The Kindness of Neighbors

A few days ago one of our neighbors stopped in front of our house and who popped out of the truck but Mary and John MacDonald.  Mary said to John one morning that if she was cold the folks living in tents must also be cold.  They took it upon themselves to find as many blankets as they could (which is not an easy feat here) along with many others donated by another wonderful Expat couple. They took to the streets looking for folks still living in tents in our area. They walked around passing out blankets to many appreciative families.

That act of kindness is what makes this small community so wonderful. I took the picture below off of Mary’s Facebook page. Hope you don’t mind Mary.

10487421_863691723658675_1317958115370626076_nJohn and Mary do other kindnesses for our local community including a children’s Christmas party in one community, John has played Santa as well as singing for local events, Mary has made candy for the holidays and donated all the money to local charities most of this going directly to the local children, Mary also hosts a Take Time out for Art morning at their home for anyone interested in working on any type of art project.  They have a blog that they use to keep in touch with family and friends about their daily lives here in Ecuador. You should check it out:

Looking for good people is easy here in San Clemente, just turn around and you will find a wonderful local family or an exceptional Expat couple who will make you smile.

Thanks again Mary and John for your big hearts and that wonderful attitude of giving.

Cookie Baking – Christmas 2015

It would not seem like Christmas without just a few of our favorites – cookies and a Christmas tree. So last Monday I made all the batters for several types of cookies and Tuesday it was marathon baking.

On Monday I did sneak in a few batches of the bar cookies and baked the Black Bottom Cookie Bar and Triple Layer Cookie Bar.

12.21 (11)I also made something I have never tried before. These are made with vanilla cookies on the bottom, covered in caramel, baked and then topped with chocolate chips sprinkled with chopped nuts.  Fast and easy and the kids will love them. All chocolaty and sweet.

12.21 (10)Then I made Crane House Pumpkin Breads.

12.21 (14)Here are some of the batters chilling in the refrigerator. These are the Cherry Nut Cookies in the foreground and the Italian Cookies in the background.

12.21 (13)Here are the final cookie trays ready to go

12.26.2015It was a very Merry Christmas.

Three Kings Day – ‘El Día De Los Reyes’

Last night the Three Kings that visited the Christ child twelve days after Christmas came to San Clemente to give gifts to our children. What fun it was to find so much activity in the central downtown area. First Joe and I had to go for a great chicken dinner at our favorite spot with a cold Pilsener to cool us after our walk from Barrio Norte. Our friends Becky and Keith joined us for this delectable brined quarter of a chicken served with rice, cabbage salad, patacones and a smile. Joe and I had the consomme before which was much more than just consomme. It was a bowl filled with a hearty broth, carrots, peas and rice with bits of meat mixed in.

Then we joined several more expats and our neighbors and amigos in the center of town. We had a totally different hot drink made from some form of alcohol probably a sugar cane liquor, fresh fruits including pineapple, grapes and naranjilla blended together in a huge pot and boiled. This is strained into a beer bottle placed in a brown paper bag and served hot with a tiny plastic shot glass. It was powerful stuff and I hope none of our friends woke up this morning with a pounding headache…

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The arrival of the Three Kings was anticipated by everyone in the crowd. Our friend John MacDonald dressed, to the nines in a flowing white robe and crown was the giver of the candy gifts. Please enjoy the video posted below.

Our 1st Christmas in San Clemente

Today a group of expats gathered at the home of Mary and Lou Defrain for a lovely Christmas feast hosted by Mary and John McDonald and Mary and Lou Defrain.  What a special affair it was.

When I spoke to my brother John and sister Linda in Pennsylvania this morning they had gotten a light coating of snow but it was bright and beautiful looking out onto my brother John’s patio, what did we ever do before SKYPE and an IPad.  Here we had the sun shining, the breeze was blowing off the ocean and the temperature was in the  80’s. Just perfect for an outdoor gathering.

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Upon our arrival Lou offered to make us a drink and then we would be on our own for the next. He had a beautiful bar set up with a great looking rum punch that looked to pack a heck of a punch, red and white wines, a selection of liquors and mixers of your choice. Out on the deck we found a huge trashcan filled with ice and beer…an ice cold Pilsener, that hit the spot for Joe and I.

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A beautiful platter of sliced salami and several different cheeses with crackers was set out to whet our appetites.

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Then we were invited into the house to find the entire counter filled with delectable treats. After a beautiful blessing over the food given by John McDonald we found a veritable feast including beautiful roasted turkey along side smoked tenderloin of pork. Let the feasting begin as you followed the counter to the end you found a variety of salads, my favorites were the broccoli and the linguine, well maybe you will need to fit in the cole-slaw and the quinoa OH I just can’t make up my mind, they were all fantastic.

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After most of us needed to unbutton that top button on our pants, well maybe that was just me, desserts were set out. Again, they looked fabulous and I did try a few, like the fruit kabobs, oh my, and the lemon squares…we sure do have some wonderful chefs here in San Clemente. This also was a very difficult decision because everything looked so wonderful and well I couldn’t fit too much more at that point.

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The conversations covered a multitude of topics and all seemed entertained just visiting with this eclectic group of people.

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It was a wonderful afternoon visiting with friends, meeting new friends and just having a great time.

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It is very difficult especially this time of year to be so far away from family, I want to take this opportunity to thank Mary and Lou and Mary and John for making all of us Expats feel like we were with family. Thank you for opening up your home and your hearts to give all the Expat community in San Clemente and San Jacinto a very Merry Christmas indeed. And Jackie – great picnic table!

Ho Ho Ho – Santa Comes Early to San Clemente


God will one day hold us each accountable for all the things He created for us to enjoy, but we refused to do so.

-Rabbanic Saying

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.

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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.

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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.

Christmas in San Clemente

This will be our first Christmas in San Clemente and we will be looking for some different decorations and ways that the locals celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. While walking around town over the past several weeks we noticed that a crèche was being constructed. This one is a bit different and had the start of waterways which I have never seen used in a nativity set before. But I guess this being a community built on the water, with fishing as it main industry waterways were a logical choice.  Over the weekend things were being added lights, a full set of animals and even a very sparkly back drop.

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I am sure it will look much better at night all lit up but this was a very creative setting. Our amigo Fredy told us the town Christmas tree will be up on the 15th.  

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