Decision Making Week: 02/09/2020 – 02/15/2020

“The week started out a little slow Jackson.”

“Yes it did Nilla – dinner at Zuah – they have a large menu selection as well as making a thin crust pizza that the Ts seemed to enjoy.”

“The service could be a bit better.”

“There’s really no rush, you’re there to eat and relax!”

“I like the butterfly drawing on the balcony wall.”

“Yes it is lovely.  The detail and the seahorse too!”

IMG_6514“They’re already getting ready for Valentines Day – which is five days away!”


“Monday’s walk on the beach was phenomenal!  The Ts saved a little fish and two sand dollars.”

“But what was happening with those dead spiny puffer fish Jackson?”

“Don’t know – three of them.”

“The Ts walked all the way to La Boca and back, they walked 8.2 miles that day!”

“Tuesday was truly an exciting day and is one of the reasons we’re calling this week an decision maker.”

“Yes, dental cleanings for them both at Top Dental in Manta – hydro-sonic cleanings – a pleasant experience and Dr. Victor Carreno is so nice.”


“So is his wife – the Ts rate the practice five stars!”

“Five star for service, professionalism, courtesy, convenience, and affordability.”

“And the decision is….”

“They’ll be returning to Ecuador in October instead of December so they can receive their dental care here Nilla.”

“They’ll have to work on the prorroga details.”

“And then leave Ecuador in order to return and be eligible for the tourist visa again.”

“Aventurero did it this year without any problems Jackson!”

“The fun part of going to Manta is that they also were able to enjoy sushi at Kobe’s again.”

“Wednesday it was back to the school to find out about the offerings for vacation school.”

“It was a good thing that they went because when they tried to access the internet it was soooo slow any class would be over before anyone could access any of the programs.”

“So now they’re installing fiber, and we’ll see what happens next week.”

“And Nilla, don’t forget the Ts are also working on a new desert to serve with coffee at Mussol.”

“The taste testing of the concept went well.  Now it’s a matter of teaching the owner/cook.”

“Maybe they’ll do that next week, although they’ll be in school provided that the computer lab is operational.”

“Since we will be in Ecuador longer, the Ts are looking at less expensive options for rentals – the one in Marisol is nice – not on the beach but still has a pool and the beach is one block away.”

Marisol unit for rent. Second floor balcony.

“The Ts can walk that easily!”

“And we come to Thursday Jackson.”

“Yes we do – it was a fun day Nilla!”

Loving it all!!!!

“To Montecristi for some Christmas shopping, and key lime pastry with cafe con leche yummmm.”

“Nilla, I’m sure it wasn’t Key limes.”

“Funny Jackson – then – Ecuadorean lime pastry, still yummy!”

“They arrived back in San Clemente just as Dona Costilla was opening up – wonderful ribs and T bone steak.”


“It’s back to fish after that meal.”

“They serve fish there too Nilla.”

“Aventurero is coming for a visit and they’re planning to go there then.”

“It will be good to see him.”

Oh, and this week the fishermen have resumed the manual hauling of the nets onto the beach.”

“I’m not sure why they stopped – it could have been the vedas.”

“Blue crab veda is over now, since the 15th Jackson.”

“It was interesting and impressive to watch the fisherman weaving a fine net.”

“Doubt it is for ocean fishing, probably for river cast fishing.”

“So why are we calling this the week of decisions?’

“You know – it’s about the prorroga – we’re going to Lima, Peru in December so that we can renew the tourist visas.”

“Yes that’s a major decision – make travel arrangements now, since it is less expensive.”

“Another exciting destination for us!”

“We need to do some research for the blog Nilla.”

“The Ts already have a guide to Peru, we’ll just have to review it, and we’ll be all set.”

“The reading of the initial book chapters by the women from the women’s writer group at Mussol made for a delightful Saturday evening.”

“We’ll need to be patient and wait for the next chapters.”

“Nilla, those frogs are really funny, they make a sound that’s so similar to that of a kitty or puppy in distress.”

“Jackson, those ‘distress’ sounds are mating sounds of the glass frog.  Rainy season is mating season.  They come out of the trees to mate.”

“Why do they call them glass frogs?”

“Because although generally a pail green, you can see the internal organs through their skin.”

“We haven’t seen one yet Nilla.”

“And probably won’t.”

“And the plan for next week is…..”

“School in the mornings in the computer lab – let’s hope the fiber installation is complete.”




Reflections on the Past Week: 02/02/2020 – 02/08/2020

“Jackson, I thought it was rather interesting, numerically speaking, that the week began with 02/02/2020.”

“Nilla just think you can have another zero and two date on the twentieth of this month, just think!”

“Don’t make fun of me Jackson!  What did you think about the gentlemen ‘herding’ the gaggle of geese?”

“He was selling the little goslings.”

“The Ts were almost late for the super bowl party because they stopped to chat with the geese keepers.”

“Ahh yes, the super bowl – your team didn’t win and there were no ‘Jacksons’ on either team so…”

“I think it was rather boring myself.  We did wear red though, despite the ‘distinguishing’ scarlet of the 49ers.”

“May the best team win!” “They usually do Jackson, that is if the referee calls are correct.”

“The half-time program was raunchy – and people were upset with Janet Jackson’s performance in 2004!”

“Uh-huh, cringing Jackson, but that’s what the public seems to want – I won’t watch the show next year.”

“And we didn’t get to see the commercials – watching via a Latin American TV broadcast.”

“They’re always fun to watch, oh well.”

“Then the Ts didn’t have the school program on Monday, delayed a day, so that gave them the opportunity to work on the song props some more.”


“The kindergarten students were so cute with the graduation caps and sashes and the skit, dancing and singing.”

“The ‘Three Little Pigs’ skit was cute!”

“But the ending was certainly different from what I’d heard.”

“It was a looong program Nilla.”

“The band was good. The first graders were more interested in waving at their families in the audience than singing.”


“So let’s turn to politics Nilla.”

“Not a good idea Jackson!”

“But don’t you think we need to say something about the goings-on at the State of the Union address?”

“All that needs to be said is this – the departure from the standard introduction of the president by the speaker of the house, non-acceptance by the president of the speaker’s extended hand and then the speaker’s tearing up her copy of the speech clearly shows the division between parties, and no desire to unite the people of the United States.”

“Nilla, it should have been called the State of Disunion Address!”

“Jackson, let’s leave it at that.”

“Going to Montecristi with Aventurero and his guests on Wednesday was fun, and they seemed to have a good time.”

“The Ts always seem to enjoy Montecristi and plan to go back in the coming weeks.”

“The week’s conclusion was a quiet one.”

“It was compared to other places in the world with the coronavirus.  So many deaths in China.”

“Quarantines and restrictions in place – hoping to curtail the viral spread.  There was one suspected case here in Ecuador.”

“Yes, but the test was negative! The Ministra de Salud is advising routine precautions as noted on this sign in the bathroom in the Mall del Pacifico.”


“The world seems so far away while walking the beach.  I find it so interesting that the broken bits and pieces of shells on the beach were once homes to many sea creatures – the pieces create a beautiful mosaic don’t you think Jackson?”

“Don’t the Japanese have an art form for putting pieces back together again.”

“I don’t think they could possibly accomplish that with these shell pieces, but yes, the art is called Kintsugi and dates back to the 15th century.”

“The broken item is pieced back together using a precious metal and gives the repair a distinctive look, art as they call it.”

“Yes Jackson, it’s based on several Japanese philosophies – wabi-sabi which finds beauty in the imperfect, mottainai which regrets being wasteful and mushin which finds acceptance in change.”

“Very thought provoking – have to think about that the next time we break something!”

“Oops, almost forgot the birthday party in Crucita at Neisser’s place – the Ts got to ride the bus there on ‘Aventurero’.”


“What did our Aventurero think about that?’

“He thought it was funny.”

“First a fishing boat and now a bus – what will be next?”

“From the signs on the malecon, changes are coming to Crucita.”

“Looks that way.  One way that is, at least for most of the malecon and no parking on the beach side of the road as well!”

“During carnival parking isn’t allowed anyway on the malecon.”

“These changes are happening after carnival!”

“It will be interesting.”

“Yes it will.”

“The week ahead could be a busy one.  Heard there are dental cleaning appointments for one thing and then possibly optional vacation school at Sathya Sai.”

“Indeed, very busy!”

The Week’s Highlights from San Clemente: 01/27/2020 -02/01/2020

“The week started out with a long beach walk – lots of ‘green stuff’ scattered across the beach down by San Alejo, wonder why that was Jackson.”

“Have no idea Nilla, but it was gone the next day.”

Getting ‘Aventurero’ out of the water

“The Ts had a little adventure – they went to the Tia store in Rocaforte, a good sized store that had most everything they were looking for.”

“Most importantly, the containers for the deviled eggs!”

“The Ts also worked on the final presentation for the first grade class at the school, ‘Ten Places a Gecko Should Not Play’.”


“It was fun to put together but disappointing that there wasn’t really enough time to fully present the lesson on Friday – a short day for the students and then….”

“Yes, the tsunami drill!”

“It’s very important for the students to be prepared just in case Nilla.  There are posted instructions in the school’s courtyard of what to do in case of an earthquake or a tsunami.”


“We didn’t get to practice the song for next Monday – the assembly bringing the school year to a close.”

“Nilla, don’t you think the kindergarten’s skit, a version of the ‘Three Little Pigs’ is cute.”

“Surely to be enjoyed by the audience next week Jackson.”

“But Nilla, don’t you think the trip to the library in Don Juan was the most impressive and inspiring adventure of the week.”

“Without a doubt – and the Ts left with some ideas to bring back to the Sathya Sai School too.”

“The trip to the library took just under two hours and the scenery was beautiful.  The small town of Don Juan is located just beyond Jama and has about 1,200 residents.  It was very near the epicenter of the 2016 earthquake.  All the homes in the town were leveled, but some have been rebuilt through a government sponsored program.”

“It must have been terrifying – people said the ground moved sideways followed by up and down shaking – the sea retreated and there was fear for a tsunami – which thankfully never came Jackson.”

“That’s not how the story ends though Nilla – that’s the beginning of the story!”

“Two Ecuadorian sociologists, a couple who had studied extensively in the United States, had selected Don Juan as the location for their new home.  They had just finished construction on their hilltop house when the quake came and destroyed it – fortunately neither were inside at the time.”

“That’s right Nilla.  Destroyed too, was the home of another scientist who was not in Ecuador at that time.  His home had housed a small children’s library.”

“Jackson, that’s were the A Mano library has been built – he donated his land to the library.”

“Not so fast Nilla, we need to fill in some history about what took place to bring the library and intercultural center to life.”

“In the midst of despair the couple along with a friend, loaded up some books on a donkey and went around the piles of rubble striking the donkey’s bell and calling to the children to come to the beach for story time.  The donkey mobile.”

“The owner of the lot returned from California with supplies to help the victims of the disaster, still no water or electricity, and the three sat down in the rubble of his home and came up with the idea for the library – it was the first meeting of the Hand-Manaba Foundation.”

Library entrance

“More folks from the town gathered along with the children at this semi-demolished house.”

“With the help of others, non-profit status was obtained and a ‘go fund me’ fundraising platform was established enabling construction of the current library building.”

“Jackson, what is remarkable A Mano Manaba received the Library of Congress Literacy Award in 2018!”

“It’s not just a library Nilla.  They have volunteers from around the world that come and stay at the center, go to the schools to teach English, promote community activities and so much more!”

“They don’t need book donations – they’ve got thousands that are housed in Quito and Guayaquil being cataloged by other volunteers.  What they do need are computers/laptops and financial support – they’re hoping to purchase the lot next door to expand.”

“That’s the lot with the beautiful mural depicting the library’s story.  But you know Nilla, they have expanded already in a different way.  They have supported start-up libraries in other communities.”

When the earth moved with the children united with the books on Sundays, the library was founded.

“I know Jackson, they’re not referred to as satellite library though because each community is distinct with its own character and needs.”

“There’s another mural a short distance from the library that illustrates some of the town’s history and folklore.”

“Many folks in the community have participated in bringing the community to life in the wall’s story.”

“The lunch at El Fagon de Calerito was delicious and refreshing but it was an exhausting day Nilla.”

Food typical for the region are cooked in kitchens much like this one


“That was Wednesday – on Thursday the Ts went to Manta again, this time to send some important documents via DHL to the United States – $35.00!”

“It was expensive but not as expensive as traveling back to the United States to hand deliver them.”

“Funny Jackson!”

“They also went to Montecristi, had wonderful pastry there, bought some less expensive hats, and purchased some souvenirs.”

“Don’t forget Kobe in the Mall del Pacifico and sushi – yummmmm.”


“Yes and arriving back at the Terminal Terestre too late to catch a bus back to San Clemente, Nilla.

“It worked out alright though – a taxi ride – after discussing the fare – $30.00, the original asking price was $50.00 from a different taxista.  People thought the Ts were going some place near Bahia de Caraquez – which is much further away.”

“Yes, that’s where the school is. The taxi driver was tired, up and working since 5:30 AM, so what did the Ts do?  They bought him an espresso at Mussol – his first espresso ever!”

“Well, he asked for a strong cup of coffee. And he got one – don’t know if he got to sleep that night or not!”

“Toward the end of the week our neighbor in the adjacent unit had a very nice evening gathering – the Ts brought deviled eggs and wine.  Delightful.”

“So today was work on the props for the first grader’s song for Monday.”


“One other observation this week Nilla, the fisherman have not been hauling the nets onto the beach?”

“I’m not sure why but you know that there are restrictions on blue crab, lobster and shrimp – they’re posted in the restaurants.”


“That aside, do you think we’ll ever get to visit Cuenca with Aventurero?”

“We’ll have to wait and see – he has guests coming next week and the Ts have said they would help in the computer lab during summer school.”

“Let’s hope so Nilla.”

“I’m thinking positive.”

San Clemente: Time ‘Breezes’ By. 01/19/2020-01/26/2020

“Well Jackson, the Super Bowl teams have been decided – the Chiefs and the 49ers!”

“Yes, Nilla, I’m sure you’re pleased – being a California bear.  I’m not happy at all – there are no ‘Jacksons’ on either team!”

“Might as well stick with me Jackson.”

“Tell you what Nilla, I’ll wear red.”

“Awwh, that’s no team spirit!  Both teams have red uniforms!”

“There you have my commitment Nilla.”

“Leaving the Super Bowl aside, let’s get on to the week in review – another busy one at the Sai School for sure!”

“Tia Rosa loved “Horton Hears a Who!” book and gave it to one of the English teachers to read to her students – every child, no matter what age, enjoys a good story.”

“The rhyming words make it fun too – and don’t forget she did watch and listen to the story being read in Spanish last week.”

“The network connection cables were challenging – the crimper rusty and minimally functional, brittle wire, hot weather all added to slow progress but with more new wire and a new crimper the project is now complete.”

“Yes indeed Jackson – now all the computers can be on the network and have access to the internet – an important feature if one is going to use the computers to reinforce English lessons.  That yellow bird still taps at the windows. Reflection issues for sure!”

Computers off the floor because of leaks in the roof – new lab in the making. Move the equipment there though until they have windows and AC.

“In the classroom one of several lessons this week, initially the ‘Tortoise and the Hare’ and a second one, the ‘Lion and the Mouse’.”


“Mouse and mouth again.  Hard for the students to clearly pronounce the two.”

“Bullying takes place in every school Nilla.  And here is no exception. So, the Ts wrote and illustrated a story about bullying and fighting.”

Illustrations for ‘Glow the Gecko’ story for first graders’ English lesson.
“Good story Nilla. Glad there are no ‘mice’ in it.” “No bears either!”

“The first grade teacher and the school administrator loved it and want to use it in other classes.”

“The first grade class understood the story (with some explanations in Spanish) and seemed to pay close attention.”

“The teacher wants it written in Spanish – so that’s a project for next week at some point.”

“Another exciting situation this week was when the Ts cell phone dropped out of a pocket and got left on the bus seat!”

“Luckily they realized it before the bus took off!”

“It was close!  Need to use those ‘fanny packs.”

“The trip to Crucita was fun Jackson.”

“It is always fun to catch up with old friends but this trip was a little different – looking for potential rental properties for next year.”

“The Ts haven’t decided where they want to stay.  They have everything they need in San Clemente and love the beach here, but transportation via buses is more convenient in Crucita, and of course our friends.”

“Not to say we haven’t made friends here too Nilla.”

“So which property did you like the best Jackson?”

“I think we both liked the condo on the top floor of Palm Beach but the problem could be the four flights of stairs.”

“Jackson, aside from school and rental properties – what else summarizes this week?”

“We didn’t go to Manta – delayed until next week.  The hauling of the nets is a daily occurrence and always interesting to watch.”

Boat watching the net from the water and two teams on the beach pulling in the net. Truck waits to take the fish to market/restaurants. 

“And we did learn that in Crucita the topography of the ocean floor, the drops offs, make it extremely difficult to manually pull the nets in – so generally, except in one barrio of Crucita it’s not done there.”

“The beach in San Clemente and the topography, a gentle incline, makes it possible here.  They still mark the nets the same way with a black flag attached to an orange float.”

“You would think they’d use another color flag – something that would be more visible Jackson.”

“You would think so – perhaps it’s traditional.”

“The long walks on the beach are fabulous and it’s so much fun to see families playing together in the sand.”

“People are so friendly too!”

“Don’t forget what else we learned this week.”

“What was that Nilla?”

“The torn twenty dollar bill.”

“You’re right – most unusual I think.”

“In Ecuador they will not accept a torn bill, even one that is torn less than an inch – and the bank won’t exchange them either – even if they are dispensed from the bank’s ATM.”

“It doesn’t seem fair.  It’s even more interesting – one can not tape the money – that’s almost worse.”

“So after a discussion, the Ts finally got the bill accepted after the teller took glue out of her drawer, approximated the edges and glued the bill together!”

“Sticky business practice don’t you think?”

“That’s not funny Jackson!  Wait until the 49ers win the Super Bowl!



Another Week Gone By: 01/12/2020 – 01/18/2020

“The Ts have certainly been active at the school this week.”

“Lesson plans, posters to help with the “th” sound that’s so difficult for the students to pronounce”

“That’s for sure, it sounds like ‘mouse’ when they say ‘mouth’ Nilla.”

“That’s why they made up the poster with the mouse with cheese in it’s mouth.”


“But it doesn’t even look like me Nilla.  You’d be insulted too if they did a funny one with a bear in it!”

“It’s to help the children Jackson.  “‘Mouse with the mouth.'”

“Well, I don’t even like cheese!”

“Don’t forget they’ve also been working in the computer lab.”

“Yes, that’s very important way to reinforce English lessons.  There are several web sites that are great for instruction, but only two of the seventeen computers are on line.  They have a very limited budget and not sure exactly how to wire them – that’s where the Ts are involved.”

“Wire, connectors and ‘know how’.”

“And that yellow bird pecking at the windows in the computer lab was so funny too Nilla.”

“It was, they say the birds do it all the time, maybe pecking at the reflection in the windows.”


“Could be.”

“Once the computers all have internet access, it will be so helpful to the students.  The school is building a new computer lab that will be even nicer and I don’t think the birds will be pecking at the windows down on the ground floor.”

“The Ts have also enjoyed eating at several restaurants in town, and in fact have a new ‘friend’ at Restaurante Asadero Dona Castilla Ahumada.

“Want to share?”

“We still eat in on occasion as well – spaghetti with meat sauce from scratch this past Tuesday – delicious.”

“Don’t forget the fresh salads too.”

“And the pizza party here – the Saunders have a pizza oven right here at the Ensenada del Pacifico.”

“The beach is so lovely.  There are more shells now than before – and evidence of more sand dollars too – the ‘butterfly’ impression on the sand.”


“What about the fishermen hauling in the huge nets manually up and down the beach – San Clemente, San Alejo and San Jacinto.”

“Very interesting to watch – not always a good catch after all that work.  The waters are warm and the big fish are further out to sea.  They do catch lobsters though and the Ts enjoyed the dinner special of langostino y spaghetti at Zona Cero earlier this week.”

“Casting out the nets and hauling them in is a lot of work – and then they have to straighten out those nets too.”

“The birds don’t seem to mind the process.”

“This week the Ts went to Manta too.  To immigration to inquire about visas that would allow less travel restrictions in and out of the country.”

“The information was helpful but there’s no visa options that will help them at this time, given responsibilities in the United States.”

“But at least they now have the correct information – not misinformation that seems to be available everywhere.”

“They went to the Mall del Pacifico afterwards, ate sushi and bought the book ‘Horton Hears A Who’ to read to the children.”


“I’m not sure how that will work out.  It’s a wonderful story with so many good lessons in it.”

“And the school administrator enjoyed the You Tube link the Ts sent her, the story being read in Spanish and the story rhymes just like ti rhymes in the English version.”

“While the Manta trip was a success, don’t forget the right front tire on the bus going flat on the trip back.”

“No problem, off and replaced in about twenty minutes – and on the road again.”

“Yesterday it was back to Crucita for a visit, one of our friends happened to be going to Crucita too and drove them.”

“Nice to spend time with Aventurero, Guardagatos, Diego, Chris and Elaine.”

“Don’t forget Joe – returning for a short visit.”

“Something about him and $8.00 cookies – such a deal???? – Diego wasn’t any help for that matter, while the Ts bought two pineapples, had them sliced and packaged for $2.00.”

“Enough for breakfast every day this week, yummmm.”

“Marcelo taxi ride back from Crucita.  Looks like Aventurero will be using Marcelo’s services to meet and pick up some friends from Maine when they arrive on February 3rd.”

“Maybe we’ll get to meet his friends.  They can go with us to Montecristi, I think they’d like that.”

“Just have to wait and see.  Looks like we’re going back to Crucita on the 25th to look at some rentals just in case we want to stay there next year.”

“But that would mean the Ts wouldn’t be helping at the school.”

“Maybe not so much the school in Bahia, but perhaps a community school – support volunteers – no teaching.”

“It will work out one way or the other.”

“The week ahead surely will be another exciting time.”

“Don’t forget football later today!”

“How could I?”


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

“The Ts have been very busy 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.”


“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!”

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.”


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

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.”



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.”

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.”

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.”


“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.”


“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.”



“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.”


“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’ .”


“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.”


“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!”


“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.”

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


“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.”


“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.”


“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?”

“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.”

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


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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.”


“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!”


“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.”


“The sunsets here are spectacular!”


“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.


“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.”


“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.”


“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!”


“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.”


“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.”


“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?”



“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.”


“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.”


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!”


“It’s beautiful Jackson.”


“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!”




“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.


“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.”


“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.”


“Nice job!”


“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!”


“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.”