Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Am Desk

August 26, 2011

Okay, so there have been a number of times that local folks ask me “what I do?” or “what is my work?”…While my real job is to help Todd with his job (as a secretary, maid, hand-shaker, networker, sexual minx for Todd, or whatever else)…I also have my own projects too.
I always like to say that I’m a writer.  Not that that my “hobby” thus far has made us any money, but I feel pretty confident these days with 55 posts under my belt so far on this blog to say: “I am a writer” in Spanish.

Turns out I’ve been saying all this time “I am a desk” (escritorio).
To Todd’s credit, he pointed out to me that at least I’ve been saying I’m a female desk (“escritoria” –we’re not even sure now that is a word in Espanol).
The word for a “writer/female” is “escritora”…Just one itty bitty letter difference, but BIG distinction in Espanol.
One of my Ecuadorian local friends kindly pointed out this “minor” error to me recently.
Sort of like all the times I would call myself “estupido” (stupid) about something, which in fact, at times in parts of South America can also sometimes mean “asshole”…
Great – just great – I’ve been walking around calling myself a desk AND also occasionally an asshole too.
My Espanol still officially sucks.

For the last year or so, Todd and I have been discussing getting tattoos (which would be a first for both of us) to commemorate our marriage a little over a year ago (in the Estados Unidos, after almost seven years together at that time), and since neither of us care to wear rings or officially change our last names (which hyphenated would be something like Frost-Hebert – yes, dignified in writing, but say that out loud….equals “Frostybear”*). Anyway, we haven’t quite decided when or where to do this, but probably not at this Montanita location. I’m pretty sure all those beers lessoned the pain of this guy’s procedure.

I’ve mentioned before my respect for Ecuadorians’ resourcefulness and ingenuity. As just another example, I’ve included pictures (and video below) of our friend Jorge and his sons, Teo and Carlos, working on a construction project adjacent to their street-side tienda. Todd and I watched with admiration a few weeks ago as they were moving cement beams (that had to weigh at least 500 pounds each) from one location to another. It gave us a whole new appreciation and insight as to how the ancient pyramids of Egypt were built (or the statues - "moai" - scattered and moved around Easter Island miles from the rock quarry) probably were accomplished.

Improvised benches
on the soccer field.
Additionally, I couldn’t resist adding a couple of other pictures of Ecuadorian inventiveness. There really is an attitude of “waste not, want not” here; one that we’ve more and more embraced since living in Ecuador, and a subject I’ll probably expound on more in a later post.

These next pictures are of a cardboard ceiling held in place with nails pounded through beer  bottle caps (I guess as "washers" of some sort). I´m not sure the first picture shows this clearly, so I also am including a close-up.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dear Uncle Doug

August 16, 2011

("Uncle" Doug is a friend, and has an interest in the beach-front home also owned by “Big Deck” Doug & Pam, my brother Jack, and another partner.) We all love it when he decides to visit on one of his infrequent trips here, and we all adore him.  He’s a private guy with a great big heart and brings down fun gifts for the local kids. He also loves his gadgets and boy toys and has hauled a number of his treasures down here over the years. Uncle Doug was last here in early March, and Todd and I really enjoyed his too short of a visit).

Dear Uncle Doug,
I want you to know, a while back I went where no sane person has gone before – I cleaned and organized your closet…I hope you don’t mind, but I needed to find places for the latest batch of gizmos you brought on your last trip (some of which are pictured below).

My, my….I’ve never seen quite a such a collection of stuff!  The disco ball was a great idea (not sure Pam is going to go for this if you hang it in the dining room), and every house here needs a special event outdoor-spinning-searchlight, and - really - you never know when those twenty or so phosphorous necklaces will come in handy…..Okay, okay…so, maybe I made some of this stuff up.
On the other hand, the walkie-talkies, the high beam flash-light, and assorted outdoor extension cords (taking shot in the dark here, but I suppose at least 300 feet) have potential. As a matter of fact, several times since we’ve been down here, we’ve borrowed the flashlight during power outages, or to chase a rambling beach cow out of Jardines de Olon at night.

I scrounged up several boxes and have your goodies sorted into those – labeled “electronics”, “gizmos & thingamajiggys” and “WTF?” is it. I think you’ll be pleased next time you get here and I did my best, though I admit I suffered a long moment of indecision into which box to put the light-up yo-yo’s
However, the quad and the big red inflatable ball you bought during your stay presented even greater challenges. The quad didn’t really match the décor of the dining room, and the ball was taking up quite a bit of space in the living room (though Todd & I were eyeing it as a potential emergency water vehicle during the Japanese tsunami alert shortly after you left). And for sure, the local neighborhood kids had some fun rolling around in your backyard in it. We eventually loaned it to Mike Sager, who borrowed it for his son Alex to play with while they were at their nearby beach home.

Taken the day of the tsunami alert.
We were all certainly thinking  that
it might make a good
"Tsunami Life-vest"

When Jack and the other Doug were here in late June, Todd and I went to retrieve it, using Big Deck’s truck. We took Daisy with us. After the night of the tsunami (when it took both Todd and I to forcefully “fireman”  lift Daisy into the truck, we have been working with her some to ride in the back of the pick-up – usually up to the hills, and several times to Curia. I mean, all dogs like riding in cars, right? Despite her original hesitancy (and one of us sat in back with her at first), she has come to enjoy “going for a ride” and we have been able to let her ride short/safe distances by herself in back…..That is, until we went to get the big red ball. Todd and I had already decided I would ride in back to hang on to the inflatable ball on the return trip so it wouldn’t blow out, but there was hardly room in the pick-up bed for Daisy after we got the ball loaded, let alone me…but it was do-able. Unfortunately, before I hopped in with Daisy and the ball, we accidently snagged one of Daisy’s paws in the back gate as we were closing it. Of course, as soon as she started whelping, we quickly unlatched, but she was traumatized. It took us another half hour to get her back in the pick-up bed, and I had to hold onto her and the ball back to Olon. Not sure she will ever willingly agree to get in the truck bed again, though we have been trying and trying to convince her this only happens when “BIG RED INFLATABLE BALLS” are involved.

Daisy on patrol at your
Photo courtesy of
The quad was another story. I’ll confess here that Todd and I couldn’t resist taking it out for a couple of spins (mind you, with the most altruistic purposes of getting rocks down by the Point for your property). Daisy loved running alongside. Let me tell you, she has natural “herding” and “birding” instincts, but until then, Todd and I had no idea how FAST she can run. It’s amazing. She can almost keep pace with the quad going full throttle. I’ve never seen a faster dog – she’s really an incredible runner and loves to run.
Anyway, Todd and I wanted to store your quad in locked/indoor location, and decided that our friends Barb and Robert who recently bought their Curia home earlier this year (and making astounding progress to be moved here full time by the end of the year) wouldn’t mind if we locked it in the bodega on their property for awhile. The morning Todd rode it up to their place to lock it up, Daisy naturally galloped alongside, despite Todd going as fast as he could to lose/discourage her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to find Todd after he had gone around “front” (the non-beach side) and he hopped on a bus back to Olon.
About an hour later, Todd and I were enjoying “beer-thirty” at Jorge’s on the Beach when we noticed Daisy straggling back south from Curia (about a half hour brisk beach walk away), utterly dejected and worn-out. She was so tired she didn’t even notice us sitting nearby until we called to her.  Poor thing, but was she ever happy to find us again and bounded around us like a dog on a pogo stick.

We just love her to pieces; she loves hanging at your place especially because from there, she can keep a REALLY good eye on the beach and potential cow or donkey intrusions that threaten to harm any of us.
Uncle Doug, we miss you, and hope that all is well.
Leigh & Todd

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Let the Good Times Roll

August 10, 2011

I have died and gone to gringo food heaven again. We spent a good part of last weekend in Salinas to attend a really fun “surprise” 60th birthday party for a friend of ours.  We booked a room at “Hostal Aqui/Score’s Sports Bar” on the Salinas Malecon for the Friday night of party, and checked in around 2PM.  We spent the next couple of hours pigging out on some of the best meatball sandwiches I’ve ever had, along with some killer hot chicken wings, French fries, and chatting with the owners (William & Wendy) along with some other local Salinas regulars and had the greatest time!

Will and Wendy have (hands down!) the BEST gringo food (and some awesome versions of native ingredients & food) along the peninsula, and they are great, down-to-earth folks to chat/hang with. I almost didn’t want to leave the bar food and company to get ready for the party we were scheduled to attend. We stayed in a “standard” room, which wasn’t exactly “fancy”, but comfortable, close to the bar/restaurant and included a warm shower and plenty of closet/drawer space. It also included a “full-length” mirror to view the whole party get-up dress or outfit, (you might be surprised how scarce this little amenity is around here – I installed one on our bedroom wall when we moved in)...Not to sound vain in anyway, but it’s always nice when us gals can check out the whole outfit before heading to a party.
The expat folks we met during our stay at Will and Wendy’s were an interesting and varied bunch, and many are involved in making a difference in the community. Wendy and William have helped spearhead efforts to raise funds for local kids in need of surgery and in particular, one lucky little girl who was born with a malformed GI tract and had to have a colostomy is now in the process of having several successful surgeries to reconstruct and reverse the colostomy, so that she might lead a more normal life.

We met a contingent of Salinas locals at another nearby hotel to take a private bus to the Guayaquil Malecon for party that was to start with a boat ride along the river.  It was fun to meet or see again folks that we’ve “chatted” with so much. I like what my friend Susan from Ocean Hideway once said: “Ecuador is the smallest town you will ever live in”. That is so true….here, we all know or know of each other (expats or expat wannabees). Usually that’s a good thing; sometimes it can be an annoying, but no different than any other small towns where I’ve lived in the past.

The boat was large (several floors) and the ride was remarkable and interesting! As we boarded, several baskets were at the entrance which were filled with masks, fun costume glasses and headbands, feather boas, (which we all donned) and noisemakers, etc. We were all pretty much aboard when Mike Sager (the birthday boy) got on. We’ve known Mike and his wife Andrea for four years now, when he sold our Olon house to us. Mike was featured on the first Salinas, Ecuador Househunters International show. You can view his available properties at Ecuador Home Sales or Ecuador Properties.

Mike and Andrea spend most of their time in Playas now, but still own a home near to us on the beach and we see them often. We met many more fun people, enjoyed the river tour (which included an open bar and a most excellent dinner meal). Great live music played throughout the whole party, and by the time we disembarked, we all had become old and new great friends.

Our tour guide,
We then next boarded a waiting bus around 11PM for a road tour of Guayaquil. The top level was an open air space, where we had an infectiously fun tour guide (Gordo) pointing out the various GYE sights, and acting as MC. More music was playing and we danced and laughed, all while being served copious amounts of beer during our site-seeing. I think these party buses are fairly popular in Guayaquil, and we waved to friendly pedestrians who waved back. We stopped at several places to replenish refreshments and the birthday cake was served. At one point we stopped at someone’s house (I have no idea whose, but I suppose someone associated with the bus company), where around fifteen of us women hopped off and this family graciously let us use their john.

There is suppose to be a video below - I hope it comes through. I'm not sure I was able to upload it completely:

Mike’s wife, Andrea made all the arrangements for the party, and once our party bus ride was over, another bus was waiting to take a bunch of us back to Salinas. I suppose we got back to the hotel around 4AM in the morning, and we collapsed into bed.
We spent a relaxing morning and early afternoon at Scores/Hostal Aqui enjoying their famous and delicious hamburgers and fries, then grabbed a $2 cab ride to Super Maxi to get a few groceries and then on to the mini Terminal Terrestre to catch a chicken bus back to Olon ($1.50 per person).
Todd and I had a great time; it’s an easy trip to make and we plan on spending a lot more time in Salinas at Hostal Aqui with the great folks there.
Only one small incident: as Todd and I were getting off the bus in Olon, loaded with luggage and groceries, Todd tripped on the bottom step (there is a little bit of down slope at that stop) and I had to laugh as I watched him tumble down the hill, with a several cans of beans rolling down behind him. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt and he got a good chuckle out of it too (as did most people watching from the bus).