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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Feliz Ano Nuevo

Whew! What a couple of weeks! This is going to be a short post, gotta get back in the swing of having internet, and have a TON of emails to sort thru and problems to fix. We moved into a house that didn't have internet and long story short, after having several missed installation appointments (thru the holiday week)...finally yesterday, SURPRISE! 

I'll gather my thoughts, pictures and stories from the past few weeks and will diligently write them here in the coming days. But for today, Happy New Year to you and yours, much love and thanks to our friends and family and many well wishes and blessings to all our blog followers in the coming year.


Stay tuned, the adventure DOES continue!! Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Casa WF, our home away from home

Recently we met and became fast friends with Marty Williams and Jim Franks, they've built a house on the Boca over the past couple years and are finally here full time. One unique thing about their house is that they put two rental suites on the downstairs level, and now that they've moved in and gotten settled, they are advertising the rental units. While they were recently out of the country, we got to house sit and very much enjoyed staying on the property.



If interested in seeing their website go to WilliamsandFranks.com or they are listing on VacationRentalbyOwner, FlipKey and Booking.com (I am not getting anything from the rentals of these suites, just doing a service by spreading the word)


Sunrise the other morning while staying at Casa WF. Stunning shining thru the mangroves. We took our coffee down to the beach (and a bag for shells) almost every morning we were there. Downstairs in the pool area is an outdoor shower with hot and cold (heck, we don't even have hot water at our house!) Lots of pool chairs for lounging at the pool, or plenty of beach to walk.




Everybody loves the property, our dogs are welcome, and as you can see love it. Soaking up the sun and checking out the scenery are their favorite things to do, next to naps...


A beautiful sunset, with the pool in the forefront. A perfect setting for happy hour, or any hour, for that matter. The weather is consistently wonderful, sometimes breezy, but so far we've never needed anything more than a light sweater.

The suites are well appointed, bottled water, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, wifi, television, queen bed plus full size convertible couch, (so the suites can accommodate up to 4). Large bathroom, with great shower and nice fluffy towels! Ahhh, such luxury, compared to what we've been living in. No wonder we stay as often as we can, but alas the renters are coming, they've got bookings beginning as soon as Christmas. They just brought back from the States decorations for the suites, so I won't post any pictures of inside until they get them squared away like they want, but trust me when I say they are very nicely done.


Another picture of the kids. See how nicely Shadrach matches the tile. The landscaping is coming along, and is getting very pretty. The driveway will fit your rental car, but walking is the main mode of transport once you're here, town is almost a mile down the beach. A couple of restaurants are very close by, and will deliver. All in all its a very nice property, if you need a short term rental, please look them up WILLIAMSANDFRANKS.COM or look for CASAWF on the other rental booking sites.


Stay tuned, The adventure continues, and YOU could have your very own! 




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Outing with Joffrey

Sometimes the language barrier is not an issue, case in point our outing with Joffrey. He is very gracious and kind with our limited spanish, we say we are learning "poco y poco" little by little, and one day he laughed and said "Rapido", and we all laughed because we weren't learning it fast enough. Thru Joffrey we have realized that we read more spanish than we understand verbally, so we do a lot of writing things down, plus with our pocket translator we did really well the other day.


We met Joffrey at his hardware store in San Jacinto at noon, he closed up and we waited for the bus. He had just taken a tumble, and was doing medico on his wound while we waited. The bus came and we headed towards RocaFuerte. We thought the invitation was to then get on a boat, but that never happened, we instead got a ride someways out into the farmland to a large restaurant. 




We realized we were not going to a Ceviche festival, just out to lunch for authentic Ecuadorean fare. Our first course was Gallina Criolla, this may be slightly seasonal, because I'd never seen the word Criolla until recently, then I started seeing it everywhere, I'd figured out is was cheese, but wasn't prepared for how one ate it.




It came in a bowl, very wet cheese, after mashing it a bit, it was a mix of ricotta and cottage cheese in taste and texture. It also came with what I believe to be roasted bananas (plantains), they were peeled, and cooked to a very overdone, almost chalky consistency that you then crumbled into the cheese. It was interesting, tasty, but nothing I'm going to loose sleep craving. The next item was more of a dessert item, but remember the Ecuadoreans are not huge sweet eaters.


Joffrey couldn't partake in this, because he is allergic to peanuts. (I'd wondered about that, since peanuts are so big in Ecuador cooking) these plantains are more what we get with most meals, they are grilled to bring out the natural sweetness, and are soft and mushy. The powder is mani, pulverized peanuts with some seasoning, it's sometimes sold with cheese. We were told to dip the plantain bite into the mani powder and it tasted like a peanut butter banana sandwich. Again, tasty, but I probably won't add it to my daily diet. 


This is Chicha, pronounced chee-cha, we had it once (again with Joffrey) in Charapoto, but it was very different then. Let me explain, Chicha is made with corn kernels soaked in water until they germinate. Then boiled and fermented for several days, resulting in a milky yellow liquid, sweet at the beginning of the fermentation process, becoming sour and raising in alcohol content as it progresses. It is used as a holy water of sorts at festivals, but it never gets stronger than beer, and in some areas beer is becoming more common. When we had it in Charapoto, it was room temperature, and sour, my body would only allow one sip to pass my lips, but this version was sweet, and served over ice, I drank plenty. Joffrey said the stuff we got in Charapoto was commercialized, and this was home made, hence the difference.

We paid our bill, $3.50 and walked down the road to the next stop. Had to stop for a little more medical attention, and saw some Falcons, and pretty water hyacinth.








We arrived at the next restaurant this one serving Viche, which is a peanut based soup, so again Joffrey couldn't have any. We got a bowl of Mixto to share and it was yummy, guess no pictures of that one, oops. It had shrimp,  a couple different fish and veggies. Big glasses of fresh orange juice and we were stuffed, no mas por favor! Good thing we had a bit of a walk, that Viche is filling.


Ladies in the outdoor kitchen. We walked back towards downtown Rocafuerte, talking about this and that. Found out Joffrey is one of 10 children, and his papa had another family that had 5 children. It is very common for Ecuadorean men to have more than one wife ( not in the same house) and Joffrey himself has 4 kids, but is no longer married. We walked by this rice distribution center for lack of a better word, and couldn't pass up the picture of the dogs.


Was the one in the chair recently drinking from that bottle on the table? Don't drink so much you can't guard those bags of rice, haha. Malo perro (bad dog). The first picture of the three of us is in Rocafuerte in front of the church in the main square, it was getting late in the afternoon, so much of the town was closed for Sunday siesta, so we caught the bus back to San Jacinto. 

We had a wonderful day, and enjoyed learning some spanish, and getting to spend time with Joffrey. He recently found us a little house to rent for $250 per month, and when we get settled, we will invite him over for dinner. I'm more determined to learn spanish, and will start a new online lesson today. But first, a walk on the beach is calling, the marine layer hasn't burned off yet, so it's very pleasant. A bag for shells, and our pups on the beach, perfecto! So, stay tuned, the adventure continues, one outing at a time!






Sunday, December 7, 2014

Flying Pirates

We have been house sitting since the day afterThanksgiving, it's been really nice to have the magnificent views and change of scenery. Not to mention the luxurious accomidations, that our San Alejo house doesn't offer, hot water, laundry facilities, pool...

The way the house is situated at the Boca (mouth of the river) and the Ocean, not to mention the mangroves behind is a haven for birds, they play on the wind currents and really look like they enjoy life. One came to watch us drink our coffee the other morning, and prompted the research for this post.



Veronica was very interested in our visitor, she is our "bird dog" always chasing the robins back in the States, and looking to chase the sea birds here. (Funny thing, this Frigate is probably twice her size.)

The frigatebirds (also known as Fregatidae) are a family of seabirds. They have long wings, tails, and bills and the males have a red gular pouch that is inflated during the breeding season to attract a mate. Their plumage is predominantly black. There are five species, all in a single genus Fregata, found across all tropical and subtropical oceans. They are absent from polar regions.

Frigatebirds are pelagic piscivores that obtain most of their food on the wing. A small amount of their diet is obtained by robbing other seabirds and by snatching seabird chicks. Frigatebirds are seasonally monogamous and nest in colonies. A rough nest is constructed in low trees or on the ground on remote islands. A single egg is laid each breeding season. The duration of parental care in frigatebirds is among the longest for birds.

I also read the reason they steal food, is they don't have the oil that makes their feathers waterproof, so they do not dive as other sea birds do, the stealing food and their large ominous black bodies make them known as the Pirates of the seabird world.

The word frigatebird derives from the French mariners' name for the bird La Fr├ęgate - a frigate or fast warship. The etymology was mentioned by French naturalist Jean-Baptiste du Tertre when describing the bird in 1667. In the Caribbean frigatebirds were called Man-of-War birds by English mariners. This name was used by the English explorer William Dampierin his book An Account of a New Voyage Around the World published in 1697:

The Man-of-War (as it is called by the English) is about the bigness of a Kite, and in shape like it, but black; and the neck is red. It lives on Fish yet never lights on the water, but soars aloft like a Kite, and when it sees its prey, it flys down head foremost to the Waters edge, very swiftly takes its prey out of the Sea with his Bill, and immediately mounts again as swiftly; never touching the Water with his Bill. His Wings are very long; his feet are like other Land-fowl, and he builds on Trees, where he finds any; but where they are wanting on the ground.




Frigatebirds are large, with iridescent black feathers (the females have a white underbelly), with long wings (male wingspan can reach 2.3 metres (7.5 ft)) and deeply forked tails. 

Frigatebirds are found over tropical oceans and ride warm updrafts. Therefore, they can often be spotted riding weather fronts and can signal changing weather patterns.

These birds do not swim and cannot walk well, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs.


Hope you enjoyed my post on the Pirates of the air, we really love watching them soar. I will do a post on the Boca house and guest suites next time, also going somewhere with Joffrey, the Ecuadorean hardware store owner and friend, today at noon, we think we are taking a boat to a ceviche festival in Rocafuerte. Should be an adventure! Stay tuned!!



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Is it really DECEMBER?

I really can't believe it's December, and we've been in Ecuador 6 whole months! WOW! It seems like yesterday boarding the Avianca plane in Quito, landing in Manta 35 minutes later, how humid it was when we got off the plane...glorious tho, compared to the cold weather in Quito. Crucita, on crutches, and the wheelchair, such a long time ago. Thankfully the ankle is well healed, hardly any pain, but I'm careful, this place can be treacherous. 

I'm not much of a news person, most of my "news" comes from Facebook, so I don't know much, ha ha! I do know that Black Friday happened, and that there has been some bad weather already. It all seems very distant living here. The weather is still the same, 75-80 F and combination of sunny and partial cloudy. We noticed a bit more wind in November, and some cooler days, but still never drops below 67 F. We don't hear Christmas music in every store we go into, as well as Christmas decorations are far less prevalent. We realized that decorations of any kind are kinda frivolous, as are tattoos and smoking cigarettes. Not to say they don't exist, just not as main stream as in the States, or other First World countries, Ecuador is definatly a Developing country. One area that has already "developed" is the mall, here's what we found the other day.






This mall has the grocery store/ hardware store we frequent. So nice to have it all under one roof.



Some things we are used to, Shasta Cola! The mall also has other stores, pet store, Hallmark and of course a Movie theater.






Appliance store, shoes and clothing, perfume, pharmacy, food court, pretty standard as far as Malls go. So here it is most certainly Christmas, but in the sleepy fishing village, you'd hardly know. Some restaurants have decorations, but not much. Maybe as it gets closer, because Christmas is a big holiday, it's just early...maybe

We have not decided if we want to purchase a tree, we saw some small artificial ones in Bahia for less than $20, and we've been getting supplies together for projects, making Christmas ornaments is one of those projects. The beach is full of supplies, and our trip to the mall got us some more at the Art supply store, glue gun, paint, glitter. Apple Barrel Craft paint that you can get 2/$1 sometimes with coupon at Jo-Anne's or Hobby Lobby are $2.41 with 12 percent tax, but cheaper than a flight back to the States, so we bought primary colors and will mix, not to mention most of the other items are free from the ocean and we really enjoy our beach combing.

I've been scouring Pinterest looking for crafty projects, and some ideas.






The possibilities are endless, as is the beach debris, I'm cleaning up the beach too, it's a win win! So on that note, maybe I'll get out there once more before lunch. The first 6 months has been a whirlwind, I'm hoping we can continue to get settled, and move forward. Stay tuned, the adventure continues!






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Roll Tide!

Living in the South, southern United States, that is, I've heard this phrase many times. Being observant of my surroundings, but not being a "sports person" I knew this to be about a college athletics team, though now I'm not even sure what school. But this post is not about sports, but about tides. Here's what Wikipedia says...

Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth.

Some shorelines experience two almost equal high tides and two low tides each day, called a semi-diurnal tide. Some locations experience only one high and one low tide each day, called a diurnal tide. Some locations experience two uneven tides a day, or sometimes one high and one low each day; this is called a mixed tide. The times and amplitude of the tides at a locale are influenced by the alignment of the Sun and Moon, by the pattern of tides in the deep ocean, by the amphidromicsystems of the oceans, and by the shape of the coastline and near-shore.

I got lots of information in my research, lots of it "over my head" so I decided not to regurgitate it here, not that I didn't think yall would understand, but I simply didn't want to wade thru it. What I really wanted to know was how much water is moved during the tides, I found out that the least amount of water displaced is 1.5 feet, but the highest on record is 17 meters, or 56 FEET! That's ALOT OF WATER, here are some pictures, because aren't they worth a thousand words?




OUR BEACH loses about 30 feet of shore during high tide, it comes right up to the rocks of the sea wall, and is about 5 ft deep. You've seen this next picture in another post, but it does show how low tide gets, and this isn't even the lowest.




And sunset the other night, shows the ocean right at the rocks. As a matter of fact, you can't walk on that side of the road without getting splashed. We've seen tourists having their picture taken and get splashed, hilarious, as long as it doesn't happen to me...

So, there you have it, a little snippet on the ebb and flow of tides. Speaking of, it's about low tide now, so I better get some sunscreen and get to walking. Stay tuned, the adventure continues, one low tide at a time.




Friday, November 21, 2014

Dogs on the beach

We woke the other day, stretched, I went downstairs, turned the coffeepot on, and about halfway thru the pot, the power went out. Luckily we have a gas stove, so I boiled water, and finished the pot by hand, and since we had no power, we decided to take our cups of coffee, and our little dogs to the beach.


That's Shadrach photobombing the shot. Our stretch of beach was empty, all to ourselves, we walked towards San Clemente (North) until we saw more people, and that could mean street dogs, so we turned around and went back towards San Alejo. Drinking coffee, Collecting shells and enjoying the scenery as we went. The dogs really love the wide open space to run, Veronica shows off, going as fast as her little legs will carry her, we call her "Rocket Girl".



Once we got back to our house, we put the pups inside, left our empty coffee cups, put on sunscreen and went back out. This time we walked towards San Jacinto, thinking we may go all the way to the Boca, but not sure. Time flies while you're on the beach, looking down (for shells) mostly, one doesn't even notice how far they've walked, and next thing we know we've got company.


This sweet girl dog we've seen in San Jacinto at one of our favorite dinner spots, Ali's Coco con Salsa, she sits patiently at the curb, as we dine on the sidewalk. We don't feed the street dogs scraps, I would think it rude to feed them off the table at an outdoor restaurant for sure. Certainly don't want to reward a dog for bad behavior, we often walk with a bag of kibble, so we'll feed the street dogs away from restaurants.


As we walked we tried to come up with a name for her, we'd only just been calling her good girl, or sweet girl, and as we brainstormed it came to us. Dulce is the word for sweet, and here they use a caramel (sweet cream) in their desserts, and it's the same color as her fur, so we named her Dulce. She was fond of the birds, and would stalk and chase them, never getting very close, but having fun.



She walked with us all the way to the Boca, and back, leaving us only when we stopped at the bakery for fresh bread. Next time we walk into San Jacinto we will take some kibble and water for her, it's nice to have a dog walk along with you for protection.



Above picture is The Boca, mouth of the River, this was really low tide, and the water from the river snaked around, but at high tide where I'm walking is underwater. You can see the waterline, dark line infront of me, where the pile of debris is, sometimes a little higher, but never have I seen it look dangerous for those houses. The White House on the end (Ultima Casa) is our friends Jim and Marty and we get to house sit for them a week or two next month, stay tuned for posts from The Boca and Mangroves.



The day was a great one, many wonderful shells (some of the special ones above) quality time with my husband and best friend, and at least a 5 mile walk, the power was on when we got home and lunch was on fresh bread, what could be better...thankful we don't have to put up with bad weather, I'll continue to work on my tan while North America welcomes winter.


Found this on Facebook the other day, 51" of snow...no thanks! It's not too late to book flights, the waters warm and the shells are plenty, the adventure continues on the coast of Ecuador, stay tuned!