Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The "Dirt"

February 26, 2014

An example of one of
the campaigning trucks

Local and provincial elections were held this weekend (Sunday was voting day).
Actually, Ecuador offers some very sensible election time rules.  Candidates are only allowed to campaign for two months (a BLESSED relief from the non-stop politics in the USA) and there have been parades and honking-horn caravans going through our little local beach towns, representing the various parties and contenders for the last couple of months.
Starting on the Friday before elections, an “electoral silence” period begins.  All disseminating of political advertising, opinions, news articles is prohibited (these restrictions are in place 48 hours before the elections and extends until around 5PM, at least, on Sunday).
There is also a ban on booze for three days.  Needless to say, I think most people stocked up for the duration, and it’s been a very quiet weekend around here.

The traveling clothes/blankets/towel vendors are set up again in our park now for a few weeks. They come through once or twice a year, and I always look forward to their visits - much of my wardrobe is stocked with cute and comfortable sun dresses and cover-ups purchased for $6-8.


Last week was a busy one.  We flew into Quito for a quick trip last Sunday, and then flew on to Cuenca on Tuesday afternoon (just in time to throw luggage in the room, make it to several afternoon appointments that lasted until 7:30PM – and out on an early shuttle from Cuenca on Wednesday morning).

Iglesia de
Santa Teresita in

Overhead (partial) view of lot
facing west
On Thursday morning, dirt trucks and machinery were scheduled to begin filling in the lot (it is a 500 square meter lot, which faces north). The lot needed to be raised by a meter (takes a bunch of dirt to fill an approximately 16 meter wide/29 meter long lot, and it needs to be the "right" dirt - "casajo").
I’m thrilled with the results!
It took only a day or so, and the project came in under budget.  Now I just need decent design/architectural plans that are more exciting than I’ve been presented with so far.  Calling all designers!!!!

Here is another view of the property.
Taken several years ago from

 our across-the-street neighbor's balcony
 (facing south).Our old house on the left - the lot is on the right.

A compressor was used to pack it down.
Nevertheless, bring on the rains for awhile!

Whew! I was exhausted (especially from the traveling).  I tucked into the tabloids (delivered to my Kindle every Friday), ocean sunsets, and “Top Chef” episodes for the remainder of the weekend.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Come to the Edge

February 12, 2014

This poster hangs on the wall in our office, directly across from my computer, so that I frequently look at it every day.  It’s chock full of pithy and worthy sayings, but the one that always catches my eye is the quote that says “DO ONE THING A DAY THAT SCARES YOU”.
And I’ve really tried to take that phrase to heart in the last few months.  I think it’s a truism that applies to all of us – but in particular – I think it is especially apropos for those living as expats.
Moving to a strange land is not without its challenges. Living in a new country – any new country – which is not your homeland can be, at times, very isolating. Generally, the language is new to most, the customs and culture of your new “país” can take years to learn. Often, the simplest tasks, such as grocery shopping, paying the bills, catching a bus, etc., can be intimidating for quite some time after the re-location.  For those considering the move to Ecuador, it is a wonderful country(!), but be sure and pack “tenacity”, “resilience” and “perseverance” when you make the leap.
And weight your luggage with a broad sense of humor too.
On the other hand, it can be very rewarding when certain “obstacles” are overcome.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with my expat friend Michele.  Michele started, (and does a wonderful job moderating) a monthly book club that has been meeting for about six months now. All of us that participate in those get-togethers have enjoyed them very much.
Michele made a comment along the lines of “boy, it sure can be daunting to feel like such an idiot at times” doing very simple and ordinary tasks. We were laughing because we consider ourselves generally intelligent and articulate in English, and feel reduced – on a regular basis – of having the vocabulary and succinctness of jello-shots while going about our daily activities here.

For me, by far and away the most difficult aspect as an expat is being so far away from my kids, family and friends, and I sometimes still second-guess the decision to move so far away from them. Then again, we’re already scattered all over the world, and somewhat accustomed to the distance.
So it’s been fun to hook up with an old high school friend of mine recently (Susan Illig). I don’t think either of us recall being really close friends during our school years, but we have struck up a wonderful friendship during the last few months.
She said this to me recently:
“Life is full of surprises and communicating with you has been one of the better ones. Sometimes we get what we need in unexpected ways. I'm grateful too - and enjoying it as well. We both have "unconventional" lives. I think we're risk takers. I wouldn't be different (not sure I could be), but the cost is occasionally high. The rewards are too. It's hard to find people who get that. That can sound a bit snotty - but it truly isn't what I mean. I'm not making a judgment about what other people choose for their lives - only an observation that living more at the edge brings different challenges."

Apt words for me at an apt moment.

Construction has begun on the lot. Retaining walls are in place in preparation for a fill, and now shopping for dirt guys.  We are grateful for our friend Scott Creasy, who is helping with this project.  He has building experience, speaks great español, especially regarding construction conversations and nuanced negotiations.
(And yes - that is one of our wild beach horses grazing on the lot in the top right background of this pic).

Frankly, I don’t think a day will go by that I don’t remind myself to “DO ONE THING A DAY THAT SCARES YOU” during this project.

“A teacher says to his student, “Come to the edge.”
The student says, “No, I will fall.”
The teacher says, “Come to the edge.”
The student nears the edge and the teacher pushes him…
…And he flew…”