Sunday, January 25, 2015

Poco A Poco

January 24, 2015

The holidays have come and gone. For the last eight years, I have rung in Christmas and New Year (with the exception of 2009) on the Olón beach, and I have NEVER seen so many people in our town for the holidays. Our little pueblo was packed with people – as was Montanita, of course. Perhaps it was because both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fell on Wednesday this year (and many people had the following Thursdays and Fridays off work).

The normal 5 minute drive between Olón and Montanita was taking some folks as long as an hour to make with all the additional traffic. I honestly don’t know where all these visitors stay, even with all the new hotels that have spawned in the area since my first New Year here.

Still, it is a festive time with music, fireworks, parties, parades, and the kids dressed up as widows/orphans looking for candy or small change hand-outs (a custom somewhat similar to our Halloween).
I’m not really looking forward to 2015 Carnavale (February 14-17) which typically brings in even larger crowds, and plan on stocking up on groceries and other necessities beforehand, and hiding during those festivities.

Where Daisy spent most of her time
during the holidays when she was with me.
I think she was pretty mad and 
when I was taking
these pics.
"Mom, stop it!"

It’s safe to say that Daisy will be hiding too. It is definitely not her favorite time of year; she is terrified of the fireworks, and cowers in the shower when those start popping off.
She seems to have made the adjustment that mommy and daddy live in two different homes...this is sorta hard to explain to a dog…but it’s been a year since Todd and I separated, and I think she has adapted to the situation by now. 

She moves easily between his house and mine (depending on her whim) and also cruises over to hang at her other favorite haunts (Doug and Pam’s, Ojás, the Olón beach) in the meantime.

For those of you who know Daisy, she is the same great dog we’ve all come to love.

About a week before Christmas, Dee Heinz kindly offered her spacious kitchen for a combination bake-off and cookie-exchange. Some folks brought platters of baked cookies, and at least 40 trays of cookies (this is low-balling) were mixed, baked, and iced during the day.  Most of the cookies were packed up and destined for the annual Olón Orphanage Feliz Navidad celebration on Christmas Eve day.

Packing up cookies for
Olon Orphanage.

And the Olón Orphanage Navidad event was heart-warming as usual.
So many people devote time, money, and love to these kids, I can’t name them all here.
But a special nod to Deb Anderson and Susan McCumber for handling much of the hard work and nitty-gritty details.

Kids with their new backpacks,
stuffed with goodies, and each recieved
a lovely, hand-stitched quilt from
some angels in Minnesota.
Photo Courtesy of 

Elizabeth La Fortune.

During the first week in January, I rode into Santa Elena (the “capital” of our province) with Dan and Annette to pay the annual taxes on my lot in Jardines de Olón; they needed to pay their property taxes as well. Apparently everyone else had the same idea on the same day, because the line(s) extended around the block, and we ran into virtually everyone we know (locals and expats) who were there on the same mission. It took a while, but fun chatting with everyone, and taxes paid for another year.

Since about mid-January till mid-February there is currently a moratorium/ban on fishing/storing/serving/buying/eating crabs.
There is also the same ban on lobster until mid-June, to allow time for this natural resource to regenerate, and so proud of the Olón beach cabana restaurants (all of them) displaying signs reminding customers of the importance of responsible sustainability regarding our ocean’s pantry.

For the last three years, I have lived in an adorable Ecuadorian rental home, in an Olón neighborhood I love. My neighbors are great, we’ve developed endearing camaraderie, we keep our front doors open during the day to catch the breeze, and mostly only español is spoken.
So, honestly, I thought after nearly 5 years, my Spanish would be more fluent. One of my español TV channels (Ecuador’s version of the “E” show) often airs a 10-minute clip of Ben Affleck and his costar promoting their new movie “Gone Girl” – conducted entirely in Spanish.
You can imagine my humility and surprise when I realized that:
“Geez(!)…Ben (from Boston!) speaks and comprehends the language better than I do???".
Who woulda thunk? Probably time I got more serious about study time.

It’s a little hard to concentrate at the moment. My landlords (who are lovely and gracious people) are finishing off the house with an addition of a carport, so there’s been much activity/hammering/sawing/dirt piles outside my front door for the last couple of weeks.

I don’t mind. They’re all friends that are working on this project, we have a lot of laughs together, and they are in and out of my apartment – to get a drink of water, turn off the fuse-box in my living room, and one day they needed to drill a new hole through cinder-block wall to move my internet cable (that made me a little nervous, but those guys did a great job).

Every - I mean EVERY - animal in
this neighborhood (chickens/dogs/cats)
LOVES this dirt pile.
I think they take turns claiming
"King of the Mountain"

This is also the time of year when we have stunning sunsets off our beach.  I think most everyone here heads to the beaches and balconies to watch the evening show.

I am headed to the States shortly. I’m so very excited to see my kids there (Elizabeth and my oldest granddaughter, Avery) and other family and friends.

And one of the other things I miss most about North America is the Mexicans…Especially their food, and plan on chowing down on some of that cuisine!