Surprise Visitors at our Gate

Yesterday afternoon about 15 riders surprised Joe and I at our gate. There was a parade in San Jacinto the next town down from us and our dear friend Patricia and another long time friend Pablo, decided to bring their crew to our home for a visit.  After a short welcome, we brought out the beer for our dusty travelers and shared a laugh or two.

The most amazing thing besides the beautiful horses and some pretty fancy silver harness sets were the wooden saddles.  In my life, I have never seen a wood saddle and it was amazing how many were form fitted for what looked to be a very comfortable ride.  Our friend Pablo was riding bareback, he is such a wonderful horseman I guess he can do that. I am sad that the photo of him was just too blurry for me to post, I am sure they will be by to visit the next time they are coming by our home. The great thighs are Patricia’s by the way.

Enjoy, just another glimpse of the beauty of Ecuador and our own Manabita people.

Micro Brewed Beer at Agricola Mercado, Montevideo

We spent most of last week in Montevideo, a bit of time for business but mostly for personal. After spending three months there back in early 2017 it was wonderful to spend time in the same area, Buseo, because we knew everything already.  The apartment was a sweet, very comfortable efficiency and get this – it had under floor heating as well as a reverse a/c heat unit.  And the kicker was it was only one block from the Montevideo Shopping mall.  We just loved it.

While there we had plans to find spices and condiments I could not find here in Atlantida as well as sneakers for both Joe and I and some warm clothing.

Our first morning we spend at the Agricola Mall.  And after a complete circuit of the stores, we decided to stop for a cold draft beer at their artisan beer stand.  This is Mastra a local artisan beer company.

I ended up picking the Honey Amber Ale while Joe took the Strong Pale Ale.  Both were cold and very refreshing.  They even sold a few selections in small kegs.

You could also get a little treat but we were looking forward to lunch at Rudy Burger so we passed.

Did not take us long to get refreshed so we could make another attempt at those stores.

It was fun and we would go back and do it again,,,but right now we had more shopping to do.

Diane and Rob Sit Under The Limon Tree

We first met Rob through a comment he made on a post almost a year ago. Monday evening we got to meet both Diane and Rob in person. With their trip to Ecuador in full swing – memories already made in Quito, Salinas, Ballenita and Puerto Lopez –  they are now into the second half of their adventure this week here in San Clemente and points north.

San Clemente 8.20.2013 011In all honesty we got along so well that it was like we had known each other for years. We feel that way about many of the visitors to Ecuador that we have met over the past three years. I guess it is a kind of “like-minded” attitude in the folks that are trying to make the decision to move to our adopted land, and, in particular, our new home town.

Monday evening we spent hours out in the yard, talking and laughing, drinking a few Pilseners and having some munchies. I know that we will be seeing you again next year when you come to visit again. That is the true testament of how Ecuador and it’s beautiful and warm people affect most folks – they come back.

We pray for a wonderful balance of your adventure, a pleasant journey back to Canada and fond memories of your time in Ecuador.

Felices viajes!

Bonfire on the Beach

Saturday night we were invited to something that turned out to be the highlight of our week. Well first keep in mind Joe and I are not goers we are more of the quiet, sit at home, kind of folks but this evening turned out to be wonderful.  Our friends Becky and Keith invited us to a cookout on the beach at their home in San Jacinto. They even had pickup and return service for those of us that do not have vehicles.

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Thank you again Becky and Keith for putting this shindig together.

Pizza Thursdays

Yesterday a group of Expats got together to share some pizza, beer, wine and conversation at Meiers. It was a fun evening and allowed some of the new folks (either visiting or just purchased a place here) to meet a few of us who live here permanently.

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I loved meeting and visiting with all of these folks. Next time we need to do musical chairs and move around to speak to everyone in the group.

Hope you all enjoyed your evening together. See you around town!

Tuesday Deliveries

Tuesday is usually a big day for deliveries on my street.

Jesús our PanMan starts it all off every morning between 7am and 8am. Come rain or shine Jesús drives by on his bike, blowing his whistle bringing fresh pan to my door. I take his visit very personally. He comes to my gate each morning with fresh rolls that he just baked, a smile on his face, happy and content providing a wonderful service for his town. I actually don’t think he knows just how special what he does and how he does it is.

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For .10 cents you get a fresh crusty sometimes even warm roll right from his ovens. If you love what you do, smile when you do it, even whistle if you can, it affects everyone you come in contact with. This man is a shining example of the attitude of the folks in my area. If I have to work I should make the best of it. I should produce the best product and deliver it with a smile. Jesús you make my day! He also takes orders – our friends have ordered loaves of bread and even hot dog rolls for the next day.

Next comes the egg man who also sells toilet paper (papel higiénico), tooth paste – well he has an assortment of bathroom items. Yesterday morning I failed to take a photo but will get one next week and add it to this post.

A little later the Pilsener truck drove by.

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I know it looks pretty bad when you see us getting four cases of beer but in all honesty two of these cases are Jackie’s who dropped them off on her way out of country.

Next Gonzalo dropped by with his one young son. I purchased peanut butter and chopped peanuts, green peppers, tomatoes and two types of onions.

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Next this young vendor and his partner drove by with fresh cheese and butter, along with a variety of other veggies. I purchased 10 oranges for a dollar (in Panama we used to get 100 oranges for $2) not here or at least not out of season!

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This is just the deliveries for Tuesday. I really have little reason to go shopping in Portoviejo or even Charapoto except once a month for items not delivered to my door. I am blessed! Next should be the meat and fish guys.

Party Time with Shelly and Gary

When our friend and blog reader Yusuf came to visit us in San Clemente he arrived with Shelly and Gary. We all sat around on our porch and sipped lemonade and in doing so got to be friends with them all. Shelly and Gary recently completed their vacation home on the beach and we were invited to their first dinner party last evening.

First I must say that these are the most down-to-earth folks that we have had the privileged to meet, no airs, just sweet folks with kind and gentle hearts. Their home is beautiful, spacious, with an excellent view of the Pacific ocean.

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San Clemente 2.24.2013 011Shelly made a sangria that everyone enjoyed and Gary was prepared with an assortment of wines and of course the Ecuadorian staple Pilsener in those big 22 oz bottles. After an appetizer of eggs Diablo Shelly treated us to her version of shrimp ceviche (pretty good for not being a local), it was a big hit.  Gary then christened his new BBQ grill with steaks and shrimp that Shelly had marinated, a grand buffet including an excellent potato salad that I want the recipe for was served. Dessert was a fluffy as a cloud mouse layer cake topped with maracua sauce and chocolate, decadent was the word for that subrosa meal.

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Work continues on the caretaker cottage on the property and another friend David has been hired to fill that position. We are so pleased for both our friends for finding each other.

Several of our Barrio Norte neighbors were in attendance as well as a wonderful Manta family we got to meet along with some of the folks who had been finishing the work on the property (putting down tools and picking up Pilseners is always a good thing). Dinner, drinks and great company…what more could you ask for? Our adventure in Ecuador continues to prove to us that we picked the right country, the right town and have friends that make our lives better just by being our friends.

Service in Our Small Coastal Town in Ecuador

If you are expecting to be fawned over, watched constantly and pampered while in a local restaurant in San Clemente, you may feel ignored. Not intentionally, mind you but just because the culture here is to allow folks time, time to sit and get accustomed to their surroundings, time to enjoy the others in their company, just time!  Plus serving you is probably not their only job, the server may also be the person cooking or helping in the kitchen. If you are in a hurry, you will not be happy with this cultural difference.

If you want a server who is all over you asking about your needs and wants this also will frustrate you. Here, when you are ready to order, all you need to do is signal the restaurant staff. Like at Viviana’s they leave us alone for the most part. When they deliver the menus which could be immediately upon sitting down or it could be awhile after we arrive, we order our drinks. Letting the server know that we will not be ordering our food for at least 15 minutes and if Joe and I are enjoying and are into our conversation it may be 30 minutes before we order. At that time we order another drink and wait on our food. We have never felt ignored just left in peace to enjoy the atmosphere, the people, our drinks, the great food and just how lucky we are to be in this beautiful area. We have never been given a check here, when we are ready to leave we find someone and pay them. Our experience in the old country was that when you were asked if you needed anything else many times they were really just trying to hurry you along –  give you the check and the boot so to speak.  They were more rushing you than serving you. An exception might be some of the truly finer – real expensive – places. But the fish meal at Vivianas is $4. complete.  Not plus tax, service charge, valet parking, etc. And its right on the beach.  And they smile, seem truly glad to see you again and not just because you are spending money.  That’s something we as Expats tend to ignore.  It’s not always all about the money yet that is how we see many things. I like their way better. Sometimes we are poor in other ways but only judge based on the worlds only measuring stick these days – money.

On the other hand most tiendas, stores or shops will have someone almost follow you around the store trying to help you. And most of the small tiendas and pharmacies do not allow you inside the store you would need to know what you wanted and ask for it.

Estrella and her family who run the tienda at the end of our street are the exception. I am allowed to roam the store at my leisure looking for the items that are of interest to me. Most places have been wonderful about allowing us behind the counter, this is because first we cannot see to read all the descriptions of the items and not being familiar with the products it is just so much easier to allow us to look for ourselves.

I guess the purpose of this post is to make you understand that you are not being ignored on purpose. This is the way things are done here. Snapping your fingers, whistling, yelling across the room or clapping your hands to get a servers attention are rude in any culture, in my opinion. Catching the eye of the server and motioning for them to come over, thanking them or greeting them with a smile and a hello will work far better than being upset with how things are done here.

If you want another drink get any servers attention and point to your drink…don’t wait for them to come around to ask you. Or get up and go over to someone and ask for a server to come to your table. Things are done differently here.

This small story may help to illustrate exactly what I am trying to say. When we lived in Panama our friend Keith would drive down to David the Provincial Capital of Chiriqui for his supplies. On the way he found a man swinging in a hammock selling beautiful pineapples. After stopping several times and purchasing a pineapple he ask the gentlemen why he did not sell other fruits and vegetables instead of just pineapples. The man asked why should he, he sells ENOUGH to support himself and his family. And he climbed back into his hammock not looking to change how his life is. We have been looking for that ENOUGH because in our opinion that is the true meaning of paradise for us.

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One of the first things we did was have Patricia put up very good hammock hooks and we found a great hammock for our porch. We want to be more like that pineapple vendor from Panama.

How envious we would be to find out we worked so hard all our lives to be able to sit under a tree swinging on a hammock and these folks found out early just how much they needed to have a happy and content life…this is what we have searched for, he does not want to change nor does he need to change, his life is complete…ENOUGH of everything!

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Our idea of the perfect day is switching between the lounge chair and the hammock several times.

We (Joe and I) are not here to change these beautiful people, their culture or their way of living, we actually want to be more like them. Relaxed, enjoying their jobs instead of hating to come to work each day. Please don’t try to make our Ecuador what you left, because if it was such a wonderful place there, why are you here?

Geni and Larry

This lovely couple is visiting the coast as part of their tour of Ecuador. Geni and Larry hail from Alabama and we met because they follow the blog. Also in the picture below is David the son of Libby Rush a friend from Atlanta area that recently moved to San Clemente.

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They are staying in San Jacinto and made the walk up to Meiers for a few Pilseners and pizza last evening. Our town pretty much closes up after dark and we found ourselves walking home in a light rain with no mototaxi to return them to San Jacinto. This is one of those times when a car would come in very handy.

Geni and Larry I hope you enjoy the balance of your time here in Ecuador.

Joe the Birthday Boy

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Like most celebrations this past few months, Joe and I tend to always go back to Viviana’s for all the right reasons. Sitting at a beachfront restaurant sipping a cold Pilsener is probably one of the most perfect things on earth to do at this stage of our lives. As you see by Joe’s smiling face he and I are in total agreement on this fact.

Next, the food. Perfection. Yesterdays birthday boys choice was Arroz Con Mixto. This is a rich brown rice packed with your choice of two fresh from the sea treats. Joe’s choice – shrimp and calamari. When he was given his plate Eva the chef had thrown in baby pulpo (octopus) as well. AND papas fritas.

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Now don’t say a word, Joe wanted french fries (papas fritas) but Eva said that she did not have any so he changed his order from Shrimp in Garlic Sauce with French Fries to the Arroz con mixto  dish. But when his plate was delivered Eva had found him the potatoes he wanted…a starch fest for sure. Joe did not complain.

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Viviana and her cousin were out walking on the beach and stopped by to say hello and brought Joe a piece of birthday cake. This was tres leches which is a very rich cake with three different types of cream added to make it even richer.

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Viviana and Joe sharing a hug. She is a lovely young woman, a great entrepreneur and has a wonderful family that is so supportive of her and the business.

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On our walk back down the beach, Joe had to show his cliff diving stance with the beautiful South Pacific sunset in the background.

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What a great way to celebrate a birthday….we need to do this every week. Oh I forgot we do make it our Sunday ritual to visit Viviana’s for a late lunch each week. How blessed are we?

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One last photo of last evenings sunset. Happy Birthday Joe may this year be filled with blessings beyond your wildest dreams!