Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bienvenidos a Olón

November 6, 2015

It’s our “low” season now.  
That said, it has been really busy around here for the last couple of months, and I have had little time to write a post.  It’s been anything but “slow”.
Many of our friends and family back home frequently ask us expats “what do you do all day there?”

…We laugh, because often this is difficult for us to pinpoint too, but  keep in mind, just day-to-day chores and errands take longer to accomplish – paying local bills, grocery shopping (we don’t have “one-stop/get most everything” stores),  and finding parts for car or home repairs can be real time-consuming challenges.
And this year, it seems there have been a plethora of local and expat activities going on.

Shell and the "mamita'" angels
from the Orphanage
One of the highlights of our “slow” season is the annual dinner fundraiser for the Santa Maria de La Esperanza Orphanage (located on the cliff point between Olón and Montanita).  The funds from this (and other donations) go towards giving these sweet children a special Christmas, and to help provide for their needs throughout the year.
This is a cause near and dear to many hearts, and has grown from a grass roots effort (about 7 years ago) to a well-run, organized endeavor, in no small part due to some dedicated volunteers and generous community support.

This year’s fundraising dinner was a booming success, and I’m going to quote segments from a “thank you” letter that Shell Spivey sent out afterwards, since I think he said it best:

“The Friends of Santa Maria de La Esperanza Orphanage would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of those that made Saturday night’s fundraiser such a resounding success.
The event was hosted by La Barbuja Del Tiempo (Bubble in Time Restaurant) on the beach, at the Point, in Montanita.  Maria Teressa Conde and Titina Barreiro graciously lent us their fantastic restaurant for the evening and it proved to be the perfect venue. What wonderful ladies and we are forever indebted. Drop by sometime and enjoy their grilled seafood.
The festivities began around 5:30 and by 7:00 there were over 100 people present, many familiar, and many new faces were in the crowd. Tickets were $20 and included food, a beverage and entertainment.
The silent auction featured over one-hundred donated items and created lively bidding throughout the night. Many great bargains were snatched up by evening’s end.
Entertainment was provided by the Cana Band playing classic rock hits.
Our committee members did a fabulous job and spent many, many, hours in preparation for the party.  They are:
Tim & Jeannie McGann
Erwin and Danielle Musper
Darlene Howell
Deb Anderson
Nique Manty
Shell & Marsha Spivey

We appreciate everyone’s efforts and it has paid off big time for the orphanage.
The event’s total, over $5,000!!!
The excess food was delivered to the orphanage and the proceeds will be used to buy a washer and dryer, towels, sheets and Christmas gifts for the children. The remainder will be reserved in a fund for emergency expenses.”

Circus - February 2015
I would be remiss not to especially mention Erwin & Danielle Musper’s dedicated commitment to these beautiful children.
Earlier this year, when the traveling circus was in Olón, they organized and majorly funded a special performance for the Orphanage kids, which included all the carny foods they could eat (a rare treat for these children).

They have also created a “YouCaring” website for those who wish to donate and don’t live here locally.
To quote just a little bit from that site as well:

Photo courtesy of Erwin Musper
"You can make a difference in the lives of these lonely and abused children. Help us put a smile on a child's face this holiday season.
A young child burned repeatedly by her own mother.
A brother and sister abandoned, tied to a tree.
An infant left on a hospital's doorstep.
Unimaginable images.
These and other sweet and innocent children, have not only survived, but their smiles and trust in people are returning, all because of the incredible loving "mamitas" at the Santa Maria De La Esparanza Orphanage.  With unequaled dedication these "mothers", some who have worked tirelessly for decades, took them into their care.  The number of children at the orphanage is currently 50, but fluctuates constantly because none are turned away.
$4 PER DAY-----
Imagine raising a child---- food, clothing, school supplies, housing and basic daily needs on $4 per day. That is the entire budget provided by the government and these children desperately need your help.
EACH AND EVERY DOLLAR that you donate will directly benefit these disadvantaged children. Not one cent will be used for administration or any other purpose. Can we make this happen?  Yes, with your help we can!  Any amount that you can contribute is needed, welcomed and appreciated."

(This site will only be operational until the maximum allowed time runs out, which is around December 20th. In the meantime, Erwin and Danielle are exploring options for building a new and continuous site option to donate year round).

About a month ago, some of us took a 2-day Cruz Roja (Red Cross) training program, and the Olón Comuna kindly offered their facilities/building to conduct the class.
It was a lot of information to absorb in that amount of time – interesting to say the least, especially since our lessons were all en español. Fortunately, there were a couple of good translators in our class to explain the more complicated material.

On the second day, we took a simple written test, and then – as warned – prepared for an “earthquake” scenario simulation evaluation in the park.
I can’t say enough for the Olón community!  Aside from providing our classroom, permission was granted to use anything in the park for use in the first aid simulation exercise, and a number of locals volunteered to be our “victims”.
A siren sounded, and we students rushed from the building to find 20 or so “victims” sprawled around the park, under bushes & cement benches, on the stage (and one splayed out on the slide).  The goal was to treat on the spot, and then move/transport each of the wounded to the “safe” place zone (no easy task, let me tell you).

Daisy sat outside during the classes.
Once the simulation started
She was underfoot constantly…
“This is a fun game!”

It was an eye-opening experience for many of us.
It was a sobering and comical moment at the same time. I can only imagine the amusement of the locals and other bystanders at this point.
At a certain juncture, I didn’t know whether to laugh (clearly, additional study of Spanish medical terminology needed)…or be very concerned about the victim(s) that might be depending on my "expertise" at that point.
Still, it was a useful course; I’m sure we all learned something from the class, and very proud of everyone that participated! 

And below are just some miscellaneous photos of the various and assorted Olón activities happening during our “slow” season.

Monthly Book Club

Local childrens' birthday parties.
These are a BIG deal here, and fun
if you have the opportunity
to attend one!

Regular card and game days

Funerals.  It seems there have been a number of these lately.
When someone dies, somber music is played over the town’s speakers (most typically “El Cóndor Pasa”  written by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomía Robles in 1913 and based on traditional Andean folk tunes), and town-folk go to the Comuna building to donate a few dollars to the grieving family.
I love this special tradition in Olón (and I’m sure a custom in other neighboring towns as well).  By Ecuadorian law, bodies must be buried within 24 hours, so the financial help is appreciated, especially when a death occurs unexpectedly.

The Saturday afternoon “gringo” get-togethers
on the Olón beach are still going strong.
. One of the great things about living here is all 
the interesting people we get to meet that are 
either moving here, or passing through.

Local religious observances and traditions.

Olón – you gotta love this town!