Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fall clean up

As the Northern Hemisphere wraps up spring and heads into summer, we here in Ecuador are doing our fall clean up. The river swelled and brought tons of debris down to the ocean, which then churned it up and spat it out all along the coast. Look back a couple of posts to the "we thought we walked into a war zone" and you'll see what I mean. We knew from experience the province we live in Manabi would send trucks and crews to clean up, it was just a matter of when, well it was last week. We were at our friends house on Sunday, celebrating Mike's birthday and saw first hand what a great job the clean up crews did.

Just a few piles remain, but the over all effort was amazing, it was almost impossible to get from the shore to our friends house the other day, beach goers would have had nowhere to's one just a couple days before the clean up.

So much treasure, but unsightly and pretty dangerous. Now it's all cleaned up, good job Manabi! 

Meanwhile down at our house, the rock mover came in and started moving rocks around. It started on the other side of the White  house, reinforcing the sea wall, then came to our beach and took the rocks from the sand infront and added them to the the sea wall.

Some men had been working in the lot next door, burning the brush and trash, pretty sure they were clearing it out to make boat parking easy if high tide should threaten. They got the rock mover to move the big yellow bouy and after all the rocks were unearthed, they had the sand filled in and made flat. So much parking now! 

They worked til sunset and then the earthmover came back a second day, and moved some more rocks around, not as many spectators on day two, but these little guys came to see the commotion...we lovingly call them the "urchins".

I think the older boys name is Daniel, but I can't hardly understand them, not only their spanish, but they speak another language I don't speak, "Children". They show up in the morning fully dressed, go about their adventure, and by the end of the day they've stripped down to saggy undies and are playing in the ocean. They scramble up the rocks, climb over boats, and as you can see on our fence. I'm not sure who they belong to, but we've seen a couple of the fishermen scold them or tell them to quit bugging us, it takes a village...I love the life they are living, foot loose and fancy free, no Nintendo, or Play station, just sun and fresh air adventures!

Our adventure continues too, so stay tuned!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Twinkle twinkle, little starfish Part 2

Today we are going to learn about starfish, with comments from my previous post it has come to my attention that people know very little about starfish, and so I'm sharing what research I have found. Wikipedia says, Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the Asteroidea class. About 1,500 species of starfish occur on the seabed in all the world's oceans, from the tropics to frigid polar waters. 

Starfish are marine invertebrates. They typically have a central disc and five arms, though some species have a larger number of arms. The aboral or upper surface may be smooth, granular or spiny, and is covered with overlapping plates. Many species are brightly coloured in various shades of red or orange, while others are blue, grey or brown. Starfish have tube feet operated by a hydraulic system and a mouth at the centre of the oral or lower surface. They are opportunistic feeders and are mostly predators on benthic invertebrates. Several species have specialized feeding behaviours including eversion of their stomachs and suspension feeding. They have complex life cycles and can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Most can regenerate damaged parts or lost arms and they can shed arms as a means of defense. A few can regrow a complete new disc from a single arm, while others need at least part of the central disc to be attached to the detached part. Regrowth can take several months or years, and starfish are vulnerable to infections during this time.

  The scientific name Asteroidea was given to starfish by the French zoologist de Blainvillein 1830. It is derived from the Greek aster, ἀστήρ (a star) and the Greek eidos, εἶδος (form, likeness, appearance). The class Asteroidea belongs to the phylum Echinodermata. As well as the starfish, the echinoderms include sea urchinssand dollarsbrittle and basket starssea cucumbers and crinoids. Echinoderms, including starfish, maintain a delicate internal electrolyte balance that is in equilibrium with sea water. This means that it is only possible for them to live in a marine environment and they are not found in any freshwater habitats. Starfish species inhabit all of the world's oceans. Habitats range from tropical coral reefs, rocky shores, tidal pools, mud, and sand to kelp forestsseagrass meadows and the deep-sea floor down to at least 6,000 m (20,000 ft).  The greatest diversity of species occurs in coastal areas.

Starfish in Folk lore; An aboriginal Australian fable retold by the Welsh school headmaster William Jenkyn Thomas (1870–1959) tells how some animals needed a canoe to cross the ocean. Whale had one but refused to lend it, so Starfish kept him busy, telling him stories and grooming him to remove parasites, while the others stole the canoe. When Whale realized the trick he beat Starfish ragged, which is how Starfish still is today.

A traditional tale relates how a man walking along a beach saw a boy throwing stranded starfish into the waves. When asked why he was doing this, the boy replied that with the ebbing tide, the starfish would die from exposure. The man pointed out that there were miles and miles of beach and thousands of stranded starfish. What difference could the boy make? The boy bent down and returned another starfish to the ocean. The boy replied: "It makes a difference to this one."

(Photo: Norfolk, England after a massive storm)

Starfish as food; Starfish are widespread in the oceans, but are only occasionally used as food. There may be good reason for this: the bodies of numerous species are dominated by bony ossicles, and the body wall of many species contains saponins, which have an unpleasant taste, and others contain tetrodotoxins which are poisonous. Some species that prey on bivalve molluscs can transmit paralytic shellfish poisoning

Some spectacular photos of different kinds...

And the last picture is the one we find regularly. They are very bright orange when we find them alive or freshly dead. They lose their color the longer they've been dead, which is why the ones we showed last post were brown. They are so pretty when they are orange and alive, so we dry them and paint them back to their original color. Hope you enjoyed this lesson on starfish, I'm sure you'll see many more showing up in our art projects, so...stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Twinkle twinkle, little starfish

The other day on our walk we ran into a couple massive starfish pockets. We are used to finding "pockets of shells" washed up on shore, but this was unlike anything we'd seen before. By the end of the walk we had more starfish than shells!

The first pocket was unusually close to our house and cove, in the past we walk probably four blocks distance before we find any shells. These starfish were within two blocks of the house.

It went on like this almost the entire length of the beach, one mile. At first we were picking them all up, but when we got them home some were just too beat up to keep, here's half our final haul.

Many other treasures were found as well, it was a really good beach combing day.

When we got home, I made us smoothies and then we got busy, painting and puttering, by the end of the afternoon, we had some great new decorations.

Some of our painted bottles worked, some didn't. We have since looked up the recipe for Mod Podge, and will try painting the bottles again.

Puppies, always want to be where the action is...

I'm going to cut this post short, because the Internet is acting up, and it's too frustrating. But know this, we are always doing and trying new things. I will try to share as much here as I can, so stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A short walk up the road

A couple weeks ago when we were looking for Ariel/Dulce, we wandered up thru the neighboring barrio to the main road into town. We took pictures of the Cemetery, the school and the church. We happened upon the cemetery first, it is probably two short blocks by one large block, and open to the public.

Most of the tombs are kept freshly painted by relatives on holidays. Like Day of the Deceased in October, for weeks in advance family members are sprucing up the loved ones burial plots, and surrounding grounds, so they only have one part time grounds keeper. (He may even work for just the spare change he collects at the gate.) He had a smile on his face, as most of the Ecuadoreans.

Sandwiched between the Cemetery and the school, is the medical clinic, but I didn't get a picture of that strangely. So here's the school.

Charapoto has a number of trade schools, and PortoViejo has several colleges as well. Mechanics, nursing, agriculture, engineering, even tourism and hotel management. There are at least two elementary schools between San Jacinto and San Clemente  also. Down the block is the church, undergoing some renovations.

There's a big church in PortoViejo that has this roof tile. So we were very excited to see it being used again so close to home. So beautiful, Muy Linda! We should walk back by in the next week and check on the progress. I'm sure they would be getting new windows and paint to go with this beautiful tile craftsmanship.

So, as usual, stay tuned! The adventure continues!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Finished projects

So what do most of you do when you find you need a napkin holder? You probably look around and find you have one, or two in a cupboard, that is not the case for me. But I didn't have to look too far, with a little imagination, and about an hour for paint to dry, I had a new napkin holder.

It started with a bottle of floor cleaner that I had just emptied, rinsed out and had sitting on the table, waiting to go in the "plastic to be upcycled pile". I liked the rectangle shape, and with knife and scissors, Voila! It started out kinda like this one.

The next project completed this week was the regalo (gift) for Patricia. She's the neighbor girl who turned 15 last weekend, her parents own and operate a small tienda on the corner a half block down. I took it to her yesterday and she loved it, said it was very pretty (Linda) and she was happy (feliz).

Mike put a hanger on the back, so she can hang it on the wall. What 15 year old girl doesn't like personalized flowery artwork? Next and this one may not be finished, I made a Welcome sign for Jenny's tienda.

It may need some outline, or more detail on the palm tree, not sure. Mike liked the palm tree so much he wants one for us. And with the leftover orange paint I mixed, I gave another plastic BBQ bottle a fresh coat. Makes a pretty little bud vase, maybe tomorrow (our anniversary) I'll have some flowers to put in it.

While I'm talking about plastic upcycling, here is a votive holder made out of a yogurt bottle, a little colored twine, and a seashell, turned out very nice.

Oops, this one doesn't have the seashell, I guess I did add that later, I've since added orange colored twine as well, nice candle glow anyway! I have probably five of these scattered around in amongst the plants and driftwood in the yard. As sunset winds down I light them and we sit for another little while listening to podcasts, or audio books and enjoy the sound of the Ocean.

I would certainly be wrong to not include the two (actually there are three) dresses I made for Veronica this week. The one above is a onesie our friends Marty and Jaime brought back from their trip to the States in December, it had been "lost" in the scrap fabric pile. 

This one I remade probably three times, it's made out of a pair of swim trunks we bought for Mike, but after getting them home and trying them on, realized they must be junior. So, Veronica got two dresses, I tried using the lining as the under, but it didn't have any give and so made the whole dress pucker funny. I tried again, but still didn't fit right, then I remembered I had orange Tshirt fabric, and TaDa! Much better, then I made this orange tank top with the flowered skirt, all she needs is a pooka shell necklace and she's all set!

We have Shadrach wearing necklaces now too, he used to be so funny and act like he was being strangled, but I guess he's lightening up and "going with the flow", tranquilo here at the beach. Those pictures will come at a later date, I think I've shared enough crafty stuff for one day. 

So stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wild and Untamed

What a week...Mike and I have both been sad about Ariel/Dulce, we still haven't seen her and fear the worst. We remember the good times, our many walks together, and how she liked to "love nibble" our feet as she layed in front of us on the cesped (Astro turf). One morning she was inside the front door, laying on the tile floor and the coffee pot was on, she didn't know what that noise was and started growling, she was trying to protect us. Her almost constant presence is certainly missed, there's a hole in our hearts, I still pray she is recouperating  with a loving neighbor. She was a joy to have around, and  we love her a lot.

That being said, it reminds us that Ecuador is wild, an untamed place. Things are done differently here, and we have to adapt. Or at least watch where we're going, check out the visitor our friends down the way had.

This guy was seen in the street between the beach and Ramadas and this row of Coachme houses. Like I said Ecuador is wild. (Coachme is the local "credit union" or Coopertiva)

Frigates! They are sitting here waiting to see what the fishermen throw back. On some of them you can see the red neck pouch, they inflate it to attract a mate. One day on a walk with Ariel a frigate was bugging her, and she went to chase him, he flew up on these rocks to get away, and she scampered up after him, like a billy goat. The frigate was not expecting that, she went up some more rocks, barking at him and he flew away mad. She was such a character, so much personality. Untamed, Ecuador is untamed...

I finally finished my regalo (gift) for Fernando Father Fishermen and his family. Found out his oldest boy's name is Robinson, the boat is named after him. I took the gift to their house, found Fernando and Robinson in the shade doing some work to the nets, and his wife came out to greet me. I tried to tell them that I made it for them, for their generosity and kindness, I'm sure it came across.

Their house is blue, so I used blue and green like the ocean as a theme. The bulk of the windchime is a plastic Sprite bottle, I cut into squares then held them over a candle to soften, curl and melt the edges. Bits of blue plastic bottle and some green stone beads from a necklace I took apart finish it, with the shells added to make a little sound in the breeze. I'm sure they liked it.

We were walking to La Boca to visit friends for Happy hour on Saturday and were invited to a party.  At first I thought he was asking us to join them for Mothers Day, but then he said birthday, 15 anos (years), so it was going to be a big deal! On our way home that night, the music had started and Anderson and His sister Patricia (the birthday girl) tried to get us to come in the courtyard, the music was blaring but no one was there yet, it was still too early (only 8pm or so). We excused ourselves, said maybe later and went home to eat. We heard the music from that party til DAWN!! Since we didn't sleep well, we should have gotten up and went to join them! I probably would have been fine if I'd had earplugs, it wasn't that loud against the sound of the Ocean, but it wasn't constant, so after a lull, when the music would start up again, is when we would be awakened. Oh well, like I said Ecuador is wild! I've been thinking about what I can make for Patricia, something girlie, we really should party with the locals more, but they stay up so darn late! We are more "up with the sun, down with the sun" kinda people usually. 

Some of our "treasures" from walks last week, not sure what they will end up looking like, but it was a score. And one that didn't make it home with us, too big. Would have made a cool table top tho.

The Ocean does what it wants, the street dogs do what they want, the frigates, the iguanas and the locals party til dawn. It's a wild and untamed place, but we've signed up for it, so stay tuned, the Adventure continues!