Happy Belated Birthday Eva

Our dear friend Eva had her birthday the middle of July.  But we were not able to celebrate until several weeks later and then I was under the weather so I am finally able to post.  We went up to Meier’s hoping to have something from his new menu…but his new menu starts at noon and ends at 6pm…So we had his pizza instead.

IMG_3017We had a good old-fashioned “Girl Chat” for a few hours, enjoyed a pink citrus drink and pizza.  Could not ask for more.

Happy Belated Birthday, Eva…

On Vacation in Manta

IMG_2392We are both enjoying a vacation in Manta. It has been wonderful living in a condo within walking distance of restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and much more.

Our only negative was the time it took to have internet installed here.  Our phone line was installed in two days but it took over two weeks to get the internet back on-line.  The weather has been beautiful a few nights there was a light rain leaving our patio with a sheen of water and a full day of cloudy skies but nothing to stop us from enjoying walks on the beach and adventures around the town.


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!

Meier’s Sabor de Bamboo

We have found a great resource for things that we cannot find in the tiendas here in Clemente. First I must tell you that Meier has been in this area for over 10 years, he has a restaurant and bar at the far northern end of Clemente up near the bluff. He serves a mean almuerzo during the week and his seafood dinners are excellent and priced right and you can get a nice ale on tap. We have gone up a few times for breakfast on Sunday mornings where he serves a traditional American style breakfast including eggs over easy, crispy bacon, real toasted bread served with margarine and jam, fresh squeezed orange juice and an excellent large mug of fresh brewed coffee. All of this for $2.50 and I did not have to lift a finger…But I digress.

He is the local distributor for many brands of spirits, wine and beers making both Joe and I very happy indeed. His prices are great, he delivers right to your door and did I mention he even makes a lovely thin crust pizza after 7pm each evening. Oh, sorry I keep remembering his food. He carries quart and gallon jugs of a fruit vinegar that I have used for my pickling of eggs and vegetables  He has several brands of box wine, probably 25 different varieties of bottled wine, a variety of rums, vodkas, as well as coffee.

He will grind both beef and pork, sell you cuts of both meats, carries a wonderful brand of mozzarella cheese as well as good quality bacon and will order cream cheese for me anytime I want. Sunday we ordered a box of goodies that were delivered Monday morning. If you get him your order early Monday he will have your order delivered to your door by Thursday.

He also has a hostel on the property and it is located a short 1 minute walk to a very quiet beach.

El Eden Restaurant

Our almuerzo meals during the week have mostly been from El Eden restaurant located in downtown Clemente. The restaurant has huge blue plate-glass windows and the ceiling is painted with different sea creatures. It is about the only restaurant in centro Clemente that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and always seems to be open.

It has a great almuerzo menu each day, with so many choices and really great food.

We have become a family eating one big meal a day, great for our waistlines and perfect on the pocketbook especially if that meal is almuerzo at $2.50 each.

This day they offered 3 soup choices, 2 sides choices, 2 main courses and 4 juices. For the $2.50 you get a large bowl of soup full of  good stuff like lentils, yuca with beef, a main course of fried fish or beef or chicken etc, rice and a salad or beans or mashed potatoes or the like.  And a very large and cold class of, not watered down, fruit juice. Yum.  Lots of choices each day and always pretty darn good.  And did I mention it’s $2.50?

Below are the pictures painted on the ceilings. Kind of cute, this would look great in a kids room also. Even the shark looks friendly!

Viviana Restaurant and Nautilus Bar

On the weekends Joe and I have made it sort of a ritual to go to Viviana’s for a late lunch on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. This is the restaurant we came to while visiting San Clemente back in May.

The restaurant is located directly on the beach a very short road or beach walk from our house. It is a seafood restaurant pure and simple – not one meat item is listed on their menu. The food has been excellent, fresh and plentiful.

Also, did I mention they have a very cute little bar that serves some pretty fine cocktails.

Lunch for the two of us along with a few cocktails is around $14 with no tip necessary.

This past weekend we stopped in last Saturday afternoon to find a group putting the finishing touches on decorations for a party.

We asked if we could have dinner and our waitress was kind enough to allow us to have dinner before the party-goers arrived. And as with prior visits the food was excellent.

Lunch out with the Girls!

Whew! I am exhausted from my luncheon date with my friend Nancy and her cousin Gladys. We met at 12:30 and drove to a very nice restaurant at 2.5 Km on Via Data. The lunch was excellent. Our first course was Sopa de Choclo (corn soup). It was just filled with fresh corn kernels in a thick broth with queso fresco.  The segundo was a lovely stewed chicken dish with steamed rice and a noodle salad. This was served with a large glass of fresh limeade. I was surprised to also see coffee and a corn cake served for a $2.50 almuerzo. It was a very nice meal with really great companions.

Gladys and Nancy enjoying our lunch together

We were there for hours just gabbing away. I looked out the window at one point to see two large pigs just crossing and recrossing the road. You see something new and different in Playas all the time.

The owner came over to our table and we found out the plantation she owns is in an area where there has been massive flooding. Seems her entire property boarders a river that overflowed it banks, leaving her property and the first floor of her two-story house under water. She grows cocoa and was so kind to give me a bag of the rich dark chocolate used for baking. It is not something that you find for sale in Ecuador stores. All the products that say Cocoa on the label contain sugar and milk solids along with other ingredients that are not necessary when baking. What a lovely woman.

We finally broke up our “Girl Talk” gab fest after 4pm. Nancy drove us to Bellevista which is a small hotel resort located at about 2 Km Via Data. Nancy was kind enough to take us on a tour of the facilities which includes a restaurant and bar, pool, spa for massages, sauna, steamy salt bath where you can also get a manicure and pedicure. The property is located right on the ocean and has a beautiful garden area where the following picture was taken. They allow folks to use the facilities for a small charge per person for the day. It would be a great place during the week when there are less tourists. I hope to try it one day very soon.

It was a special afternoon, Nancy I am ready for our next Girls Day Out whenever you are!

Pizza Piccola

Our friend Marilyn told me about a new pizza place in Salinas. It is located one block away from Junior (Mi Commisariato Supermarket) one street behind the malecon.

We stopped by about a week ago and had a pretty good pizza. We ordered the Regina with ham, salami and mushrooms. All of those items were plentiful on this medium pizza with a good addition of super stringy mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of oregano. Oregano and red pepper flakes were supplied to our table. It was a very good choice and Marilyn was correct when she told us it was pretty good. They have a 2 for 1 night every Tuesday and have home delivery. What more could an Expat ask for… yeah and the owner speaks English!!!!

Their menu also has lasagna and submarine sandwiches and it is so convenient to our apartment and did I tell you they deliver? Oh by they way they also serve ice-cold CLUB –  not Joe’s first choice but again it’s a beer for goodness sakes what more could you want with your pizza.

Miguel, the chef, is very personable and also makes a mean pizza and sub sandwich. We went back last weekend and had a sub on whole wheat with melted cheese, ham, some sort of sausage, tomato and lettuce. It was excellent all for $2.50 each. Sorry I did not have my camera you will need to drop by and have Miguel make one for you. Take my word it was great!