in blue and he said no this is what we ordered.  However, Dave had the foresight to take a photo of the pattern when we ordered it, which we were able to show him.  Poor guy looked like a puppy with his tail between his legs because he knew at that point he couldn’t argue.  He is going to make a new one and deliver it two us with the correct fabric next week.  He told us that he ordered the fabric and this is the color that arrived.  I told him I was very sorry, but I was expecting the blue as well.  No problem…it will be re-made.  In the meantime, we are very much enjoying the cushion on our wicker furniture which we hadn’t been able to use for the last couple weeks. 

Since beginning to write this, the neighbors have declined coming for dinner as Cat has been upset about the electrical situation and they want to hang tight in case there is a change this afternoon.  Our friends Jill and Sy are coming over though last minute and I’m glad we can share a meal with someone as I’m cooking plenty of food. 

The potatoes are prepped and brining in salt water, the green bean are snipped and ready to go and the two small hens are in the oven.  In Ecuador, the chicken parts which are packed in the body cavity include the gizzard, liver, head and feet.  I’m very used to the gizzard and liver, but the head and feet not so much.  So, we are delivering a Thanksgiving meal of two chicken heads and 4 feet to the stray beach dogs which will gobble it up (no pun intended) in no time. 

It is a gorgeous sunny day here in Ecuador, dinner is on and we have so much to be thankful for!  Even though we are not having the normal meal with our family as we do every year with turkey, stuffing, the fixing and so many varieties of pies; we are having a meal none the less.  Reflecting on the old hymn, “Count your Blessings” is a great reminder of how we should be always regardless of our circumstances. 

The Differences here

The day we arrived it was close to sundown so we had a very limited amount of time to find some very basic groceries.  There are no grocery stores here as most of us are familiar with,  but quite a very tiendas (family corner stores with basics).  Jorge, our driver was nice enough to drive us to one and communicate with them in Spanish what we needed.  In most of the tiendas, you don’t go in and walk around.  It’s similar to a gas station back home with cigarettes, water, and snacks behind the counter like you might see in a larger city.  We bought some lettuce, other veggies for salad, bread, chicken, lunch meat,  4 large bottles of water (the kind that go on a water dispenser) and a few other misc items to get us by.  The water bottles were about $6 a each because you are paying for the bottle as well.  To refill them you simply exchange them out like we do for propane gas for grills.  I believe to refill is $1.  Jorge dropped us back off and headed back to Guayaquil and we headed in the house to start our new life.  It was weird.  Nothing is familiar and the little bit we packed  was as exciting as I used to feel as a kid opening my Christmas gifts.  Anything familiar is very comforting.  For example, most of the lighting is fluorescent and to me it is quite depressing. Lamps are very important to me to create a homey feeling.  I brought one tiny lamp with me that I used as a decoration in one of my bathrooms back home.  It was basically a night-light we left on all the time.  Here it is our only lamp and I was so happy to plug it is and confirm it still worked and was not broken.  My Scentsy lamp which is a beautiful light with glass stones in the inner glass wall was broken and unusable.  So all my Scentsy wax I brought will have to sit and look pretty until I can get a replacement (if that happens).

In terms of getting around, we will be relying heavily upon public transportation.  Tuk Tuks (Motor bikes with seating like a taxi) are very popular here as well as buses to get to areas further away.  So far we have not ventured out via public transportation but have actually met several ex-pats that have taken us around some.  Coming from the states and hopping in the car to go wherever is something I miss, but maybe I will get used to it.  A couple of the expats we met said they would not be without a car, however if we choose to have a car we better be prepared to learn how to drive as they do here.  Cars are also extremely pricey in Ecuador and unlike the states, they do NOT depreciate we’ve been told.  You will basically pay double for the same car you would back in the states.  The insurance however is quite minimal.  My understanding is that it is roughly $70 a year for the minimum “liability insurance” and then maybe another $100 if you want additional coverage.  Gas prices are about the same as the states.  Since most of the streets are dirt and very dusty, keeping a car clean is non-existent.  Also, the salt air is very tough on all mechanical equipment including vehicles.  One of our new friends here brought us a pad-a-lock to use as we were without one.  He said it would last about two weeks due to corrosion from the salt.

We are still adjusting to basic life and I’m about to do my first load of laundry.  We have no dryer so Dave is trying to install a clothes line for me.  Last night we had salad, chicken and string beans for dinner which was my first meal that I cooked.  I quickly realized that all the kitchen items that I gave away and sold on Varage sale, I would kill for now.  The “furnished” house is very basic and I discovered I don’t even have mixing bowls.  I may need to use pots for that.  Purchasing items here such as glass bowls is outrageous in price.  You will easily pay double or triple for the same item in the states.  A coffee maker that would cost maybe $20 in the states will be $45 here.  So the question is where is the affordability factor in us moving to Ecuador?  Property (renting or owning)….property taxes….health care….this is where you save.  If anyone considers moving here, I would highly recommend bringing as much as you possibly can with you such as shipping a container which we opted not to do.  In the long run, you will feel more settled and of course you already own the items.  Upon initially moving here, you have a limited time to bring the items duty-free.  So essentially you pay for shipping which in the long run is cheaper than buying everything here.  Dave and I have opted to live primitively (good thing both of us liked Gilligan’s Island growing up).  On our walk on the beach today, Dave found some flat stones (soap dishes) and some old fishing line and an old gallon jug with the top cut off that he said he could use as a shovel.  This is all part of the adventure!    🙂

**the pictures above are taken from our property.  The house, Dave hanging a clothes line, properties on either side, tractors/boats on the beach, kids playing in the ocean etc.

Spanish words of the day as taught to me by the handyman Stalin.

Coconut Palm Trees- Palmas de coco

Clothes Pins-Pinzas de ropa