Manta, Sunday, 03/10/2019

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

“Any evidence of hatching?”

“Not yet.”

“Breakfast time.”

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

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

“Montecristi Jackson?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nilla, Aventurero is really missing this adventure!”

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

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

“Bus 18 to Montecristi.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Let’s go shopping Jackson.”

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

“What’s a llapa Nilla.”

“I means ‘something extra’.”

“We don’t have a topic for today.”

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

“We will?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s much more reasonable.”

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

“Especially after those cake selections!”

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

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


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

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

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



Manta, Saturday, 03/09/2019

“Drizzy start to the day Jackson.”

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

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

“Breakfast time anyway.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Jackson, today is not a beach day!”

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

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

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

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


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

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

“So we must be seeing the male Nilla.”

“Most likely.”

“How many eggs does she lay?”

“Only two.”

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

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

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

“True, but we can still watch.”

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

“What’s that Jackson?”

“What’s wrong with this picture?”

“What picture?”

“That one.”

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

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

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

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

“Not to El Espanol again.”

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

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

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

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

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

“They had sushi Jackson!”

“Wonder if the tuna was fresh.”

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

“Good night Nilla.”

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




Manta, Friday 03/08/2019

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


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

“Nice vegetation and quiet.  Sophisticated.”

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

“Great looking buffet Nilla.”


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



“I love blackberry juice!”


“It’s coffee for me Nilla.”


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


“Romantic Nilla.”

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

“I miss Aventurero Jackson.”

“We’ll see him again Nilla.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Little late for that Jackson.”

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

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

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



La Bella Crucita, Thursday 03/07/2019

“Torrential rain with thunder and lightning last night – it kept me awake!”

“Can you imagine what the house is like?  The windows don’t close or if they do, they still leak.  The roof leaks.”

“It’s probably flooded Jackson.  While I was unable to sleep I came up with a name for the house.”

“You did?”

“Yes – Golfina – the sea turtles – they’re endangered, so is the house unless timely repairs are completed followed by comprehensive, routine maintenance.”

“Interesting association with ‘endangered’ but a cute name none the less Nilla.”

“The Ts promised to be back at Las Dunas at 8:00 AM, it’s still raining – we’ll get wet.”

“The Ts can handle it, they’re the ones who will get wet!”

“The malecon is a mess – a series of puddles, mud and sand everywhere.”

“Open the door and keep our paws crossed.”

“Jackson, smoke everywhere, there’s a fire somewhere, but where?”

“Nilla, the floor is soaked, water in the living room, dinning room and kitchen, coming down the stairs.”

“Manuel is here, he’s worried about fire too.  I’m so glad we were with the Ts at Hotel Java.  If we can’t locate the fire we need to call 911 and get the bomberos here!”


“Manuel found the problem – in the bedroom with the twin beds – looks like water came in from the ceiling – short circuited the ceiling fan, heated it up, melting part of it and starting a fire from the ceiling down the wall burning the curtain and the window frame – so hot it broke the window pane.”


“If it had ignited the other curtain panel, the bed would have caught fire too and then it would have been major! The Ts have to throw the circuit breakers – don’t want to risk another fire.  It must have burned out when there was no more combustible materials close by.  Lucky.”

“Three inches of water on the roof – the drains are plugged – need the plunger or more water will come in down the walls.”

“Everything smells like smoke.  We can’t stay here!”

“No internet or WiFi, no way to call anyone – need to go to Diego’s place and use his access.”

“Amarita says she can’t come from Portoviejo because it’s raining.  Some property manager!”

“Russell can’t be reached.  I think it’s time to leave Crucita Nilla.”

“Aventurero says his house on the loma is flooded with three or more inches of water on the lower floor.  At least Wolf is a responsible property manager and will have it under control in short notice.”

“But glad we didn’t stay there either.”

“Need to pack up and head to Manta – call Carlos and have him send a taxi.  Hotel Balandra here we come Jackson.”

“We won’t be able to have our photo with the new Crucita beach sign.”


“We won’t be able to say ‘good bye’ to all our friends.”


“Once we get to Manta the Ts will work on changing the flights – we may be on our way back to the United States and burrrrrrrr cold weather and snow Nilla.”

“The Ts are talking with Russell finally.  He’s worried about the damage, wants to know how the fire started.  He wants the Ts to take pictures and send them to him.  Isn’t that Amarita’s responsibility?”

“Russell doesn’t seem to worry too much about us or the Ts.  We need to file a police or fire department report.  Diego is going to take the us.”

“Look at the water.  Look at the mud! The malecon and Avenida Portoviejo are a mess Jackson.”


“The police and fire personnel are all on rescue missions.  No time to wait around for a report , that will have to be Amarita’s responsibility.  I’m sure Russell will need one to file an insurance claim.”

“If he has insurance.  Do you think Amarita will even bother with the report?”

“She sure doesn’t seem to know about property management.  That back window – the one damaged in the fire, always leaked, nothing was done.  Now it won’t close, more rain will surely follow.  How can you turn on the electricity – not knowing where another short could happen.”

“Russell has two major barrier issues – language and distance.  If someone doesn’t take responsibility for the property now, it is vulnerable to more damage Jackson.”

“Nilla,  we need to get the dry goods from the kitchen and bring them to Diego, paper products too.  Everything in the refrigerator thrown out except bottled water.”

“Carlos can’t come to take us, Kleber can’t either but Carlos is sending taxi ’08’ to take us to Manta.  Aventurero is coming down the hill to say ‘good bye’.”

“He shouldn’t, too dangerous with all the water and the mud Nilla.”

“Already told him that.  Wolf has a ‘crew’ bailing out the Pyramid House”

“Make sure we have everything.”

“Taxi is here.”

“Good bye Crucita.  Oh there’s Aventurero!”

“He wants to know if we’re coming back to Ecuador in December.”

“Of course we are – just not staying in Crucita – especially that house.”

Taxi ride is uneventful and in about thirty minutes the Ts and companions arrive in Manta.

“Look at all that debris on the beach, it’s awful Jackson.”

“From the rain, from debris carried into the Pacific via the river.”

“Hotel Balandra looks very nice.  I wonder how long we will be staying here>”

“It depends on the flights and expense Nilla.”

“Room 126 – very nice, everything we need including WiFi and internet – we can post!”

“Message from Russell – make sure the Ts get the report and take pictures for their insurance claim – but all they have is trip interruption insurance – they may or may not compensate them.  It’s his responsibility to obtain comparable accommodations and he is to reimburse the cost as stated in the rental agreement.  Sounds like he plans to do nothing!  He has not offered once!”

“The report is Amarita’s responsibility, good luck to Russell.”

“Switching flights is financially not an option Nilla.  Thousands of dollars to switch and two thousand to buy new tickets.  We can stay here for the next six extra nights for just under seven hundred dollars.”

“The hotel is very nice Jackson – we’ll explore tomorrow – time for the Ts to get something to eat, they haven’t eaten anything all day.”

To Mall Pacifico for a bite and then back to shower and early to bed.

“We’re safe Nilla.”

“Yes we are – back to the U.S. in one week.”

“Do you think the Ts will try to go back to Crucita before they leave?”

“Don’t know.”





La Bella Crucita, Wednesday, 03/06/2019

“Quiet night Nilla.”

“Good morning to you too Jackson.”

“Portoviejo today.”

“That’s right, a bus ride!”

“Do you think someone can fix the glasses?”

“Hope so.  The Ts are going to stop by Las Dunas to check on the transformer situation before they go.”

“I’m not sure they are taking us with them Nilla.”

“Will we be safe here?”

“I think so.”

No transformer yet, the security guard is not sure if they will have the transformer installed today.  It’s not the responsibility of the electric company but rather the Las Dunas homeowners’ association.  Will have to see when we get back.

Crowded bus ride without air conditioning.  The opticians in the shopping center are able to remove the bottom half of the broken glasses screw but not the top.  Without the screw the lens will fall out of the frame.  A watch repair person is recommended – located in front of the cathedral on Rocafuerte street.  The cathedral is beautiful.


The watch repair person is locate in an ally off the main road.  This area of the city is busy with small shops and experts in repairing almost anything.  After nearly forty five minutes the glasses are functional again.


The Ts are on their way back to Crucita.

A taxi ride to the terminal terrestre and hop on the Crucita bus – seems everyone has decided to go to Crucita today – Chris and Elaine for their appointment, Diego and another group to conduct some business and surprise, on the bus Russell el musico, Trevor, Shelly and Gary.  At the Rocafuerte bus change four other gringos climb on board the very crowded bus – loaded with beach goers.

Another try to eat at Genoa – too early.  The Ts get off the bus near Rimini and have a beverage before walking up to the pizza place and ATM.  Pizza is great.

The newly renovated fire station across the street from Genoa. Too small to accommodate the fire engine.

Time to head back to Las Dunas for a progress report.

It’s a little past 6:00 PM and Manuel is proud to report that they just finished installing the transformer.  Hurray!  Not so soon – no water, every time the water pump goes on the lights dim and there’s still no water.  Manuel is going to contact someone in the morning to come by and see what’s wrong – hopefully the water pump is still okay.

Back to Hotel Java.

“Jackson, the Ts are back – looks like still no water since we’re still here.  It sounds like the Ts had a significant discussion with Russell about the house.”

“I hope that he follows up on some of their recommendations.  Looks like the glasses got fixed.”

“Another night in Bella Crucita Jackson!”


La Bella Crucita, Tuesday 3/5/2019

“One of three transformers in the Las Dunas compound blew.  Still no power this morning.”

“Well at least the computer is charged.”

“We don’t have internet though.”

“So, we take notes in ‘Word’ just like we did when we were in the Galapagos.”

“It’s Carnival – no replacement transformer until tomorrow.”

“Then there’s the installation – how long will that take.”

“Who knows.”

“We need to reach Russell and Amarita and Aventurero.  Aventurero has space in his place.  I’m sure he won’t mind if we stay with him.”

“That would be fun – up on the hill!”

“Let’s go to Ramblas and use their WiFi.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“They’re going to make breakfast for us even though they’re a sushi place.  Geoffrey is so nice.”


“Looks delicious – almost as good as the ones you make Nilla.”

“Amarita can’t reach Russell – she can’t help us other than to offer to keep the food in the refrigerator at her house.  She said we can stay there where it’s cooler.”

“The Ts can’t reach Russell either.  The rental agreement states that if the property becomes unusable for whatever reason, it’s his responsibility of the owner to arrange comparable housing arrangements until the problem is resolved.”

“Aventurero says we can stay with him if we want.”

“I think the Ts want to be close to Las Dunas and keep an eye on the house.”

“Aventurero ran into Trevor and Russell, el musico, and they say they’ll help bring our stuff up on the hill if we want.”

“Everyone is so nice and willing to help.”

“Funny, what’s it say on the wall by the front door – “Mi casa es tu casa’?  It’s more like ‘Mi pesadilla es tu pesadilla”.”

“What’s that mean?”

“My nightmare is your nightmare” Jackson.”

“Very funny – it hasn’t been that bad has it?”

“Think about it.”

“Russell could not have anticipated the transformer demise, but the other chronic issues with the house, many of which we have not mentioned in our blog, should have been addressed.”

“Let’s just find a place to stay, something close by and hope that most of the party goers have left Crucita.”

“Hotel Java looks pretty nice, let’s see if they can accommodate us.”

“Room 201 – king size bed, WiFi, hot water, AC, looks pretty good to me.”

“Remember Jackson, the ‘J’ is pronounced like the English ‘H’.”

“Ha, ha.”

“That’s right Jackson, soft and short ‘a’.”

“Another message from Amarita – she says we can get water from the cistern on the roof – just open the valve.”

“But that doesn’t help with hot water, air conditioning, food from spoiling.”

“The Ts tried opening the valve but the water flows directly into the reserve tank beneath the rear patio.”

“Sure seems that the owner and his family don’t know much about the household operations does it.”

“Another message from Amarita – seems she and Tito went into the house and opened the cistern valve and what happened?”

“No water.”

“The Ts want to meet up with Aventurero and have an early dinner, we’ll stay here Nilla.”

Aventurero meets up with the Ts in front of Palm Beach and agrees with the plan to have dinner at Ramblas.  He’s headed that way and encounters Guardagatos walking to Primo Dos.  The two of them will catch up with the Ts in a little bit.

Minimal communication from Russell who also incorrectly assumes that the water in the cistern will flow into the water pipes via gravity and supply adequate water.

BBQ wings and pescado a la plancha at Ramblas.  Guardagatos finishes off the French fries.  It’s not even 6:30 PM when the police begin patrolling the malecon to order the restaurants to shut down by 7:00 PM.  Aventurero hasn’t even ordered dinner yet.

That group is going to Crucita Village – exempt from the shutdown.  The Ts head back to Hotel Java.

Tomorrow they need to go to Portoviejo for glasses repair – that will take a good three hours at least.


La Bella Crucita, Monday, 03/04/2019


“Nocturnal human creatures at it again – it’s 3:30 AM.”

“So much for sleep.”

Daybreak and no rain.

“Someone doesn’t have water in Las Dunas Nilla.  Here comes a water truck.”

“But the water is on this morning – our tank is full.”

“Maybe they’re afraid the water will be turned off again, and the more visitors the more water usage.”

“What’s on the schedule for today?”

“A nap might be in order later this afternoon.”

“The featured concert with Zion and Lennox from Puerto Rico at midnight and fireworks at 10:00 this evening.”

“What’s Aventurero doing?”

“He’s going to meet us and then go for lupper at Genoa in hopes that it will be less busy off the Malecon.”

“Aventurero is at Ramblas.”

“Off we go.”

“Looks like Genoa is closed – no where to?”

“Let’s go to Las Gaviotas, shouldn’t be too busy there especially up on the balcony.”

“It’s crowded even here too.  Mucha bulla.”

“The Trio is having pescado a ajillo, camarones a ajillo and pescado frito.”

“Those are absolutely delicious choices.”

Bellies full the Ts head back toward Las Dunas and Aventurero to la loma.  Naps are in order.

“What’s the best place to meet this evening Nilla?”

“Ramblas.  Has WiFi and while we wait we can people watch.”

“I don’t think the Ts are taking us with them.  Too much risk for getting foamed or wet.  We’ll stay here until they return.  They’ll be back long before fireworks.”

Lots of foaming and spraying along the malecon.  The group gathers at Ramblas.  Pinchos from the vendor in front of Diego’s place – yummy.


Impressive that the clean up crews are already patrolling the malecon – not even waiting for the holiday conclusion.

Hats are a top seller to party goers.  Five dollars each.


People are migrating to the stage area with chairs, cushions, stools, coolers etc.  More political parades along the beach.

It’s time to go there and see what’s happening.

Another beautiful sunset.

Amazingly the performance of the first band starts almost on time.  A decent group.  Better back at Las Dunas and relax until the fireworks begin.

“Oh no Jackson – the power went out again.”

“It’s probably temporary, most likely because of Carnival.  think positive, better for watching fireworks.”

“And the noise level should be tolerable too.”

“Sit back and relax.”

“It’s Carnival!”

“Great display from the roof.  Can’t stay up for the midnight concert.”

“Good night.”