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 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!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Plants and nuts

Mike and I have always liked to play in the dirt, no matter what State we moved to, we'd learn the climate and the native plants. We loved to plant things we'd not been able to grow before, and missed things we'd left behind, but always looked forward to the "next season". This season of Ecuador is no different, while in the Crucita house, we took cuttings and tried to start new things to bring to the San Alejo house, all 6-8 cuttings of plumaria have thrived, the oleander did not. When we arrived at the San Alejo house in August we REALLY wanted to spend all kinds of money for dirt and plants, but we just couldn't. We had much more important things to attend to, so here it is November, and finally we have some money to put towards the yard.

We asked around, and found Sosote to be THE place for plants. We made plans with friends who drive for a Saturday excursion to the nursery, they'd been before so knew right where to start and we were in heaven!

We had to show restraint for the getting it home factor, but it sure was fun, like kids in a candy store! We bought 2 bougainvillea for the house (paid for by Dave the landlord) three for us ( planting in pots) monster flower hibiscus, have not seen these flower yet, but she kept saying grande, grande so I'm sure they will have blooms the size of salad plates, one orange, one red we think. Nice size geraniums for $1.50 each, some things suitable for houseplants, palms and elephant ear and a sprinkling of filler, all for about $100!! At Home Depot or Lowes, it would have been three times that! It was really amazing that we got it all in a sedan.

This is only half of the bounty. Couldn't get to planting right away, since it wasn't all going in the ground, but on Sunday at the Charapoto market I found some big plastic tubs that worked great, big tubs were $5 smaller oblong ones $2.50. After a rainy morning dried up I got busy and here's the outcome.

We paid a little extra for the above bougainvillea, as they were pretty special, definatly worth the $6.67 I paid, getting 3/$20. Will check back with them for the "regular " ones at $4 each, buy a couple more for the house, to get them established for Dave.

Now for the nuts! Just up the road from Sosote, is Tagua. Tagua is a nut, it's carved into jewelry and knick knacks and used as beads.  Tagua nut, also know as vegetable ivory, is the seed of a tree similar to a palm but botanically not belonging to the palmaceus but to the ciclantaceus. Its scientific name is Phytelephas Aequatorialis. Tagua grows in the tropical rainforests of some South American countries, mainly Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, being Ecuador the country that fulfills most of the world’s demand. 

Here's a garage next to one of the retail store where they have dyed them and letting them dry. Everyone inside the retail shops were busy stringing or carving nuts. Sorting them, polishing them, busy, busy.

I bought single beads for .03 cents each to make Veronica a necklace, also got a V pendant. Two pair of earrings for $1 each, why didn't I get every color? I've been with NO jewelry, but life is much more casual. Anyway, necklaces were very cheap, earring sets and bracelets $3-5 amazing! 

Great day! Such a lot to look at in this small little country! We are really enjoying calling Ecuador home, the house is certainly becoming more what we are used to, and our life is becoming more of what we'd hoped. Daily walks on the beach, shell hunting, plans for art projects, sewing projects, getting our hands dirty, finding the best nursery, jewelry making for me and Veronica, special friends, great weather and good food.

What more could we ask for? Life is good, stay tuned the adventure continues!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Net fishing

San Clemente, San Jacinto and Crucita are all working fishing villages, one can see the fishing boats "docked" on the shore or the roads across from the Malecon, when not in the water. What one doesn't see until one lives here are the net fishing, I tried looking up net fishing ecuador, but didn't get much info, so I'll just report on what I've seen.

As far as I can tell, the net is set out by the boats, and the men on shore pull it, scooping the fish into the net as it moves thru the water. There are five to eight men working one tether, and each net has two tethers. The men have belts that they tie the tether on to, for precaution, they all work together, like tug o' war, pulling the rope, and at the same time moving to the left or right. In the above pictures, they have come to our side street, and are pulling, pulling, pulling until they move down the road to the next side street. When the tide is low, they do all this from the shore, but as you can see, there is no beach at this particular moment.

They pull, step back, pull step back, then the one on the end unties  the tether, drops it, then moves to the front, and it continues. There are many ropes tied together to makes this tether, and when one rope is no longer needed they untie that length and store it, you can see the pile of rope on the street, and also note they are all barefoot. ( barefoot on sand, but barefoot on the road?) They continued to pull and move the net down the coast, probably half mile til they had low enough tide and beach to stand on. Then the collection begins.

Here's another day, when the tide was low enough for them to be on the beach, the truck is waiting for them, it carries the fishermen from place to place, but also is ready to collect the bounty. You can see the boat, keeping things in order and that's a blur of pelicans waiting for a snack.

Above is one line of tether pullers, and the next photo is the other line of tether pullers.

Once the net gets to shore, they corral the fish into a smaller section of net and then collect them like the following picture. The net bags are then dumped into the back of the above truck, and locals will come to buy from the back of the truck. The truck driver is probably a "broker", taking the fish from the fishermen to market. He may take some of the fish to be cleaned, but the bulk are sold entero. The net pullers job is over, and sometimes they move on to another net, sometimes they do the loading into the truck.

Whenever you want to know where the fishermen are, look up and you'll see the swarm of frigate birds and pelicans. If there are tourists or kids around when the net comes ashore, the fishermen will let the kids have smaller fish to throw up into the air to watch the birds feed. A little too Hitchcock for my taste, but fun to watch from the safety of my porch.

I'm not sure if all the boats do this net pulling, maybe to supplement the other catch? I usually only see two or three net pullers a week, so everybody's not doing it...with time will come better spanish and I can ask questions.

I think that's it for today, we've made plans to go to the town with all the nurseries on Saturday, it's called Sosote, and on the way to Porto Viejo, so next week I'll post our findings. Excited to get some "houseplants" and some more things for the garden and our pots. Stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Beach Combing

Seashell,  hard exoskeleton of marine mollusks such as snails, bivalves, and chitons that serves to protect and support their bodies. It is composed largely of calcium carbonate secreted by the mantle, a skinlike tissue in the mollusk’s body wall. Seashells are usually made up of several layers of distinct microstructures that have differing mechanical properties. The shell layers are secreted by different parts of the mantle, although incremental growth takes place only at the shell margin. Seashells may be univalved (as in snails) or bivalved (as in clams), or they may be composed of a series of plates (as in chitons). 

 Shells are frequently ornamented with complex arrangements of spines, folia, ribs, cords, and grooves, which in some species provide protection against predators, give added strength, or assist in burrowing.  Many seashells are brightly coloured in complicated designs by a variety of pigments secreted by special cells in the edge of the mantle. In some cases there is an obvious camouflage function, but in most others the significance of the colours is unclear.

Seashells are collected all over the world because of their endless diversity, elegance of form, and bright colours. They also have been used to make jewelry, buttons, inlays, and other decorative items throughout history. In ancient times certain varieties, such as tooth shells and cowrie shells, were even used as money. (Above article is taken from Encyclopedia Brittanica, photos are mine)

After several months of collecting, we've started to clean, sort and think of what to do with all these treasures from the sea. We recently found a small art supply store that has good prices on canvas, so we will pick up a couple and start playing with some art projects.

The process of sorting began, not quite finished yet, looking to get some plastic bins to keep them in, keep them clean and organized. Have been having a rough time trying to find out what my shells are called, who knew there were so many?! I have found some posters with pictures and names, but the wording is so small I can't read the names, maybe on a larger computer screen you can read them.

So I see I've got some Limpets, turkey wings, and Chinese hats. More to come, we were out combing again today for about an hour when the Internet went down. Stay tuned...the shell finding adventure continues!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Working on the wall

For some time now, the big earth movers have been anxiously waiting for low tide, so they can go down and scoop up rocks. The wall doesn't appear much different from the road, but from down on the beach we could see a lot. (Photo credit our neighbor Lyndell)

We awoke to no power this morning, so we decided to walk on the beach since it was low tide. We were out about an hour, then the sun started to break free of the marine layer and we realized we needed sunscreen. We went back to the house and even though the power was back on, since we had the beach all to ourselves, we took our coffee and the pups out for more more beach time.

We took bags for shell collecting and walked about 2 miles to the south. I've had these pictures awhile, waiting for a post, and today is it. Down towards the Boca (mouth of the river meets the ocean) there are ruins, sea wall and house ruins. The ocean does what it wants, and apparently back in 1983, the ocean wanted this house.

This sea wall didn't stand the test of time, I wonder how the one they are using now will fare? What we noticed about the rock sea wall, is that instead of making the wall taller, they are widening the base of it.

The tide is back, and the earth movers are gone, til tomorrow when they will scoop more rocks to build up the base of the sea wall. Since we enjoyed having our coffee out there this morning so much, we will do it again tomorrow, maybe I'll remember the camera and can post some more pictures.

In container news:
I thought I had a lawyer working on lifting the abandonment of our container, every week I emailed for an update and she said she would find out. Finally last week, after a full month and then some I got nasty, and she confided in me that her "go to" person in Guayaquil had...disappeared! WHAT?! She said she would see if she could find someone else, but in the mean time I should look for someone else she wasn't liable for any delay. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

So, here I am back to the beginning...AGAIN. I give up, the Pirates have won.  I don't know what to do, find another attorney? Another month of fees has accrued, that's put us at a grand total of $8820!  I'm wrung out, can't fathom getting out from under this now, I'm thinking better to just start saying it was stolen by bandits!  Call that chapter closed...move on. We do have hope for getting residency with the rental income from our property in the States, after months of "people in the know" telling us we'd never qualify, a trip to the Immigration office in Manta says try it. The other rental property has gone on the market and fingers crossed it will sell quickly. If it sells before our notarizations and apostilles from the States, we can use the proceeds to gain our investors residency.

We really love Ecuador, the weather, the beach, the food, the people, the slower way of life, simpler way of living, LOVE IT. We want to explore other South American  countries, but we really want to put roots down here first. The climate here is perfect, I got enough fall colors and pumpkins on Facebook, and I won't miss the snow and ice, not one bit. Below freezing temperatures are a thing of the past for this beach bunny!

So stay tuned, our South American adventure is NOT over, it continues one cup of coffee on the beach at a a time.