Sunday, November 24, 2013

Orbit of Love

November 23, 2013

The world is a little less bright - and heaven just got a little livelier -  for the passing of Ecuador expat Denise Morris earlier this week of a sudden heart attack at the age of 51 years.
Denise was a fun, intelligent and loving woman.
I only had just met Denise a couple of months ago, but we bonded instantly.  I get the feeling she had that knack with anyone blessed enough to come into her orbit of love. 
I'm reading her FB page, and I'm impressed, touched, and honored to have been blessed to know her
And - clearly - she made friends where ever she went.
So many tributes to Denise.
This was one of my favorites.
 Contributed by her friend,
Elektra Fike-Data
California, USA

Photographer Unknown
Nor the date or location
But I thought

this picture really captured
Denise's spirit.

They say it is noble to grieve behind closed doors. Today, I refute this philosophy. Human kind lost an AMAZING individual last evening; a woman who, of her own accord, lived her dream fearlessly with intent, passion, and curiosity. Denise Morris showed my mother and me how to stand tall, how to love unconditionally, how to live without fear. She sat with me at dinner and told me that nothing should stand between me and my happiness; but more importantly, she lived by example. It is because of her unwavering quest for knowledge and for exploring the world that I made it my dream as well to venture as she did. Denise, you ARE the reason I choose not to stand on the sidelines of life. You ARE the reason I fight for the strength to conquer my goals. Your last words to me were “remain the positive spirit that you are” and I publicly declare that by keeping you in my heart, I will do all that I can to keep this promise.

It pains me deeply that this paragraph of words does little justice to the saint and human being that you were.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Peeled Garlic

November 15, 2013

A mural in Olón, with hammock
hanging in front of it.

The month of November is the tail end of our “winter”, south of the Equator.
This is our fourth June-November season living here permanently.
Here in Olón, (pronounced “oh-LONE”), we live in a rather narrow coastal eco-climate that is typically overcast from June to November.  (Go 40 kilometers either north or south of Olón, and the weather is more arid and sunny).
It is also considered our “dry” season.

Don’t ask me why, because suffice to say it is better described as the “drizzly” and the “muddy” season, from our observation.
This time of year, the temperature ranges from 65-75 degrees, and it is generally hazy to overcast.

Some years have been colder, cloudier, wetter , and longer, than others - and by November, I feel safe to say that everyone living here is ready to see the steady sun again… *

Locals taking the weather in stride

Many folks enjoy this season – it’s always ocean swimming weather along our beach - and in another month or so, the weather will be sunny and scorching for the next six months.
And there are trade-offs – from around June through September it is whale watching season, and the mating time for many species, so it’s also a very colorful temporada, especially for bird watchers.
Currently, sections of the Olón beach are protected for the tortugas laying eggs in the sand.
I just took these pictures last week:

Friend and neighbor, Maria del Carmen
(of the "Sea Garden" hotel)
explaining to local kids the importance of keeping the eggs
safe until they can hatch

According to Maria del Carmen,
these baby turtles will be emerging from the sand
about two months from now

The fresh seafood and vegetables are always plentiful, nothing is usually taken for granted or wasted, and the natural beauty is breathtaking.

All of these veggies were purchased for $2.50.  Cabbages are as big as basketballs here, check out the size of those radishes, and one of my favorite things about Ecuador is that the garlic (shown in the plastic bag) can be purchased pre-peeled.



Most of all – we enjoy the kind and affable local coastal people, and the tranquil pace of life.
I would say Olón is a “quiet” village, unless you count the roosters crowing at 3:30AM, the dogs that tune up shortly later, and the somewhat frequent town parties that happen at the drop of a “Panama” hat, which can last until dawn, with amp speakers going full blast.


Todd and Daisy chatting with our friend
and landlord, Klevar.
On the back of his bike is fresh milk that he sells and
we buy.

Setting up for one of the town parties.
The weather certainly hasn’t put a damper on the locals’ parties.  They love to have fun; they love to joke; they love to dance and sing.  Birthday parties for kids are a big deal (see pictures of one we recently attended), and loud, exuberate quinceañeras and other town fiestas start around 9PM and last until 6AM, or until the speakers blow out, which ever happens first.  

I honestly don’t know where the locals find the stamina.
Rather than try and sleep through one of these all night parties, (if they are close by), sometimes it’s just easier and more fun to join them.



Halloween isn't an officially recognized
holiday in Ecuador, but it has caught on to a degree with
these kids in Montanita

When we moved here a few years ago, there was not much of a permanent gringo expat community in the small pueblos along our area of the southern Ruta del Sol (Spondylus).
There was a burgeoning community of expats (mostly from USA and Canada) beginning to migrate to Salinas, and some part-time expats spending more time around our area north of there.

Taken at one of the gringo gatherings
a couple of months ago
However, in the last two years or so, the number gringo expats who have moved/are moving to the small Ecuadorian coastal villages has multiplied considerably.
These days there is a plethora of gringo potlucks, book clubs, game nights, and other get-togethers for those who are interested.
Also, in the last few years, there has been a dedicated and generous group of expats called “Expats Helping Kids in Ecuador” (based primarily out of Salinas, overseen by Tod and Mary Freeman) who work closely with the medical center in Palmar, and the Olón orphanage. Through the generosity of many expats, and others, they have been able to offer lifesaving surgeries, other medical procedures and medicines, and clothing, etc. for kids whose families could never afford them on their own, as well as supporting the Olón orphanage.

Please see their NEW website “Helping Kids in Ecuador” for more information, and how to donate funds.
The Salinas area contacts are Will & Peggy Sanders. 

Taken at the 2011 Olón Orphanage Party 

The orphanage Christmas party is truly a special event.  The kids sing and perform a dance recital and are so grateful for their simple gifts.
Anyone who has ever attended one of these can attest to “not a dry in the house” afterwards.

 (See the post “Yonder Valley the Myrtle Breathes")

This year the Olón area expats are in charge of organizing the annual orphanage Christmas party (spearheaded by Susan McCumber and Deb Anderson).
We recently attended an Olón area fundraiser for the Christmas party at the McCumber’s home in San Jose.
There were great raffle and silent auction prizes, delicious food, in a delightful setting with generous attendees.

Deb and Susan
(I'm not sure who took this snapshot)

It was a fun and successful evening that raised enough money to provide the children with clothing and shoes, hygiene items and toys for each (also gifts for the much deserving staff members) and everyone is looking forward to the Olón Orphanage Christmas party this year.

Fatima and Marynella
Two of the angels who care for the kids
(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth LaFortune)

* See the post “Spite and Malice” (written during our first "winter" here)