Baby Bird Down and Cleaning the Lot Next Door

This afternoon when I was out pulling a few weeds, the blackbirds that have a nest in the one tree were having fits because I was outside. I looked around and saw a baby bird on the ground. No wonder they were carrying on so.

San Clemente 2.19.2013 008

A little while later two blackbirds were attacking something on the ground. It was a snake and Joe saw it retreat into the next yard through the hole we had placed in our wall to drain our outdoor shower. (Note to self, get a grid to plug that hole) I asked David our neighbor if he would be kind enough to find someone to clear part of the empty lot next door that is growing too close to our house. Within 5 minutes David and a young man named Jose arrived are at our gate. For $20 he will chop back all the trees, vines and other vegetation for at least 3 to 5 meters along the full length of our property.

San Clemente 2.19.2013 005

San Clemente 2.19.2013 006

It was like a jungle, tall bushes, flowering vines, trees… you name it and it was growing bigger every day and finding the snake in our yard pushed me to get someone to clean it up….I will have him cut the tall branches of the almond tree to stop the nuts from hitting our roof, and he will put the little bird back up in the nest before he leaves.

San Clemente 2.19a.2013 003

San Clemente 2.19a.2013 004

He did a great job, the yard is beautiful, except for plastic bags, bottles and some construction materials that Joe will clean up next week. All in all a great day!!!

22 thoughts on “Baby Bird Down and Cleaning the Lot Next Door

  1. Wow, If I stepped on my neighbors property I would probably get a shotgun in my face and/or trip to the pokey..Guess Ecuador is very different.

    • Hi Tom, We have no idea who owns the property. There are no buildings it is just an empty lot..and it was full of small trees, weeds and now we know snakes or a snake…it looks great with all the vegetation cut back from around our wall and I don’t think the owner would have a problem…you can’t notice what we did because the rest is so dense. Now Joe needs to go in there and pick up all the plastic junk that someone (not us) has thrown over the fence. Sad to see folks who have garbage pick-up three times a week throw junk in an empty lot…just stupid. No problem with doing things like this, if the yard is overgrown, trees growing over your roof, onto the side of your house you just have someone go and chop it down. Before Jose went to cut back the almond tree we asked Gina if it was okay and she even had him cut more than what I was going to do. All I wanted was to get the branches that were overhanging our roof cut, she had him cut the main truck of the tree right off. Nancy

  2. I do believe this is the most self righteous, self-important example of trampling over someone else’s rights that I have ever seen on a blog !! I have seen this quality to some degree on your blog before, but nowhere close to this degree.

    And the way you said it all with such self-assurance and pride as though you had done some wonderful thing !! I honestly believe that you feel so entitled that you see nothing wrong with what you did.

    You said you dont know who owns the property and that it is a vacant lot. What has that to do with ANYTHING ?? You Know IT IS NOT YOURS , Dont You ??? THAT is all you need to know. And a shotgun in the face, or a hefty fine and some jail time is exactly what you deserve for such an offense.

    The next time I hear someone who wants to know what an Ugly American is, I shall be sure to point them to this post. It is by far the best example of the Take Over North American Attitude that I have seen.

    • Good Morning John,

      I am responding to your comment both personally to your email address as well as on the blog.

      I found your comments to be quite hostile and wanted to understand why.

      I have no idea where you live, if you are here in Ecuador, if you are a land-owner back in the states where someone has wronged you or you just found my article offensive because you think I have taken advantage of the property owner next door to us. Either way I am going to attempt to explain why we did what we did.

      Most of the land that is undeveloped here is owned by folks that don’t live in this area. It was purchased as an investment because back in the late 90’s or early 2000 the Ecuadorian currency the Sucre failed and folks that had money in banks loss most or all of it. The one thing that you can invest in is land, it may not increase in value but it seldom looses value either. So many folks from the sierra came to the coast and purchased any land they could find and never came back. I am not sure what the municipality says about keeping your land clean, clear of debris and that way free from vermin that this attracts but in San Clemente local folks do what they need to to keep their property safe because the municipality does nothing in that regard. Our laws here are not like back in the states, government is not in your face, not a great deal of lawyers, no one sues each other for silly reasons because you are responsible for your own actions and most folks handle themselves as good citizens.

      When Joe saw the snake (almost 3 feet long) leaving into the overgrown lot next door he got upset for me. While living in Panama at certain times of the year vipers drop out of the trees and caution must be taken even while walking on a sidewalk were bushes overhand the walkway, because these snakes are waiting to strike at anything that walks by. I spend a good deal of my day outside in my yard, on my hands and knees pulling weeds, planting and replanting flowers and plants and having a snake around made him scared for me. Just a few weeks ago I posted the picture of the dead rat that we found right outside our gate. (I do try to show the entire story of life in a developing country so you get the good and the bad in what I consider a very open way) We live here day in and day out, we do not know what is going on in the lot next door except when we see things like we did yesterday. The owner is never going to come back here and clean up this lot, even if he knew we were having a problem. After the underbrush was cleared yesterday we found glass and plastic bottles, plastic bags and all assortments of garbage with standing water in it from when this house was used as a vacation home before we purchased it and a great deal of construction materials from when this house was built years and years ago. This is a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry dengue and hemoragic fever, and in most places the property owner would be fined severely for endangering an entire community because of his lack of responsibility towards that community. My conversations with Joe yesterday afternoon was we will have Jose, the young man who cleared it for us come back and pick up all the junk, bag it and put it out for the garbage men to take away. This is not our lot but garbage right next door impacts our lives and we are doing this with no thought of being repaid by the owner. it is best for us as well as all our neighbors to have a clean lot next door to us. When our contractor started to put our construction debris into that yard next door we stopped him and made him come back and clean it up and haul it away before he was given final payment for his work. He kept on telling us that it was good fill for the property next door. We felt that that was not our call to put bricks, concrete and other construction junk on this other lot and like I said we had him remove everything his guys put there. Just to clarify, the brush and vines were growing up the side of our house, onto our walls and roof and we know that this is a natural trail for ants, scorpions and other insects that we would rather keep outside.

      Our block consists entirely of one family, about 14 houses of brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins etc we are the only permanent resident that are not part of this family. We went to the one neighbor, David for his advise on this problem and he suggested someone to clear it and actually brought Jose over to do just that. He also negotiated the price with Jose on our behalf. The same person in fact that had just cleared the part of this same empty lot at his cousins house behind us last weekend.

      Things are done differently here, I am not saying it is the best way to handle them for you but when there is an absentee owner, property left in a way that can be considered dangerous, no local government to handle it, you do what you have to do to protect your property and your person.

      We are honorable people, we worked hard to save a little bit of money and have put most of our savings into this house for our retirement. We are only attempting to maintain our property to the best of our ability.

      I am offended at being called an ugly American or that we are attempting to take over, we feel that we have shown consistently over the past 7 years that we have been outside of the US, that we are good people. We have not done anything that any local would consider out of line. We have not moved onto this property and squatted, all we have done is cleared up a unsafe situation the only way we can…by doing it ourselves. Nothing of value on this property was touched, because there was nothing on this property, it is an empty lot, all the vegetation that was cut back was weeds and undergrowth.

      If this has not satisfied your comments, I am sorry if I have offended you – that was not my intention. Please feel free to stop viewing our blog. If by some small miracle my explanation of our situation has made you see our side of it, please feel free to revise your comment. We am not doing this to offend anyone, we are only trying to be good neighbors and to live the best way we can in a underdeveloped country, like the locals live…we are not trying to change their world, we are attempting to change ourselves to fit into their world.

      Thank you for your frank and honest comment of what you saw in my post.

      be well, our best to you,
      Nancy & Joe

  3. wow; sorry, but i found nothing wrong with nancy’s post. i know from the municipality where i lived in costa rica, if the property owner doesn’t maintain the boundaries, the municipality comes in and does it – i think at a cost to the owner. it’s the owner’s responsibility to keep the boundaries clean.

    i am not sure what the rules are in ecuador, but i will ask some of my ecuadorian friends who are land owners.

    nancy, i am going to go back and read this again, and try to see it through john’s eyes. once i returned to costa rica and discovered that someone had felled a large tree on my property – it was one of my favorites, and it was the subject of a large painting. the neighbors all shrugged when i tried to find out who did it.. yes, i was angry, very angry for a long time. (it was a costa rican who ‘stole’ the tree)… i was too angry to confront him, as i knew i would say things i would later regret. because of that experience, i can consider the ‘other person’s’ view, though a responsible land owner should maintain his borders. if i returned to find that my out-of-control border had been tamed, i would have thought, ‘that’s what i get for abandoning my property.’

    never have i witnessed such magical growth as what happens here along the line of the equator! we can water during the dry season, and the plants reward us for our attention. when mother nature turns on her taps, plant life springs into jack-in-the beanstalk growth like nothing i have ever witnessed. after three weeks of almost constant rain in january, my yard went from ‘barren,’ to grasses and new vegetation that surely reached two feet or more! it took another week of work in good weather to regain control of the rank growth!

    sometimes when i struggle with an issue that is bothering me, i remember some wise counsel from long ago. “is it kind? Is it necessary? If not, it’s best left unsaid.”

    Nancy’s posts bring me a lot of joy, as do many other bloggers from ecuador, bolivia, panama and nicaragua who report their trails and tribulations regarding their changes of latitudes. I have met Nancy twice in person, and she – like all of us – is trying to do her best with the life she and Joe have made for themelves. Even when she’s endured disappointments, she puts on her smile and focuses on the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Z, thank you for your comment. I was hurt that John thought that we would just willy-nelly jumped our wall and start to hack down some park like trees or shrubs. On the contrary what was there were weeds and small low shrubs of no value except to grow over our walls and roof. What was cleared was a 10 x 60 or 600 sq ft area of land on a piece of property that looks to be an acre totally unkempt and unkempt for many years the way it looks. I also would be very upset if someone came on my property and cut down valuable trees, shrubs or disturbed plantings that I had done, but this is not the case here. I would never think to do anything like this in the states. I would take many steps before going to the local government to handle the situation. And like you said if the local government gets involved a lien will be placed against the property if they need to clean it up. Z as you know there is no one here to discuss this with, we would be laughed out of the municipality office (if there was an office in this town). I guess the lessons we have learned here is to do things like the locals do, and this is how locals would and do handled this situation. I keep telling folks “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore, Dorothy!” Nancy

  4. Sorry you receive comments like that. Have been enjoying your blog, as we will be in the neighborhood next week. Anything you want me to bring down for you, spices? We are from Vancouver Canada.

    • Hi Colleen, thanks for your support. I guess unless you live here some may see what Joe and I did as a violation of some rule or another. We live here and know what needs to be done to protect our investment. I dislike confrontation and always have so the comment seemed unfair to me. I do the blog to keep track of our little lives, and if in doing so help folks thinking about moving here thats an added bonus. I have emailed you off blog about your kind offer. Be well, Nancy

  5. Mary and I read the comment and can only say that you can not please all of the people all of the time. I think the guy flew off the handle and made a bunch of accusations that simply are not supported by fact. He acted like you and Joe decided to mow down an orchard or move buildings on another person’s property and then made a huge leap in logic to say you are ugly Americans trying to change a country – For what? picking up some garbage and clearing some scrub shrubs! And the cleanup was actually done by long time residents who are probably related to the property owner.

    I would not worry about it as everyone who knows you and Joe knows how much you care for and love the Ecuadorianos. I probably would not have approved the comment or would delete it without answering him, but you went above and beyond with your reasoned response.

    Keep smiling and have a great day here in San Clemente!

  6. If she does, I’ll definitely share with you, thanks Nancy..on another note on this blog….those who don’t live here, do not realize how fast the forest / dry jungle here on the coast can take over developed property and how dangerous that can be. I’ve yet to hear any property owner or neighbors complain when someone helps clear the weeds, shrub brush, trash and any other unwanted element from their semi-abandoned property. It helps eliminate the health dangers of mosquito infestations and poisonous critters. Kudos to you and Joe for stepping out and making your small neighborhood a safer and healthier community.

    • Hey John and Mary, thanks for your words of wisdom…and you are right unless you live here on the coast you really have no idea how fast the crap grows…trying to keep up with my little area of grass right now, it looks like I will need to purchase a weed-whacker to trim it because using the scissors is just not working…I saw a nice very inexpensive one in the mall for less than $30 it was electric and would work just fine for this little yard…off to do some garden work…if you need the lemons let me know and I will bike over and maybe get Mary to part with some of her dill seeds, I need to get some in a pot and have them start. thanks Nancy

  7. More support from the South, Nancy. I don’t see that you did anything wrong. You just made it a better place. Sad that other people try to spread their misery.

    • Hi Lynda, thanks for your comment. The yard next door looks great, we have not seen any rodents or snakes but a great deal of bugs were walking on the wall after they were disturbed so Joe was out there yesterday afternoon with the bug killer…today it seems calm…we want it to stay that way, Nancy

  8. Hi Nancy, My wife and I are from Ottawa, Canada and we stumbled upon your blog a month ago and have read all of your previous posts right back to the beginning of your Ecuadorian adventure. We are planning a trip to Ecuador in the next few years to get a feel for the Country. That said we look forward to your posts and value your real life stories. There is so much hype in the media about Ecuador so it is refreshing to get the real perspective! I wanted to post words of encouragement sooner but others always stated the same message I would have. Rereading the post from John a few times over I feel that his statement (from my opinion) is coming from perhaps a sense of jealousy that you and your husband had the courage to leave the US. I think you protecting your environment and investment from an esthetic and safety perspective is fully justified. Removing a large tree or an out-building from an adjacent lot is a different story but just clearing overgrown brush is probably doing them a favor. Especially after consulting locals for how you should handle the situation. We look forward to your next post and thank you for taking the time to share your new adventure with us. (P.S we have 4 foot high snow banks here so keep posting pictures of the beach!)

    • Hola Tortuga, Thank you for your kind words and for following our little life here in Ecuador. Let us know when you start the planning for your adventure here. We would love to visit with you if you ever come near San Clemente while traveling around.

      I remember our early life in Pennsylvania where the snow was high but never 4 feet so I am thinking good thoughts and praying for an early spring with beautiful weather…from my prayers to Gods ears!!!

      be well, Nancy & Joe

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