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Friday, October 31, 2014

Day of the Deceased

The inhabitants of the beautiful country of Ecuador place much emphasis on religious festivals and celebrations, taking great care to observe them in the most traditional way possible. The 2nd of November each year is a national public holiday, giving everyone the opportunity to participate in the activities related to one of the most important celebrations of Ecuador - Dia de los Difuntos.




This celebration stems from the belief that the souls of dead relatives visit on this day and families need to ensure that there is plenty of food available for these souls so that they can gain strength to continue on their journey to the after life. This celebration is observed in many countries around the world with a few variations. In Mexico the celebration is called Dia de los Muertos meaning Day of the Dead, but in Ecuador the term Dia de los Difuntos meaning Day of the Deceased is preferred as it is seen to be more respectful. In other countries it may be referred to as All Saints Day or All Souls Day and many of the traditions associated with Halloween have been taken from these celebrations.

In the more rural communities of Ecuador, it is common for families to have a meal at, and even on, the graves of deceased relatives before leaving food for them. In the cities, families generally have their traditional meal at home, but still visit the cemetery to either leave food or flowers at the graves. In many parts of Ecuador this ritual is carried out for three years after a person has died and then stops, presumably by then the deceased person has reached his or her destination.





Traditional foods specific to this celebration are GuaGuas de Pan, which are baby-shaped bread, along with a sweet fruit based drink called Colada Morada. These slightly sweet bread babies can be up to 12 inches in length with a round shaped head and a body that tapers down to a point. They are decorated with icing and have something sweet, like jam, inside. Some families make their own bread babies, but most bakeries have them for sale for weeks prior to the celebration and they are on offer at caf├ęs and restaurants during this period. The original meaning behind GuaGuas de Pan and Colada Morada is not quite clear, nevertheless they form an integral part of all Dia de los Difuntos celebrations throughout the country.



Throughout Ecuador the celebration of Dia de los Difuntos is seen as a time for families to reconnect with their ancestors as well as an opportunity to remember their roots. (This was taken from Ecuador.com, as we have not encountered this holiday first hand yet. I liked the info this article gave, and will look forward to experiencing it and give commentary at a later date)



Stay tuned, the adventure continues, one holiday at a time...in Ecuador



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where did the month go?

When they say "time flies, when you're having fun", they aren't lying! We must be having fun, because I swear, I don't know what happened to the month of October! Going thru my Camera Roll, I see that stuff has been going on, I have photos to prove it, but wow! Days turn into weeks, then weeks turn into months, and if you're not careful, your life has gone by and you didn't even realize. One of the reasons we chose to do this adventure now, while we are still young enough to enjoy it, and we certainly are enjoying it, so let me stop babbling and share.

According to the Camera Roll, on October 16 there was the strangest sound outside our house, it was about nap time, as I remember and we had to get up to see what the racket was. Still not totally sure what they were doing, but as far as I can tell they were unearthing large rocks.



They could have been adding the large rocks to the sea wall, but some of them just got unearthed and then left where they sat, hmmmm, I'm sure someone somewhere knows the story, I'm just glad I got some pictures. 

We have had a couple over for dinner a few times during the month of October, one of the dinners I made was BBQ chicken and  Macaroni and Cheese. I thought I'd picked up a block of cheese, but when I unpackaged it, it was slices! No problem, I just cut it into strips, but then Mike said it looked like cheese noodles, no matter what it looked like, it all melted into cheesy goodness and was a success.




I had some leftover Ricotta from a lasagne, so this was at least tres queso! It was a little taste of the States here in Ecuador, I've been enjoying cooking more, now that I have more than one skillet. We bought a rice cooker, (had to look up the directions online, since they were in spanish, and I looked up other recipes that can be made in one, but haven't tried anything other than rice yet)  also bought a griddle, which has made pancakes, eggs and grilled cheese a breeze.

We went to Manta one day to meet with Fernando, and talk to Immigration about our Residency. We got on a bus that took us the long way, but we got to drive thru the town of Montecristi, where they make furniture and Panama hats, and snapped a picture of their statue.




Her skirt was beautiful tile mosaic, that just shimmered in the sun, sorry it didn't read on film. After we finally got into Manta, we had about an hour to wait for Fernando, so I took some pictures of the Immigration office. Now for those of you who have been following awhile, remember the first time we came to this office I was in a boot and crutches for my broken ankle, check out all the stairs!




Check out the elevator...how many flights of stairs does one have to take to get to the elevator? Yikes! That would never fly in the States...but I survived, and now it's a piece of cake all those stairs! We didn't get extensions on our Visas, but did find out that our rental income from the States will help us get residency, they just want original lease and original letter from Housing Authority apostilled and sent to Consulate for approval. Of course we are $50 shy a month to both qualify on the rental income alone, so we still have some hoops to jump thru. Hopefully our empty rental will sell quickly and we can qualify that way, it went on the market this week.

Another outing we did in October was to Bahia, we had seen an advertisement for an art show, but when we got there, there was no art, and certainly no show, so we just shopped, wandered, and had an awesome lunch. Last time I posted pictures of the bay of Bahia, these are ocean side.





Huevos anyone?  And here is a picture I borrowed from Facebook, the one at dusk, the daytime photo is mine. We live on the other side of the point.




And our fabulous lunch $6, which turned into enough leftovers for fish tacos, yum! And then some...


We added some more finishing touches to our guest room. Bought some sheets and a bedside lamp that day in Bahia at the Tia store and I made curtains from $1 remnants I bought in Charapoto. Really wanted that art show to be something, because decent priced artwork is hard to find here, but maybe we'll make something.




With all this busy-ness you'd think we missed the sunsets, but we still try to take time out and watch.


This one taken from our friends balcony at The Boca


This one while walking down the Malecon to dinner...


And this one, I stole from our neighbors Keith and Becky...wow! Isn't that gorgeous?!

At times our adventure just seems like everyday life, cooking, cleaning, shopping, but then I take time out, sit and write this, or just think back on the weeks, and months and I realize this is AMAZING! What a special time and place this is in our lives, what blessings and gifts these days are, I hope we never loose sight of that. Thanks for joining us on the coast of Ecuador, stay tuned...the adventure continues!















Monday, October 20, 2014

Chocolate and Shrimp

If that title didn't peak your interest...today's post is about Ecuador's exports. Ecuador has 1400 miles of coast, with such a large ocean presence, I'm sure you're not surprised that seafood is high on the list of exports. I recently read where Ecuador exports approx 37,500 metric tons of shrimp, second only to Indonesia who exports 40,000 metric tons. The U.S. Imports 85 percent of it's seafood and in 2012 the average American ate 3.8 pounds of shrimp, and the number rises every year.




We see Shrimp boats heading out to sea everyday, some go at night, some during the day. I've heard they stay out to sea for three days. Little boats go out to meet them, and bring daily hauls to shore and market. We also have shrimp farms along the water way, there's differing opinions about shrimp farms, are the shrimp raised in dirty pools, chemicals and hormones?...maybe, but sometimes what you don't know, won't hurt you.



Apparently here on the coast, and on up into Esmeraldes province, they used to cut down mangrove forests to install shrimp farms, but they aren't allowed do that anymore, and the mangroves are being reforested.




Above is a view from Bahia of some of our local shrimp farms. Shrimp has always been a favorite, but with the high price in the States, we didn't eat them often, here, we have them at least 3-4 times a week. This is how I like to see them...right before they go in my belly!


Our next export is chocolate! Ecuador is Latin America's second largest exporter of chocolate, Brazil is first (7th globally). Brazil had an outbreak of witches broom, a parasitic moss that destroyed their early crops, and may be lower ranked in coming years, it is said that Ecuador will be fourth globally by 2015.

Cocoa grows on trees, we saw them from the bus on our trip to Cuenca thru Guayaquil, I thought it was papaya at first.



An unripe cocoa pod opened to show the cocoa beans forming. 


Ripe beans, are separated from their pods and membranes then dried, and finally pulverized into powder.


Nestle company is a huge driving force in Ecuador's chocolate harvest and export, so who knows, that chocolate bar you ate last week may have been grown in Ecuador?! So as you can see Ecuador is full of life, sweet and delicious. Our adventure continues, one great meal (and dessert) at a time, stay tuned!












Saturday, October 18, 2014

Statues are big business

Every little town has statues, whether it's in the town square, or in a large round about at the entrance to the city. Usually the statue has to do with the main crop, or industry of the place it's located. I posted the fish one in Manta not too long ago, and have collected a couple more. This one is in PortoViejo, showcasing the main industry of corn, Tamarind and sugar cane.




It may be papaya, or avocado? They grow everything, so it's hard to tell. Beautiful tile work, and nice landscaping.

We have three in San Jacinto, I had to use another bloggers photo, I keep forgetting to take one. This is as you walk down the Malecon from San Alejo or San Clemente, just as you enter San Jacinto


Then this is the town square/circle, the centro...


On the north side of town there's another fish statue, similar to this one. I'm always on the bus when we go by that one, so it's been tricky to get a good photo, one of these days.

Then there's the lighthouse, at the edge of the point in San Jacinto, we can see it from Ali's when we eat there. But this was taken from below, one day when the tide was low and we were walking on the beach.


After we get settled, when we get our residency squared away, I'm sure we will start to venture out to other parts of the country, am looking forward to seeing the other statues that have been lovingly built to celebrate the lively hood of Ecuador. It's an amazing country, so small yet so big. Same square miles as Colorado,  but it feels every bit as big as the U.S. They manufacture almost everything they use, not much is imported, and we like that. It's been a fun, bumpy, but fun ride, and it's not over, so much more to come, so stay tuned, the adventure continues!







Monday, October 13, 2014

Ketchup

Seems like it's been awhile, and looking back at the last post, it has!



After we got the cabinets on Monday,  we were scheduled to go to Manta with Ken and Lyndell, it was a slightly crazy day, but productive. They got their dogs groomed for a third of the price in the States, all three for $45, they even had a $20 X-ray taken, for the dog in a people X-ray office, step right up, no waiting, unheard of! Glad to report all dogs are doing great.

We'd never been to the "new" part of Manta, so it was exciting, but all in all, we've decided PortoViejo is closer and just as good for shopping. We spent too much time looking at everything, we didn't have time to stop at the nursery, darn it. Here's some pictures of our outing.







Beautiful new Supermaxi, the one in PortoViejo has other shops around it, but this one was isolated, so you really do need a car to get much accomplished. Another stop was a furniture store, pretty gorgeous modern stuff, and a pretty penny too, too stiff for our budget, but nice to look at.






They had table lamps, sign said $9.99, so I was inquiring, but the sales lady said they were only $9.99 if you bought a piece of furniture, and regular price was $19.99, no thanks. Table lamps are lacking here in Ecuador, and replacement lamp shades, forget about it! Now Mike has an appreciation for my lamp "collection" in the container....sigh...

We bought a small TV, and it's been lovely, now we can watch tv while Mike works on the laptop. We are heading in to PortoViejo today to buy wall mount brackets, since we don't have much in the way of flat surfaces. I finished curtain panels, and with a little more decorations, it'll be a room we are used to.



No matter our budget, I've always been a decorator, and Mike enjoys it too, so we've always had "magazine worthy" interiors, this living really sparsly was a challenge.

We went to eat Friday night at Pablo's new restaurant, he moved a couple weeks ago, and had the grand reopening, food was terrific, atmosphere was very nice, outside and candles and of course reasonable. Ran into a blog fan, (yep, still famous, hehee) and had a wonderful evening, life is Good!



Finished painting our other upstairs room, and Dave says the window bars will be ready tomorrow, so we can start pulling things together. We've decided to make a sitting room, and have guest beds, in case we have someone stay the night. Our friends who live at the end of San Jacinto are exactly two miles away, and some night that may be too far to walk after a night out. Best to be prepared.

Container news is lacking, I've sent all the documents to a lawyer, who sent them on to her partners in Guayaquil, but every week when I inquire, she says it's being worked on, but never any info...someone else said they have an idea how we can get it at auction, but at this point I don't need any "speculation", I need hard facts, we are putting it behind us. Miracles happen, but...it's not in the forefront of our mind everyday, and that makes life better. It was a heavy weight. Keep up those positive thoughts and prayers. Thanks for following our adventure, it's not over, so STAY TUNED!