Father’s Day in Crucita

Today was a special day in Crucita at the little church.  Typically the church consists mainly of children as well as 8-10 moms that regularly attend.  As of yet there are no fathers and we thought that being that it was Father’s day, it would be a great excuse to invite fathers to come along with their families to church today.  Yesterday Dave and two other men walked the neighborhood inviting dads to come to church.  We had previously discussed that  if 5-6 came, that would be great.  I was praying for eight thinking that was a big request.  But to our surprise and delight, we had 12 dads show up with their families!  It was a beautiful thing to see them break away from their normal routines and spend family time.

Today Dave had a chance to speak to them through a fine young interpreter, Sarah.  He gave them a message of hope and explained how their responsibility in their family is so great in setting an example to their wives and children.  Of course he also presented the amazing message of salvation which is available to all people of every tribe, people and nation.

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The day included music and even some of the guys joining in with clapping!   There were also a few fun games one of which needed 4 or 5 volunteer dads along with one of their children.  Dads and kids were separated and the kids were asked questions like what are their favorite foods or what is your birthday.  The dads were challenged to see if they would answer correctly!  This isn’t exactly the easiest thing when you are in front of an audience and are put on the spot!  Some did good and some not so good but it sure brought a lot of laughs especially to some of the mom’s faces.  There were also wheel barrel races which involved dads and their kids (the wheel barrels) picking up an object with their mouth and bringing it back.  It definitely involved arm strength, but some of those little fellows are pretty strong!

Everyone was also given a special snack of meat balls, pastries, and juice.  We had a such a great turn out, we ran out of food.

But Lissette and Kenya calmly whipped up some more pastries by hand and fried them up.  No worries….and the people patiently waited to be served.  In the mean time, Christian ran out to buy more food and ended up getting “corviche”.   It was my first experience with corviche and I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous when I was told it had fish in it.  But…..it was delicious!  This is a food common in this region in Ecuador and has fish, plantains and peanuts.  Put a little sauce on top and voila!!  Muy Rica!

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We are so thankful for all the neighborhood folks who came today and put a smile on their families faces and we pray that some of the fathers will return.  Most are fishermen and their schedule is completely dependent on the ocean and what’s available for fishing at any given time.

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Happy Father’s day to all the special men in my life as well.  My husband, my father in law, my daddy in heaven and other family/friends who are fathers.  We love you!

 

Mother’s day

Today is Mother’s day of 2017 and we have been in Ecuador for just over 7 months.  I’m not going to lie…I was already slightly feeling a bit sorry for myself at the beginning of the week thinking about how I will be without my children and my mother this year.  But shortly after that I received a message from a friend of mine Rosie, who works with people with disabilities here in my area of Ecuador.  She asked if I would like to help her put together some baskets of goodies for the mothers of the families she works with.  I’m so glad she contacted me!!  Instead of sitting home and feeling sorry for myself (which I would have done) I had the tremendous privilege of getting a peak into the lives of these people here whose need is unbelievably great.

We were able to deliver groceries to about 15 families today and let them know someone cares for them!  Soon after we started on our way, it started to pour out, so many of our visits were done in the pouring rain, trudging through mud and thankfully not getting the vehicle stuck in the mud.  My next door neighbor Sandy graciously agreed to drive us around all the way from La Boca to Los Arenales.
All of the mothers are either disabled themselves or are caring for disabled family members.  Some disabilities are mental, some are physical and some are both.  Today I saw poverty unlike I have never seen before.  Many of the homes we delivered groceries to are off the beaten path, are made of bamboo, have concrete floors (some dirt), and windows open to the outside (no glass or screens).  Most furniture consists of a few plastic chairs which the families eagerly brought out from other rooms to offer us a seat.

One woman is elderly and is caring (by herself) for 4 adult children who are all blind.  One family of four (mom, dad and two small babies) live in a tiny one room house the size of a walk in closet.  One adult mentally disabled son is helping care for his elderly mother who is not able to walk or sit up.  One woman is caring for both her mentally handicapped teens by herself as her husband has passed.   One woman is completely bedridden and is cared for by her daughter in law who also cares for 4 small children.  These are only a few examples of the homes we visited today.

I am struck by the kindness of the Ecuadorian people all eager to pull up a chair and invite us to sit down with them in their home. Some even reciprocating by offering us coconut milk fresh from the coconut. All very thankful for the food and the short visits.

I was also struck by the kindness of my friend Rosie for giving of herself so tirelessly and allowing me to tag along side her.  Rosie is also Ecuadorian, has two jobs and 3 children of her own she cares for along with her husband. I’m amazed at her giving attitude and her desire to help others out even though today would have been a perfect day for her to take it easy herself.  God bless you Rosie!

The mothers I had a chance to meet today were amazing strong woman who keep going even though some days I’m sure they don’t feel like it.  It was truly a beautiful Mother’s day!

There’s the good, the bad and the Reality.

It has been almost three months that Dave and I have moved to Ecuador.  A land that we had never visited before.

A sense of normal is settling in and now I’m finding that things that once fascinated me that I couldn’t believe I was seeing are very common place to me.   This is a beautiful place to live and extremely affordable especially for ocean front living!  At the same time, this is not the US and it is not a resort in Mexico.  There are things that are common place here that I’ve never seen back home and I’m sure there are many more experiences yet to come.  I wanted to write about a few things we’ve experienced so far.

There are many  stray dogs here in Crucita.  Recently a spay clinic was set up to spay any female dogs for free which is wonderful, but certainly not the final resolution to the stray problem.  The dogs are full of tics and mites and mange.  All are looking for food and for the most part are quite non aggressive unless they belong to a territory such as some of the beach dogs.  They don’t want any other animals (like our two small dogs) in their territory and send off warnings to stay away.  But the street dogs are simply walking along looking for a morsel.  Some are too tired to run, so they walk sluggishly or lay on the side of the street napping.  Yesterday it warmed my heart to see a worker at a restaurant slip out the side door and feed (and even pet) one of the strays with food that would be tossed out.  We gave him a thumbs up when we saw that.  Understandably though, the restaurants don’t want to feed the strays or they will be hanging around begging for food and disturbing the customers.

We also see pigs tied to trees getting ready to become food to feed the family.  It was told us that each family is allowed by law to have one pig on their property at a time.  One day I heard some squealing happening and I imagine that was “the day” the family got their food.  Today we saw two goats trotting through Las Aranales.  I’m sure they have a place they below, but they were on their own today.

At the end of our street we saw chickens being plucked by two woman.  Chicks can be purchased quite inexpensively here to be raised as food for families.  So it’s not uncommon for families to have them in a small yard in the back of the house right in town.  The chickens do taste quite wonderful here and of course there are always fresh eggs.

The streets here are mainly dirt although there are a few block or paved streets.  The main street in Los Aranales(which is named calle Diciembre 25th) is paved, but filled with potholes.  The tuk tuks (or motor taxis) know right where the bumps are as they maneuver all over the rode to create the least uncomfortable ride for their customers.  Rides cost 50 cents per person pretty much wherever you want to go in the area.  Although vehicles mainly stay to the right, there are no real lanes here.  Passing other vehicles is common place and you hear a lot of people blowing their horns.  This is done out of courtesy as they pass someone rather than impatience or anger like in the states.  Most of the roads do not have sidewalks and you need to walk in the dust and dirt to avoid traffic.  Buses and motorcycles whiz by within inches of hitting you it seems!  Often you will see families on a motorcycle, with the baby in the front.  The driver is required to wear a helmet by law, but no one else is including the kids.  market

This is the time of year I am told it gets quite warm and I’ve definitely felt a change in the humidity level.  It does no good to take a shower if you are walking any distance as you will soon be filled with salt, sweat and dust.  My hair is no longer a cute sassy cut (or at least I thought so) with highlights, but rather tied up or put back with a headband or hat to stay out of my face and keep cool.  My hair constantly feels dirty mostly because of the salt in the air.  Should I keep it really short?  That is a serious consideration right now.

There are no grocery stores in Crucita, but rather tiendas which are tiny family stores that typically you do not go in, but instead tell the owner what you want and they pass it to you through the bars.  Not all tiendas have the same things and may have one item one week, but not have it again for a long time.  Tiendas are for purchasing mostly dried goods such as chips, bread,  laudrey soap etc.  Or at least that is what we mainly purchase there.  The normal grocery store where you shop with a shopping cart, they play music and there is air conditioning is about 45 minutes away from here.  Since we do not have a vehicle, we typically take the public bus in and it will take about one hour twenty minutes to an hour and a half to get there ($1.50 each).  Then you need to get back, so if you have ice cream or other frozen items it’s best to hire a taxi for $12.

It’s possible to get by without having to go to the large grocery store, as you can get what you need here for the most part.  Chickens are sold on the side of the road hanging up with the vendors waving away flies.  The market here has all sort of fruits, vegetables and meat.  Again, the meat is not what you are used to seeing as it is unrefrigerated and hanging by hooks in the market.  Typically I see the carcass of the animal with the fur on it hanging along side.  I’m not sure if that is there as an advertisement to what type of animal it is or if people will buy them.  They will chop the meat up with machetes over blocks of wood.  No plastic gloves are used to put your meat in the bag and money is collected from the same individual.

Sometimes power outages are frequent.  Knock on wood, we have had very few of them over the past couple weeks, but prior to that it seemed every couple days the power would go out.  When that happens, there is no internet connection either.  At times the power can go out for quite awhile such as 12 hours or so.  Most of the time, it is a short period of time…but when it goes out, you never know when it will go back on. We were without internet recently for 3 days.  During that time, we cannot use the water either because the water pump is electric.  So we have water set aside for times like this just to take a sponge bath if needed.  Our drinking water is never from the faucet anyway, so drinking water is always available even during power outages.

So there you have it folks. This is our new reality that I wanted to share.  We do not live an American lifestyle for the most part (although some folks here choose to do this).  In writing this, I wanted to paint a real picture of life here so that people back home do not assume we are living a resort style beach bum life.  Or anyone who wants to visit, knows what they are visiting!  We love it here but it is different than what some might think.

 

This is Ecuador

Our friends Jill and Sy asked if we would like to go to the Botanical Gardens, get some Chinese food and do a bit of shopping on Friday (day after Thanksgiving).  With a slight twist of my arm, I readily agreed.  After all, our internet was still down from Thanksgiving and the power was out now.  With the power out, showers are not possible due to the water pump operating on electric.  So a sponge bath it was!  It wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last I am sure.  And in a pinch when my hair isn’t at it’s best, I just put on a hat and some cute earrings and pretend like I planned it that way.  Such is life in Ecuador!  There’s a word we use here (usually along with a smile) when things are a bit off.  That word is TIE meaning “This is Ecuador”.  Once you’ve experienced life in any 3rd world country, you understand completely. 

They picked us up at 10 and we headed into Porto Viejo to begin the day’s adventures. 

Since traveling to Porto Viejo is not a daily occurence, we try to do as many errands as possible as well.  So the first stop was to buy Dave a bus ticket to Guayaquil for Monday to continue the Visa process.  As soon as  Dave got out of the vehicle, we saw immediately that there was a problem with the right front brake because it was smoking.  As Dave went into the bus terminal to purchase his ticket, Jill motioned for some help from across the street.  We just happened to be parked across from a Yamaha store.  A little old man came and tried to help us release the brake since it had seized up, it seemed to loosen up a bit but not totally. For his efforts he was paid “enough for a coke” per his request. img_5698 Sy decided to get it to a mechanic as soon as possible through a recommendation of a taxi driver they know from the area.  The mechanic took a look and since it wasn’t seized at the moment determined it was fine but “just don’t put aqua on it to cool it down”.    Good to know, I guess.  Bound and determined to carry on with our day as planned we were on our way to the Botanical Gardens.  After going through the front gate of the gardens, we again smelled and saw the smoke coming from the right front of the car.  Sy decided that we will go ahead and enjoy our walk through the gardens but after lunch he would need to have a different mechanic take a serious look to avoid other potential serious issues. 

The gardens, which are part of the technical university located next to the gardens, were beautiful.  We saw many interesting and colorful plants, flowers and even some animals.  Our private tour guide showed us a large termite nest, a boa constrictor (free to roam throughout the gardens), several smiling turtles, as well as a variety of birds. 

Jill was not a fan of the snake being allowed to roam free, but she as well as the rest of us managed to make it out all in one piece.  Overall the gardens are a beautiful, tranquil place to visit and there was no admission charge.  I would love to go back during the summer season which is coming up here in the next few months and see what changes occur. 

On to the next part of our day which was lunch at the Chinese restaurant called Ming Yuan.  The food was delicious, the portions were large and the atmosphere was nice.  The bathrooms were some of the cleanest I’ve seen since moving here which is always appealing to me especially in a restaurant.  Weather true or not, my theory is if the bathrooms are clean perhaps they keep the kitchen equally as clean as they prepare my food.  The atmosphere was similar to back in the states with real furniture (not the plastic chairs which are typically seen in restaurants), air conditioning and the usual Chinese decorations like a fish aquarium and bamboo plants.  Chinese food here is definitely not quite the same as back home, but this was  close enough.  I enjoyed fried rice, soup, chicken and veggies and Dave had a pork dish.  One thing that was different was there wasn’t the usual Chinese banter in the kitchen, I’m pretty sure everyone there spoke Spanish.  The owners went out of their way to make us feel welcomed and comfortable.  I’ll be back again I’m sure!

Next on the agenda was getting the vehicle to a mechanic prior to shopping.  The mechanic shop was very modern and comparable to US standards with a small air-conditioned office which all four of us sat in while waiting for the diagnosis and repair.  We were there for a couple of hours while the mechanics would hop on their motor bikes trying to find the right parts at the various tiendas (stores).  Porto Viejo was hit bad in the April earthquake so many of the tiendas have been displaced and are located in different areas temporarily and in some cases permanently.  The verdict finally came in that the correct part for the Blazer was in Manta (which is about an hours drive away) but they would put on a temporary part that would work fine for the time being.  You have no idea how hard it was for this simple solution to be  communicated to us in Spanish.  While we all know some Spanish, the words or maybe the pronunciation of the words were just not clicking for us.  The people in the shop were not very animated either and kept repeating the same thing over and over again pretty much the same way.  They did try writing it out for us, which helped some.  Sometimes a bit of animation, drama or gestures helps to ease communication,  which is what Dave and I often resort to.  In the end we learned that the temporary fix would take about an hour, but they would need to come back next week once the part was available to permanently fix it.  The good news is that labor is very cheap here so often times a day’s worth of work at the mechanics shop will cost the customer about $20 or so.  The parts can be the pricy items, but in this case, their part will be around $25.  Jill, Dave and I decided we would take a cab over to the SuperMaxi shopping area where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping.  They also have an office supply store, a hardware store, toy store, pharmacy and a home store in a modern indoor mall setting which is very handy!  Sy would come by to pick us up when the vehicle was done.

We were able to check some things off our shopping list such as new pillows with colorful pillow cases for our new chase lounge chair, dust mop, extension cord,  pots for plants as well as a couple of sweet little flowers to bring home. 

I’m a sucker for pretty plants, just like my mom and sister!  The plants in the hardware store were imported from the US and maybe are considered seasonal here, although I’m not quite sure.  I bought two small marigolds hoping they will hold up outdoors even with the high salt content in the air.  I also bought a colorful pepper plant and an African violet for indoors.  I would have purchased a poinsettia, however a small plant was around $13 so I had to pass although I love having them during the holidays.  The other plants were very affordable and I’m anxious to see if they will thrive this close to the beach.  Many plants/flowers cannot live close to the ocean due to the salt air as it burns them up.  So far I know that periwinkle and geraniums hold up quite well and I’m hoping that the marigolds do the same. 

The shopping center was bustling with people for black Friday shopping which they have a small version of here in Ecuador.  The mall had a beautiful nativity set and Christmas tree set up as well as some fun activities for children with a painting area.  I would say it was a perfect amount of décor, pleasant really.  The commercialization of the holidays has always been way too much for my taste back in the states, so not having it here has been enjoyable.

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Sy picked us up after shopping and we were on our way home although the traffic was crazy.  It was probably because of the busy shopping season, but also because it was Friday night.  Driving out-of-town last night was just another reminder of how I’m not too keen on having a car here at this point.  Driving in Ecuador is similar to other foreign Latin American countries we’ve visited.  The biggest hurdle being that there are no lanes and even if there were, no one uses them.  You drive wherever there is room on the road and use your horn quite often!   We made it home safe and sound though and although the day wasn’t exactly as we planned it, it was an adventure none the less.  Thanks to Jill and Sy for letting us tag along!

 

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 Simple Life

It has been just a couple days short of us living in Ecuador for a month now.  Life has become in so many ways very simple as compared to life in the United States.  Some people may find it boring because we are so accustomed to being entertained non stop or having our schedules filled to the brim.  As I reflect on life in Ecuador as compared to my previous life in the US, I like to think of it as simple.  I’m truly enjoying the lifestyle though it takes some getting used to for sure.  I can suppose that someone who thrives on business and activity may find it rather difficult to live here, but even then I believe if that person would take a step back…they may find they like it.

Examples:

  • Today was water day in which a big water delivery truck came to fill up our cistern.  Cistern water is not our drinking water, but only our washing water.  The fill up cost was about $35  and we think it will be a monthly occurence but that of course depends on our water usage.  Occasionally the town will turn water on to the homes and it will trickle in a little at a time, but my understanding is that it has not been even close enough to sustain the average household which is why it is fairly common to have it delivered.
  • Drinking and cooking water is delivered by a lovely woman named Margaretta on her bicycle/delivery cart for $1 for a large 5 gallon bottle.  We go through a bottle every couple of days or so.
  • Food is readily available at the local tienda which is nearly on every corner.  They are very similar to small walk up gas stations in the US, but they have most everything you would need in a pinch in small quantities. Bakeries and pharmacies are also very easy to find in any town.  For larger quantity shopping and purchasing things like flour, sugar, salt etc, we go to SuperMaxi in Porto Viejo.  It takes some planning for sure and there are much fewer choices in terms of products but we aren’t lacking that’s for sure! img_5429
  • Church is very simple and I love that.  Yesterday we had the privilege of attending a tiny church (maybe 15 adults and 25 children) which was located in a concrete building in the middle of rice fields.  Voices echoed due to the concrete and there was no glass in the windows but it was lovely and the presence of the Holy Spirit was there!  Several times we heard chickens and roosters crowing and saw and occasional bird fly through the building.  The people were lovely and welcomed us to their small group though we were foreigners from the US.  It was simple, but it was powerful.
  • We have a wonderful cleaning lady, Lucita.  Just for the record, she comes as part of our rent…typically I clean my own home as a matter of choice.  🙂  Lucita uses mainly  vinegar and water to clean and everything sparkles when she’s done!  It’s so uncomplicated.  I always felt stressed shopping even for cleaning products when I had choices because there were just too many!  Choices are wonderful, but maybe I’m wired to live where there are fewer.
  • Transportation although less convenient than driving whenever and wherever you want is way less complicated for us as well.  At this point, we have opted to not have a vehicle so we walk or we hire a tuk tuk or we take the bus!  All of which are extremely affordable here.  We don’t have car insurance or gas to pay for and there’s no maintenance!img_5326-copy
  • Paperwork (on real paper) is important here.  It’s important not to lose it because whatever you need is most likely not stored in a data base somewhere or easily pulled up on a computer.  If a bus ticket is purchased, the receipt/ticket will be on a piece of ordinary paper (probably hand written) that needs to be presented if you are to ride that bus.  If you lose it, it’s not good.  Again…simple.img_5428
  • We have gotten to know so many wonderful people.  And get this…it’s not presumptuous or rude to just show up at someone’s house.  I remember years ago, relatives or friends stopping in at my parent’s house unexpected.  My mom always had banana bread or something she could pull out of her freezer to serve them if that happened, but no one thought a thing about visiting unannounced.  Today it is almost considered rude.  Not here.  In fact, if a visitor shows up, most likely you are happy to see them!

Living in Ecuador is very reminiscent of life in the United States years ago where life was slower, people knew their neighbors, and nothing happened fast.

Life here is different.  There certainly are so many benefits, blessings and conveniences to living in my homeland, don’t get me wrong. But so far, here in Ecuador, life has been more simple.  I think I’m going to like it!

 

 

 

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