Busy Time in San Clemente – 01/02/2020-01/11/2020

“The Ts have been very bust over the past week or so Nilla.”

“They sure have Jackson.”

“Aventurero made it back to Crucita from Tumbes safe and sound.”

“They walk an average of three miles a day and have met many ex-pats.”

“The tides haven’t been all that cooperative, given the timing and the Ts schedule.  But walking on the road can be interesting too Nilla.”

“We’ve been told that San Clemente has one of the most dangerous intersections in the country.”

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“Yeah, and it happens to be near the beautiful church and the bus stops.  It’s the corner that makes it dangerous.  Need to cross at the crosswalk for sure!”

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Cloudy day and a small fishing boat seems lost between sky and sea.

“Yes, we’ve stopped at Hugo’s produce stand – not the best in San Clemente, but Hugo is a nice man, wishing us a wonderful new year.  Just over $1.00 for our salad makings.”

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“And there’s evidence of people really wanting to get this wonderful beach clean as well Jackson.”

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We should respect the magic of this place and not throw trash on the beach!

“The Ts enjoyed a brief visit to Sosote, the Manibi province’s artisan center for tagua nut sculpture and jewelry.”

 

 

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We really liked this seahorse!

“Since they were closer to Crucita than San Clemente, and the bus to Crucita just happened to be going by the Ts paid an unexpected visit to Crucita and say hello to friends there.”

“Aventurero said that he didn’t mind the long bus ride to Peru and back – he got to see the countryside.”

“So he’ll be all set with his tourist visa, until he goes home late March Jackson.”

“Nilla, both of our team favorites are out of super bowl contention – the Patriots and the Eagles lost.”

“So Jackson, looks like we’re back to our prediction – 49ers and the Ravens.”

“That was until Saturday evening when the Ravens lost to the Titans.”

“Yes, the ‘Jackson’ lost.”

“But, the Titans do have a corner back names Jackson, so we’ll just have to wait and see Nilla.”

“The Sports Cafe H in Bahia seemed like a good restaurant, in a lovely location right on the shore.”

“And we can watch football there – maybe go there for the Super Bowl – it’s a definite consideration.”

“Three Kings Day, on the sixth, was very quiet here, it was sad to take down the lights on the seventh, but maybe we can do something for Carnival.”

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Reflection from our balcony.

“But the town sure had a party on the eleventh – celebrating Three Kings Day then, fireworks, music, activities for the children.  The Ts didn’t go downtown, they had had a long day with the parenting workshop at the Sathya Sai School.”

“So, that leads to the question Nilla, what do you think was the most exciting over the past ten days?”

“Definitely being involved with the Sathya Sai School in Bahia de Caraquez.”

“I’d have to agree.  The Ts are assisting with ESL class with first graders at the school.”

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One of several coloring books the Ts are going make use of in ESL class

“Yes, they had a long meeting with the administration, discussed the school’s philosophy and opportunities for volunteering.”

“They munched on moringa leaves, very high in protein.”

“And they brought home passion fruit from one of the trees growing on the school property.”

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“Those first graders certainly have a lot of energy.”

“Yes, they do Jackson.  And they are talented too.  Performing for the Ministerio de Educacion on the tenth, the teachers worked tirelessly with the students.”

“The first graders performed the ‘Flower Song’ and danced around, sat on and kept the beat with their flower pots.”

“Did you notice they refer to the teachers as ‘aunt so and so’ or ‘uncle so and so’?”

“After all, it is their school family, and this helps to reinforce the school’s values.”

“The students’ families are expected to assist in maintaining the facility, participating in workshops and engaging in school-based community events.”

“It’s ownership Nilla!  There is no tuition.  They have ‘mingas’ or special work groups to help with projects.”

“I’m sure the Ts will help in anyway they can.”

“And that brings us to the geckos.”

“We don’t generally see them, but they seem to like to leave their ‘calling cards’ on the tiled balcony floor for the Ts to clean up every morning.”

“Yes but the funny thing is that a very small gecko was found wiggling about in a shirt sleeve, the shirt had been hanging up in the closet.”

“I would have liked playing with it!”

“Me too!”

 

The Transition and Welcome to 2020: 12/31/2019 – 01/01/2020

“Beatriz is very nice, don’t you think Jackson?”

“Yes, and she does a good job cleaning and her rate is very reasonable too.”

“It was an interesting taxi ride to Crucita on Tuesday wasn’t it?”

“Certainly was for several reasons.  What did you think of those young men dressed up as viudas asking for alms.”

“Some of them were very provocative don’t you think?”

“Absolutely Nilla.  After all they need to pay expenses to bury their ‘old men’ at midnight!”

“Widows, certainly not in mourning Jackson.”

“It’s all in fun.”

“But then there were the transit police at a random check point.  What were they looking for?”

“Basically safety issues – seat belt use by all, no tinted glass unless special permit, current driver’s license.”

“That’s good I guess.”

“It was disappointing to see that the marina still isn’t ready, looks like minimal progress Nilla.”

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“And from what we were told, there is a private marina area, perhaps a yacht club besides the fishing boat area Jackson.”

“The beach is very clean compared to last year, and I noticed that there are very few shells too.”

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“The clean part is good but I wonder why very little shells?”

“Crucita was pretty busy even in the early afternoon hours.  It was good to see Diego when we dropped off the grill-griddle pan for Neiser’s restaurant.  But he didn’t look to pleased about the staging being erected right in front of his property and immediately adjacent to Primito’s.”

“He wasn’t.  He wasn’t even asked if it would be alright.  Obviously people did not know that the malecon would be blocked either.”

“And so much for no alcohol on the beach or parking on the beach side of the malecon.”

“Did you notice?”

“Of course I did – maybe it’s allowed for the holiday.”

“It was nice of him and Guardagatos to come to Rimini to meet up with us.  Kevin seemed to like his key chain.”

“It was nice of them to cut up the pineapple for the New Year’s Eve party.”

“But too much dorado a la plancha for the Ts.  But Diego’s cat had a tasty snack.”

“No familiar faces at Ramblas.”

“Nope, new owners – no sushi any more either.”

“I hope Marcelo and his family had a good time in Manta on New Year’s Eve.  He seemed excited that he was not working after dropping us off.”

“Jackson, the pineapple for the party was incidentally brilliant on the part of the Ts.”

“Why do you say that Nilla?”

“Because this is the year the Greatest Gift is ‘goodwill’ and ‘goodwill’ is depicted by the pineapples on the crystal triangles on the Times Square ball!”

“What’s that all about?”

“Well, in 2014 , the Times Square Alliance and Waterford Crystal came up with the idea of having a theme for the ball over a ten year span, starting with 2014, when the Greatest Gift was ‘imagination – 2015, ‘fortitude’; 2016, ‘wonder’; 2017, ‘kindness’; 2018, ‘serenity’; 2019, ‘harmony’ and so on until 2023 when the Greatest Gift will be ‘love’.”

“So what’s next year going to be.”

“That’s a secret Jackson!”

“So, do they remove the previous year’s theme triangles?’

“No, of course not, every year since 2014 they remove only non-theme triangles – just under 200 of them, so culminating in 2023 the ball should have all the theme triangles sparkling on it!”

“So, what did you think of the party?”

“Six couples besides us, all very nice.  The Ts had a great time – they wore yellow – no yellow for us this year though.  Much quieter here in San Clemente is comparison to Crucita.”

“Palma Azul and San Jacinto Hotel had parties, but certainly not the number of beach goers we saw last year.”

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“That white house next to Ensenada del Pacifico certainly had the music blasting till the wee hours!”

“Didn’t sleep much – difficult getting up for that long walk on January first.”

“Jackson, you seemed to enjoy the burning of the paper mache figures – the ‘old man’, ‘old year’ .”

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“That was fun.  Did you notice the paper mache figures of the Ecuadorian president – some people really don’t like him – he went up in smoke in some bonfires.”

“Not to be political, but, I’d expect if the custom were the same in the United States, there probably would have been some paper mache Trump figures out there too.”

“But Nilla, politics aside and respecting everyone’s right to have his or her opinion,  I also thought that the lanterns were beautiful as they floated upward.”

“It was tricky getting them lighted especially with the breeze on the beach.”

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“How about that walk down the beach to San Jacinto on the first?”

“There were more shells on the beach here than in Crucita.  And we saw the ‘butterfly-like impressions on the sand, tell tale sign for a sand dollar just beneath the surface. And so many people!”

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“The busiest we’ve seen it.”

“The bakery had fresh warm sweet rolls, they always smell go gooood when they’re fresh!”

“Nilla, the Ts danced the cumbia at the San Jacinto Hotel, shared soup and fish bites and then walked back against traffic along the malecon.”

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All main courses come with rice, salad and plantains – prices in US dollars!

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“Jackson, I liked to look at what the vendors had to offer.”

“You and shopping Nilla!”

“Fernando was glad to see us when we stopped by Cafe Mussol.”

“Yes, cheeseburgers tomorrow for dinner.”

“I’d say we did a good job saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming veinte-veinte!

 

Concluding 2019 in San Clemente – 12/29 – 12/30/2019

“Aventurero sent a text to let the Ts know that he arrived safely in Tumbes, Peru.  I’m sure he’ll have stories to share with us Nilla!”

“Jackson, remember the sticker that the official-looking gentlemen placed on our door?”

“Sure do, don’t know what it’s for though.”

“I’ts the census – every ten years.”

“So we’ve been counted?”

“I’m not sure we count Jackson, nor the Ts for that matter.”

“And what about the mysterious mail service Nilla?”

“It’s not so mysterious, the instructions are on the buzon, but no one seems to know where to buy the stamps.  Apparently you wait by the buzon and hop to see the mail person come along and ask them.  They pick up and deliver once a week.”

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“What day might that be?”

“No one knows that either.”

“Well, there you have it – a mystery!!

“What did you think about the Patriots game on Sunday Nilla?”

“That silly game, from what I could tell the Patriots didn’t do so well – they lost!”

“I’m predicting the Ravens will be in the Super Bowl and I believe they’ll be playing the 49ers…. but the Ravens will win!”

“Sure, I know why you’re picking the Ravens, – it’s their quarterback, Lamar Jackson!”

“Oh, come on Nilla, it’s not just the name, he has talent.”

“Then I’ll have to pick the 49ers – I’m a California bear after all.”

“That’s enough football talk for now.  I want to talk about the green stones the Ts found – just like the ones they found in Crucita last year.  I think I know what they are!”

“So, what are they?”

“It’s basalt rock, and extrusive volcanic rock – part of lava flow.  It is the most common volcanic rock on earth and usually is gray or black and very hard.  It may also be magnetic.”

“That’s interesting Jackson.  Is it valuable?”

“No, but it is sometimes used in jewelry.  The glossy ones like what we have are called tachylytes.  Basalt rock is also found on the moon.”

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“Did you find out what the heavy brownish stone is – the other interesting stone the Ts found last year?”

“Nope.  We’ll have to check that out further when we return to the U.S. and run some tests – not sure if it is magnetic.”

“Do you think it could be a meteorite?”

“I doubt it, but you never know.”

“We never made it to Crucita yesterday.”

“It would have been messy walking around after raining all night.”

“But we had fun yesterday.  We walked the beach and then went out to dinner with our new friends.”

“The ribs at the Restaurante Asadero Dona Costilla Ahumada were very tasty.”

“David, our waiter was nice too.  So nice to make new friends and they are so helpful in giving recommendations and other tips about services around town.”

“AND, what about that thing the Ts picked up?”

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“That’s a BIG acorn Nilla!” “That’s a BIG squirrel Jackson!”

“That thing Jackson is our ‘old year’.  It used to be that the old man would be made up old clothes and placed outside one’s door sometime after Christmas – often the figure would be stuffed with hay and fireworks.  Then there would be a reading of the ‘will’ – what the old year was leaving behind for others.  But that custom has evolved, become more sophisticated and a bit commercial.  You remember the paper mache figures in Crucita last year – well it’s the same thing here.”

“I remember.  Fireworks, lanterns rising in the night sky, noise, fires on the beach.”

“Those fires were the paper mache figures burned along with those things that one wanted to rid themselves of as they start a new year.”

“We had a pretty good year this year Nilla.  I think we should focus on what we want to accomplish in the new year.”

“Like resolutions Jackson?”

“No, resolutions hardly ever work out, I’m talking about looking forward, to new adventures.”

“We didn’t make any resolutions last year either.  We did wear yellow though.”

“I’m not sure we will this year, no one else seemed to be particularly color conscious.”

“Well Jackson, I think your idea of looking forward – great expectations, is a wonderful way to look at 2020!  I know one adventure I’d like to have, going to Sosote, the place where the artisans specialize in tagua nut carving.”

“Sounds like a good start.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Settling In At La Ensenada del Pacifico: 12/21/2019 – 12/28/2019

“Nilla, we’re way behind in blogging – I thought the commitment was twice a week.”

“Can’t help it Jackson, we were going to blog yesterday, remember?  Instead a transformer malfunction in Charapoto and then another blew up in San Clemente.  Can’t do anything about that!  At least it was repaired relatively quickly!”

“Okay, so let’s get on with the update.  The Christmas bush was painted, placed in the pail and out on the deck by the twenty first.”

“The shells, collected from Crucita last year tied on green and red ribbon are lovely.  The bush stays on display until January 7th, the day after Epiphany.  Don’t forget the sand dollar test – that’s from the beach here.  While there aren’t many shells, there are a fair amount of sand dollars, you can tell from the butterfly-like impression on the sand surface.”

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Example of typical Christmas bush/tree in the center of San Clemente

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“An uneventful laundry day – no overflowing washing machine.  Remember last year?!”

“Of course I do.  It was nice to be able to breeze dry the clothes – better than using the dryer.”

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“Economical too!”

“And when we thought there weren’t enough ‘ornaments’ Aventurero picked some up on his walk on the beach.”

“There are a number of nice small restaurants in town.  The BBQ book place, Zona Cero for one and the new cafe, Cafe Mussol is very trendy I’d say.  Fernando and his father Patricio built it – sandwiches, beer, wine, soda and from what we’ve heard, fabulous burgers.”

“Mussol is owl in Castellano, and Fernando loves owls.”

“But you know Jackson, owl in Spanish is really buho.”

Zona Cero is interesting as it serves as a book exchange – take a book, bring it back or exchange it for another.  Most of the wait staff speak some English.”

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“Last Monday, the twenty third was a busy day.”

“That’s for sure!  The Ts had to find an extension cord for the tree lights and they wanted to explore the town.  The ‘Ferricenter’ made an extension cord, two meters long for $5.20.  Next door is a small produce market and next to the produce market is a small local store that seems to have most of the things one might need to pick up in a pinch – Maria Y Jose.”

“The proprietors all seem so very nice.”

“The nativity scene and other decorations around San Clemente are lovely.”

“They have murals here too, similar to the ones in Crucita, but not quite as elaborate.”

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“But Nilla, the really  busy day was Tuesday, the twenty fourth, when we went back to Crucita!”

“Yup, Marcelo picked us up just after 1:00 and off we went.”

“The ATM worked just fine, Genoa Pizza is still there, just not open, and the malecon, it is soooo clean now!”

“And Jackson, quiet too!  Apparently the new sheriff is enforcing the laws – no loud boom boxes, no drinking on the beach, no walking around with an open container, and so on.”

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“Fewer fishing boats along the side of the road too, must be that the marina is completed, but that’s for another trip to explore.”

“Stopping by the souvenir shop to pick up some tagua rings – and just happening to find an owl key chain – to add to Fernando’s collection.  That was fun too!”

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“Rimini’s is just as it was when we left – it was great seeing Kevin.”

“He said business is still not as great as it was – perhaps a combination of enforcing the laws as well as some tax he talked about, not sure what that’s all about.”

“AND, we met up with Aventurero.  That’s when we got the additional shells for our bush!”

“As we walked down the malecon, it was exciting to have numero seis beep, he remembers us from last year – taking us to La Boca.”

“The nativity scene is up off the ground this year.  I remember how is was in danger of getting washed away by sea water last year.”

“Look, Las Dunas’ entrance has a fresh coat of orange paint, and the house where we stayed last year has been painted white.”

“Manny the security guard also remembers us – he said that there hasn’t been significant work on the house and it hasn’t been rented.”

“Rather sad, don’t you think Nilla?”

“It’s not our problem now.”

“True.  As planned our friends gathered at Primito, Neiser’s new restaurant out front from Diego’s house.  Cute and clean, he’ll do well here.”

“Did you hear Jackson how many cats Guardagatos has at his place? Over twenty!”

“Aventurero seems happy.  He’s all set for his adventure to Peru on the twenty ninth.  Has to leave the country before the thirty first then re-enter to renew his tourist visa.”

“We won’t see him again until he has returned, and I can hardly wait to hear his stories!”

“Nilla, didn’t you think we had just gotten back to Crucita when Marcelo came to pick us up.”

“We’ll be back Jackson, we promised the copper coated pan that we brought from the U.S., that doesn’t work on our induction stove top, to Neiser and we told Kevin we’d be back next week.”

“Had to learn a bit about cooking with induction – heats up fast and cools down just as fast – challenging.”

“Christmas was quiet – chicken pasta alfredo and fresh salad, with milk and cookies for desert, yumm.”

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“The sunsets here are spectacular!”

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“They sure are!”

“The beach walks are great exercise.”

“Walking down to San Jacinto and back is about a four mile walk.  The nice thing is that there are more tricimotos in San Clemete – now about six compared to last year’s two.”

“So if we get tired, we can get a lift.  Some even have business cards and you can call for a pick up!”

“Fifty cents for an in-town ride and one dollar from San Jacinto to San Clemete or vice versa.”

“And, Hotel San Jacinto serves, breakfast, lunch and dinner – food is a little pricey but the beverage prices are reasonable.”

“On the walk back we saw Aventurero, the small fishing boat that we happened upon last year during on of our visits.  Looks like a small fishing boat yard – probably to keep the boats off the main road along the beach.”

“Most likely, now onto the next holiday –  the paper mache figures are appearing outside the little shops, hot items for the new year’s celebration.

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“I wonder if it will be as exciting here as it was in Crucita?”

“Depends if it is high tide – then there is no beach to have the midnight fires.”

“Guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

“Do you have a preference for shopping in Puertoviejo or Bahia?”

“The Ts don’t have a preference.  They took a second bus ride, this time to shopping in Bahia.  the bus ride was shorter – less frequent stops but they had to grab a cab from the terminal to the shopping mall, an extra $2.00, which really isn’t bad (added to the $0.75 per senior bus ride).  The cab ride back costs the same as from Puertoviejo, $15.00.”

“We don’t have a routine yet, but who cares.  We’re meeting lots of new friends, and dogs, keeping everyone’s name will be a challenge.”

“We’re up to it!”

 

Return to Ecuador – The Beginning

“Jackson, this is NOT our usual travel tote!”

“No it’s not.  Don’t complain.  We’re going to have a side trip by bus during our stay in Ecuador and the Ts need to have backpacks to bring on the bus.”

“Oh, where are we going, certainly not the Galapagos – you can’t get there by bus!’

“Nope, this time they plan an excursion to Saqusili and Cuenca.”

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“Copa Airlines – we’ve never flown on this carrier before Nilla.”

“No we haven’t.  Copa is a Colombian/Panama based airline and is part of the Star Alliance.”

“It’s stuffy in here, I wish they’d turn down the heat.”

“The flight is absolutely full – the holidays – no private seat for us!”

“What’s the delay Nilla?”

“Ice and snow on the aircraft – have to de-ice before take-off.”

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“We might miss our connecting flight in Panama City.”

“Have to wait and see Jackson!  Get some sleep – it’ll make the time fly, no pun intended.”

“It says we can’t sit in this row Nilla – ‘no children allowed’.

“Come on Jackson – the Ts call us ‘The Kids’ but we’re not really kids!”

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“If we deplane quickly we’ll make the connection Jackson.”

“Where’s the gate?  Why isn’t anyone here to help us?”

“Over there – they’re calling the Ts – last boarding!!!”

“Phew that was close!  Do you think the luggage made it?”

“We’ll find out in Quito.”

“It’s another stuffy plane and the people are stuffed in too Nilla.”

“No seat for us again – and I’m too tired to sleep.”

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“Nilla I don’t think our luggage has made it, most of the bags have already come down the conveyor and onto the carousel!”

“Jackson, here comes one now!”

“Onto customs and immigration and then onto Manta, we’re almost there.”

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“Aren’t many people on this flight – thank goodness!  And it’s not stuffy either.  We haven’t flown on this carrier either Nilla.”

“Latam is part of the One World Alliance Jackson.  Ready for a short flight?”

“Absolutely!

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“Hey Marcelo is here to pick us up and take us to Ensenada del Pacifico!  He speaks English too.”

“Looks like they’ve begun construction on the new Manta airport.  Plans are to make it possible to fly to multiple destinations in country, not just Quito and even have some international flights.  Good for tourism Jackson.”

“It’s great to finally be here.  Tom’s orientation is informative but we’ll have to get more instruction tomorrow, too tired.”

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“It’s just like I remember from our visit earlier this year!”

“Two full baths, a master bedroom, the Murphy bed/TV room, fully applianced kitchen, washer and dryer – and feel that breeze Jackson!”

“I doubt we’ll need to use the air conditioning much Nilla.”

“I need to get organized – all the kitchen stuff we brought and then we need to go shopping.”

“Don’t forget we have to apply for the Mi Comisariata discount card.”

“We’ll get one for sure.  Did you know Jackson that the Mi Comisariata supermarket chain began with a single store in Quito many years ago – then it was called ‘La Favorita’.”

“Sure has come along way, like many things in Ecuador, Nilla.”

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Marcelo’s brother Christian takes us to Bahia to grocery shop.  We don’t find everything but there’s time to make a trip back.

“Look at that sunset Nilla!”

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“It’s beautiful Jackson.”

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“The Ts couldn’t find evaporated milk. At least they have the discount card now – no expiration date either.”

“What do we need evaporated milk for anyway?”

“To make New England fish chowder.”

“Can’t you use condensed milk instead?  And what are you going to do for fish?  There’s no haddock here!”

“No Jackson, you can’t use condensed milk in place of evaporated milk – condensed milk has sugar in it.  You can use evaporated milk for condensed milk and add sugar but no the other way around.  And for fish – I’m planning to use dorado.”

“Have you even made this before?”

“Nope, but as they say, there’s a first time for everything.  Besides the Ts are going out to eat at Viviana’s this evening – dorado is on the menu there.”

“How about the Christmas cookies?  They made it all the way from Greenfield, Massachusetts without getting crushed in the carry-on.”

“We’re not eating them before Christmas.  Besides we have decorations to put up!”

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*********************

 

“Got to get a Christmas bush Jackson.”

“Sure, there are no pine trees around here Nilla.”

“I didn’t say tree, I said bush Jackson.”

“Well, there aren’t any pine bushes around here either!”

“No, traditionally a naranjilla bush is cut – the leaves pulled off and then the bush is painted white before being decorated.”

“We’re doing that?”

“No we’re leaving that to the Ts.  Remember last year we decorated the palm tree in the back patio?”

“Yes that was before the palm weevil got to it!”

“It’s going to be different here Jackson.”

“I’ve already noticed how quiet it is – Crucita was much noisier.  Isn’t that where Aventurero is staying?”

“Yes he’s been here for about six weeks – we’ll catch up with him soon.”

“Look what the Ts found – it’s not a naranjilla bush but it will do nicely.

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“All we need now is a pot or a pail to put it it.  They’ll probably buy a pail when they go back to Viviana’s for dinner. Right now they’re going for their first walk on the beach – it’s approaching low tide.”

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“Look at that – what did I tell you – perfect for our bush!”

“Don’t fall in Nilla!”

“Don’t you either.”

“What are we going to decorate the tree with anyway?”

“You’ll just have to wait and see.”

“I suppose that’s the same to the question of what’s on the menu for Christmas Day besides cookies.”

“Well, it depends if the Ts find evaporated milk – might just do chowder and salad or chicken breast, rice and salad.  Depends on the shop tomorrow.”

“Another beautiful sunset and look at our lights Nilla.”

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“Nice job!”

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“Ts couldn’t catch a cab, didn’t want to call one, to take them to Portoviejo to shop, so they took a bus and then a taxi back.”

“Good thing Jackson, they bought dorado and chicken breasts – so Christmas menu is not yet determined because……….”

“I know, they found evaporated milk!”

“Exactly!”

“It was too late to cook dinner and Viviana’s and Submarino resturants were closed so they tried Meier’s for the first time.”

“I know, and a good thing too.  They helped save a gecko that was stuck to fly paper, no one noticed it until they came along.”

“I hope the creature survives.”

“Time to go to sleep – we have a lot to do tomorrow.”

Concluding 2019 Visit to Aruba

“Nilla, we’re leaving tomorrow!  What should we say about the last several days here?”

“Well, in our travels we have certainly seen significant construction in the low rise section, as well in the high rise area as well.”

“Don’t forget about all the new palapas – the beach is going to get crowded!”

“That’s because of the former Tropicana being converted to the Eagle Aruba Resort and Casino and the additional rooms.  There aren’t enough palapas on the beach now.”

“Nilla, I really like La Cabana and the staff here.  It’s a wonderful location for walking, enjoying the beach, pool and close to the bus stop.”

“And it’s attractive too Jackson.”

“How about sharing some of this weeks photographs?”

“Good idea Jackson.  Let’s do it!”

 

“Can’t forget those cute sugar birds, they’re a favorite of mine.”

“Well Jackson, there are 249 species of birds recorded in Aruba and the Prikichi, a parakeet-like bird and the shoko (the burrowing owl) reside only on the ABC islands.

“Yes Nilla, we’ve never seen either one.  the Prickichi was officially named the national bird in 2017 and the Shoko named the national symbol in 2012.”

“Aruba is truly a special place.  Which reminds me, on an island of only 69 square miles and more or less 105,000 residents and thousands of tourists what do they do with all the trash?”

“The policy is – ‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Restore’.”

“Oh, the 5 Rs.”

“Exactly.  They are able to process about half of the municipal waste. They are able to convert mixed garbage to feedstock while other trash is exported by private companies – a profitable venture – aluminum, newspaper, general paper and cartons.”

“Jackson, I like the reuseable designer shopping bag – it sells for about $20.00 and is made from recycled plastic bottles.”

“You and shopping!”

“Well, this is it Jackson!”

“Should we start crying now?”

“There’s a place for that Jackson.”

“We have our own seats for the flight back to the States.”

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“Yup in time for Thanksgiving.”

“Don’t be too sad Nilla – we’re going back to Ecuador in December.”

“Let’s focus on that Jackson.”

 

 

Second Week in Aruba, ‘One Happy Island’

“Well, Jackson, what do you think about our second week?”

“It was fun meeting Glenda at SuperFoods.  She was born in Aruba and is multilingual but her native language is Papiamento – a combination of Dutch, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and African languages.”

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“Papiamento was officially added to the school curriculum in 1998.”

“SuperFoods is always fun to visit, it’s so big – and the Ts got to use the tourist savings card for the first time – they should mention that at La Cabana when you check in, otherwise people won’t know about it!”

“There’s lots of interesting topics to discuss in this week’s blog – we learned a lot – managing trash on the island, regulations for cell phone use while driving and a little about ATMs here.”

“So where do we start, Nilla?”

“Let’s start with ‘the rules of the road’.”

“So, there is absolutely no cell phone use while driving, a fine of $290 if you get caught, and if you are using a cell phone and cause an accident, you are fined thousands of dollars and may be incarcerated as well.”

“What about hands-free devices Jackson?”

“Well, if you are distracted while using a hands-free device, it is considered distracted driving while using a cell phone and you can be fined.”

“Pretty strict.  Have you noticed they seem to be doing away with traffic lights?”

“That seems to be the plan Nilla.  They are re-configuring the intersections with roundabouts.”

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“And are the rules entering a roundabout the same as back in the US?”

“That’s right Nilla.  Pretty standard, keep in mind that you drive on the right hand side of the road too.”

“Now what about parking and are you licensed to drive with your stateside driver’s license?”

“Well, first of all, yes you can drive on a state issued driver’s license or if you prefer obtain an international driver’s license such as one you can pick up at AAA before leaving home.  Remember too, drivers must wear seat belts as well as any passenger in the front seat.  In Oranjestad there are parking meters, parking spaces are at a premium there.  If you overstay your time there is a fifteen minute grace period, after which you are ticketed.”

“That seems pretty fair.  You know that gasoline prices are regulated by the government – no need to shop around, and another tip, if your out in more rural parts of the island and get lost, look at the fofoti or divi trees, they point southwest.”

“Why is that Nilla?”

“Because of the prevailing winds. The fofoti tree and the divi tree are often confused – just remember the fofoti tree grows on the beach, like the ones on Eagle Beach and the divi are found throughout the island.  Now let’s talk ATMs.”

“ATMs in Aruba, for the most part, will dispense US dollars or florins, but keep in mind the transaction can be costly and therefore recommended that if one absolutely needs dollars, withdraw a sum that should be sufficient for the entire stay on the island.  Most major credit cards are honored at shops and restaurants.  One should ask for change in US currency  – but change is usually in florins – the half florin, a square coin, is called the yotin.”

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“Enough of the informative, let’s talk about some of the highlights of the week Jackson.”

“Well Nilla, you know how much I enjoy watching the sugar birds, they are so cute, but I don’t understand how that avoid getting drunk tasting the liquor on the tops of the bottles at the bar!”

 

 

 

“I have no idea Jackson.  I like the music poolside, it was so nice to see one of the bands we enjoyed last year, back again.”

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“And don’t forget the walk to Oranjestad at the beginning of the week – a little over four miles.  And we saw a monarch caterpillar munching on a large milkweed bush along the way, just in front of the Port Authority offices.  There were several empty chrysalis too clinging on the chain link fence.”

“Although we didn’t stop in, the Aruba Beach Tennis Tournament was underway – lots of cars and people, I think it ended yesterday.”

“I also liked the visit to the local Harley Davidson shop, the girls were so friendly there.  The island is perfect for riding, don’t you think so?”

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“Probably not so much during the rainy season Jackson.  You know you had been worried about the iguana eyeing you for a snack? Well, I found out that iguana once upon a time were considered more tasty than chicken, iguana soup, iguana stew – but now it’s illegal.”

“Do you think some people still do?”

“Who knows!”

“We still enjoy the blue horses around Oranjestad, and of course you had to stop in to say ‘hello’ to the clerks at the downtown Pandora store, didn’t you.”

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“I didn’t buy anything Jackson!”

“At least we were able to make the necessary purchases at Coconuts.  The service a Lucy’s marina cafe hasn’t changed much – not any better than last year.”

“Taking the bus back to Eagle Beach is so easy from the downtown terminal, the buses are pretty much on schedule too.”

“So, let’s leave the remaining topics for next week’s blog.”

“It’ll be a short one Jackson, we leave Thursday afternoon – I just hope it warms up a bit back home, otherwise we’ll be freezing, literally!”

“Don’t sweat it Nilla!”

“Believe me, Jackson, I won’t, that’s what people do on the beach in Aruba!!!  Biba Dushi!!”