Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Semana Santa

Semana Santa is Holy Week, I'd forgotten a couple things since last year, one is I missed my fruit truck on Friday. I heard (too late) on Thursday that they were set up, taking Friday off for the holiday, oh well, I ended up buying green beans over the fence on Saturday.

The little lady had her grandson on the beach, playing in the waves, and she had this big bag with her. She got my attention, and asked if I could help her fix her shoe, her sandal had broken, I went in the house and got two pairs of shoes, one my mom brought that was really too small, and another pair of cheap sandals. She chose the too small ones, and they were too big for her,  but she wanted them. She then asked if I wanted to buy some beans, so I went back in the house got a dollar and a bowl and she filled me up. But here I am talking out of order, Friday...

All of a sudden there were drums and singing, we went outside and we had a procession!

Later from Facebook I found out these people are from Charapoto, and they were walking the Stations of the Cross, they (most, not all I'm sure) walked from Charapoto, to San Clemente, and down the beach, possibly all the way to the Boca! That's 5 miles plus another 4, maybe 10 miles, and that's only one way! Here's how it started...

The procession made it to the beach, down near Punta Bikini

Stopping in San Alejo for prayer

And a little south of our house

The umbrellas were for sun protection, and it was a nice cool morning, I knew I didn't recognize many, and wondered where they had come from, so I'm glad I saw the rest of the story on Facebook.

Saturday eve was a band and dancing, luckily there were two, one started at 9pm (and was on time) and the one at 11pm, we missed. We had decided to eat dinner at Blue Tent, that way we could people watch and be there when the band started. We saw and grabbed our fishermen friend Raphael and he sat with us. After dinner we walked around a bit and saw the festivities, then decided by 10:30 we'd had enough, and snuck home.

But a good time was had by all, late into the morning. The expat Glenn who lives in the apartment right above the bandstand said it was still going near 2am...

Sunday we had an invite to pool party and Easter potluck, I made a potato and green bean salad, and the spread of food was impressive! Sorry, no pictures, smoked ham, wonderful chicken on the grill, deviled eggs!! Yum, it was a great afternoon with friends! 

Now the town is back to normal, the out of towners have all gone home, and our tranquilo life resumes. Lots of projects started, and needing to get finished, so...stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

This month in Ecuador

My Facebook is more Ecuadorean these days than "American", I enjoy seeing some interesting things going on around Ecuador, and thought I'd share them. Many new colleges and schools going up.

New school being opened. Pretty and fresh,  and such amenities!

Not sure where this is, somewhere in Manabi, but not close to us.

Life guard training, this was here in San Jacinto, Joffre said he was going to go...but I don't see him in this picture. 

This is San Clemente, they were having a beauty competition, for SC Queen. You can see the contestants in the front row. Everyone enjoying some dancers.

It is Holy Week, here are some pictures from a Palm Sunday service.

And a BIG ASS POT OF SOUP! I couldn't resist saving this one, unfortunately we have to speculate, as there was no caption telling what was going on...I guess in this case a picture is worth a thousand words.

We bought a new phone/camera so we will always have it with us, no more waiting for pictures from the camera, that means more to blog on...we have dancing Saturday night for Easter festivities, so stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Debit card fiasco

Warning: this post contains strong language

I check my bank accounts online every week, watching for payments from our renters and various other debits and credits, so when I saw a strange charge on January 25, I was on alert. I meant to call that day, but I got busy and forgot, the next day I got online to see if the strange $10 charge to Time Warner had been reversed, but found another $10 charge AND a charge for Redroof Inn (in South Carolina) for $269, it was certainly time to call Wells Fargo! As most of you know getting a banker on the phone is not an easy task, for us with our "home phone" being magic jack and plugged into the computer to get the best call quality we have to turn off all the downloads and extras so we can get a clear signal. (It's not magic jacks fault, it's the speed of our internet) Anyway, I get on the phone, and after I finally get a real person on the line (I'm pretty sure he said his name was Fonzie, hmmmmph) he tells me since the card was compromised, all he can do is freeze the card, even after I plea and tell him my story, living abroad yadayadayada, he still freezes the card. I try to get a supervisor on the phone, and after some time I do, but the card has already been "frozen for my protection", and it'll take possibly a week to be reimbursed. 

Now the problem is getting new cards, I'm trying to get the supervisor to change the address on the account so the new cards can get sent to my mothers house, instead of our traveling mailbox...but he says he can't do that, well that gets Mike on the phone, which just gets us both hung up on, nice! I was going to call back, but at this point I'm livid, and just need to cool off. The next day I get online and change the address, but all I can do is transfer funds to our Ally bank account, this takes two to three days, luckily we never wait til we run out of cash. On February 1 I see the credit has been made. For now we are safe, one glitch is that the Ally card we are now having to use, is March! So we have less than a month to get our new cards. Plenty of time?

So, the address is changed, and cards are to be sent out, rushed hopefully. But when after a week I've got no word from my mother, I call. No cards were sent out. Again my blood is instantly boiling! This is Charmaine, she gets the whole story, and then some! I've done some research and found things can be successfully sent here via FedEx or DHL, for us in this part of Ecuador DHL is the way to go. I've got the address of a DHL in Bahia, and Charmaine and I go round and round, yes this is the correct address, no there are no postal codes, please rush DHL, my card and my husbands replacement card, yadayadayada. She is to email me the next day with tracking number. And...she does! A couple days go by and I check the email again to get the tracking number, and upon closer inspection, she has sent them Fedex! I pull up the tracking number, and sure as shit they are sitting in Guayaquil flagged with a bad address! All I can do is call FedEx, of course being Sunday, I have to wait til Monday, I wait, I call, tell the story,  she assures me it is all fixed, blah blah blah, will be delivered within 24 hours, another day of waiting, check the tracking number again...SENT BACK TO SENDER! She literally did NOTHING, there were two things wrong, one was it was listed to go to a residence, it was not, and the other was update address, wanted a cross street. Neither had been changed in the computer tracking system. Omg!

Another phone call to Wells Fargo, by now this has been going on a month, new cards to replace the ones sent FedEx were ordered on Feb 25, they were to be rushed to my Moms house, they weren't! We had to wait another 7-10 business days for them to arrive! They both arrived and she sent them via DHL, I sent the address cut and pasted from the DHL website, but the people in the office still asked for a postal code, another day of emails and they were sent. This was March 3. It cost her $63 for an envelope with only two debit cards. They arrived and were ready for pick up March 8, we went to Manta to pick them up, got home, tried to activate them...wrong PIN number. They were to send new PIN numbers, guess what, they didn't! By now our Ally card has stopped working, even though a call to them says it is still active. I had to borrow money from a friend, because we could not access either of our bank accounts!

Yet, ANOTHER phone call to Wells Fargo and this time all they can do is send a pin reminder, and there apparently is no "rush" option on this, so we have to wait another 7-10 business days, ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?! And with Ally, Ive been in contact via email, anxiously awaiting our new cards at moms house, they tell me they are sent out 45 days prior to expiration, well this was 27 days before and they hadn't arrived, so new cards were ordered Mar 4...good grief! Finally this week, the pin reminder came and THANK HEAVENS it worked, and we were able to get cash. (For my card, Mike's card still hasnt received a  PIN number, and an email said a new card might need to be issued, good grief!) The Ally card has arrived in Manta and we will go pick it up Monday, it takes $6 and change to ride the bus there and back, and a couple hours, but my gosh, it's a trip we will gladly take to put this fiasco behind us.

The card being compromised is unfortunate, but can happen anywhere, anytime, a lot of this hassle would be avoided if we were living in the States, we could have just gone into a branch and voila, temporary card. But, we choose to live here, and so every so often shit might hit the fan, we try to weather it the best we can. This blog is so much about teaching, and this was a lesson I knew I needed to share. It made me realize a "Top 10 things to know" post should happen, getting your banking set up before you move abroad would certainly be on the list. My mom went into her local Wells Fargo branch and asked about getting a signature card, could she sign it, send it to me, and have me scan it back, they said no. Everybody involved must be in person...we also didn't think to set up our account for wire transfers, and that too is something that must be done in branch. So many things we didn't think of, or know. But, now we do! So watch for a Top 10 post, and stay tuned...the adventure continues!

One of the reasons we live here, happening nightly...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sandbags and Sandia

This year the ocean has decided we had too much sand, and it took it all away...I remember last year, the boats were parked in front, but not this year!

This is a picture two weeks ago, when the "sea wall" went in. The big earth mover dug up a bunch of little rocks and piled them up in front of half our house. But over the course of the next weeks, the tide came over, the sand got washed away, and all the little rocks fell down. Fishermen helped us with our sandbags, after the sand in front of our gate finally got washed away.

They were beautiful new steps...until high tide!

Note the new bag holder, the old one couldn't be reached anymore, so I put a new one on this side, but after the sand got washed away, it couldn't be reached either, so bag holder 3.0 is on a pulley.

We had invited the Romero family over for Americana Norte Comida on Saturday, we had agreed on 1pm, we had hoped that when the men got back from fishing they would help us redo the sandbag steps, but they must have had a good day, because 1pm came and went, and the boats were still out. The ladies all showed up about 1:30 ish, and we went ahead without the men, thinking they would be back shortly.

I got the ladies to all have a glass of Sandia (watermelon) wine, and Mike started the grill. We visited and had many photos, the girls loved having a place to pose.

Dominica is taking modeling classes, and was ALL ABOUT THE PHOTOS! Mama Lola's birthday was last week, and I had finished her present, a driftwood cross, they all loved it.

We ate hamburgers, macaroni salad and potato chips, and even tho the men didn't get back til late, we had a good time with the ladies. I pulled out the string, shells and beads and the kids and I made necklaces before it was time for home and naps. It didn't turn out exactly like I had planned, but a good time was had by all. It was nice the ladies didn't have to cook, I think they enjoyed that, and a nice Sandia wine buzz didn't hurt.

Update on the new monument next time, so...stay tuned, the adventure continues!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

New monument Part 2

As promised we have been keeping up on the progress of the new monument, the other day when we went the workers were hard at it. But that didnt stop the foreman from getting the model and posing for us!

On this day they had erected this rebar structure, and were covering it in wood, so they could pour cement. But every worker wanted to stop and give us the thumbs up.

A couple days later we went at lunch time, and the workers weren't around, so I peeked at the progress.

They look like they might be stairs, but I didn't see any stairs on the model?! So we must wait, espera. stay tuned...the adventure continues!