Monday, November 29, 2010

If It´s Tuesday

August 3, 2010

 If it’s Tuesday, the power will go off.  At least that seems to be happening with some regularity in the last month or so, usually for a couple of hours at a time. We’ve gotten more or less used to it, but it can be really annoying and inconvenient at times (obviously it’s a pain when in the middle of a load of wash, or watching a movie. Less expected is the lack of hot water; our entire house water is heated by an electrical thingamajiggy mounted on our utility room wall).
Each day, seafood and snack vendors on bikes troll through town to sell their wares, and on Tuesdays, many of the “specialty” guys show up too. We always keep our eyes peeled for the cerveza truck (mostly selling to the mom & pop stores and restaurants, but anyone can buy off the truck at cheaper prices than retail. Danged if we’ve yet to convince the beer guys to circle a little closer to our street so we don’t miss them).  On Tuesdays, I’ve discovered broom hawkers, baby-shoe salesmen, kitchen-supply peddlers, and even toilet paper vendors, but my favorite truck to find is the vegetable truck of Manuel y Manuel.

We get insanely cheap prices on produce here.  Tomatoes are $1.00 for 3 lbs, a huge bunch of fresh  basil costs 10 cents, garlic bulbs are about a nickel, strawberries and moras (large blackberries) are $1/lb off the Manuel y Manuel truck.  We also buy vegetables from the various stands, and the other day in Montanita, I purchased a huge and healthy bunch of basil, 2 onions, and 3 garlic heads for 70 cents. 

We are cooking at home and having a lot fun experimenting with the local ingredients available here...I have discovered that unrequited gringo hunger cravings are a powerful motivator, and I am spending a great deal of time in the kitchen trying to duplicate some of our favorite “American” recipes.  Odd, since I’ve never been particularly passionate about cooking, and even more uncharacteristically, I am leaning towards vegetarian meals (local decent beef is scarce, chicken can be relatively expensive, and seafood has never exited me).
 I’m all over the cheap tomatoes here.   Todd is scratching his head – but is pleased – about my recent enthusiasm in the kitchen.  I’ve more or less managed to replicate my “pico de gallo” and bruschetta recipes, and he has learned how to make killer fried chicken. I’m still trying to create the perfect marinara/pizza sauce. Fortunately, our dog Daisy doesn’t mind eating my left over attempts, though those usually give her a bad case of hiccups and indigestion.

The new Olon Park
under contruction
We love our little town of Olon. Walking around town the other night, we noticed a number of new mom and pop restaurants (which are always a few tables and perhaps a grill in front of someone’s home). In particular, we want to try one across the street from the Olon Park offering a tasty looking pork chop meal for about $2.50. 

Additionally, quite a few new beautification projects here and in Montanita are underway. Olon recently razed the old park to build a new one, and Montanita finally got paved roads. The folks in Montanita began that project a little over a year ago, and paved several of the main streets before realizing that sewers needed to be installed first. When we left here last year, they had just begun the muddy and smelly process of laying those pipes. You gotta love it though.  We’ve heard that Montanita isn’t the only small town in these parts to make that mistake.

Montanita - May 2009
 I believe it was shortly after they paved
this street they realized the sewers should go in first.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You Say Spondylus

July 30, 2010

Courtesy Danny Radd
We woke up to an insanely beautiful, sunny day and headed straight for the beach.  The beach next to our house is about 8 miles long, with silken sand and has a wealth of beach combing treasures to find.  Seashells are plentiful, sand dollars are a dime a dozen at times, starfish and seahorses can be found, and occasionally a dead Galapagos turtle washes in (their shells are highly prized by some around here as decorative items after the vultures have done their bit with the carcass).  Cows and burros graze on the beach vegetation, and sometimes wild horses gallop through the surf (see the spectacular picture a talented guest of ours captured on the Olon beach last summer).
One of the seashells most sought after is the “Spondylus” shell. In a National Geographic article (March 2010) about researching the Nasca lines in Peru, this was written:

“The archaeologists had frequently noticed large, man-made mounds of stone…which they suspected were ceremonial altars.  As one of the experts excavated his way through one mound…. he came upon fragments of a large seashell of the genus Spondylus, distinctive for its creamy, coral-like hues and spiky outer surface. It appears in the coastal waters off northern Peru only during El Nino events and is thus associated with the arrival of rainfall and agricultural fertility.    
Spondylus shell in the foreground
 "The Spondylus shell is one of the few items of Andean archaeology that has been well studied,’ one expert noted.  ‘It’s a very important religious symbol for water and fertility.  Like incense in the Old World, it was brought from far away and is found in specific contexts, such as funerary objects and on these platforms. It was connected in certain activities to praying for water.”

I haven’t found a Spondylus shell yet, but always keep a sharp eye out for them, because they’re more common here along our Ecuadorian coast. Skilled artisans create lovely jewelry with these beautiful shells. Several years ago (2?) the Ministerio de Turismo renamed the “Ruta del Sol” (Route of the Sun) highway the “Ruta del Spondylus” and have made considerable effort to rebrand it. Despite that, most people around here still call it the “Ruta del Sol”.

We look forward to every day we wake up here, but it is especially glorious when the sun beams this brightly during the middle of winter here. It’s been overcast, for the most part, since we arrived.
We are back home after a week out of house, spending part of the time at the N&J Hosteria, and three nights at brother Jack/friends’ house.
Our guests (mother & teenage daughter exploring Ecuador for a month) were here a week, but left our house three days early because they were “bored” and dismayed at the cloudy weather.  Ironically, not two hours after they left town, the weather turned sunny and warm – the weather they had been waiting for.  They decided to spend the rest of their trip in Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city; industrial) for more “action”.  In our opinion, it’s as if travelers finishing a visit to the United States were to declare “hey, let’s wrap up this up in Detroit”, but to each his own, I suppose. 

Waiting for returning fishing
boats to bring us our dinner.
We also have three Australian guys (Matt, Mike, and Shane) visiting for several weeks. We were unable to accommodate them at our house, but Todd was able to locate another beach house for them to rent during their stay. They are a fun and adventurous bunch, and Todd and I are grateful to be here and able to meet the many interesting folks who visit Ecuador (in December, we have a family from Latvia coming).
 We met our neighbors Randy and Fonda this morning, and can’t wait to get to know them better! They are from Texas, and just got back late last night.  They live here full time.

Todd and I are utterly besotted with our adopted beach dog Daisy. She is just such a dog: she chases cats, buries bones, and her whole body wags when she greets us in the morning. Daisy’s funny ears don’t so much hang down as stick out like propellers, her tail is permanently curled up like a comma over her back and the shading of her coat gives her a distinct “ring around the collar” look.
Daisy and our neighbor Franklin
playing on the beach
She trots in front of us around town and the beach with her tail held high, and a grin on her face…Funny thing is, it’s not like we’re walking her…’s more like she’s showing off to the other dogs that “these are my people”.  She also likes to grab flip flops left by doors (ours and neighbors) and leaves them nearby.  We had to laugh when our guest Brian left heavy hiking shoes by the door, remarking “let’s see her drag those anywhere”.  The next morning, both shoes were sitting in the middle of the street.  The odd thing is, she doesn’t chew on them much, thankfully….just likes to move them around.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


July 26, 2010

Todd and I are staying at the N&J Hosteria (Olon). The guests in our home now are a mother and daughter duo who have been traveling in Ecuador for a month, and wrapping up their last ten days here at the beach. They speak fluent Spanish (mom is Puerto Rican), but seem less than enthused about their travels in Ecuador thus far. Primarily they’ve been disappointed in the cloudy and cool weather they’ve encountered (hullo, it’s “winter” in Ecuador now…ya’ know, that “opposite in the Southern Hemisphere” thing). They are looking forward to sunbathing on the beach, and we’ve got a feeling they are not going to get that fine Equatorial tan they’ve planned on; our weather has gone from steady hazy to predictably overcast in the last couple of weeks. On the other hand, maybe they are nature lovers – humpback whale season is just kicking into gear, and we can watch them frolic from our balcony.

The N&J Hosteria is a modest place next to the beach, behind Lolita’s, and conveniently around the corner from our house. Luis, the proprietor is very friendly, speaks some English, and keeps a watchful eye on the gate and property.  He charges $8 per person (we are paying $15 a night). Our room is Spartan, but clean and big enough that it includes a small table and chairs next to the window so we can look out at the ocean as we work. However, the shower is unheated and the water is turned off at night (not uncommon; many municipalities turn the water off at night, and not all places have cisterns).
In the spirit of adventure, we did want to try several hostels in town so we would know better what to recommend to our over-flow vacationing clients, so I guess we can say now "been there, done that", and this is okay for those on tight budget. 

I would call the unheated showers cold, since not even by a wide stretch of imagination is it lukewarm.  Which wouldn't be so bad in a couple of months, when summer arrives here. But during this overcast, cooler, winter season (68-72 degrees), it's a little harder under the spray. But then again, we're from Palm Springs and consider 95 degrees in September chilly enough to throw on leather jackets and call it “fall”.
I’m taking real quick showers (okay… I’ve had the nerve to take one so far), and my hair is definitely not getting washed as usual. Todd and I are considering crying “tio” and heading over to my brother Jack’s place for the remainder of our guests’ visit. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned yet that he and some friends also own property in Jardines de Olon; it was on my first visit here to see his/their property that the decision was made to buy our house and adjacent lot (another story). Their house is on the beach and has a killer balcony view of the ocean…and hot showers.
A little over a year ago, when Todd and I decided to move permanently to Ecuador, our initial plan was to use the proceeds from the sale of our Palm Springs house (in person I add maniacal laughter to this story) to build a small casita as our living quarters on the lot next to our “big” house, and continue to rent to vacationers.
We went to “Plan B” after nearly a year in the California real estate market nose dive, and decided to put our 3 bedroom/3 bath Olon home on the market as well. Our goal now is to build a roomier house on the lot with an attached casita so that we don’t need to vacate each time we have guests. We both like to entertain; Todd in particular is a talented cook and we are becoming more receptive to running a B& B type establishment that offers separate and private living quarters for guests. I suppose we’ve both been inspired because we recently re-read “A Trip to the Beach” by Melinda and Robert Blanchard, a New England couple who  risked quite a bit to open up a restaurant on the Caribbean island of Anguilla ( I’ve never been there, but that paradise island was one that my late father enjoyed).  Todd liked the Blanchards’ cooking adventures, and I have appreciated her writing skills and am thinking about doing a blog.

Iguana spotted in the N&J Courtyard

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Light Goes Out

July 20, 2010

Late this morning, Todd and I were startled to hear a New Orleans’ type band parading through the streets. We went to investigate, but they had already disappeared.  However, we ran into a friend who told us that Lolita (of “Lolita’s” cabanita) died Monday night, apparently of a sudden aneurism.  She was 41 years old.
After first walking to the cemetery (where we thought he had directed us) we returned to the Olon church, in time to hear most of the service.  The church was full, and spilled out onto the patio, and more and more people continued to gather outside.  It’s no exaggeration to say the whole town came, most dressed in at least one black garment.
As her casket was led out after the service, I had a chance to clasp her husband Pablo’s hand, who embraced me in a very tearful, emotional hug.  The procession proceeded to the beach in front of their cabanita, where her casket was opened, and close family and friends gathered around to pay their last respects.  All of this was serenaded by the “Banda Musical”  Gutierrez Brothers of Manglarato playing Simon and Garfunkel tunes (pretty much in unison) for the next hour or so.*   Because so many people were there, we weren’t able to get close, nor were we sure it was appropriate at that point.  It was very moving, including wailing over the casket, and family members being wrenched away as the coffin was closed again. 
From there, the pallbearers carried the coffin through town, across the highway, and up and down a few streets on the east side of town with the whole town following (Todd and I did get a chuckle out of the pallbearer who was smoking a cigarette during this phase).  Eventually, the procession ended at a covered pavilion outside of a home east of the Ruta, where the coffin was once again opened, for more to pay their respects.  Her torso was shielded by a sheet of Plexiglas, atop of which was a glass of (holy?) water with (rose?) leaf stems, which people were using to make the sign of the cross
The coffin was then closed up again, and the march started towards the cemetery, with her coffin in the lead.  The whole town followed (and all stores in town were closed today, out of honor to Lolita), blocking the entire highway in both directions.  Even the buses stopped until we passed.  The bicycle juice & ice cream vendors were also in attendance from location to location to serve refreshments at each stop.
on the plastic.  We had the opportunity then to pay our respects, and I wept when I saw her.  Pablo was completely distraught, as was her mother, who was convulsed with grief, as well – of course – were the kids.

At the cemetery, most gathered around her new sepulcher, but many families also drifted to their own family plots, lit candles, and watched from there.  A number of people also lined up on the road above to view.
 It’s been a very sad and moving day, which started around 11 AM, and has only ended now, around 5 PM.  All of Olon is subdued this evening.
We woke up this morning with the power out, and it was out all day…..somehow, that seemed appropriate to us.
May God rest her soul.

* Something I have learned since, the tune that was played is usually associated with Simon and Garfunkle by most North Americans.  "El Condor Pasa" ("The Condor Goes/Flies by") is a song by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomia Robles, written in 1913 and based on traditional Andean folk tunes. According to Wikipedia, it is possibly the best-known Peruvian song worldwide due to a cover version by Simon and Garfunkel in 1970 on their "Bridge over Troubled Water" album.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


July 17, 2010

One adjustment that is necessary to make when living in Ecuador is to realize that EVERYTHING takes longer to do. Everything. Even preparing a simple meal can be a time consuming chore if we need to go to several different tiendas to get ingredients, and don’t forget, we have to haul our own drinking water home too. We use the tap water to wash dishes, brush our teeth, and to shower, but we don’t drink or cook with it. Ice is made the old fashioned way, with plastic ice trays (we take so many modern conveniences for granted in the States, and you won’t realize how much you’ll miss your automatic ice-maker until you don’t have one). The electrical power has a tendency to go out unannounced at the most inconvenient times (sometimes for hours), like the time I had back to back loads of sheets/towel laundry to do and guests arriving later in the day….but we adjust. You have to, to live here.
Ecuador is not everyone's cup of tea. Physical and mental adjustments need constant tweaking, there will be moments of dismay and/or frustration, but the trade off is living in a stunningly beautiful country amidst a diverse and fascinating culture, and experiencing all that has to offer.

We don’t have a car; we really don’t need one here.
We use the chicken buses (25 cents each for local jaunts – up to $1.50 to go further in either direction (i.e. towards Puerto Lopez to the north or Salinas to the south). Or we call for a taxi to pick us up at the house. We also catch “cabs” along the Ruta del Sol (Spondylus); perfectly safe, despite some dubious looking vehicles at times. Either way, it generally costs a dollar or dollar &half (night-time) between Olon and Montanita to use the taxi services and that price includes the gringo skin tax/tip. When we need a to go into Libertad/Salinas for a “city” grocery/supply expedition we hire a driver for the day (around $30-35) and everyone we’ve ever used has been patient and helpful (it does help to speak some Spanish on these ventures).

We went to Libertad a few days ago to shop. Generally we go to the “HiperMarket” (a large Wal-Mart type of store) in the local mall there. It’s akin to walking into a black hole; you go in, and you can never get out. 

A local taxi owned by
our friend Pedro
I mean, I guess this huge store is laid out in a fairly logical manner (if you consider that coffee is found on the same aisle with the infant supplies as rational thinking). And items of the same category may be located in several different areas of the store… various flours and beans can be found in the cereal aisle and more will be discovered in the meat section (where else?). Household goods are truly scattershot (“say, let’s put some of the pots and pans here, and the rest over in those two places”).  None of the packaging is familiar, and I’ll give you a hint here – milk and eggs are not in the dairy section.  They are in on a shelf in dry goods (milk comes in a box; I was leery at first, but it’s good). I’ll never forget the 45 minutes I once spent a few years ago in the spice section (Spanish-English dictionary in hand) trying to discern what was what. And shopping for hardware? Forget about it. At least for me, since I could barely negotiate past visits to Home Depot, and would take the broken whatever with me, and say “I need this thingamajiggy.”  
Well, I still do that here, because I sure as hell can’t find the word “grounding adaptor” in my dictionary.
We were on a mission to replace our cheap, two-year old Ecuadorian phone with a more reliable version, and pick up other needed provisions that are hard to find in our area. I had a dickens of a time unearthing a muffin tin and I thought bathroom rugs were overpriced at $8 (wrapped in cellophane plastic and labeled as a “set” – exactly one rug, nothing else). Most things are cheaper here, but some things are incredibly expensive (hedge clippers/$17, and a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is $2.48 – found with the “imported food” items). And take it to the bank that every light bulb ever purchased in Ecuador will be tested first before exiting the store. In the case of HiperMarket, one is directed to the light-bulb-tester person booth sometime during or right after check out.

It always seems like such a long day when we make the Libertad shopping journey, but Todd was happy. Like most guys, he spent that evening fiddling with all the buttons on his new cell phone and discovered it came with a “fake call activator”. You know – push that button, and you can act like you need to take a call. Great idea, and neither Todd nor I can recall if any of our U.S. phones came equipped with it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bring the Mink

July 11, 2010

We’re back home for about ten days until our next guests arrive, and feel ourselves physically unwinding into Ecuadorian tranquillo frame of mind in the month since we’ve been here. We've only had a few sunny days since then, but we're enjoying the weather (other than wanting to catch some rays to brighten my gringo pallor).  Though overcast, it has been a comfortable 70 degrees most of the time, and on hazy days you can still get sunburned this close to the Equator.
We love living here and don’t sense an impending phase of “culture shock” that many expats experience after moving to a new country. Then again, we have spent quite a bit of time in Ecuador for the last 3 years and knew what to expect. The pace of life is much slower, and I concur with other expats in Ecuador who equate it to living in the States fifty years ago, during a kinder and gentler era. People stop and chat in the streets, children play outside, even after dark, and dogs roam free.

We have a dear older local couple who live nearby – Juan and Lydia. I suppose they are in their late sixties, though it is often hard to tell with Ecuadorians; they all look very young for their age. Juan is a maestro de madera (master woodworker) now retired, and he and Lydia sit all day (and into the night during hot weather) outside their home just watching the comings and goings. They have for years (wish I had a picture of this) and have always been very friendly to Todd and me as we pass their house a number of times each day. There is also a perpetual volleyball game in front of their house (a net is strung over the street and a group of teenage boys play for hours).

New neighbors Byron and Julie moved in a couple of weeks ago. They are from New Jersey, and recently bought the large house on the beach that is fondly referred to around
Going away party for Dan & Kelly,
Thompson and Harris
 here as the “Miami Vice” house (or sometimes as the “Playboy Mansion”).  All of our homes in the Jardines de Olon were originally built and owned by a group of Chinese expats beginning about 20 years ago (ours is 12 years old). The “Miami Vice” house has a somewhat flashy exterior, and the inside is best described as “early American bachelor” (and in fact, the previous two owners were single guys). Byron is brash, funny and talkative; Julie is a sweetheart – generous, heart-of-gold type who likes her wine (my kind of gal). They plan on living here full time, and have ambitious plans for home remodeling and landscaping. Byron mentioned he is eventually bringing in two 40-foot containers from the States, which won’t contain Julie’s four (4) mink coats since she brought them with her. Where she plans on wearing them, I have no idea (and to think my brother Jack and I were giving Todd a hard time about the few neckties he insisted on packing).
Randy and Fonda are other neighbors of ours who are due back from Texas in a few weeks. They bought their house about a year ago, and have been living here since. We are looking forward to meeting them since we’ve had some email correspondence and they seem like a fun, down-to- earth couple.
Bobby’s construction across the street is coming along at a good pace, and he hopes to move in to his house by December. He’s frequently in and out of our house all day as he oversees his project and stays at a nearby hostel at night.
Dan and Kelly and their boys (Thompson and Harris) left early this morning. The boys are delightful kids, and I think lucky to have parents that are exposing them to the culture here.  We had a lot of fun with them while they were here, and we’re going to miss the ping pong tournaments and Yahtzee game nights.  The neighborhood had a going away party for them last night, and a good time was had by all.

Daisy eating her favorite delicacy.
Daisy has adjusted to “having people” quite well. She is such a friendly, smart dog, and clearly grateful to have a home and a steady meal (although far be it from her to pass up a rotting fish on the beach). She is a beach dog, after all (who doesn’t like to get her feet wet) and for that reason, we don’t let her inside because of fleas and ticks, which are nearly impossible to eradicate completely in this environment.
When we first met her, she would drag the food bowl to a private place, protecting it. She clearly feels safe in her new territory…this is HER ‘hood now. She’s queen; we all love her and she knows it, and she has taken to barking occasionally at any strange dog that wanders into Jardines.  Fortunately, she’s not a “barky” dog, and generally reserves her noisiest yapping to chase off the beach cows when they get too close to our homes. Because she likes to “hold hands”, she has a tendency to slap a paw on a knee or foot if the petting has slowed down, and we’ve easily been able to teach her to “shake”. She also knows the command “sit”, though is stubborn about it unless food is involved.
Life is good, and we’re getting more and more settled into living in this beautiful little country.
A beach cow

Friday, November 5, 2010

Alt 64

July 10, 2010

We are wrapping up our stay at Hosteria Isramar; in a few days we move back to our home for a brief week before our next guests arrive.
Probably more than anything lately, Todd and I have enjoyed relaxing and working on the balcony of Hosteria Isramar.
Our rental business and communication with family are dependent on our internet connection. We’re currently using a “Porta” (Ecuadorian phone/internet provider company) thumb drive device that we purchased in Libertad about a month ago. It cost us around $100, and our deal included a month of free unrestricted internet access. It works okay (slow as dial-up, usually) and is reliably “faster” late at night or during off times. That, and we frequently get bounced off the internet – generally guaranteed to happen after writing a long and detailed email letter, which gets lost in space. Todd and I have learned to draft everything in Word first before going on-line, then we cut and paste as quickly as possible before getting kicked off-line repeatedly. As Todd says, even the Olon internet café is starting to look hi-tech.  Our “30 days, unrestricted access” ends in a few days, and we are not sure we are going to renew the plan.
We do use the internet cafés often, and have noticed a marked improvement in equipment, technology, and internet speed over the last couple of years.  Even our little Olon Cyber café has added several more computers.  One of the more annoying things about the internet cafés are the Spanish keyboards; no two are ever alike, and one must not be falsely lured into thinking that what is printed on the keys is actually what will appear on the screen, especially punctuation symbols. For instance, there may be a “?” mark on the key with the “7”, but hit “shift” to use it, and a “&” is typed in. Go figure. I have written some really illiterate looking emails using these keyboards, and have gotten in the habit of running through the number keys on top (holding the “shift” button) just to see what comes up whenever I use an unfamiliar keyboard. There is one uniform rule-of-thumb: to get the “@” sign used in all email addresses, “alt/64” is the keystroke used.  Of course.

We’ve been eating a lot of meals out, and enjoying the food at the nearby beach cabanitas. “Lolita’s” has the best ceviche, Todd likes the shrimp dishes at “Hurderra’s”, and “Tito & Hannah’s” is always a safe bet for good fish. Meals cost around $2.50 to $3.50 – throw in a large Pilsener and a small tip for $5.00.

Though we are less than five minutes from our house, we haven’t explored this side of town much until now, and we’ve discovered several little tiendas with interesting goods and produce. One older vendor, Artemo, couldn’t have been nicer after we introduced ourselves and mentioned we lived here now. He proceeded to welcome us with a wonderful little chat, about only half of which we understood.  Aside from the produce and assorted merchandise he sells, he emphasized that he “sells water 24 hours a day”.  I guess this means that we can knock on his door should we be perishing of thirst in the middle of the night. Such a dear, sweet man.
All of our neighbors, and current guests, Brian and Lara have been wonderful about looking after Daisy during our absence (and we are there several times a day to check on her). Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to getting back home and in our own bed for awhile, however briefly. 
Our next guests area mother and her teenage daughter traveling for a month in Ecuador, and ending their trip here at the beach during the last couple of weeks in July.  We’re hoping they will get some sunshine, since the weather has been mostly overcast since we arrived a month ago.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Try This at Home

July 7, 2010

Is this even safe??!

I am sitting here on the balcony of the Hosteria Isramar, watching this guy from the electric company fix a transformer. I don’t know much about these things, but I’m pretty concerned about the way he has the metal ladder leaning against the wire. 

The power went out about an hour ago (not unusual, but today it is only this block and not area wide).  The power seems to go out several times a week around here, usually for only a couple of hours, though there was one day when it was out for 8 hours or so.

We’ve been staying at Hosteria Isramar for almost a week while guests are in our house and we are very comfortable here. Doris (the proprietress) keeps this place spic and span; the room we are in is on the cozy side of small and includes breakfast for $25 a night (rates vary according to demand and season). It also comes with a bano privado (private bathroom) and “hot” water shower.
Hosteria Isramar - Olon
Most local hostels that advertise hot water showers are using an electrical attachment device
(attached to the WET shower head) to heat the water. Most of these heat the water to lukewarm at best, and whatever you do, don’t try and adjust/touch that thing while bathing.
We’ve had a nice time here, especially the time we’ve spent on Hosteria Isramar’s balcony, relaxing, playing cards and backgammon, and looking for whales
(it’s whale season now).

The newlywed guests in our house, Brian and Lara, are here for ten days. They are a fun, wholesome young couple.  He's in med school, and she's got a degree in health education.  They want to live abroad once he gets out of school, and work in local communities. They are the perfect pair to do that.  He's - by the way - from Kansas (Parkville), so we had a good time swapping stories about our favorite KC places to eat (Kansas City is my hometown).  They live in St. Louis now, but are moving to Columbus after the trip (he's doing his med work at Mizzou).

Tonight we are all fixing dinner at our house; Kelly and boys will be joining us. This morning Brian and Lara were attempting to make cheesecake with the limited ingredients available here. Philly Cheese is easy to find, but locating sour cream nearby is another matter. Their attempt to make sour cream from scratch did not meet with success, so they were on to plan B using a different cheesecake recipe.

It's fun getting to know our guests in person, and Todd and I are grateful for the opportunity.