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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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?”


“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.”


“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!!”


Getting Organized & First Week In Aruba

“Nilla, I almost didn’t see you sitting there quietly on the bed in the spare bedroom!”

“I know Jackson, a lot of stuff piled high – means we’re going some where pretty soon!”

“Yes, Aruba for three weeks – back for just over three weeks and then off to Ecuador for three months!”

“In addition to toiletries and clothes there are kitchen utensils and spices – what’s that about?’

“As I understand it, three weeks in Aruba eating out can be very expensive and even some of the cooking essentials as expensive because most everything is imported onto the island, so the Ts plan to do a good deal of ‘cooking in’, sticking to a budget, that’s not to say that we won’t be out and about Nilla!”

“So all of this stuff is going to Aruba?”

“No Nilla, some is going to Aruba and some to Ecuador, and some stuff is going to both destinations.”

“Jackson, I think they may to bring an extra suitcase.”

“We’ll see about that.  Using the larger but still qualifying carry on bags they may be able to pack it all without the extra cost.”

“I know they are hoping that the place in San Clemente will be a place the Ts and us will want to return to and that arrangements can be made to leave some stuff there for the following year.”

“Well the good thing is that they have seen the place they will be staying at – the only concern is our friends in Crucita and will we be able to visit.”

“We’ll be able to visit surely – but via taxi or bus – depends on the roads and Carlos the taxi driver we used last year.”

“Remember, Aventurero said we could stay with him while visiting Crucita.”

“I remember, the house on the hill!”

“Just have to wait and see Nilla.”




“Aventurero leaves for Crucita today!”


“I know Jackson, we’ll be leaving for Aruba in a couple of days too!”




“Right on time Jackson!  Flight Line five o’clock, a little early for us but we can sleep on the plane!”

“Can’t believe traffic is this heavy this early!”

Check-in at Jet Blue is painless.   The flight departs late because of a delay in food service delivery but amazingly arrives on time in Aruba.  The movie selection was entertaining and helped the time ‘fly’ by, one movie in particular was of particular interest, the ‘Panama Papers’ about a dangerous but thorough and ongoing investigation about off shore bank accounts, money laundering and tax evasion – worth further inquiry at a later time.  The only glitch before grabbing a cab to La Cabana were the self passport scanners that were not functioning properly but finally accommodated eager tourists out to customs and baggage claim.

“It’s great to be in Aruba again – it’s toasty warm!”

“And sunny too Nilla – a Carnival cruise ship is in port – must be somewhat quiet downtown Orangistad.”

Little bit of construction onsite at La Cabana – but looking across the parking lot at what used to be Tropicana, is in the process of renovations and is now The Eagle Aruba Resort and Casino – millions being spent to spruce it up!



The Interval exchange complicated the check in process but Diana handled it expertly – making sure we would not have to change rooms mid-stay – a studio 141B.  Nilla and Jackson as well as the Ts receive identification wrists bands that will give access to the property amenities!


“Off to SuperFoods – at least the walk is short, but there are no lights at the highway crossing!”



“Sure hope people pay attention to pedestrians.”

“They seem to Nilla – the only thing is – what if drivers are on their cell phones?’

“Do they have a hands-free law in Aruba?”

“Don’t know – that could be a topic for research later during our stay.”

“We have to remember a quarter, florin or euro to release a shopping cart, winkelwagon, from the corral at the supermarket.”


“We get it back when we return the cart anyway.”

The surf was rough on Saturday – with ‘no swimming’ signs posted and it was a little buggy at the beach – no significant breeze.  That was the only day this week with  high waves and dangerous conditions.

Back poolside there seems to be fewer iguanas hanging around, but there poop is still on the pool’s patio – sure enough as the sun comes out so do the iguana!

“At least they don’t look at me as food Nilla, like they have in the past.”

“Got to be the orange Jackson!”




Simple, healthy breakfasts and lunches with a more significant dinner meals but still healthy – all prepared in studio 141B are in keeping with the budget.

“What do you think of studio 141B so far Jackosn?”



“Seems to suit us just fine and the Ts seem to be enjoying it as well – nice to be out on the patio to enjoy a cup of coffee – the Ts seem to enjoy the Colombian java.”

“Jackson, I was thinking that poolside would be a wonderful place to conduct a study on tattoos – there seems to be a lot of people with them.”




“What just walk over to them and say “”Hey, nice tattoo, tell me about it?””

“No Jackson, I was just thinking, that’s all.  Besides there’s other things to do by the pool.”

“Like what?  We don’t play bingo!”




“You know, I was thinking that the iguana and their leathery moulting skin should serve as a reminder to folks baking in the sun – their skin will look like that!”




“The Ts are careful, SPF 30 and SPF 50 and trying to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.”

“Did you notice all the construction at the high-rise district, clearly visible from the ocean edge?’

“Yes, and overall, Aruba is spending over $100 million in hotel updates!  Did you notice the California Lighthouse?”

“I did, Jackson, it’s called the California Lighthouse named after a steamship wreck.  The light is located on the northernmost point of the island atop Hudishibana, It was built from island stone, constructed over a three year period, 1914 through 1916 and is about 100 feet ”

“The beach here is wonderful, in fact Eagle Beach was named one of the top five beaches in the world by Trip Advisor.  But did you notice that there aren’t many shells?”




“Jackson I did notice the absence of shells but did you also know that it is also the nesting site for the Leatherback sea turtles March through September?”

“I did Nilla.  Aruba’s beaches are nesting sites for not only the Leatherbacks, but Loggerhead, Green and Hawksbill sea turtles, there’s even a program called Turtuaruba Foundation for the conservation and protection of the turtles!”

“At the Pata Pata is seems like they have changed the straws once again – no longer ones recycled from corn but now paper – as part of Aruba’s commitment in protecting sea life.”

“And not to mention the paper cups – introduced to the guests on Friday.”

“Rose and Jander both appreciated their gifts the Ts brought them from Maine – they seem happy to see us too!”

“Don’t forget Ricardo, he’s from Machala, Ecuador – he loved looking at some of our photos from Crucita and reminiscing about the food typical of the coast there.”


“This week Sarah had a birthday and Avery had her first birthday as well, she’s growing so fast!”



“Finally a walk to the high-rise district, just under two miles, and  a visit to Carlitos for the delicious chicken wings!”


“The Ts were disappointed Nilla – the first order seemed to have been re-heated and the second, on-the-house was not up the the usual standard either.”

“At least the women at the Pandora shop in the Paseo Herencia were happy to see us, Jackson.”


“Speak for yourself Nilla – you and your ‘bling'”.


“The Ts weren’t disappointed with the fare at the Pelican Nest, ‘Gary’s Delight’ and ‘Almond Crusted Fish Fingers’ when they went there midweek.”

“Yes, they didn’t take us – that’s because they were going to the movies to see ‘Harriet’ at the Caribbean Cinema in the Paseo Herencia.”

“My understanding that the movie is based on a true story and is a very moving tale about slavery and overcoming nearly insurmountable odds in pursuit of freedom.”

“The Ts liked it, better than some of the other movies they’ve seen lately.”

“Have we missed anything else that happened this week?”

“I think we’ve covered it all., except maybe the pinchos – which is a good deal considering $4.50 chicken,  $5.50 for tenderloin and $6.00 for the shrimp.”

Pincho Chef

“Any ideas for next week’s post?”

“Let’s look in to the health care in Aruba and maybe some of the traffic laws, like using cell phones while driving – just some suggestions Nilla.”

“We have an entire week ahead of us to think about it anyway.”

“Let’s publish this post!”

It’s Been Awhile, A Recap of the 2019 Season

“Hey Nilla, it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen each other.”


“Certainly has.  Did you tell your buddies all about Aruba and Ecuador, or are there exciting stories yet to share?”

“Haven’t, still exploring the Galapagos – they have so many questions and want so much detail that it is taking more time than I had anticipated.”

“Same here with my bear friends.”

“But you know, being back together again means the Ts are traveling some where and want to take us too.”

“Yes, I suspect so.  You were right when you said we’d be traveling before our return to Aruba or Ecuador later this year.”

“So I don’t need to say ‘I told you so'”.

“No Jackson you don’t.  So mister office guy, do you know where we’re going?”

“Matter of fact I do!  I’ve heard some discussion of going to some exotic foreign place, in Asia I believe.”

“Oh my!  I doubt that.  The Ts haven’t done any heavy packing for such a long journey.  What’s the name of this destination?”

“The Down East!!”

“You’re so funny, hilarious indeed!  The Down East.  You think you know it all!”

“What’s so funny Nilla!?”

“It’s Down East, Jackson.  I’ve been there before, many years ago, before we met!”

“So where is this mysterious place?”

“It’s not mysterious at all Jackson, it’s Maine!”

“This is not our usual travel tote either Nilla.”


“Don’t need one, this time we’re traveling by car.”


“We’ve arrived.”


“Time for introductions to our Maine associates Jackson.”

“We’re the sleep sheep – Yawn, Lullaby and Noir.”


“Nice to meet you, we’re Nilla and Jackson.”

“Could you tell us who they are over there?”

“But of course, the Naughty Knotty bugs on our right


and, hanging around on the left are the Stooges,  keeping Percy and Puff company.”


“Are those the naughty, naughty bugs or the knotty, knotty bugs?’

“Funny ha ha!!!”

“We had no idea that we had so many associates in Maine!”

“Do you all get to travel?”

“No, not sure exactly what that is.”

“Well, if we stay here long enough, Jackson and I can tell you all about ours!”

“We sheep, the bugs and the birds all had a very cold winter!”

“Not us!  We were nice and toasty, a little too toasty almost if the Ts hadn’t kept us with them – a house fire where we were staying in Crucita!”

“Speaking of Crucita, isn’t Aventurero from Maine?”

“Yes he is!  I wonder if we’ll get to see him before we all catch up again in Ecuador.”

“So Nilla and Jackson, tell us all about your adventures, you might not be visiting for too long – maybe the abbreviated version would be best.”


“Nilla, you can begin the story and I’ll join in and fill in anything you leave out.”

“If you do that Jackson, it certainly won’t be abbreviated!”



The T’s found the gardens on the property, SeaCorn on Fisher Hill, a mess upon their return after the snow melted in April.  So much work to be done in order to get ready to welcome guests to the Seahorse.

The winter kill of many well-established perennials was discouraging not to mention Smiley had broken in two pieces, a major salvage project at the very least.

There wasn’t much time for any significant day excursions for the Ts.  Nilla and Jackson did manage to head up to Miller’s Lobster Company……

“Remember back in the beginning of February we went to Crucita Village – the Ts took the Millers’ wine glasses and wore Miller hats?”



“Yes I do Nilla.  Do you think we might be going to Millers?”

“I think that is exactly the plan Jackson!  They opened yesterday on Fathers’ Day.”

“Fathers’ Day?  What’s that?”

“Jackson, Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd.  The first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910.   Sonora’s father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day at Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them and suggested June 5, her father’s birthday.   The Spokane pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.  It took the efforts of several presidents – Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon (who finally signed the bill into law in 1972, making it a permanent national holiday) to realize the national celebration.  It even has a Maine connection!”

“How so Nilla?”

“Well, in 1957 Maine senator Margaret Chase Smith accused Congress of ignoring fathers while honoring mothers, an unfair recognition honoring just one parent and ignoring the importance of fathers, having resisted the efforts of presidents Wilson and Coolidge. And even then it took nine years until the issue was raised again – and Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation to honor fathers.”

“So it’s always celebrated the third Sunday in June?”

“That’s right Jackson.”

“Why do you think Millers opens then?”

“I’m not really sure Jackson.  It might have something to do with their staff being students – and coinciding with the end of the calendar school year.”

It was lovely weather – perfect for enjoying the fresh sea air and delicious lobsters and catching up with Gail and Mark.


Back in the Harbor lots of goings on.   Busy with projects around the property as well as helping out the neighbors, busy, busy.  But not too busy to raise a monarch butterfly!

“That’s right Jackson – a boy! Do you know how to tell the difference between a male and a female monarch?”

“Of course I do Nilla!  the male has two very visible black spots on the hind wings, these spots are absent on the female,  and the male also has thinner black webbing within the wings.”

“The Ts planted butterfly plants along the side front gardens and watched the caterpillars munch and get bigger.  They tried to protect two of them but only one remained and was placed in a large jar and formed its chrysalis on a twig placed inside.”

“Did you know that they symbolize rebirth and transformation Nilla?”

“But of course especially after this one emerged!  How exciting!”


“It’s too bad that we did not accompany the Ts on their boat trip to Monhegan Island, Nilla.”

“We had anticipated many more day trips, but you know the trip to Monhegan was somewhat unexpected, and a gift.”

“The Ts really enjoyed hiking around the island, and found the small shops delightful.  In essence it’s an artist colony.”

“Yes, in 1954 Monhegan Associates was founded to preserve and protect the undeveloped portions of the island.  It is an important migratory stop for butterflies and birds, and visitors and naturalists enjoy appreciation of this rocky island retreat walking on the trails.”

“They’re no paved roads or cars there either.”


Overall it was a successful season – fifty percent more bookings over last year – not bad for just a second season listing with VRBO.   The beginning of October heralded the last project – replacing the pressure treated front steps with granite steps and replacing the mail box post with a granite one.  Mother Nature had to have the last hurrah of the season – good thing the mailboxes had yet to be replaced.  Closing up the property, no heat or water, in December.


Highlights in no apparent order of significance:

  1. Learning to shuck oysters
  2. Fifty percent increase in Seahorse bookings – and all five star reviews
  3. Trip to Monhegan
  4. Thistle Inn voted forth in the country in USA Top Ten Best ‘In Lodging’ restaurant category
  5. Raising a monarch butterfly




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.”