Thursday, June 18, 2015

Missing in Action

June 18, 2015

(I will return to my narrative about my two week Colorado/New Mexico road trip and my last couple of days back in Kansas City, but interrupting the sequence of events to post this update)

I started my journey back to Ecuador yesterday, in Kansas City. I got to MCI (the KC airport) around 10:30AM to return my rental car, and to check-in for the first leg of the trip, after a 45 minute drive to get there. I was booked on American Airlines going through Dallas (with only a 50 minute layover), catching another American Airlines flight to Miami (leisurely 2.5 hour stop), then switching to LAN for the final leg to Guayaquil, Ecuador.

My checked-in bag was ticketed all the way through to Guayaquil.
My home in Olón is another 3 hour bus ride from there.
Because I wasn’t scheduled to arrive until after midnight, I booked (and paid) for two nights at one of the more pricey hotels in GYE.
I knew I would be tired since I've just spent the last two weeks having a ball exploring Colorado and New Mexico (I put 3000 miles on my rental car during that time)…so I wanted a couple of days to decompress and sleep. I decided to splurge on the room.

Because of the stormy weather in Dallas yesterday, all flights going through there were delayed by several hours.
In Kansas City, this resulted in an after-security gate change for my airplane. Because of MCI’s screwy layout, a gate change means exiting a secure area (right after I bought a $3 bottle of water), and going through security a second time (bye, water).
The bitchy American Airlines clerk at the second gate was unable to provide my LAN boarding pass, because she “couldn’t access LAN’s computer system” (operated by AA according to my Expedia print-out).  And because of the several hour back-ups on flights, it was unclear whether I would make it to Miami in time to catch the connection
During the two hour interval at the KC gate, I tried a number of times to Skype my already-paid pricey Guayaquil hotel, because it seemed pretty clear that  - at best -  I would be arriving at their location much later than 1AM, if at all. But each time I got through, I was directed to an automated system that apparently wasn’t working. I also had my brother Jack trying to reach them from his California phone, and he was getting the same result.
Keep in mind, I don’t have a smart phone. I have an Ecuadorian phone and a $10 Walmart “throw-away” that I bought when I started my road trip a couple of weeks ago.

AA's Miami ticket counter after 11PM
As anticipated, I got to Miami at 11PM – a couple of hours after my scheduled LAN flight departed for Guayaquil. The American Airline personal at the arrival gate told me to first go to the American ticket counter, before going to the opposite side of the airport to reach the LAN terminal.
No one was there so I raced over to LAN – just missing their last direct flight to GYE. The best they could do was put me on plane going there via Lima, Peru and a second city (I forget which one) before it got to Guayaquil.
This concerned me, because I was worried about my suitcase; it was ticketed through to GYE, and because of the earlier Dallas weather confusion, I wasn’t sure where it landed for the night.

I landed in the blue part
of this map.
I raced to LAN
Which  --naturally -- is in the red part 

Which way to
"Customer Assistance"?
American has lost my luggage three times (the third incident occurred coming to the States on this trip).  
It appeared my best bet was to wait out the night in the terminal until AA counter & baggage personnel began their shifts again around 4:30AM to book another flight back to Ecuador.
No food was offered on either plane before I got to Miami.
I was starving (except for an all-night Dunkin’ Donuts, the restaurants were closed by then). I was also really sleepy, so I walked around the terminal to stay awake. I don’t know that airport well, and I figured I might as well get familiar with it before the morning rush hour began.

By then, I grabbed a luggage cart; my carry-on(s) are heavy because my suitcase is packed full of spices, canned goods and weighty liquid bottles that won’t pass security. 

No one to ask.
But around 2AM I parked myself nearby.
WiFi hot spot just behind the green wall.

Just as I really needed to go potty
during my graveyard tour of the terminal

I took this adjoining picture from outside the airport.
Of course, "MIA" stands for Miami International, but all I was reminded of was my wandering suitcase.

After roaming around, I found a WiFi hot spot by the information desk.  There was a pole with an electrical outlet, it was quiet (my laptop speaker isn't very loud) , so I parked myself on the floor next to it.
I guess this was around 2AM.

I thought  I should try Skyping my hard-to-reach Guayaquil hotel again...and yippee (!) I finally reached Ricardo (with whom I had reserved the room a few days ago).
We had just begun talking, and then...and then this:

The loud floor sweeper shows up.
And though I'm trying to wave her off
during my call, she won't go away.

And here she comes again.
Determined to run her "mowing" pattern


It is now around 11:00 in the morning.
A few hours ago I got my Miami to Guayaquil ticket re-booked (and I checked with baggage folks and it does look like my suitcase has spent the night here with me too). 
Presumably, we will be on the same plane back, since it's the first likely one heading to Guayaquil today.

...At five o'clock tonight...
I'm now 24-hrs on this mission, with no sleep, no food, and have six more hours to go.I'm dying for a meal and a cold beer, but don't dare do either till I go through security and get near my gate.
I'm so exhausted, I'm terrified I'll fall asleep and miss the flight once I eat or drink anything but coffee.
have both my cell phone alarms set (and tucking one in my bra - on vibrate).

Signing off for now and keeping my fingers crossed.

have been territorially guarding
my little spot here for around 8 hours now.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


June 10, 2015

I am the oldest. My brother Jack is the youngest.
My two sisters still li
ve in KC
I’m in the States now. 
I flew back here a couple of weeks ago (to Kansas City) to attend a niece’s wedding.
This is the first time that I have been back in my hometown in over six years, and it is wonderful to see my family and friends again.
Rather than leave from the coast, I started my vacation in Cuenca, where I spent a day and half to see my dentist and hairdresser.  From there, I took a 4-hour afternoon bus ride across the Cajas to catch my 11PM flight out of Guayaquil.

I flew American to Miami, and then switched to United from there to Chicago onto Kansas City. I had short layovers in both Miami and Chicago, and was concerned about my luggage making it with me. For that matter, the check-in staff at the GYE airport (José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport) was also concerned that I would make it through customs and security in time to make my connections and even offered to mark me as a “special needs” passenger.  In other words, “needs a wheel chair”.  
I didn’t know whether to be appreciative or appalled (surely I don’t look THAT old). But the counter people at the Guayaquil airport are always so kind and helpful, I smiled and politely declined.
But things went downhill after that.  Normally, I fall asleep on buses and airplanes before they even take off, but was so squished in my bus and flight seat(s) that I didn’t get a wink of sleep throughout my journey.

I arrived in Miami around 4:15AM, cleared customs fairly quickly, but then the wheels on one side of my carry-on fell off, so I ended up dragging it from one side of the airport to the other, going through several security check points along the way.  I also discovered that I was walking around with only one dangly earring (the other fell out somewhere), my eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep, so I’m sure I looked pretty bedraggled by the time I caught my flight to Chicago around 6AM.

About then I was kind of wishing I had opted for the wheel chair alternative.

The good news was that my flight to Chicago arrived 25 minutes earlier than scheduled, so I slammed down a morning beer before heading on to Kansas City.
I got in at 10:30 in the morning; however the plan was to wait there for my brother Jack’s flight from California to land at 3:30 in the afternoon.
And, as I anticipated, my luggage did not make it with me.  Fortunately, I shrink-wrapped it when leaving Guayaquil (with all my USA & Ecuador contact information taped to the outside – I also put a copy of my itinerary inside the bag). The GYE check-in folks also tagged it with a bright orange “priority” sticker.
American Airlines has lost my luggage three times, and the one other time I made an American to United airline switch, the luggage was never found... (a domestic flight from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania back to Palm Springs)
I am wise to these guys, and as a precaution packed basic necessities and wedding clothes in my carry-on.
GRRRR…why do I ever fly American/United airlines??
I also have short layovers on my way back to Ecuador (those flights going through Dallas and Miami) and my bet is that my suitcase will go missing in action again, and already planning on spending an extra night or two in Guayaquil waiting for it, before heading three hours back home to Olón, on the coast of Ecuador.
Anyway, while waiting for Jack to get in, I filed a luggage claim, then went and picked up my rental car (I’m in the States for three weeks) and then spent a very boring five hours hanging around MCI (Kansas City airport). It’s not much fun hanging around this airport  – restaurants outside of security area are only so-so, and wifi hot-spots are hit or miss (I don’t have a smart phone and still drag around a laptop that could be used as a small table).

My sister Laura, KC friend Stephanie
and my brother and me.

Once Jack got in, we headed to my sister Laura’s house, where we were stayed for the wedding weekend.
We headed out to meet some friends for dinner that first night (my other sister, Liz, was unable to join us since she is the mother of the bride – my niece Taylor) and though I was really tired coming from Cuenca, Ecuador and 30 hours with no sleep, we had a wonderful time.

And – thankfully - my luggage showed up at my sister’s doorstep the next morning.

During our visit to Dad's house.
It's been 14 years (since Dad died)
that we've been inside.
The current owners were so gracious to
give us this tour, and shared with us
some pictures they inherited
 with the home.

The next day (which was a Thursday) all four of us siblings spent the whole day touring some of the former homes we lived in while growing up in Kansas City.  Aside from the wedding, this definitely was a highlight of the trip, and an exceptionally special day...A day full of wonderful memories.

We saw the inside of four of them. We had pre-arranged afternoon appointments with two of those (Dad’s home, and the 94th Street house in Kenilworth). In the morning, we just knocked on a couple of doors and gracious current home-owners let us in.

Grandma & Grandpa Frost's home
in KCMO.
A "let's knock" stop.
They lived here for 45 some years.
Many Thankgiving memories and
going down to see the Plaza Lights
turned on afterwards

Dad owned this home in
Prairie Village, Kansas for 41 years.
From the time I started high school
until he died in late 2002. 

A visit to see Dad.
My sister Liz took this photo.

Dinner at the Hereford House.
Eating KC rib eye.
Died and gone to heaven.


Kansas City’s reputation for hospitality is well deserved, though I doubt four people over 50-yrs old – standing on the doorstep asking to see the inside and take pictures – probably didn't appear to be too threatening.    
The rehearsal dinner was at Jack Stack’s, where I finally got to sink my teeth into some exceptional KC BBQ – boy, have I been craving that for years!

My niece Taylor and new hubby Ben
in center of back row.

The wedding was special and wonderful; my gorgeous niece looked spectacular, and she and her new husband Ben are a perfect couple together. They have been friends for years.

On the Monday after the wedding, I dropped Jack off at the airport for his morning flight back to California, and then headed west towards Colorado and New Mexico.
I figured that as long as I was coming this far from Olón, I was going to make the most of it to do a two-week driving loop around both those states and was looking forward to the adventure.
I’ve driven through them many times, but never really explored either state.
I’m on that road trip now.

More to follow...  

Celebrating my June 9th
Five year Anniversary 
move to Ecuador
with a bottle of Hatch wine New Mexico.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

High Times in Olón

May 7, 2015

I know it’s been a long time since I last wrote.
Our “high” season on the coast runs from around New Year’s until this last weekend, (the first day of May is an official Ecuadorian “Workers’” holiday – similar  to the State’s “Labor Day” 3-day weekend).
Following New Year’s, hordes of tourists come to the coast during this time, and the holidays of “Carnival” and “Semana Santa” (the week before Easter) are particular crowded.
In the meantime, traveling circuses come through, and small local town parties kick into gear (Olón has a really fun annual April town-park fiesta).
And this season certainly went out with a bang.

Because of a storm off the coast of Chile, our Ecuadorian shoreline experienced some unusually high waves and incoming tides for several days last weekend.  There were predictions of 25’ (25 feet) wave faces, and powerful inland winds, so we were braced (and the surfers were chomping at the bit).
The biggest waves sets I saw were around 12-footers (based upon my unpracticed eye), but I missed being on the beach during the highest tides (the peak was predicted for 3AM last Sunday morning), though I heard from many friends along the coast who witnessed mammoth waves much larger than I viewed.

Along with the colossal breakers came the “King Tides”.  King Tides occur a couple of times a year, and are long, slow, somewhat shallow water tides that wash into shore much, much further inland than normal.   Maybe say 30-50 feet further or so? They generally last for a couple days.
We experienced a King Tide a few months ago – reportedly the largest in the past 18 years – and last weekend’s surges were bigger/longer/higher.
I have heard and seen some pictures of a few coastal zones where these waves and tides caused some damage and beach erosion in certain areas, but here in Olón, I don’t think the effects were too devastating.
Included are some pictures I took last Saturday afternoon, as a high tide was making its way in.

Carnival (“Carnaval”) was in mid-February this year and relatively tame. It was not nearly as crowded as in years past. I think this may have been because we had such a humongous throng of people here for Christmas and New Year’s, that many folks decided to forego the beach (at least ours) for this celebration.
I had just returned from a quick visit to the States, and I house-sat for at Doug and Pam’s Jardines de Olón beach house during that weekend, but it was pretty much a non-event.

Selection of the assorted grains
for sale at one of the local
vegetable stands 
during the week before Easter 

The week before Easter -- “Semana Santa” --  is another big spring holiday here, and we get many tourists visiting the coast, typically tranquil Ecuadorian family groups.
A soup called “Fanesca” is the traditional meal served in Ecuadorian households during Holy Week.  It is a complicated and time-consuming dish to prepare (using a number of ingredients, including twelve types of beans and grains – representing the twelve apostles of Christ, and salt cod, symbolizing Jesus).
I have never tried to make it, but click on this link for one Fanesca recipe.

Friends Forever .
(Daisy going incognito under the baseball cap).

I think the most entertaining fiesta during “season” is the annual Olón town-park party in April.  There are always lots of rides, and many food/clothing/toy vendor booths.  Not to mention several nights of music and dancing till the wee hours of the morning (usually starting around 11PM to midnight).

Note the child sleeping in the hammock
while the game was being played.
One of my favorite "carny" games at the park this year was a ring toss to encircle a coin or bill with rubber donut-shaped disks (Fifteen rubber disks for a DOLLAR)...Board was seeded with mostly 50-pieces, and disks thrown from behind a fence boundary.
Winners get the money they snag.

One night, I actually succeeded in landing donut-shaped rubber-ring-thing onto a $20 bill.
I don't know who was more surprised. The guy running the game or me.

Looks innocent during the daytime,
Which it isn't.
Only laying in wait.

I rode this.
Scared the bejeezuz out me:
Number one because it was a fun and scary ride,
with maniacal "conductors" swinging the pendulum 

high and fast.
Everyone;s feet came off the floor in my "cage"

from anti-gravity effect.
Probably not regularly inspected for safety either.

I honestly don’t know how the locals find the stamina to party all night like they do (I have never made it past around 2AM on any of these), but they sure have fun!

In the last month, I have made 3 different trips to Cuenca for dental work (the dentist I use and trust is located there).
I have always had dental and gum issues (that I still smoke cigarettes doesn’t help, but I have cut back).  This time, I had a front tooth "floating around".
My dentist asked me if there had been some trauma to the tooth to cause it to become so loose, but the most aggressive and aggravating thing I could think of was a can of pistachio nuts I chowed down on awhile back.
I needed bone grafting done in several locations (and a periodontal gum operation) in my mouth. Over the years, I have had just about every conceivable  dental work done -- a lot of awful things done in my mouth (don’t touch that…), but lemme tell you….that procedure(s) HURT.  Going into those gum surgeries, I did not fully appreciate just how painful the recovery period would be, especially since adequate pain medications are either not available or nearly impossible to obtain in Ecuador.
What was not painful was the cost.  Including consultations, dental procedures and operations, my cost was around $400.  I’m guessing this would be more like thousands of dollars in the United States.
So I have spent a lot of time in bed recently, with stitches in my mouth, gumming through yogurt, (my mouth was so swollen and black and blue, I looked like I walked off the set of “Planet of the Apes"), but the work is finished now and I am on the mend.

And last but not least, I finally got a fence installed around my Jardines de Olón lot, and it looks great.

Scott Gould and crew did
 a GREAT job on this fence!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Beer on the Beach

March 20, 2015

Olón is normally a mellow town; the locals are affable and relaxed.
The atmosphere is generally tranquillo, even with the influx of tourists that visit our beach on weekends and holidays during high season (now).
About the most raucous events that happen in our town are occasional pueblo parties in the park.
But last week an incident happened that caused quite a commotion around here.

A group of Colombian sports fans were in Guayaquil for a futbol event, and decided to come to the coast for a day or so before the game.  According to later newspaper articles, around 600 young men arrived in Montanita in 18 buses.
Evidently, some of them caused enough problems there (aggressive begging, large groups of Colombian diners stiffing the restaurant owners, some fighting reported) which led them to be chased out of there.
As a result, around 350 of these turistas ended up busing over to Olón later that night.
As soon as they arrived here in Olón, word went out over the town speakers “to be careful – extra vigilant – many  strangers/extraños are in town tonight.”
The locals were on guard.

While here, a number of them camped on the beach (not encouraged – in fact, I’m not sure it is even permitted, though I occasionally see tents on the sand) and they essentially overwhelmed the town. 
Unfortunately, there was a contingent of troublemakers amongst them who were causing fights, trashing the beach, harassing people for money, and there were reports of thievery and damage to some of our cabaña restaurants.
My friend, Mary Beckman (South of Zero) was visiting from Cuenca, and we wandered out the next afternoon to check out the situation.
Just as we got to the park, we witnessed the town folk of Olón (en mass) and police escorting the Colombians back onto their buses, and out of town.

It was quite an event to watch our locals walk these unwelcome visitors out of town, done forcefully, but calmly. 
I didn’t witness any fighting during this occurrence.  In fact, the Colombians seemed pretty placid as they were herded back onto their waiting buses.

I am so proud of mis vecinos y amigos aquí.
Viva Olón!
This isn’t a disparagement of Colombians.  Many wonderful Colombians live here, and visit our area. 
No doubt, that many testosterone-driven young men gathered in one place (and they could be from anywhere) can be a recipe for problems.

Meanwhile, in other news from around here…
A previously approved ordinance of the City Council of Santa Elena province that prohibits “the sale, promotion and consumption of alcohol on the beaches, plazas, cars, roads and other public areas of jurisdiction for recreation and tourism” was put into effect this week.
This includes most of towns along the Ruta del Sol (Spondylus), including Olón and Montanita.  Salinas is – for some reason – exempt.
The wording of the Spanish language news article is somewhat ambiguous and confusing, so many of us are curious to see how this will be implemented and enforced.

It’s a stretch of the imagination to think that beer on the beach would be prohibited around our neck of the coast.
I think that more than likely the muscle of the law is meant to prevent unlicensed vendors from selling alcohol, and may also be aimed at visitors who bring their own packed ice chests, and don’t contribute to the local economy by purchasing beverages and food from our licensed merchants.
For the record, as I write this today, the Olón cabañas are selling beer, the beach cocktail stands are open, and I observed folks strolling down Montanita's main street while hoisting Pilseners.  

Sunset on the Olón playa tonight
(Spring Equinox)
A group of dolphins were playing and jumping
just beyond the break, but my camera
wasn't quick enough to capture a photo of them.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bright Life Journey

March 4, 2015

Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez
I recently flew back to the States (first time in almost 5 years that I've been there) via Aeroméxico, on a $436 RT ticket from Quito to LAX. That is the cheapest ticket I've EVER seen between here and States, so of course, I jumped on it.
From Olón, I took a 3-hr CLP Executive bus to Guayaquil, caught a late afternoon hour-flight to Quito, and spent the night there to catch my early morning lift-off back to Southern California.

I stayed at Domenick Buonamici’s Quito AirportSuites, (in Tabela), which is less than 10 minutes away from the new airport. I paid a little extra to have one of the hotel drivers waiting for me.
It was a great place to stay (modern, comfortable, wonderful shower in my room), and I enjoyed a delightful evening chatting with other guests traveling through on their way to various destinations.

My Aeroméxico ticket required a 7-hr daytime layover in Mexico terminal on the way to Los Angeles.
Frankly, I was looking forward to that time, since one of my ulterior missions was to eat as much Mexican food as I could possibly shovel into my mouth during the trip. Even if it was pricey airport food while in Mexico.  You can pay in cash dollars at these restaurants and stores, but your change comes back in pesos, and good luck.
I broke a $20 at a couple of places, and the varying peso conversion rate when the change came back had me scratching my head a few times. But I did have some tasty tacos while there (which as near as I can determine, cost me as much as my next purchase of CFM shoes).
The other thing about transferring on international flights through Mexico is that one must go to baggage claim first, and then through customs and then re-check your baggage to your ultimate destination (which was conveniently located on the other side of customs on my daytime trip through there, but was up another level/little bit of a hike when I transferred in middle of the night on my way back to Ecuador).
All and all, my passes through Mexico City airport were pleasant…Actually, I spent more time in airports than I did in the air, on this trip.

Super Bowl Sunday at Jack's.
At least this year, I got to see the commercials,
including the one for Ecuador
I stayed at my brother Jack’s home in Laguna Beach for the two weeks I was there, and the time went by much too quickly!
I needed that trip. I miss my family, which is so spread out (one daughter in California, another in England, one in Germany - with assorted grandchildren in all those places) and it was wonderful getting together with old friends.
I’m disappointed that I didn’t get more and better pictures while I was there. For some reason, not many of my pictures turned out that well, due to either poor lighting or bad angles or I forgot my camera.

With my friend, Jean
Fun night!

The other priority was to clean up and condense my storage area and move my stuff to a smaller unit.
This was more grueling than I anticipated, and ate up most of my time the first week I was back.  I spent the better part of that week in a blur of sorting through boxes, some of which were easy to toss (“why in the hell did I save that?”) to some stuff that brought tears to my eyes as I either gave it away or pitched it.
But really, am I ever going to use all that camping gear again?  At least that went to my daughter Elizabeth and 14-yr old granddaughter Avery, who I hope will be able to enjoy it as much as I did.

The highlight of my trip was a mini-vacation that Lizbee, Avery, and Phoebe (a friend of Avery’s) took to Palm Springs the second week I was there.  We had a ball, and it was fun being around my old Palm Springs stomping ground again.
The weather was glorious and we stayed at the marvelous, retro Hotel Monroe, which has a great pool area, offers $3 vouchers for breakfast across the street at Rick’s,  and spacious rooms - a great little oasis in the desert.

Not one of my pictures of the three of us
turned out well, this time.
My favorite of us,
taken about 8 years ago
 at the Palm Springs street fair.
The last time I was with Avery, she was just nine years old, and now she’s grown into a beautiful and talented young lady with a bright life journey ahead of her.  And with more than a small pang of guilt, my heart ached, because I’ve missed so much of it by living far away.
And Lizbee, I love you.  Our lives became intertwined when you were 14 years old, and in all this time, I’m sure you have taught me more than I will ever teach you. What a wise, caring, loving woman you are! I miss and treasure all those comfy times we spent on that big brown couch.

My lovely granddaughter, Avery.
All grown up now.
Photo courtesy of Lizbee

The two weeks flew by.
I left Los Angeles at 6PM for my return flight back to Ecuador, arriving in Quito at 6:30 the next morning. Because of poor planning on my part, my flight from there to Guayaquil didn’t leave until 3PM. I tried to switch to an earlier departure – to no avail – so ended up spending a very boring and expensive day lurking around the Quito airport ($3 for a small bottle of water, $6 coffees, $15 for a Philly Cheese sandwich, one $13 minibar size bottle of wine – OH PLEEZE!).
Arrggg…  I’d rather pluck my eyebrows with a machete than repeat that long afternoon.

I’m especially grateful for having this chance to go back to see family and friends again. Hands down, being so far from family and friends is the most difficult aspect of living in a new country.
And I was curious to see what it “felt” like to be in the States again.
It was odd in a way. There were times when it seemed as if I’d never left, and other moments when I felt like a fish out of water.

My favorite Mexican food place in
San Juan Capistrano.
I pigged out here a lot.
I haven’t driven in almost five years, yet I discovered that driving the California freeways comes back like riding a bike. I became blasé about my morning full-throttle hot shower. I just naturally assumed every road, every restaurant, every well-stocked grocery store would be clean and efficient.
Then there were the times when I found myself scraping dinner remnants into the trash, because I forgot that sinks come with disposals. More than once, I found myself throwing my used potty-paper into a wastebasket, because…well…that’s just how we do it in Ecuador. My jaw dropped at the prices every time I went through a grocery store check-out, and my anxiety level rose from the faster pace of life.
I experienced something that’s difficult to put into words: I felt out-of-the-loop, detached and puzzled by certain USA news events, and in a few situations. 
In short, I underwent a weird “disconnect” that I still can’t quite explain.

I admit, I have occasionally toyed with the idea of moving back to the States – and still may, eventually. There is much I miss, especially family and friends.

Because it’s not exactly like living here is “paradise” either. 
Each day brings language difficulties and cultural challenges and frustrations. Each day also brings small triumphs.

But the longer I live in Ecuador, the more it HAS become home. Especially each time I have put my feet back on this country’s soil after leaving it.

I took this photo a few years ago
during a local surf tournament.