I Live In A Movie

We have been here for a little over a month and oh, what a life!  Our days have turned into one relaxing day after another.  Not many stresses, very little “important” stuff, and absolutely no immediate deadlines.  I wake up every morning feeling as though I live in a movie.  A movie about someone’s life that is slow and simple and joyful.

 

Boat Parking
During the day, fisherman line up their boats along the road.

Ecuadorian life has a rhythm and flow to it that can be found in most South American countries.  The rise and fall of the sun dictate what you do and when you do it.  First light is about 5:45 a.m.  The sun comes out about 15 minutes later.  Getting out of bed early is easy with the sun and sounds of the ocean.  From that point, you have 12 hours to get any daylight things done.

Shopping is done early as the tiendas and markets open at about 7 a.m.  The panederia’ has fresh pan de sal (savory rolls) ready and hot from the oven.  The fisherman have brought in their catch and are setting about repairing nets.  If you want their catch of the day, you simply walk a few blocks further to the village market and while you are there, pick up fresh produce to go with it.  You must go early as the best is sold quickly and the market closes about 11 a.m.

It is easy to get spoiled here.  Once the fisherman and locals know you, they go out of their way to make sure you buy from them!  Last week, I went to purchase some shrimp from one of the local fisherman.  This visit was my first attempt at sarcasm in Spanish.  As he weighed out my purchase I saw that his scale was just shy of the amount I has asked for. One shrimp would have topped my purchase off to 2 lbs even.  So I asked for one more.  He obliged.  And, as he was dropping it into my bag, I told him that that one shrimp was all I would get from the bag.  He looked at me and said, “You just get one?” My response, “Si’, que lastima.” (Yes, what a pity.)  He laughed with a grin the lit up his eyes and placed another one in the bag.  “Now you get 2!” he said, still laughing.

Today, Saturday, he came straight from his shrimp boat to our home.  These babies were so fresh that they were still moving!  When my purchase was complete, he threw in 3 more saying, “Estos son para ti!” (these are for you!)  I think our little joke is going to last a while as he said he would bring me 3 more on Wednesday.

I love the connection that you get with the people here.  Without the intrusion of big box, one size fits all stores, you form a relationship with the men and women you do business with.  They become your friends.  They do special little things.  They treat you well.

The market I go to almost daily, is owned by a woman from Spain.  She smiles and helps me through my broken Spanish, teaching me as I go.   The baker, or panadero, helps me identify items that are in his case that are unknown to me.  He is always there with a smile and a bag ready for my culinary explorations of his shop.

Once your shopping is done and stored for the day, you can then begin the exhausting task of relaxing on the entresuelo  (balcony), walking on the beach, playing in the surf or swimming in the pool.  It is difficult.  Really.  How do you decide?  I usually partake of it all.

Later in the day, some time around 4 or 5, we break open the day’s purchases and prepare our evening meal.  Each day is some new flavor, a new fish, a new vegetable or a new fruit.  But that is for another post.

Then it is time to enjoy the evening.  We have fallen into the routine of “Happy Hour” or maybe “Happy Evening Hours”.  As the sun sets, we are treated to a beautiful display of color over the ocean. Marvelous!Sunset

(This is the part where you hear a romantic tune floating softly in the background.)

Once the sun is down and the lights of Manta sparkle in the distance, we laugh and talk, or read or watch a movie.

Yes, it is slow and simple and joyful – my movie life.

 

Making Pineapple Salsa

One of the things I love most about being here is the wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  This motivates me to explore new uses for the things I am familiar with and experimenting with the ones that are new to me.

At the market avocados, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, peppers, onions – all of the old standbys could be found in abundance.  Stocked up on a few days worth of each.lychee

Then, there were the WTF are those.  Lychees, mounds and mounds of them.  Bought some.  The fruit is covered with a spiny looking outer shell.  It is actually kind of soft, like stamens on a flower.  When you cut it open, your hand is covered with sweet, sticky juice.  Pop the inside into your mouth, bite down, and what a disappointment.  At least I was.  The white pulp surrounds a huge seed that is inedible.  So, what you get is a small amount of sweet, sweet, sweet stuff that isn’t worth the time and effort it takes to get to it.  Oh well, purchase, live and learn.

I also bought what looked like a pepper and smelled like a cucumber.  The vendor told me to saute it like a pepper.  Took it home, did just that.  It was another disappointment. No flavor at all.

Then, low and behold…Pineapples!  Pineapples and cilantro and jalapeno peppers and garlic and cilantro!  Heaven!!!  By the time I left that stall, the vendor had enough cash in his til to live well for the next week.

With the amount of produce I was lugging, I needed to either hire a sherpa, bring a donkey and cart, or flag a taxi with a huge trunk.  The taxi won.  (oh, and only cost $3 by the way.)

At this point you are probably saying “This post was about salsa.”  “Why is she carrying on about the market?”  “Where’s the salsa?”  Okay, here it is…

 

Pineapple Salsa

Mouse over the picks to get instructions. You can use more or less of any of the ingredients – just hit the balance that is right for you.  I must admit, I added more jalapeno to ours.  Add salt and pepper to taste and blend.

Salsa

We ate ours with Chifles.  But mostly with a spoon.  Good stuff Maynard!

 

 

New Lives

20170612_095145We left our home in Clinton, New York, two weeks ago for a new home on the coast of Ecuador. Those two weeks have been exciting, daunting, frightening, and educational. Our Visas are in the works and soon we will be counting the clock to our residency.

Meanwhile, we live and learn and build new lives. Anna (hija segunda) came with us in the hopes of attending school down here and becoming fluent in Spanish, thereby bi-lingual and more marketable in the United States. The Boyfriend and I bought a guest house and just want to sit back, enjoy our retirement and share our home with guests from everywhere imaginable.

So far, the biggest learning curve is going to be the language. Duo Lingo and Spanishpod 101 are becoming my best friends. Oh, I cannot forget Google translate and the Spanish word of the day! My high school Spanish is hanging around in the back of my head along with a smattering of Castellano from my time in Spain. All is coming together to allow me to communicate in a type of hand gestures and pidgin. Rather comical, if I do say so myself. The hunt is on for a Spanish teacher.

Since our arrival we have jumped into the lifestyle with both feet. Anna and I walk, most days, into the village of San Jacinto, for small necessities such as bread, rice and the seafood of the day.

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Yes, that is right. Seafood. Fresh. From the boat. That morning. Huge shrimp (7 to 8 per pound) is going for about $4 per pound. Swordfish from our neighbor is under $5 per pound. One day a week we plan on hitting a different restaurant and sampling the local cuisine. The best we have had is just two doors down at Restaurante Los Mangles. Earlier this week, exhausted from attempting to use my limited Spanish while shopping, I ordered three seafood dinners. The daughter delivered them to our door and it was less than $20!

Every Sunday is market day in the small town of Charapoto’. Heading out early to catch the bus to market is an experience. We walk almost a mile to the bus stop. When a bus arrives – any bus heading that direction will do – you wave your hand and get out of the way. Once on board, you must be ready for a quick take-off. Hold on tight! As soon as the last person boarding has one foot in the door, the driver hits the accelerator! I believe I have a permanent hematoma of gargantuan proportions on my thigh from bumping into the arms of the bus seats. Painful… Anyway, the market makes me feel like I am living in a movie set. All of the people, the sights, the sounds the aromas.

Yes, this is quite the experience and is what I get for marrying a gypsy.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  So much yes!

Long Term Parking in San Jacinto?

We contracted for a bed and breakfast in Ecuador.  Have we lost our minds?  We did it spur of the moment.  We did it over drinks, with a slight buzz going on and a Pacific sunset over my shoulder.  He did it with the glint of a dream in his eye.  I agreed without hesitation or expectation.casa-wf

Now, a couple of months later, that dream is still in his eyes and I am still ready to dive in.  But, the real-life maze and bureaucratic hoops are being navigated and jumped.  There are background investigations from the FBI and the state to get done.  There are birth certificates and a marriage licence to be translated and aposteled.   Income to be verified and notarized.

Fingerprints!  The Boyfriend’s (husband) flew right through.  Not a problem, investigation done in less than a week.  Mine?  Another story altogether.  The background investigation is done.  It is the fingerprints that are not.  I need to do them again.

Received a call from a very nice young woman from the FBI.  She informed me that my fingerprints could not be read and I needed to re-do them.  Oh, and what do I do for work?  I was tempted to say I had removed them in order to commit some crime or another; climb into the neighbor’s third floor window and take some little trinket, take a joy ride in some stranger’s car, even…maybe…think about a bank?  I controlled myself and just said I work with fabric, wool and acid dyes.  Aha!  ACID!  That will take them off very quickly.  Now it is latex gloves and lotion to heal my fingertips so I can go to Ecuador.

Once these little things are done, we then have 2 houses to sell and all of the contents of said houses.  Sorting the contents is proving to be a challenge.  What to take?  What to sell?  What to store until we decide to sell that too?  I have quilts I have made, I have furnishings that took years of searching to find.  There are things from our life in Spain that I love.  And my dishes?!  I love my hodge podge of  Fiestaware.  None of it matches.  The riot of color that has been collected may just have to come along.

My fabric stash is headed to a new home.  My father’s Stickley recliner will be picked up next week, along with a desk lamp that I found in a small shop in Madrid.  The desk that was also a Madrid find is going to a new home as well.  It is like selling memories to buy new ones.  It is sad, but exciting at the same time.

Only a few months left here in central New York state.  With the closing of my shop and the pending move, I feel so disjointed.

We plan on staying here until after our oldest son graduates in May.  Then, we will get our pets their USDA certifications, a hotel and a fight to Manta.  Coming back to the U.S. will be budgeted over 2 years while we wait for our Visas to come through.

 

Let’s Talk Birds, Shall We?

One of my favorite parts of traveling, next to the food of course, is looking at the local flora and fauna.  The house at the end of the road, the house on the Boca, did not disappoint.

The first morning, while drinking our coffee, a couple of little green lovebirds sat atop the power line and chattered away.  Then, finches joined in the song and a hummingbird kind of danced along.

There were sea gulls and pelicans, herons and cranes.  And, a bird I didn’t recognize.  A large bird that seemed to float with ease on the air.  Some were black and others had white chests.  And, they were never alone.  I guess they know it is safer to travel in groups.

I asked the name of the bird and “frigate” was the answer.  Frigate birds – heard of them.  Read of them in books.  Now I have seen them.

Frigates!  Friggin’ frigates!  They are dangerous.  No, not deadly, but dangerous just the same.  They swarm like bees, they dive-bomb and they will shit on you if given the chance. Ask me how I know…

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Male Friggin’ Frigate
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Female Friggin’ Frigate

Picture this – sitting by the pool, focused on blogging, enjoying a bit of adult refreshment. Not a care in the world.  And

BAM!!!

And unusual warmth slides down my back and into my shirt.  All I could do was curse and let loose with a few very colorful words – Friggin’ Frigates being the most comical.

I was told that to be shat (is shat really a word?) upon is good luck.  Now really, how lucky can it be to be directly beneath the one bird that had to take a shit and that particular moment?  In my humble opinion, that is anything but lucky.  I mean, what are the odds? There were 3 of us out there.  And, I am the lucky one?

Oh well, it wasn’t anything that a quick dip in the pool wouldn’t fix.  James and Marty could have my bit of luck, albeit dissolved in their pool.

Other than that encounter, the native birds were friendly. I will leave you with pics of the birds that entertained us.

Beinvenidos A San Jacinto!

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We flew from Quito to Manta, arriving in San Jacinto at 9:30 a.m.  Our driver, Juan, was so adorable and talkative.  It was fun to practice my Spanish with him as he practiced his English with me.  I must admit, his English was so much better than my Spanish.

Okay, first impression of the Manta area was not good.  It was dry, dusty, rundown and not at all what my North American sensibilities expected.  It was like driving through the poorest part of most industrialized nations.  I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

We drove past and between fields of rice where we could see herons and cranes wandering ecuador-typical-homeabout.  There were small farms and everywhere little eateries that seemed questionable healthwise. The homes were small, mostly of brick and bamboo construction, and almost all were on stilts.  Curious… The one pictured is one of the nicer ones with a small tienda (shop) attached to the house.

Our taxi continued on through a village that was bustling with activity as the weekly market was in session.  There were people everywhere!  Piled two deep in pickup trucks, four lined up on a single motorcycle, people walking, people riding bikes.  Yes, it was dusty, yes, it was crowded, yes, I wanted to stop and be a part of it.  But, we needed to move along to our destination.

A bit further down the road, we turned off onto a rough dirt road that really made me question our thought processes!

There were dusty little stilted houses, dry palms, and flower pots that needed water in the worst way.  Juan drove to the end of this road and turned. Then…

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one of the most beautiful views ever!  I couldn’t take my eyes off of the ocean, the vast expanse of sand and beach, with waves caressing the shore, and not a soul in site.  It was beautiful.  There were frigate birds, more on those later, sea gulls, cranes and herons, but not a human in site..

At the end of the road we were greeted by one of our hosts – Marty.  We, the BF and I, soon discovered that he and his partner, James, were the quintessential hosts.  Casa WF, the house at the end of the road, la ultima casa por la Boca, was a little bit of paradise.  There are mangroves in the back, protected by the board of tourism.  There is a river to the side, that changes with each hour of the day.  And, as seen above, a view of the Pacific that would be tough to beat.

Marty gave us a down and dirty tour of our room and the property.  Then, without hesitation, took us out on the beach for a walk into town.  As we walked, all of the initial ecuador-downtown-san-jacintoquestioning of sanity kind of fell away.  The village was so alive!  We met a brother and sister, their names escape me now, that were just charming.  They were both so sweet. all the way to the village, people greeted us with smiles and “Hola, que tal.” or “Hola, buenas.” Genuine greetings.  Happy greetings. Although we stood out like sore thumbs, we did not feel out of place.

In the village, we met a woman from Spain that had opened up a small tienda.  We met “Mama” the owner of another small tienda that had VODKA!  And TONIC!  And, I think she was related to almost everyone at that end of the village.   We made a few initial purchases and walked back to Casa WF to relax from our journey and just kind of hang out during the heat of the day.

During our week long stay, the hours just melted away.  One day ran into the next.  I seriously lost track of time!  If it wasn’t for my daily check in with family at home, the days would have become one.

I fell in love.  With the people, the ocean, the birds and the simple life that is San Jacinto.

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Luna Lovegood lives in San Clemente

The First Couple Of Days

The first stop is always Quito for a few days.  Here we get our feet wet so to speak. I work on getting my limited Spanish out and dusted off.  We sleep and talk and just let the stresses of our U.S. life melt away.

Our first day in Ecuador was spent relaxing and enjoying the quiet, or relative quiet of the img_20161203_092352-effectsHosteria Rincon de Puembo.  It is a beautiful place.  Water features hidden amongst ficus and shrubs, pathways across ponds and rooms set to look like they are set on a street in a colonial city.  It was beautiful, but maybe too beautiful.  Almost a fantasy like setting.  But we are still sitting in the doorway.

 

 

I must admit, that the food is just as pretty as the hotel.  But, where the hotel seems a bit too pretentious, the food is exquisite.  In the morning I had an empanada verde along with coffee and a glass of jugo de guanabana.  I now have a new favorite juice.

Lunch was a “Mediterreanean Salad” with small bits of fried calamari and the finest threads of carrot, cucumber… Then came dinner.  I think dinner was one of the most memorable meals I have ever had!

ecuador-dinner-in-quitoImagine, tuna.  A tenderloin of tuna. A tenderloin of tuna encrusted in sesame seeds. Encrusted, and then grilled to perfection.  This perfect grilled loin of tuna was then drizzled with a reduction of honey and lemon grass that, when cooled had an almost caramel consistency.

This fusion of Ecuadorian and Sushi was served atop thinly sliced eggplant, plantains and potatoes.

It was like heaven!

The next day, after enjoying the serenity of this fantasy place, we took off for our journey west, to the coastal village of San Jacinto…

The Door To The Magic

Flying into Quito at night is a beautiful sight.  Looking out the window all is black and gray, nothing to be seen.  Then, you feel the plane drop and all turns a white/gray as you fall quito-at-nightthrough the clouds. Suddenly, the lights of the city are beneath you and the clouds are a thing of the past.

There is magic below. There is life so unlike that you left behind. There are streets to explore and people to watch if you have the time.

The boyfriend and I haven’t yet explored this magical place.  It is always a stop on our way to another.  But, the stop here never fails to allow the stresses of life to fall away and make way for the magic of Ecuador.

Tomorrow, early in the morning – like 3 a.m. –  we continue on our journey.  But Quito is always the door.

Ecuador Redux

Friday we once again head to Ecuador.  This time we will be staying on the coast for the first half of the journey.  The second half will be in the city of Cuenca.

 

We will be staying on the beach the first week, just outside the village of San Jacinto.  Our Airbnb hosts, James and Marty, are sharing their home with us – Casa WF.

casa-wf

The house is located at La Boca, or “The Mouth”, of the Puertoviejo river.  See those chairs down there next to the pool?  That is where I will be sitting soon.  Very soon.  Cannot wait.

Ocean, sounds of the waves, no responsibilities, and seafood in abundance.  That will be our week.  Will get pics and post more about this beautiful area once we are there.

Our second week is going to be spent in another Andean city.  We will be staying at fachada Casa Ordonez, in Cuenca.  Looking forward to the shopping, the museums, the art and just the hustle and bustle of the city.

Again, I will get pics of as much as I can while we are there.

Looking forward to entertaining you with this, our second trip to the wonderful country!

Get Ready For Weekend Road-trip!

The weekend is fast approaching.  We both have the weekend off!  Do we have plans? Of course we do!!

It has been a while since we threw our adult responsibilities to the wind and just took off. With a new sports car and a couple of days on our hands, it seemed like the perfect time to take a road trip north.

North, into the beautiful Adirondack mountains.  North to the land of the Green Mountains.  North, north, north.  This weekend we are headed to Fort Ticonderoga, Lake Champlain, the ferry across the lake to Burlington Vermont and back, over the Vermont’s Green Mountains.  There will be a possible stop-over at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream heaven and a few culinary adventures mixed in with our jaunt through history and nature.

We hope to get some great pics and put a feel for the north-east on the virtual pages of “Long-Term Parking.  This is where we have chosen to make our U.S.  home.  It is a beautiful, breathtaking area and we want to share it with you.