While sitting quietly watching the first Star Trek movie, we saw a few winged ant type bugs cross the screen. We turned on the overhead lights to see an army of the stinkers on the outside of our screens trying to get in and a bunch already inside trying to get out.
Both Joe and I dislike the onset of the rain because of what comes with it. The ants, the crickets, the frogs – you name it – as soon as it starts to rain they make their way to the house. We are not talking a handful we are talking a pestilence like in the bible. We have had every crack, cranny, tiny opening stuffed with concrete, paste, tube calking you name it we have done it, but if the critter wants to get into the house, by God it is going to get into the house – and it does.
Last night Joe found the bug spray and sprayer, mixed up a big batch and sprayed the entire outside of the house. They were flying into my face, mouth and hair yuck, yuck, yuck. We turned off the lights and went to bed, nothing more you can do, the light attracts them so your best bet is to shut everything off. This morning I found a bunch of dead ones all around the house,
This part of the coast has frequent power outages, yesterday while we were in San Jacinto the power went out around noon and never came back on until after 6:30 last evening. Sometimes it can be as little as 15 minutes or go on for the entire day or night. Joe and I have discussed purchasing a generator to power our refrigerator and the water pump when this occurs – which is pretty often – but we are not up to that on our wish list for the house yet. A few days ago we did check off one smaller item – a little kerosene lamp. We were in Portoviejo shopping for our monthly supplies and saw this little lamp. Well they actually are not using kerosene any longer this is fueled by paraffin oil and the label states that it is sootless, smokeless and odorless. We could have purchased citronella oil but I can’t stand the smell and don’t think it makes one bit of difference in chasing mosquitoes away.
I did find my Palo Santo bowl as well. While returning from Portoviejo I had our driver stop at a road side stand and I got this beauty for $2.50. I like the smell of Palo Santo and I do think it is a good mosquito repellent. Note after the posting of this article: Palo Santo is a dried wood that is used by the locals to repel mosquitoes, our first exposure to it was an artisan store in Puerto Lopez, each evening as we would walk back from dinner we would smell this lovely almost sweet aroma in the air, this is Palo Santo. In my one post on “Building a Finca” Dec. 1, 2012 there is a photo of a Palo Santo tree from our friends Ivan and Max’s finca here in San Clemente. I understand that the wood needs to be dried for two years prior to being used as a mosquito repellent.
What more could we ask for – light when the power is out and a sweet-smelling mosquito repellent – we are ready for a quiet evening on our porch.
This past week two things happened to make me wake up to how hot and how strong the sun is this time of year. I fell asleep in the hammock one day last week and woke up to a stinging pain on my face below my right eye. I thought I had gotten a bite and asked Joe to see if he could find where the actually bite mark was and maybe put one of his ointments on it for me. He could not find the mark and within a few hours it was red and burned like heck. It took me several days to figure out what I had done, in the meantime it looked as if I was hit in the face under the right eye. Then I noticed a few stripes on my forehead, that were actually sun burn marks. I am fastidious about keeping the sun off my face after moving to Florida back in the 70’s and seeing the faces of the old women on Miami Beach after years of sun abuse. I use a face cream with a 15 SPF every day and always wear a hat when I am outside and 50 or 60 sunblock when we sit on the beach. The sun has shifted in the sky and the corner of our hammock obviously is getting the full force of that sun in the afternoon. The second thing that made me very aware of just how hot the sun is this time of year is when Joe and I walked down the beach to catch the bus to San Jacinto last Friday morning. I was wearing a sleeveless blouse and when I got home my shoulders, arms, chest and back were a bright red from that short walk up and down the beach. DO NOT underestimate the sun here, it is very strong and March seems to be the worst time of the year.
We normally use 50 block while on the beach but during this time of year I have started to wear it every day along with a healthy dose of Detan for the mosquitoes. If visiting or living here on the coast please do yourself a favor and wear sunblock and repellent every day.
The weather has been beautiful and I do not want to complain but am very excited about the cooler weather right around the corner.
Monday morning Jose returned to trim back our unruly trees, cut a few down and do some general cleaning of our yard and the lot next door. I had him start with the two trees I wanted removed. Now before you get started being upset with me for taking out some trees look at it from our perspective. Our yard is about 30′ wide by 20′ deep – 600-700 square feet…there were 14 trees in that space. Several were quite pesky like the cherry tree, always dropping partially eaten fruit to the ground for ants and wasps to have a field day. Or the one sour mandarin tree which has the sourest fruit ever – not even sugar helps. I did keep the other mandarin in the corner that Joe wanted me to remove but just for shade and privacy. We finally put the fig tree in the ground, this one is for Yusuf. I really hated the idea of removing these trees but between the cleanup, the bugs, and the fact that you could not harvest enough fruit that weren’t already pecked up by the birds it was a waste of space having it in the yard.
Now there is air flow and sunlight between all the trees, the limons are not hanging over the driveway and whacking you in the head when you try to walk around. We feel this will allow the growth to be closer to the ground and easier for us to pick. Jose also cut the guava (guayaba) topping it off, again allowing for the growth to be lower and easier for us to harvest. This is also another tree that the birds just adore, and if we want to have any fruit at all we need to pick it early or else.
Then I had him go into the lot next door and clean up all the plastic bottles, bags and other junk hanging around there. He filled two huge garbage bags with what others had dumped over the wall from our yard.
The greatest thing each of us offers the world is ourselves, not a whirlwind of activity. People all around us are starving for love. People need our company, our presence and our comfort. ~ Susan K. Rowland (Make Room for God)
Almond Tree, Very Pretty….
With the start of the rain many new experiences have confronted us here in San Clemente. Besides the bugs those darn beetles that leave a yucky mess when they die or you step on them whichever comes first, the little gnats that love the outside walls of our porch and drop to the floor and cover it each morning, we have one more issue to contend with. The bomb-like bang of the almonds dropping from the tree behind our house. The rain must make them loosen up and in the middle of the night you will hear a loud bang as they hit the roof.
The fruit is really not that big on this tree but when it falls and hits the roof it does sound like someone has just jumped on the roof instead of this little nut falling on it.
This morning I went out to take the above photo and Pilly (Pee Gee) our neighbor was working on his truck. I explained about the bomb noise in the night and he said he would take care of it for me. Within minutes I heard him out there with a machete making quick work of this sleep stealer!
God will one day hold us each accountable for all the things He created for us to enjoy, but we refused to do so.
I have thought about getting a bike for myself for a very long time. I love that free feeling of being able to just get on the bike and ride. I know it makes it sound like it is a Harley or something, no, just an ordinary bicycle! Also, it will make it much faster to get around town. So earlier this week we went into Charapoto and found a place that sells bikes but they had no women’s bikes just a few mens and these itty-bitty things with little tiny wheels – I just don’t see myself riding this down the street. So yesterday we went into Portoviejo and got a taxi to take us to this bike shop.
The business Comercial “Ajoy” located in the central shopping district in Portoviejo. Their staff was so wonderful, helping when I had to do charades when trying to explain that I wanted a horn, or the little package holder for the back of the bike. I knew the name for basket “canasta” but how to explain about a pump which I found out is a bomba. It worked out well the bike was $65 with the balance of the parts including a more cushy seat totaled $26.50 more for a total $91.50. Then a quick walk across the street and a young man took the bike apart, well that is what it looked like. He greased everything, tightened the spokes on the wheels until they were balanced, I guess, as I have never seen anyone do that to a bike wheel before, greased some more and then put the entire bike back together including all my gadgets and do-dads. It took him almost two hours to complete this task, I do feel that the $10 fee was a bit excessive but it was too late after he was finished to argue about the price, this should have been negotiated before he started the work.
Last evening our friend John McDonald came by to help me with setting the speed. I do not understand that and will not be running up and down hills so I really need to have it set on one setting, just for cruising up and down the streets here in Clemente which is quite flat if you stay away from our one mountainous ridge on the far east side of town in the barrio Norte.
Santa (Joe) was really good to me this year. While we were out Joe got his 1 Terrabyte external hard drive and an automatic bug zapper for mosquitoes – this is part of Joe’s presents from Santa…all in all it was a very good trip into Portoviejo. Our taxi driver there has a family house in San Jacinto and so we went ahead and had him bring us back with our treasures. We feel so blessed…each day that we have been given we appreciate more because we are together. God is GOOD!!! Looking forward to many more days in our little Beach Hut, enjoying and cherishing the blessings.
If you cannot take another rant from me about the bugs this is your opportunity to stop reading because what you are about to read will express our frustration over ants (hormigas – OR mee gahs). These little creatures who have a job to do, what that job is can only be to annoy Joe and I. We have just about seen it all between the lizards, flies and slugs in Playas, the bats in the rental across the street and the dreaded mosquitoes everywhere, so we worked hard before we moved into this house to have it free of everything…We had Fredy and Patricia filling every crack and crevice inside and outside of the house – of course they both thought we were a bit off our heads requesting such a thing here but we insisted. Joe and I came into the house on Sundays when the crews were not working and soaked all the woodwork, door and window frames with insecticide not once but two weekends in a row to be sure everything moved out before we moved in…Well hormigas were everywhere after only a few days in the house. It was like they knew we were coming, they were walking on the walls in the kitchen, YUCK, in the bathroom, around the cistern, on the trees in the garden — everywhere you turned what did you see, ANTS…. Teeny tiny ants thousands of them. Marching Marching Marching! Joe tried to follow their march to find out where they were going or where they were coming from but he could never locate their nest(s). We tried boric-acid, sweet n low, El Secreto de la Abuelita was stuck in every corner of the house, window sills and door frames. Patricia had a weird look on her face when we were discussing something in the master bath and she saw this glob of gunk stuck to a corner of the brand new tile. Finally Joe found a product from Agripac that is strong stuff to take care of those tiny intruders. Clorpilaq 480 EC seems to have done the trick! WARNING: THIS IS POWERFUL STUFF USE WITH CAUTION.
Joe decided to spray everything, the yard, the trees, the outside walls, everything. The first day he used a gallon jug to mix up the solution and sprayed it on with a small spray bottle. On Wednesday we found a great looking sprayer at the local hardware store and Joe went to town, spraying everything in sight.
Well it made a big difference I woke up this morning to find not one ant anywhere, none in my kitchen, none in my bathroom, gone!!! Now lets see how long that will last before Joe needs to spray again. I detest using chemicals but in some situations it becomes necessary and we felt that we could not live with the number of ants that were running around the walls.
CAUTION: Please read instructions completely this product is very concentrated and can be toxic if not used according to the manufacturers directions!!!
I have told you of our issues with the bugs since we have gotten all the rain. Well after we returned from our trip up the coast we discovered our home had been invaded by two different type of ants. First the tiniest itty bitty erratic ants you could hardly see them took over our kitchen counter and the kitchen table. We found them walking on the walls in the bathroom and even on the porch. The second was a much larger much faster light brown to red colored ant. It has been spotted again on the kitchen counter and running across the floors. Folks here have told me to follow them to their nest outside of the house. This is not working, I cannot find where they are coming into the house so to follow them to their nest has been impossible. There seems to be several different groups going in several different directions. I went to the Agripac store and purchased some heavy-duty insecticide Clorpilaq 480 ec, this requires a mask, gloves and long sleeve shirt and long pants to spray it. It is sitting securely enclosed in two plastic bags as I treat it like it is radioactive materials right now. I am totally afraid of it!
This brings me to something I found at Super Tia several months ago and just put it under my sink. It is called El Secreto de la Abuelita.
It is a paste made of boric acid that according to its label will get rid of cockroaches in the home. Well at this point I was desperate so I put this paste, similar in consistency to tooth paste, around the counter in some of the strategic areas that I have seen the ants. I took lids from plastic containers and added a good glob plus a spoonful of white sugar just to be sure they would go for it. I did this last week. This morning I made my coffee free of ants…that does not mean that later on this morning I will not spot them but if in some small way El Secreto de la Abuelita has taken care of some my ant issues I will be forever grateful to this product.
With all the rain, in addition to all the beautiful butterflies, we have gotten invaded with crickets. Yes, big hopping crickets. I have no idea how they have gotten into the house but they crawl up the curtains and hop right at you. This happens mostly in the evening. But this morning while washing up a few dishes I had one crawling up the side of the sink getting ready to spring. Well, he is history and, like many of his brothers and sisters, never to hop again.
In speaking with our friend Roger, he said they attempt climbing into bed with him by crawling up his mosquito netting. We have not had any in our bed, most have stayed in the salon/kitchen area but they are just as annoying…No I take that back if I found one in bed I am sure folks for miles around would hear my screaming like a banshee!
I guess the bottom line to this blog post is if you do not have a tolerance for bugs, creepy crawly things or the unexpected you may want to reconsider ground level Coastal Ecuador as a retirement spot.