Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snark Week

This blog is brought to you by the letter S. In fairness we all have a bit of snarkiness in us, I guess the reason it seems so prevalent in my current life, is that I can only understand the language in a small handful of people. Therefore the ratio of snarky comments to non snarky comments seems rather high. 

In this new age of social media, people tend to leave the common courtesy in the closet and just say whatever they want from behind the keyboard. Social media can be wonderfully helpful, and when we first moved to Ecuador, and I found there were Expat Facebook pages, I literally slapped my head, and said "why didn't I think to look earlier?" Well, I'm thinking now, the reason is because I may not have wanted to come and live with these people...

I realize, getting older brings some freedoms, people tend to do only what they want to, after they've lived a certain number of years, like they've earned the right. In some cases I believe this, if you're over 80 years old and don't want to fly anymore, don't fly. If you don't want to eat salad anymore...go ahead, boycott salad, it's not going to save your life now anyway. But when you choose not to use a filter on your tongue...well you sometimes turn into someone that nobody wants to listen to, thus is the case here.

There are 100 members in the local Facebook Expat page, in fairness only a dozen keep the page going, everybody else sits quietly, gleening what useful information is posted and going on about their day...but those twelve, my goodness...they ripped some poor blogger apart the other day just because in her personal blog stated her opinion that San Clemente was not her favorite beach on the Ecuador coast. Not only did they go on and on about how wrong she was on their Facebook page, someone actually went on her blog and posted a scathing comment. Neither helpful or useful, but from behind the keyboard manners go out the window, and opinions are to be torn to shreds.

Likewise, I got a comment here on this blog the other day. I don't get many, and I'm glad...this one I chose not to publish, it was, I felt mean spirited and am bringing it up here, just because it is part of our lives, being expats. The comment was sent anonymously, but I knew from the content that it was a local expat, the comment was about the dog I call Patsy. If you recall, my post was a raving review about how a little TLC can make or break a street dog, the picture posted was me and dog smiling, and a heartwarming reunion with a dog I'm particularly fond of. The comment I got, was "this dog follows all gringos, and has cancer, with not long to live". Wow! Why would someone rain on someone else's parade like that? 

There was another post on the Expat residents page not long ago, that made me laugh, not in a good way. This Expat actually posted a "Close Americas borders" poster, while living in a foreign country! Does anybody else see what's wrong with this? C'mon! Really? Some of it, you just have to shrug off, and then turn off the computer and go for a walk...because when one is around too much snark, one may become snarky.

So, with that being said, this is the end of my rant. Ecuador is not unique, I'm sure. Wherever there are people, there are problems. You choose if you want to be a problem, or free yourself from problems. As for me, I'm making another cup of coffee and heading to the beach, my adventure continues... so stay tuned!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quiet and tranquil

The last post was awaiting the Grand Finale of Carnivale 2015, well, we missed it! The big finale was Monday night with the bandstand and dancing, Tuesday proved to be mostly people packing up and heading home. Tuesday evening we went to El Centro, thinking we would get pizza from one of the vendors, and his stand was still there, but he was closed. Now, I can't even remember what we did instead, maybe came home for leftovers, humph...guess it wasn't that exciting, haha. All in all, it wasn't too disrupting for us, and we rather enjoyed it. (We did hear thru Facebook the attendance in San Clemente was about half from previous years)

Our fishermen, back at it, they had a nice couple days off to spend with family. Except of course Fernando and Ramon who worked so hard at the restaurant. You can see the family, wife and children come down to see the men off, and get some beach play time. They pack up and go home at dark, and I'm sure those little kids sleep well.

Otra perro, our "other" dog, resting in the shade. We had a scare the other night and thought we saw her dead on the beach, and had a very rough night, being sad and mourning. Some time in the night I heard her "security bark" and realized she was probably alive, but I couldn't be sure until daylight. Needless to say she got lots of hugs, kisses and pets in the morning when she came galloping up to the fence. We realized our lives are better with her in it, and we will take her under our care. She'll never be a sleep in the bed kind of dog, but we can do more for her than we have been. One thing is building her a dog house, when we get Manuel back next week, it'll be one of his projects.

Speaking of dogs, look who we ran into on a walk the other day.

It's the one I named Patsy, he has been adopted, and was walking with his person. Stopped long enough to pose and gets some love, but knew where he lived and headed his direction after our greeting. Here is his before picture, taken probably in August.

His skin is so much better, still has some patchy hair, but I'm sure the hair will come. Such a difference, a little food, or in his case medicinal baths, but love and attention can make. You can tell he's happy, just by his ears! It was great to see him, and I pray he has a good long life. 

So life is back to normal, quiet and tranquil, just like we like it. Beach walks, shell collecting, puttering around the house and yard, meeting new neighbors, learning spanish, eating healthy and soaking up some vitamin D. (sorry to all you knee deep in winter) Not sure what today, or tomorrow holds, but it'll probably be tranquilo, so stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Today's the day

Today is Carnavale, we were warned that it was to be crazy insane. We did loose power Monday midnight and it came on about noon, losing power meant loosing the floor fan, but other than that we weren't too bothered, coffee made on the gas stove, no worries. Flexible. Sunday We walked thru town and down the Malecon towards the old stomping ground, San Alejo, that WAS crazy insane. So glad we don't live there anymore, life would REALLY have been disrupted. The tide turns out to be high in the afternoon, so after the beach is gone, the partiers party on the Malecon. Bus traffic had to be diverted and getting a car thru is very slow going.

So many vendors, both food and jewelry/clothing. Beer tents, shaved ice carts and grill carts roaming the Malecon, activity everywhere. Car stereos competing with each other, honking horns and so much whistling. 

We were able to take our coffee at low tide this morning and see the beach as it was just waking up. It wasn't until noon yesterday that the beach infront of our house got full. Today will be another big beach day, and then tomorrow it should be back to normal. (Being our first, we will have to wait and see)

Tents at Crucita, across the Boca (mouth of the river)

Tents on the stretch of beach between the Boca and San Jacinto, never seen this many tents in this area before.

CottonCandy vendor on the beach out in front of our house, not something you see everyday...

The fishermen built a restaurant, that turned out to be great! Shrimp ceviche to days in a row, the yummiest I've ever had, really! Had drinks the other night with them, after the kitchen closed, Ramon, Fernando and Raphael are the fishermen we see everyday, and now we know the wives too. Very good neighbors! Vecino Bueno! 

Before and after its paint job, and our view from inside looking out, at our house.

Went into town last night, none of my pictures turned out tho, so we will try it again tonight. There was a bandstand set up, and I heard the band start around 10pm, but it wasn't loud enough to keep us awake, and once Mike woke up at 2am, he said it was quiet. San Jacinto just turns out to be a quieter, more tranquil kind of party. If you want wall to wall bodies, so loud your ears (almost) bleed, and paint/foam fights, go to San Clemente, they have the crazy.

So, like I said, since this is our first Carnavale, we have to wait and see, can't take anyone's word for how it will be, since we are all wired so differently. So far, if we want crazy we know where to find it. But stay tuned, because the adventure continues!

Walking the beach with "our dog". 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Carnavale, what is it and when?

Since we've been in Ecuador we've been anxiously awaiting the holidays and festivals, not really knowing what to expect, some we've realized we're no big deal, and others were, well...challenging. The one we've really heard a lot about is coming up next week, Carnavale, this is what I found on

The word "carnival" comes from the Italian word "carn-aval" which means absence of meat. According to the Catholic calendar, the festivities precede the period of Lent. The origin of the Carnival festivity is to compensate for the following forty days of abstention and penitence in preparation for the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion. This is a time of celebration without restraint all over the world, and Ecuador is not an exception.

In Ecuador, the celebrations have a history that stretches further than the arrival of Catholicism. It is known, for example, that the Huarangas Indians (from the Chimbos nation) used to celebrate the second moon of the year with a lively festivity, during which they threw flour, flowers and perfumed water. Now this pagan tradition has merged with the Catholic belief of "carnaval" and resulted in a most folkloric celebration.

Carnival in EcuadorAll throughout the country, "diablillos" (little devils) play with water. It is a somewhat crazy game, like snow fights, which is long awaited, especially by children and teenagers, and feared by some adults. Throwing water balloons, sometimes even eggs and flour both to friends and strangers passing by the street can be a lot of fun but can also be annoying.

Although the government as well as school authorities have forbidden this game, it is still widely practiced throughout the country. Historians tell of a Bishop back in 1867 that threatened with the punishment of ex-communion for the sin of playing Carnival games.

Many popular festivities are held in different regions of the country, where the locals wear disguises with colorful masks and dance to the rhythm of lively music. Usually, the celebrations begin with the election of the Taita Carnaval (Father Carnaval) who will head the festivities and lead the parades in each city.

The most famed carnival festivities are those in Guaranda (Bolivar Province) and Ambato (Tungurahua Province). In Ambato, the festivities are called "Fiesta de las Flores y de las Frutas" (Festivities of the Flowers and Fruites). Other cities have also revived the carnival traditions with colorful parades; such is the case of Azogues (Cañar Province), where a lively parade will take place. In Azogues and the Southern Andes in general, the "Taita Carnaval" is a Cañari Indian dressed for the celebrations.

Carnival is a holiday throughout the country. Many people from the main cities go to the beach or other tourist sites around the country.

Don't be surprised if a water balloon hits you. Don't feel offended; it's just a game. Ecuador is a country full of surprises!!

When we arrived in Crucita in June, we had the Peter and Paul festival, it was 6-7 days of very loud music only a block from the house, the music rattled the windows some nights until 3am. Not long after we moved to San Alejo,(August) San Jacinto had their Peter and Paul festival, but we only heard a faint bit of music, then San Clemente had theirs in September, yikes! That was crazy! (Look back for blog posts, there are pictures) so we can imagine what it will be like in the coming days...but to know for sure, we will have to wait. Looking at pictures (such as the one above) I'm glad we live in a small town, the bigger cities look to be down right insane! (That's not my cup of tea)

The town is sprucing up, erecting new structures to serve as shade and pop up restaurants, even the fishermen put up a structure that they said will sell ceviche and empanadas. I've been sure to get plenty of money from the ATM, we've been warned that it runs out of money quickly. Stocked up on supplies in the Big city the other day, and will sit back and enjoy the fun. Luckily our house is situated where I don't think the noise from town will effect us, the breeze will blow it inland, and so only the noise from neighbors will be an issue. 

The people "from away" will start showing up Thursday and stay thru the 17th, maybe on thru the following weekend, like the article said "celebration without restraint" yikes! Stay tuned, the adventure continues!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Our small town

For some time I've been wanting to take pictures of our favorite stores, so our family and friends can really see what our life is like. When I mention Joffrey our hardware store friend, you'll know what his store looks like etc. this may be a two parter, because I still have not gotten around to every store and got a clear picture, but I wanted to get a post written, it's been almost a week, so here goes...

Our front yard, that is, outside our fence is boat parking and beach, behind us on the street are these little houses. (Look at that beautiful,blue sky)

Two short blocks into the Centro, and we have Gino (his adult sister, and two teenage daughters) who own and work the "Bread store". Gino is the baker, and many of the towns men hang out in the evening, especially if there's a game on (he has a large TV). I buy rice by the pound here, sometimes eggs, and an onion or two, but bread almost everyday. (Recently got new paint job getting ready for Carnivale)

On the same side of the street, but down a block to the East, is Joffrey's hardware, next door his nephew Andrew's little bar/hang out, and the shoe repair (who also is getting fresh paint).

And the inside of Joffreys store. It's two steps down, and so hot in that store, Ugh, but Joffrey sits in there watching tv (sometimes Bonanza reruns) or he sits outside with his nephew at the cerveza bar next door. 

Across the street from the shoe repair is the bank, where we use the ATM, $300 limit on withdrawals, and pay our internet bill ($25). Further down on that side of the street there is one of our hamburger places, we lovingly call Condiment Burger, they open after 5:30pm, and are a very nice married couple. Another couple hardware stores, a hotel, water place, where you order water truck delivery, haven't totally explored that couple blocks yet. Cross the street from the bank and we have where our fruit truck parks on Friday mornings.

The red painted building on the corner is a small pharmacy, and then one of our weekly haunts, Gordito's Chicken, yum!

His beautiful wife helping us this particular day. We get a large roasted chicken (only after 2:30pm), cucumber tomato salad, and patacones (which not even the street dogs will usually eat) for $12, we eat probably four meals off that chicken. Last week I made terriyaki chicken and stir fry, and the week before that I did bbq sauce pulled chicken with Mac and cheese, yum! So to get your bearings, this chicken place is across the street from Joffreys.

Standing at Gordito's, looking East, and looking West

In this block there is Marcos restaurant, we've yet to eat there, usually only open for lunch, seafood and typical Ecuadorean fare. The funeral home, another pharmacy (red and white sign in the picture below) run by Sister Gladys and the nuns, they also schedule trucks and cars for hire, and recharge minutes on the cell phones. Next door to her is another bread guy, very good bread but not quite sure his hours, very hit or miss, he does special order cakes tho, so someday...

And on the corner is Jenny's, nice selection of veggies during the week, cilantro even and very nice couple who own/run it. Haven't perused everything in there, I already have a Mini Mart, almost one stop shop down a side street, but I'm starting to give Jenny more business, we can spread the love.

Now these buildings are across the street from Gino the bread man, behind the truck (those are gas tanks) is Mama's she is our beer and wine lady. A better picture is needed for sure. A couple dress stores, novelties, usually everything from beach mats to flip flops, not so much housewares, but misc. and next door to the turquoise place is Ali's.

Ali is only open for dinner, so he didn't have his tables, chairs and grill out yet, but we sometimes eat here once a week, $3.50 gets your choice of chicken, beef or pork with rice and lentils, and cervezas are Muy frio. (Very cold)

That's about it for our tour, the place is getting spruced up for carnivale, fresh paint and new planters, as seen in the above photo.

This will provide seating, and hopefully the restaurants and stores will keep them nicely planted. More another time, there is still a whole section of town we have yet to explore. It's summer now, so hotter than what we've had so far, mid 80's and our walks don't take us far from the beach breezes, but one of these days we'll start to explore the inland area neighborhoods, so stay tuned! The adventure continues!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunday Market

In our little village of San Jacinto we have a fruit and vegetable truck that parks on Fridays from 10-2pm, and most of the tienda owners buy from him to supply their stores over the weekend. But the real shopping and stocking up for the week happens at the Sunday market in Charapoto. It's a short bus ride, we've paid anywhere from .35 cents to a dollar but getting a ride is easier, yesterday we got a ride and were in and out within an hour.

This is taken from the park above the street, this is only half of it, there are twice as many vendors down past the big tree (and stretching down the side streets). This section is mostly chicken, fish, cheese and peanut butter. The meat vendors are around the corner down the next block. (If you were to turn left at the multi story building.)

This section is what we call Grocery Row, and the vendors have everything from plastic wares to toilet paper. This is where you get bagged sugar, crackers, shampoo, and only with ten cent mark up from the big stores in the Big city, for convenience sake, I can spare .10 cents if it saves me a trip.

The piles of ruble are from all the work they are doing, the city (town) has really been doing a "beautify the square" project, new benches, and revamping the landscaping, it's looking very nice.

We have our favorite vendors, we've made relationships over the months and they give us deals and regalos (gifts). Things fluctuate, two weeks ago oranges were 10/$1 but Yesterday they were 20/$1. I bought a pound each tomatoes, green peppers, purple onions, potatoes, carrots, strawberries, half a cauliflower head, half a cabbage, a large pineapple, 5 bananas and a dozen eggs ALL for $6.50 that should certainly last me the week, but if I do run out of something, one of our places in town will have it. It's crowded, and sometimes overwhelming, but the market is a fun adventure, something I would surely miss if we moved away.

I pilfered these two photos from the web, so you could see what a vendor looks like. (Thanks to John MacDonald for not being as shy as I am about taking people's pictures.) These  lucky vendors get the shady side of the street, and this is where our favorites are located. The market starts early around 730 I'd say, and the chicken and fish vendors pack up the earliest, leaving by 11, then the veg start packing up around noon. By one o'clock, you'd never know it was there...

The guy who brings his truck to town, goes to other towns too, on Thursday he's in San Clemente, and probably Bahia on Monday (they have a big market on Monday). I'm working on pictures of our favorite places in our little town, so my next post will be about our neighborhood, maybe I'll get brave and ask our people for their picture too. Til then, stay tuned...the adventure continues!