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.

Vendors Part 6: Freme our Water Man

Almost every day I hear the blast of a horn and know that it is Freme our water man delivering those 5 gallon blue bottles of drinking water to our neighborhood.

IMG_2995He sells water for $1 a bottle and brings it right into my kitchen for me. He always has a smile and a kind word. He is more than happy to take a few fallen guayaba (guava) from my yard for juice and I am more than happy for him to take them.

Yet one more wonderful vendor who helps make our neighborhood a very special place.

7.8 Earthquake Coast of Ecuador April 16, 2016

Well it has been an unusual welcome back to San Clemente. We left Manta on Thursday April 14th getting back to San Clemente in the early afternoon.  Our wonderful neighbors David and Helena had our home spic and span ready for us to just unpack and be totally settled in.

Then Saturday early evening we were shocked with a horrific earthquake of a 7.8 magnitude.  We are still shaking from the experience.  Again our neighbors came to our rescue by arranging for us to be transported up the hill to higher ground because of the possibility of a tsunami.  There were many aftershocks during that evening with one at about 2:30am that sent Joe and I running for the driveway once again.

Well Sunday found us without power, low cell charge…I made one quick call to our daughter Jennifer who lives in Tokyo to have her get the word out to our family that we were fine just had no power.  It took the electric company almost 5 days to get the power back on which I felt was amazing and we started to get back to normal. But because we had moved our phone and internet to Manta while we were away our internet was not hooked up prior to the earthquake. We just got it back earlier today so now we are fully operational, ha ha

Sunday morning I took a few photos of the mess in our house but unfortunately it looked like I was shaking the camera and the pictures are really blurry. Our house came through great, no damage. Some concrete damage to the wall around the garden but it needed some work anyway.

Here is one picture of a house just one block away from ours.IMG_2855

We thank God for our many blessings.

Momma Duck with Ducklings, or Boats in a Row

We see some odd things from our patio. Today’s photo looks like a mother duck with her ducklings following behind but in truth it is a bigger boat with smaller boats tied behind.


IMG_2707 IMG_2710I wish I understood the logic, maybe someone can tell me the reason for this set up.

My neighbors in San Clemente Paola and Bart have given me the explanation to this mystery, I have cut their comments on Facebook and posted it below:

Maria Paola Bravo Centeno el grande es un barco de pesca y los mas pequeños se les llama pangas y sirven para descargar las pescas osea llevar el pescado a tierra sra Nancy Kowalczyk Levin

The big one is a fishing boat and the smaller they are called pangas and serve to download the fish I mean take the fish to earth Mrs Nancy Kowalczyk LevinAutomatically Translated
Like · Reply · 1 · 11 hrs
Bart El Unico
Bart El Unico Maria is right, the smaller boats take the fish, shrimp etc off the larger boat and take it to shore. Many times they buy it to resell and also take supplies to the bigger boat. I used to go out to a boat with Ramon at 5AM. We would eat breakfast on the boat, drop off supplies and buy shrimp and fish.

Like · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs

Port Watching

IMG_2581 IMG_2585 IMG_2587 IMG_2589 IMG_2601More car carrier ships arrive than cruise ships. Can’t imagine who is buying all these vehicles.

IMG_2459These big container ships unloaded SUV and cars.IMG_2456This is the Ecuador Navy’s one active submarine. It was docked off the port for a few days.

IMG_2423 IMG_2420Lake Geneva also docked and unloaded trucks, SUVs and cars.

IMG_2406IMG_2542Several cruise ships also docked this past few weeks.IMG_2522Good thing we brought the binoculars!

A Spare Mini Roll

I just love finding new items in the supermarket. This may not make any sense to folks living outside of South America but here it is a wonderful idea.

IMG_2570What you see here is a 4 pack of toilet paper where the center of each roll has a mini roll for your purse.  Some – okay, many – places in Ecuador do not supply toilet paper so it is necessary for us women to carry a small roll in our bags.  This little DUO roll will have a honored place in my purse. Sometimes in life, it’s the little things………

Las Velas Restaurant – Malecon, Manta

One of our favorite restaurants here in Manta is Las Velas. It is located right on the malecon. We have eaten there at least five times on our past visits and have found the food and service excellent each time. On Sunday afternoon Joe and I walked down to the malecon and took a table for another excellent meal.

IMG_2559 IMG_2556This is swordfish in a white wine sauce with clams and shrimp. The side dish is mushroom risotto.  I have ordered this every time I have been to this restaurant and have enjoyed it every single time. Why order something different if this is so perfect? Actually, the gentleman sitting near us overheard me raving about this dish to our waiter and asked the waiter what it was and could he have it also!IMG_2555The restaurant is outdoors with a great wine selection and an outstanding menu all with a view of the beach.IMG_2554 IMG_2553 IMG_2552Always ready for a great meal.

IMG_2561Another good job!

Why a Vacation in Manta

When we last visited Manta and on earlier trips we stayed at the Oro Verde Hotel and really fell in love with the area. So when we made the decision to take an extended vacation to Manta we wanted a place on the beach but in the Murcielago area.  We found a wonderful Realtor Elena of MantaHome – she showed us this lovely apartment on the 5th floor of a small building and we were hooked.  We moved in on the 15th of January and have been exploring old haunts as well as finding new places to visit.

One of our favorite walks takes us to the malecon where you can enjoy a great lunch or dinner, walk on the beach at all times of the day or night (this area has a police substation and constant police patrols for your peace of mind).  The malecon has kiosks where you can buy many items including clay figurines, books in Spanish, hand-made earrings, clothes, hats and even get a refreshing agua de coco as well as our favorite coffee Cafe de Pacoche from local family Eunice Jacome and her son Diego. This is where we discovered this exceptional coffee.

When Joe and I have traveled in the past and stayed in hotels, we end up longing for a bit more, so having a fully furnished apartment works so much better for us. I do love a fancy hotel but after just a few days the routine of leaving the room for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with allowing the staff cleaning time starts to get on my nerves.  Here if we decide not to leave the condo at all we can do that easily.  Being in a bigger city allows for easy access to taxis. more options for dining and much more entertainment available. It’s just a nice change of pace from the small town for a bit.IMG_2571This is the view from our balcony.

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.


Italian Anise Cookies

I really love this  – it’s the best of all the cookies that I make – first it is wonderful with a cup of coffee and they can last a good while in a tightly closed container plus if you put some of the batter in the freeze a month later you can have fresh cookies.

Italian Anise Cookie

  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 C Margarine
  • 1 C regular sugar
  • 3/4 bottle of Anise 1/2 oz. *see note below
  • 8 T Baking Powder
  • 6 C Flour

Dip fingers in oil and roll dough into meat ball sized balls.
Bake ungreased cookie sheet 12-15 minutes 375 – 400 f


  • 1/2 bag confectionery sugar
  • add a bit of hot water, start with 1 tablespoon
  • 1/2 bottle of anise flavoring 1/4 oz. or to taste
  • add food color as desired

Mix well

Right after the cookies are baked dip just the tops in glaze – let cool on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.

This year I am making a batch with almond flavoring in both the batter and the glaze.  I don’t think kids like the anise flavoring so I am trying something a bit different.

* I have not found anise flavoring on the store shelves here so I have taken star anise and add them to vodka – let stand for a week and strain though a coffee filter or cheese cloth.  This is a good substitute for store-bought anise flavoring.

Let’s put on a pot of coffee and get this party started!