Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fishermen and their boats

One thing about living on the coast is the scenery, it's always changing. At the moment the tide is high, and our little stretch of beach has no sand, waves right up to the rocks, but give it an hour or so, and it'll be nice firm sand, perfect for walking on. (Absolutely taking the pups today)

I've been collecting pictures of the boats, and will share them and some info with you. Here's something I found I thought was worded quite well... native Ecuadorians have been harvesting the sea. In this respect the land and its people have been blessed, as these waters are famously stocked with fish from the size of minnows up to monstrous Tuna and Marlin. This burgeoning wealth arises from a "happy accident" of geography and oceanography that places Ecuador at the collision point of two very different ocean currents. From the south and originating in the frigid Antarctic, the cold Humboldt Current sweeps up the South American coast, bringing with it nutrients, plankton and krill (a tiny crustacean that underlies the oceanic food chain). As this current rounds the continental bulge where Ecuador juts into the Pacific, it meets the El Nino current, a much warmer flow of water that travels south from the area off Central America. As these warm waters mix with the colder, nutrient-rich northerly flow, the population of small fish explodes. Of course, small fish attract larger fish, and the result is a bonanza for both sport fishermen and commercial fisheries. 

Ecuador has become a leading South American producer and exporter of Tuna, and this success has helped the fishing industry buy modern ships and processing equipment based in the port city of Manta. Shrimp is one of Ecuador’s largest seafood exports and the warm waters of the Bay of Guayaquil are home to many shrimp farms. For Ecuadorians, this golden harvest from the sea has helped improve the lives of thousands of people who live in the once economically depressed coastal region.

Here is a boat coming to shore, the net is in the water, and you can see the man climbed the stairs to the truck, has a gray bin. He gathers fish out of the net and into the back of the truck, all the while trying to keep the hungry Pelicans  and frigates away from the catch.

Sometimes the boats get unloaded on shore, and the fishermen bring buckets of "waste" back to the birds.  In this last photo, the white headed birds are the famous blue footed boobies. Sometimes the boats go out at night, sometimes in the morning, it must have something to do with high and  low tide.

I thought I had taken pictures of a boat being built, but I can't find it now. Believe me they do make them from scratch, with very little power tools, if any. If I spoke better spanish, I could probably get some more info about the boat building process, and fishing industry in our small village, maybe next year...when it's time for the boat to go in the water, it's all hands on deck, and the whole family comes down to the shore. Some of the boats keep their motors on while "docked", but others are taken off and stored elsewhere, they all are covered for protection, some have shirts, some have tarps or rugs. The government subsidized these motors, sold them at about half price, $700 instead of $1400.

The boats above are sometimes "parked" on the street, when the tides will be really high, they've been doing this so long, it's amazing to watch them maneuver them on just the small wood rollers. Pulling those nets and carrying those motors, these guys are pretty strong! Mike helped the guys one day, he thought they were pushing the boat out, but soon realized they were bringing it to shore, and said it was way too much hard work!

Hope you enjoyed my light hearted post today, the adventure is continuing, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

This week in Ecuador

This week, has been like many others, ups and downs- now this is normal in every country in the world. Not unique to Ecuador, life has ups and downs. Monday we walked down to Hotel San Jacinto for Al muerzo, but they were closed, so we tried another cute little place we'd been meaning to try, Thamara's.

Had a nice lunch, and even ordered a dish to take home (para javar) for dinner. It's off the Malecon about a block down a side street, but still had a nice breeze. We will eat there again for sure. After lunch we walked thru the neighborhood on the way home, and had a nap. By dinner, we still weren't really hungry, so the shrimp rice (camaron arroz) will wait for another day, that's a way to stretch your budget.

Tuesday I went into PortoViejo with our neighbor Lyndell, we left the husbands home, so it was girls loose in the "big city". We started at the mall, (typical ladies, right? Wrong) that's where the Hyper Market is, this store is what we in the States refer to as one stop shop, everything from clothing, cosmetics, shoes, to groceries and kitchen sinks. I bought two gallons of paint (already mixed) not sure if they do custom tinting, they don't have paint chips or a machine. Also bought a spray nozzle for the hose, a small shovel, some planters and bathroom/shower storage. 

It's a regular mall, two stories, escalators, cosmetic stores, nail salons, cell phones, clothing, pet store, food court, pretty typical. From there we went to another hardware store Kywi, nothing for me there, but I should have bought the stand up fan at Hyper Market because it was $15, and Kywi's were $25, shucks. We left the car in the underground parking, where it and our purchases were safe and took a $1 taxi into downtown to find the fabric store.

So many fabrics! So many of them horrible material...lots of 60's polyester, not anything I want to sit on or make clothes out of here at the beach. Lyndell was looking for fleece to make dog beds, and the warmest and softest they had was velour...not quite what she was looking for. I was wanting sheer curtain fabric, and all they had were shiny, may have been ok, but not what I wanted. We decided to check the store in Charapoto on our way home.

Here's another fabric store we went to, really heavy upholstery stuff and vinyls, not what we needed today.

Back to the car, and a little groceries. Charapoto fabric store had what I was looking for, non shiny sheers for the windows and decorative cotton blend for drape panels, or throw pillows (or both). Phone was dead by then, so no picture (sorry Joan). It was a good day, us girls had a blast, and I got some things to make the house more of a home, but I was glad to get back to Mike and the pups. Camaron arroz for dinner? Yes please.

Wednesday we painted, we turned the music on in the master bedroom and got busy. We have toyed with the idea of renting a furnished place, but figured this place needed painting anyway, so we may as well make it pretty until we decide what to do. Dave knows it needs painting too, so maybe he'd absorb the cost. Getting our container is feeling VERY OUT OF OUR REACH, and we rented this unfurnished house expecting to have our stuff to furnish it, well, if that's not going to happen, maybe we should find something furnished instead of having to purchase everything new. I mean, even our bed is borrowed, someday he may want it back, then we have to purchase one. Then if we don't stay, we have to sell it or store it...finding a furnished place may be best. So torn, we like the location, and the garden space we've been working on and the painting did turn out very nice, it's becoming more of a home. 

Today is Thursday, I've tried to work on container stuff this morning, have gotten nowhere, and needed to move on to something positive. Today we will try Hotel San Jacinto again for lunch, then maybe I'll do some sewing. So far no plans for Friday, but we haven't been to the beach all week, so we really should take the pups. I'd also like to do some yard work at Daves place, and bring home some cuttings and plant babies. Best to get all the free stuff we can before we take a trip to the nursery, most of our freebies are doing great. And I noticed some volunteers...that's strange

Tomatoes?! As volunteers? Ok, what's next? You better stay tuned...the adventure continues.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Charapoto 480 years young

Back several weeks ago our go to guy in San Jacinto, Jeffrey (Heffrey) the owner of the ferreteria (hardware store) told us of a festival in Charapoto. He wanted us to go with him, he had told us what day, but we had forgotten. We had planned to go to Charapoto with Jim and Marty to the Sunday market, and as we were sitting in the square waiting for the guys, we saw Jeffrey, he told us he was going to the festival and were we still going to go? Just then the guys showed up, and Marty speaks the best spanish, found out there was no mercado today, because the foods of Manabi festival was going on, but they would go to the festival instead. The buses were incredibly full, so we all jumped in a $5 taxi and took off. Even with limited spanish, we had a fun time with Jeffrey, he went around to all the booths finding us the most authentic things to try. We tried something that tasted like pumpkin spice soup, a fermented drink of some kind, very salty cheese and the gelatinous bread pudding dessert thing we've had once before. 

We saw the parade it was the same parade we'd seen before, the cheerleaders and marching bands being the bulk of it, so no pictures, except Jeffrey insisted we get my picture with this cowboy, so glad he smiled...we continued to walk the booths, and finally left the crowd to find a quieter place for lunch. After lunch we walked a little more, but Charapoto is only about 4 x 6 blocks, so we had really seen it all, and were ready to get back to the beach. Said adios to Jeffrey and looked for a bus. Here's some pictures from one of our local gringos, John and Mary MacDonald taken of Charapoto.

This is what the Sunday mercado usually looks like. The festival wasn't much different, but there were kitchens set up instead of vendors.

The gastric festival is a big deal, the Ecuadoreans really like their food, and like to share. But this banner says the festival was really to celebrate 480 years since being founded, wow, that's a long time. A good time was had by all.

We are really enjoying our new friends Jim and Marty, we had Saturday brunch at their house, and plan to do Charapoto market proxima semana (next week). Marty is still working, (from home) so while he gets in the swing of things, we're keeping our outings to the weekend, Jim is busy too, they have two guest suites downstairs that he is painting and getting set up for rentals. I have a girls day out planned tomorrow with Lyndell, we'll go to the big fabric store in PortoViejo and do some other shopping. It'll be nice to catch up, and have some girl time.

Bad news on the container, it seems that it has been declared total abandon, which means they could sell the contents "at any time"...we need a lawyer, and one of our local gringas gave me her attorneys email last night to touch base with (no charge), so I better get busy. Hope is not lost, but as I look at the picture above, it brings me back to things are just things, and everything that is REALLY important to me, Mike and the pups, are here safe and sound with me...will keep you posted, but I'm not holding my breath. 

Today is rainy, the first rainy day we've had since arriving in June, but, the powers on, and we have a comfy couch, we're fine. That's all for today, stay tuned, the adventure continues...tomorrow with girls loose in Portoviejo! Watch out!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Won't you be my neighbor

In my early childhood years there was a television show called Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, it really has nothing to do with anything, except this post is about our neighborhood, and it made me think of him.

We've started walking thru the neighborhoods behind our house and the Malecon. Seeing the different architecture styles, looking at landscapes, and just getting acquainted with all the area has to offer. It's hard to tell if we like living here, if the house was fully furnished, we would have a better idea of how it functioned as a real house. We are also learning about living across the street from the ocean, salt, sand, dampness, sound, we are figuring out if we would want this full time, or if we would prefer to live a few houses back. Here's some of what we've seen.

These two houses are the smallest, probably 600-700 square feet. The top one looks to be having a large shade structure being built, that'll add to the living space for sure, our weather here on this part of the coast is 62-85 degrees F all year. (12-35 C) Being so small, these are probably locals, who live here full time.

Love the iron work on this outdoor space, this one may be a long term rental. Short term rentals don't usually have bars, since they don't have much inside except when occupied. 

These bigger ones are probably vacation houses for people working and living in Quito, the capital. They have caretakers that look after them, maybe a neighbor who gets paid $20-40 a month. Some get used more than others, many are only occupied for a week or two a couple times a year.

This house is at least 4 blocks from the ocean, and a mile to town, not sure how many bedrooms, but if I remember correctly asking price was $310k, reduced to $280k. New construction is still going on, there are a couple of these buildings between San Clemente and San Jacinto, 6 condo units to a building, one recently sold in San Clemente for around $80k, I believe 2 bed, 2 bath.

More examples of newer construction, vacation houses. Some have volleyball courts, some have pools. The red one is only one house behind the ocean, but the others are two blocks or more, so they would be considerably cheaper land prices.

There are a couple of these little compounds around town, cute little places, with funky architecture and paint scheme, they are 2 bed, 2 bath and selling in the $60k range. Shared outdoor space only, so you better like your neighbors. The one with the bamboo had a sign for a pizza restaurant, if we can find it again, maybe we'll try it.

Being on a corner is optimum for the breeze factor, even though these were two blocks or more from the Malecon, it seemed nice and cool. One last picture, the local primary school. (With bonus street dog)

Hope you liked our little walk thru the neighborhood, maybe if you come visit, we can do it for real. The weather's great, come anytime, because you know...the adventure continues!