Manta to U.S. Thursday, 03/14/2019

“Up too early Nilla.  Can’t even see if there is a dove on the nest.”

“I’m sure there is.  It poured again last night Jackson.”

“It’s still drizzling now.  No buffet breakfast for the Ts this morning.”

“No one is answering a ‘recepcion’ either.  The Ts will have to take their own bags, and us down the stairs.”

“I think we woke up the overnight desk clerk Nilla.”


“I believe you are right!”

“The shuttle is on its way, looks like it’s going to be crowded – just us!”

“Right on time – 6:00 AM.”

“Look at the roads Nilla – they’re flooded, cars driving along them are making major waves!”

“The airport is quiet too – maybe twenty passengers waiting for one of two flight this morning – TAME or Avianca.”

“The departure waiting area isn’t too bad – even a decent bathroom.”


“Jackson, did you see that on the TV – Crucita from last Thursday – the mud covering the road at the base of Aventurero’s hill – and in front of Genoa Pizza.  They’re reporting on the heavy rains during the invierno.”

“Looks like last night they couldn’t even hold a concert scheduled in Guayaquil.”

“It’s time to board, the plane is fairly full Jackson, we won’t have our own seat.”

“Oh well.”

Short flight to Quito – cloudy – no good views of snow-capped mountains.  Bags checked through to Boston. Immigration – and yet another response to questions about the prorroga.

“Look there’s an Outback and they’re serving breakfast.”

Flight to Bogota is a little longer than the one from Manta to Quito and it too is fairly full.  Back through security once again and scurrying to make the connection to Boston.

“This plane is packed Jackson.  No seat for us again.  I guess we’ll just have to snooze our way to Boston tucked away in our personal carry-on.”

“Guess so Nilla.”

Pleasant entertainment.  The Ts are able to catch up on some of the movies they missed while away.  A hot meal, chicken or beef proceeded by warm moist napkins.  Beverages at no charge.  Just over the halfway point, hot ham and cheese sandwiches and beverage service again.  Impressive.

“Jackson, wake up, we’re landing.”

“We’re late.”

“We’re not exactly in a rush Jackson.”

Immigration and customs – didn’t even ask for the declaration form.  Cool weather, snow on the ground.  Found the driver and off to home base.

“We’re here Nilla.”

“Feels good Jackson.”

“Let the debriefing begin.”

“Keep me informed if you here of any upcoming travel plans.”

“Likewise Nilla.”

“I’m tired.”

“Me too.”

“Until the next adventure!”

Manta, Wednesday, 03/13/2019

“It’s pouring out.  I wonder if it is in Crucita.  If so, La Golfina is doomed for sure!”

“Stop worrying about that house, the owner doesn’t seem to be too concerned.”

“Good day to pack.  Are you taking those stupid beach rocks back to the U.S. Jackson?”


“They might not have brains but yes, they’re going with us, especially if you insist on calling that house La Golfina.  Who knows they could be valuable.”

Sure, as sure as I am that we’re flying business class tomorrow.  The Ts just received a text from Aventurero, it’s pouring there too and things are at risk of flooding again.  And, by the way he saw the cat a Ramblas just before we got there – she’s doing fine Jackson.”

“So much for the pool today.  We’re not flying business class tomorrow?”

“Are you paying for the upgrade?  Do you really think we’ll be back traveling in three months?”

“I hoping but it might be longer – if not, that gives us even longer to tell the story behind the stories Nilla!”

“We might do some incidental travels Jackson.”

“I know the Ts want to visit Acadia National Park together.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“We could certainly blog about that.”

“Yup, the last national park they visited got slammed by a hurricane.”

“Hey, even despite the rain the doves are ever vigilant – on the eggs in their nest.”


“Packing it is today.  On Monday by the pool we saw more pollinators than we’ve seen anywhere else since our arrival to Ecuador – two hummingbirds, multiple butterflies of various sizes and colors and big black bees.”

“That’s because there are flowering plants along the pool periphery to attract them. Dinner here at Balandra tonight – could resume raining at any time.”

“I’m already looking forward to returning.”

“Me too.”



Manta, Tuesday, 03/12/2019

“No little hatchlings yet Jackson.”

“The gecko outside our door has been pretty vocal this morning.”

“Maybe bragging about the moth he caught last night.”

“The Ts are going to request compensation for the relocation and lodging as the result of the electrical outage and subsequent fire.”

“How are they going to do that?”

“They submitted a summary of events to FlipKey yesterday and this morning received a brief reply inquiring as to the amount of compensation.”

“Do you think they’ll be successful?”

“Well, FlipKey is a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, so it might be possible – at least part of their expenses.”

“I wonder what’s happening with La Golfina, and if we’ll stop by Las Dunas during our return trip to Crucita.”

“Why do you insist on calling that house “La Golfina’?”

“I feel sorry for it, it deserves better.”

“We’ll see, at least say ‘thank you’ to Manual again if he’s around.”

“Getting to the bus terminal on #17 was much shorter than our excursion on Sunday Jackson.”

“Sure was.”

“Now onto Crucita, first through Rocafuerte.”


“Not a bad trip at all Nilla.”

“Tricimoto to Las Dunas, it’s almost 2:00 PM.”

“Manual isn’t here – and looks like nothing has been done to the house since we left.”

“La Golfina.”

“Aventurero is hanging out a Ramblas, we’ll meet him there.”

“Jeff has left Ramblas and has gone home to the Oriente, but we can say “so long” to the rest of our friends here.”


“Jeff said he would stay in touch and practice his English.”

“I sure hope so Jackson.”

“I don’t see our kitty friend – haven’t see her since Carnival, hope she’s alright!”

“We need to get to Rimini – it’s after 2:30 PM.”

“The letter sign, we can finally have our picture taken on the sign!”

“Last meals at Rimini until December – dorado a la plancha and langostinos, yummy choices.”


“Kevin wants to stay in contact with us, he’s been a good waiter here.”

“We’ve got contact information for everyone else, all our friends.”

“Diego, oops we mean Norest Grump, thanks for all your help and for being a good neighbor even though the smoke from your lawn clipping fire floated into our yard that one time.”


“Well it was laundry day and the clothes were hanging out back to dry.  He also needs to keep his vehicle out of muddy yards and don’t wash it when it’s going to rain.”

“See you soon Chris and Elaine, keep tabs on Las Dunas for us.  Give our best to Jan and John.  Hope they find another rental alternative, maybe in Los Ranchos.”


“Gary, keep singing those songs and strumming the guitar.”

“You too Russell, el musico.”

“Guardagatos, take care of the cats and say goodbye to our Ramblas kitty friend if she ever shows up again.  Give her some treats and some loving scratches for us.  Keep her away from Norest Grump and Aventurero.”


“Shelly and Gary, April will be here before you know it and you’ll be back up north too!”

“And Aventurero, we love you!”  The Ts do too.”


“Yes, thanks so much for sharing this adventure with us, you’ve been daring!”

“Ciao.  Necesitas practicar el espanol.”

“Stay safe.”

“Good bye Crucita.”

“Nilla, Carlos is here, it’s time to return to Manta.”

“I know Jackson, sad, it’s starting to rain – appropriate for good byes.”

“We’ll be back Nilla.”

“Yes we will.  Hasta entonces.”



Manta, Monday, 03/11/2019


“The doves are still incubating those eggs Nilla.”

“Shared responsibility, a partnership, a good thing in a relationship.”

“Well, we’re blog partners.”

“Blog partners and travel companions with shared responsibilities too Jackson.”

“So speaking of the blog, we need to get going on our beach rocks while the Ts go to breakfast.”

“Let’s take a look some old photographs of them Jackson.”


“Sounds like a good idea.  The ones of interest in this photograph are the round green colored ones and then the one near the edge of the paper towel on the left, not too far from my right foot.  That one has white flecks in it.  Those white flecks are actually crystals.”

“Why is that interesting Jackson?”

“We’ll get to that in a moment.”

“The green ones, while smooth are not very hard and crumble easily.”  But take a look at these in the photograph below.”

“How would you describe them Jackson?”


“They are hard, the fracture lines in both are smooth, shiny and concave.”  The red one on the left is distinctive – it’s the only one the Ts found of that color during their beach walks.”

“Okay Jackson, let’s get to the research now.”

“There are four green sandy beaches in the world, one of them in Ecuador, Punta Commorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos.  The green sand comes from olivine crystals that are carried by the wind from the nearby tuff cones.”

“What’s a tuff cone Jackson.”

“Nilla, a tuff cone is a type of volcanic rock which is formed when magma interacts with the water, greenish ash deposits, tuffaceous breccia.”

“Do you think that’s what the green stones are?”

“I’m not sure.”

What other types of volcanic rock could it be.”

“At first I though the harder rocks could have been unusual samples of obsidian.”


“Yes.  Obsidian is volcanic glass,it is un-crystallized magmatic material with a hardness of 5.5.  This igneous rock is most commonly black but it can also be brown, tan, green (magnesium), and rarely blue red (iron) orange or yellow.  When brown and black are swirled together it’s called mahogany obsidian.  Obsidian’s composition is similar to rhyolite and granite and these can come from the same magma.  it’s not considered a mineral because of it varied components.  And Nilla, not all volcanic glass is obsidian.”

“How does obsidian form?”

“For obsidian to form, lava is trapped below the point of crystallization. Magma that doesn’t crystallize will form obsidian.”

“So why did you think it was obsidian?”

“Because of the curvature and smoothness of the fracture.  It’s important to realize that obsidian is extrusive, that is it is ejected from volcanoes and cooled rapidly and therefore has very little time to form crystals.”

“So the rock with the crystals in it, what is that?”

“It’s intrusive rock, that is to say, that the magma is forced into older rock at depths within the earth’s crust.”

“So is that what happened with the rock with the crystals in it?”

“Maybe Nilla, to be technical, it could be intrusive igneous rock hypabyssal, subvolcanic  porphyritic, which means in non-technical words rock containing crystals or crystalline particles formed under the earth’s crust, but I’m not a geologist you know.”

“So if not obsidian, what do you think the harder rocks are?”

“Feldspar, as magma cools, crystals are formed and feldspar is a crystal which can present in a variety of colors. ”

“Interesting Jackson.”

“But then again it could be chert.”


“Chert is a generic name for rock microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline .”

“Sounds to me that when the geologist aren’t sure and they know the rock is crystal in nature it’s ‘chert’.”

“So is that it, Jackson?”

“Yes Nilla, that’s my definite ‘maybe’.”

“All this from some stones the Ts picked up on the beach.”


“Oh, the Ts are back from breakfast, time to head to the pool.”

The pool is not crowded and is relaxing – a little sun, a little reading, a little splashing.

“What are the Ts going to do for dinner?”


“Oh, the place with the big dogs, Il Faro.”

“They’re not taking us Nilla.”

“They’re not.”

“No, something about BIG dogs.  Three of them!”

“They took pictures for us.”

“No WiFi there -‘talk with one another, I like that!”


“Jackson, look at those eyes!”


“Nilla look at that mouth!”


“That’s the papa, four years old.”

“We’d be play toys for them.  Thank goodness we didn’t go.”


“Wonder if they eat pizza.”

“Nilla, that’s not funny!”  Let’s get some rest – remember we’re going back to Crucita tomorrow.  The Ts have already called Carlos to bring us back to Manta in the evening.”



Manta, Sunday, 03/10/2019

“Great night’s sleep at last Jackson.  The doves are still taking turns on the nest.”

“Any evidence of hatching?”

“Not yet.”

“Breakfast time.”

“The usual fare, juice this morning black raspberry or melon.  Instead of ceviche, albacore, onion and squash soup – looks pretty good.”

“It’s cloudy but the sun is trying to peek out from behind them.”

“Montecristi Jackson?”

“Looks like that is the plan – local bus from in front of Mall del Pacifico to the terminal terrestre and bus to Montecrisit – straight forward.”

“Here comes a bus now Jackson- not local but says it goes to the bus terminal.”

“I think the Ts have taken a ’round about bus’ – we should be at the terminal by now.”

“Isn’t that the same hospital we passed about forty minutes ago?”

“Yes, we’re going around in circles.  It’s been an interesting ride – past auto dealerships, cell phone mecca, household appliance stores and cookware.”

“Did you happen to notice the wires running down the telephone pole from the power lines above ending in two outlets.  As if to say help yourself to electricity.  Or, charge you phone here.  Anyway, I hope the Ts realize that we’ve gotten nowhere and get off the bus before we go around again!”

“Nilla, Aventurero is really missing this adventure!”

“We’re getting off – at last, over an hour on that bus!”

“Grab a taxi to the terminal – no more fooling around Nilla.”

“Bus 18 to Montecristi.”

“Buses are a wonderful venue here to proclaim ones political, religious or social opinion.”

“Or even sell things – the incredible edibles, and that skin cream the young man was peddling, guaranteed to change your life forever.”

“And Nilla, also an opportunity to request financial assistance – personal or otherwise.”

“There’s not so much of that Jackson.”

“Just think in thirty minutes and we’re here – $1.20 from Manta.”

“Let’s go shopping Jackson.”

“Not until we go to the pastry shop we saw the last time we were here.”


“What a selection – absolutely no calories!  They even have sandwiches here.”

“Not a one in the chocolate cake or the carrot cake – looks like the Ts won’t be having dinner this evening.”


“Looks like the Ts have found everything they hoped to buy in one shop, Artesanias Mila on calle 9 de julio..  They have handcrafts from the coast, from Otavalo and Saquisili Ecuador – the women running the shop are from Otavalo!”

“The cathedral is really beautiful, it’s rather interesting that there is a statue of Eloy Alfaro in front – he really tried to minimize the Catholic church’s influence on government. It got him killed.”

“Seems like he was a ‘no compromise’ leader, dictator and then president.”

“Anyway, it’s time to head back to Manta.”

“I’m so glad we were able to come back to Montecristi, the ladies in the Artesania Mila were so nice – they even gave the Ts a llapa!”

“What’s a llapa Nilla.”

“I means ‘something extra’.”

“We don’t have a topic for today.”

“That’s okay Jackson, tomorrow we will.”

“We will?”

“Yes, we never blogged about the beach rocks the Ts picked up.  We did the research but never posted.”

“That’s right!  Great plan.  Then Tuesday back to Crucita and that post will be all about farewells.”

“That leaves Wednesday – a packing day – getting ready to travel and then we’re off.”

“Once we’re back in the U.S. we won’t have time to blog – we’ll be telling the story behind the story to our associates – that will take at least three months and then, guess what?  We’re back to traveling again.”

“Let’s not blog every day next time – it’s getting difficult to come up with the daily topic.”

“Nilla, consider a weekly post unless something really interesting happens.”

“That’s much more reasonable.”

“The Ts are going to the El Faro restaurant for the digistif.”

“Especially after those cake selections!”

“What’s a Pervuvian causa?  Looks like the Ts are going to share one.”

“It’s a layered potato dish, and the mashed potatoes can be layered with a number of things.  The name is derived from the Incan quechua word ‘kausaq’ which means ‘giver of life’ another name for potato.  It is a freely placed circular layered presentation drizzled with pesto or other sauce and topped with whatever the chef has in mind.  Here, at El Faro, the topping is octopus.”


“Looks interesting and given the Ts reaction probably pretty good.  Just the right bocadillo before heading back to the room to relax.”

“Jackson, it certainly has been an interesting day.”

‘It has Nilla, thanks for sharing it with me.”



Manta, Saturday, 03/09/2019

“Drizzy start to the day Jackson.”

“Sure is.  Wonder what the Ts have in mind for today?”

“They had hoped for some time by the pool, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.”

“Breakfast time anyway.”

“This morning’s buffet features papaya or orange juice, ceviche de pescado, multiple fresh sliced fruit choices.”

“Cheese and cold cuts.  Albacore stew with white rice, scrambled eggs, pancakes.”

“String beans, sausage and bread or pastry selections.”

“That’s brunch for sure Nilla.  No need for another heavy meal today.”

“Jackson, as you know Manta itself is not a tourist destination.  It is an important port and considered the tuna capital of the world.  Tours of the tuna processing plant are no longer available.”

“There is the cultural museum just down the hill from here, in front of the Mall Pacifico.”

“Manta used to be called Jocay by the Mayans which means ‘fish house’.  Now it’s considered the industrial center of the Manabi province.  The city is also the location for medical specialists in the province.”

“Nilla, it is also a great place to come shopping.  The nearby mall is just one example.”

“Although not a tourist destination in and of itself, it’s location allows for trips around the region to places like Montecristi, home of the Montecristi hat – also known as the Panama hat.”

“You can also visit the Pacoche Forest just south of the Manta center and Los Esteros Shipyard. And don’t forget Nilla, that it is a beach destination.”

“Jackson, today is not a beach day!”

“Well, if it were, there are twelve of them!”

‘I think the Ts are going to spend several hours working on a letter and suggestions to Russell.  They won’t have time once back in the U.S. and it needs to be done.”

“Sounds boring, but given our experience, it is a’ must do’!”

“Have you noticed the mourning dove nest in the palm tree just beyond our balcony Jackson?”


“Yes I have.  Must be pretty boring sitting there on the eggs all day, especially when it’s raining.”

“The female sits on the nest late afternoon and night and is relieved in the morning by the male.”

“So we must be seeing the male Nilla.”

“Most likely.”

“How many eggs does she lay?”

“Only two.”

“We’ll watch and see if there are any signs of hatching while we’re here.  That’ll give us something to do when the Ts go out.”

“Gestation is fourteen to sixteen days and we have no idea when both eggs were laid.  they wait until both eggs are laid to begin the incubation process to make sure both hatch at the same time.”

“Nilla, we might not see them hatch then.”

“True, but we can still watch.”

“So you noticed the dove, I noticed something else.”

“What’s that Jackson?”

“What’s wrong with this picture?”

“What picture?”

“That one.”

“Hummm.  Fall foliage.  Maple leaves at the edge of a field.”

“You’d expect some ocean ‘beachy’ or tropical paradise type photograph.”

“That’s true Jackson, very interesting selection since we are along the coast.”

“The Ts are headed to the Mall del Pacifico to have a light dinner.”

“Not to El Espanol again.”

“Doubt it – there are other restaurants on the third floor.”

“We’ll find out what they ate when they return Jackson.”

On the third floor of Mall del Pacifico there are ‘food court’ selections as well as more upscale restaurants to chose from.  The Ts opt for sushi at Kobe Sushi.

They chose an outside table overlooking the malecon rather than eating at the sushi bar.  Nice view of the harbor and off in the distance the peninsula that blocks the view of Crucita.

It is a peaceful, quiet and relaxing meal.  They make it back to Balandra, the second load of laundry returned, neatly hanging in the closet.

“They had sushi Jackson!”

“Wonder if the tuna was fresh.”

“Don’t be funny Jackson, in the tuna capital of the world – fresh tuna?!”

“Good night Nilla.”

“Good night Jackson, I think the Ts are contemplating a trip back to Montecristi tomorrow.”




Manta, Friday 03/08/2019

“Wake up and stretch Nilla! Time to explore the hotel and get some breakfast!  Feliz Dia de Mujeres! – Happy Women’s Day!”


“Looks even better today than it did yesterday – we we’re just too tired Jackson.”

“Nice vegetation and quiet.  Sophisticated.”

“Wonderful view up here by the restaurant – El Faro.”

“Great looking buffet Nilla.”


“Nice breeze too Jackson.  Great place to sit.”



“I love blackberry juice!”


“It’s coffee for me Nilla.”


“Hey Hotel Balandra was voted most romantic hotel in Ecuador and received worldwide award in 2017.”


“Romantic Nilla.”

“Okay enough relaxing up here – let’s check out the pool on our way back to the room.”

“Pool is small but large enough for the two of us Nilla.”

“Jackson, here’s the tunnel of love – ‘As long as this is locked (the pad lock) you are attached to me.’  Isn’t that sweet!”

“Let’s get going – back to the room to work on the blog.  No theme for today – just relax.”

“The Ts have to pick up bottled water, cups, paper towels and some facial tissue at the mall.  After that, maybe hang out at the pool.”

The Mall Pacifico is very large and comparable to some of the malls in the United States.  As in most malls, the prices are higher.  It seems as though non-Ecuadorean chocolate brands are losing to imports – the impression from seeing the candy selection at the check out lane. Lots of plastic products for most everything – no paper cups at this supermarket.


“Nilla, the Ts need to get the savings card for these supermarkets when they return in December – it saves them ten percent and the card doesn’t cost anything.”

“I’m sure they’ll keep that in mind Jackson.  They can help Aventurero get one too.”

“I miss Aventurero Jackson.”

“We’ll see him again Nilla.”

The Ts get the first load of smokey laundry back and prepare a second load.  The suitcases were covered in soot – a little better after wiping them down with a damp paper towel.  Rather than go to the pool, a brief nap and then relaxing on the balcony before going out for early dinner at Martinica Restaurant – a little over a mile away.  The Ts will get some walking in today as well!

On the way to dinner they pass by a pizza place with three Great Danes – all eager to greet the Ts – all of them weigh over 200 pounds.  They also pass by an Avianca office and wonder if it is worthwhile to speak with them about upgrading flights home.

The restaurant exterior is well maintained and inviting.  The interior is very pleasant and relaxed.  Apparently the main dining area is upstairs.  Reservations are recommended and the Ts aren’t dressed for a more formal experience and are glad to sit downstairs.

Pork tenderloin with mushroom gravy, salad, mashed potatoes, and sea bass with seafood in saffron sauce, salad and rice.  Half bottle of San Carolina, Chile, sauvignon blanc and one Ecuadorean beer – total bill including tip and tax $58.55.

Once back to the Balandra, the Ts enjoy ‘aperitivo’ in the El Faro lounge before going to bed – tired.

“Sounds like the Ts had a romantic evening Jackson, they deserve it!”

“Text from Amarita – she wants to make sure the Ts are okay.”

“Little late for that Jackson.”

“Just keep in mind – we’re all safe, we don’t have to worry about the unexpected problems from that house!”

“But Jackson, even a house deserves to be cared for – I’d rather remember it as La Golfina, it has potential for survival just like the sea turtles.”

“Only if someone really cares.  Good night Nilla.”