Monday, December 11, 2017

Fundraiser Recap - Christmas Gifts for 70 at the Olon Orphanage

On December 24, Papa Noel will hand out Christmas gifts to 70 children and mamitas living at the Olon Orphanage. The gifts are purchased with money from fundraisers, primarily an October dinner and silent auction held in a nearby town.

Montanita is a surf and party destination town along the Ecuador coast, hosting international surf competitions and full moon parties throughout the year. Montanita's Arena Guadua Ecolodge Surfcamp was kind enough to host 2017's orphanage fundraiser.


Monday, December 4, 2017

The Legend about El Panecillo in Quito, Ecuador

“Leer, es otra forma de vivir; en realidad, una hermosa forma de vivir muchas vidas en una.”
“Reading is another way of living; actually, a beautiful way to live many lives in one.”
-- Édgar Allen García, Ecuadorian author who writes about this legend

Hill shaped like Spanish bread

This is a legend about El Panecillo, a famous hill in Quito, Ecuador. It apparently got its name because the shape reminded the Spanish conquistadors of the bread baked in Andalusia, Spain.

El Panecillo from Old Town Quito, Ecuador

El Panecillo in Inca times

Before the conquistadors arrived, the hill was known as Yavirac. The Incas celebrated Inti Raymi, the Festival to the Sun there. During the solstice, people from various regions gathered to sing, dance and drink.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cotacachi, Ecuador Expats Give Back to Community #WATWB


It is the last Friday of the month, which means it is time for the We Are The World Blogfest when we bring you positive stories from around the world. Thank you to this month's co-hosts Shilpa GargInderpreet UppalSylvia SteinSusan ScottAndrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas. Please visit their blogs for more positive stories.

Ecuador Expats Giving Back to Community

Introducing Micky Enright, an 81 year old long time Ecuador expat from the United States, who opened the doors to Lugar de Esperanza in Cotacachi, Ecuador three years ago. She and her volunteers provide breakfast, medical care, baths, and changes of clothing to senior citizens who have limited resources.

Photo courtesy of El Comercio newspaper

Monday, November 13, 2017

Calle La Ronda in Quito's Historic Old Town

"Before, tourist operators wouldn't bring travelers into the Old Town and tourists wouldn't come here on their own either." 
-- Andrea Swigilsky, general manager of the upscale boutique hotel Patio Andaluz, in a 2008 article in the New York Daily News.


Calle La Ronda (La Ronda Street) is a quaint cobblestone street in Quito's Historic Old Town, the first city to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Take a stroll down La Ronda and see centuries-old houses, artisan shops and bohemian cafes.

Calle La Ronda, Old Town Quito, Ecuador

History


Calle La Ronda's origins date back to the 1400s when it was an Inca trail. The 1500s saw Spanish colonists build houses along the street. By the early 1900s it was a popular locale for poets, artists, and musicians and looked much like it does today.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ecuador Navy Armada Includes WWII Tugboat

"fate unknown" 
-- Status of the subject of this post, according to this page

Ecuador Navy ships periodically anchor in Puerto Lopez bay. Military men and women come to town and play fútbol and volleyball, eat at restaurants and generally enjoy some time on land. They are always polite and friendly. Even their casual tops and shorts are identical and well pressed.

Ed, a Peace Corps worker in town, mentioned that the boat currently anchored offshore was previously a WWII tugboat for the USA. I began to research this ship and found it has a long history.

BAE Chimborazo (RA-70) anchored off Puerto Lopez
November 5, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

International Triathlon Excites Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

“Dirt roads, stray dogs & a community with passion for triathlon.  Tomorrow’s event will most certainly be an experience” -- Jarrod Evans, USA Triathlon Coach, in a tweet the day before the Puerto Lopez triathlon (see screen shot later in post for accompanying photos)

A triathlon in a picturesque Ecuador coastal fishing village invites athletes to enjoy pleasant weather, warm ocean temperatures, and fresh fruits. Puerto Lopez hosted the CAMTRI Triathlon American Championship for the first time. Elite athletes from around the world descended on Puerto Lopez to compete.


The week prior to the triathlon, the malecon (oceanfront road) was filled with bicyclists and runners, enjoying their pre-race workouts and learning the course. The weekend was filled with triathlons. Youth athletes competed on Friday, amateurs on Saturday and elites on Sunday. I photographed the Sunday competition.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dutch Band Donating Album Proceeds To Benefit Ecuador Orphanage #WATWB

It is the last Friday of the month, which means it is time for the We Are The World Blogfest when we bring you positive stories from around the world. Thank you to this month's co-hosts Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese, Belinda Witzenhausen, and Guilie Castillo for all you do!  Please visit their blogs for more positive news.

VANDERLINDE Live Trails Album Proceeds To Benefit Ecuador Orphanage

This is the story of an incredibly generous gift to the orphanage in Olon, Ecuador by Dutch band VANDERLINDE. All band members, the producer, the recording and mixing engineers, and the studio are donating all proceeds from their latest album, Live Trails, to benefit the orphanage. Even the recording company will promote the album for free and donate their profits.


VANDERLINDE Live Trails album cover
(click on photo to increase size)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Fresh and Simple Tomato Puree and Stewed Tomatoes

The tomato offers its gift of fiery color and cool completeness. 
--Pablo Neruda, Ode to Tomatoes

Do you need stewed tomatoes or tomato puree for your dinner recipe? You can make either from scratch in under 30 minutes.

When we moved to Ecuador in 2013, I often could not find canned tomatoes. I adapted my recipes to use fresh tomatoes instead. Canned tomatoes are easier to find now but I prefer using fresh ingredients so I still make my own sauces.

My favorite chili recipe calls for cans of stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. I make it using only unstrained tomato puree. Thought I would share with you how I make it.

Simple steps to tomato puree or stewed tomatoes

Ingredients (multiply the tomatoes by the number of cups you desire, up to 12 cups)

3/4 pounds ripe tomatoes for each 1 cup of stewed tomatoes or tomato puree

(These photos are with 2 1/4 lbs of tomatoes.)

2 1/4 pounds of tomatoes to make 3 cups of puree

Monday, October 16, 2017

International Aid Tents - From Post-Earthquake Tent City to Traveling Circus

"Sometimes by not knowing the truth we make incorrect judgments about situations"
-- Sunday Adelaja

What happened to tents from Ecuador's post-earthquake tent cities? 


After the April 16, 2016 devastating 7.8 Ecuador earthquake, international aid organizations raced to Ecuador, assisting those who lost everything. Aid organizations set up tent camps where families who lost their homes lived, some for a few weeks, some for many months, a few for more than a year.

As Ecuador recovered from the earthquake, families, one by one, vacated the tents and moved into new homes.

A second life with the circus


When the circus came to Puerto Lopez recently, performers set up their own tent housing behind the big tent. Two of the tents looked familiar. On closer inspection, they were from the tent camps like those my friend Pastor Gary Vance visited after the earthquake.

Tent behind circus big top in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wasp Nest Removal - Not A Recommend Method

"Remove the nest at night time. Wasps are more docile during this time so are less likely to sting"
-- Pretty much every 'Wasp Nest Removal' guide, like this one

Two young girls had an unhappy meeting with wasps and had no interest in more encounters. It was up to us to remove the threat on the lot next door. While clearing brush, buzzing around us increased, letting us know we were closing in on the nest. It's size impressed us once we found it.

Active wasp nest in tree

I suggested we return at dusk to remove and burn the nest. I was voted down. Paul decided he and Scott would remove it right now.

In the middle of the day.

When the wasps are most active.

Monday, October 2, 2017

39,000 Volunteers Clean Ecuador Beaches, Rivers, and Ocean Floors

"Think globally, act locally."
-- Origins of the phrase are disputed according to Wikipedia

Ecuador Environmental Protection

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to provide constitutional protection for the environment. This does not mean that garbage is always deposited in a receptacle nor that all packaging is biodegradable. What it does mean, among many other things, is that students learn about the negative impact plastic in oceans and rivers have on the planet.

Rings on beverage cans can kill marine life.
From Manabi Province Environment Ministry Tweet

Since 2010, Ecuador's Environment Ministry has been leading a September cleanup as part of International Beach Cleaning Day, promoted by the International Ocean Conservancy Organization. Volunteers take action when others leave garbage behind. It is often easier to begin taking action when you are surrounded by friends doing the same. The Environment Ministry hosted Accion por el Planeta beach cleanup day on September 30, 2017. (Note the September 16 international day this year was during Ecuador school holidays. Ecuador waited until school resumed before hosting their day.)

Act Locally

At the Puerto Lopez meeting point, volunteers congregated, obtained motivational words on why we were here, obtained supplies, then dispersed and began cleaning the beach.

Volunteers, primarily high school students, cleaning Puerto Lopez beach
September 30, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

Messages of Solidarity from Ecuador to Mexico After Earthquakes #WATWB

“The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you're talking about because she experienced that thing too cannot be overestimated.” 


Welcome to September's installment of the We are the World Blogfest, where we share positive news on the last Friday of each month. Thank you to this month's WATWB co-hosts: Michelle Wallace, Shilpa Garg, Andrea Michaels, Peter Nena, and Emerald Barnes.

Once your life has been turned upside down by a natural disaster and you have recovered, you are in a unique position to assist those who have theirs turned upside down by a similar one.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Puerto Lopez Canton Celebrates Anniversary With A Parade

For me, a day spent monitoring the passing parade is a day well-spent. 
-- Garry Trudeau

Happy 23rd Birthday Puerto Lopez Canton

Manteño civilization artifacts are often unearthed when digging ground for new cisterns or homes in Puerto Lopez. The town has been around for a long time. Although people have lived here for many years, Puerto Lopez Canton was created 23 years ago (a canton is comprised of several neighboring towns and villages, much like a county in the United States).

The canton celebrated on August 31 with an anniversary parade in their canton seat, the town of Puerto Lopez. Main street is closed, anyone not participating lines the sidewalks and the parade participants make their way through town.


Welcome Back, Parade

The 2016 parade was cancelled following the April 16 7.8 earthquake. Many people in towns north of Puerto Lopez were still living in tents. (I wrote about the night of the earthquake here and some of those in tents here.) People in town who had lost their homes were still living with friends or relatives. Puerto Lopez skipped a huge celebration out of respect.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Baby Llama at the Inca Ruins

"Mama Llama's always near, even if she's not right here."
-- Anna Dewdney, Llama Lama Red Pajama

Llamas and Inca Ruins

A baby llama (a cria) running around Inca ruins adds lively entertainment to a leisurely stroll through history.

Cria at the Inca Ruins

The terraces in Cuenca's Pumapungo Inca ruins (which I wrote about here) are filled in with grass. Llamas tethered to the ground are moved around the grounds to keep the grass short. Like most baby animals, crias stay close to their mother so they are not tethered. They are able to run and bounce around, learning about the world around them and making friends. On this day, llamas mowed the grass on a large terrace above the gardens.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Puerto Lopez Boat Maintenance

Spring tides result in high waters that are higher than average, low waters that are lower than average, 'slack water' time that is shorter than average, and stronger tidal currents than average.

Disclaimer

I am not a boater nor do play one on TV. My father lives on a boat in California's San Francisco Bay. When I lived there, he wanted to teach me boating but I was never interested in more than riding along. To any boaters reading this, please bear with me as I may use terms incorrectly. Perhaps you will get a nice laugh while you read how a layperson writes about boats.

Puerto Lopez, Ecuador boat maintenance

Puerto Lopez fishermen and tour boat operators perform minor hull maintenance during extreme low tides in a shallow area on the south end of the beach. Spring tides, when the low tide is lowest just after a full or new moon, provide the best time to do this maintenance. That ensures the most possible time for maintenance before the water rises again. The first days after full or new moons are when we see the most boat maintenance.

Painting a shrimp boat hull

Southern Puerto Lopez 

I spent a few days after the last full moon watching the tides and the boat maintenance at the south end of the Puerto Lopez bay. It was interesting to see the dry docking process during the receding tide, then the subsequent float while the tide returned.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Liebster Award

Wow! I received a blog award! What an honor to be nominated by author and editor Nick Wilford from Speculative Author - Making the impossible reality. Thank you Nick! I enjoy his blog, where he shares thoughts and information for authors and potential authors as well as his own writing journey. Nick is a professionally trained freelance editor and proofreader with a background in journalism. You can find more information about these services here.


Liebster Award

"Liebster" is a German word meaning beloved or dearest. It is an online recognition in form of virtual award which started in 2011 passed on by bloggers to fellow bloggers for enjoying and valuing their work. The idea is to recognize the effort and give credit.

Monday, August 28, 2017

River Laundry

It turns out that a husband who does the laundry, it's very romantic when you're older. And it's hard to believe when you're younger. But it's absolutely true. 

Machine or River

Do you wash your laundry in a machine or a nearby river? If I were a betting woman, I would bet you use a washing machine. I do, too, as do most people in Ecuador. Some, though, wash laundry the old fashioned way - in a river.

Washing laundry in the Tomebamba River
Cuenca, Ecuador

Friday, August 25, 2017

DoMinga - Volunteers Cleaning Beaches #WATWB

Welcome to August's installment of the We Are The World Blogfest, when we share positive news on the last Friday of each month. Thank you to this month's WATWB co-hosts: Simon FalkRoshan RadhakrishnanInderpreet Uppal, Lynn HallbrooksEric Lahti, and Mary J Giese

This month I am writing about a weekly Puerto Lopez, Ecuador beach cleanup effort. I have no article to link to so I will just tell you about it.

Where plastic bags thrown on the ground go

Dead or dying whales, dolphins and sea turtles periodically wash up on shore, stomachs full of plastic. A plastic bag tossed out a car window miles from shore flows into the ocean, carried by rivers and wind. That plastic bag, along with other garbage, threatens to become a death sentence when sea creatures eat it.

There are already an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Containing the plastic before it makes it to the ocean is the best way to prevent that number from growing.



DoMinga in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Environmentally minded Kelley Budding owns Puerto Lopez based Tentáculo to offer exhilarating, educational experiences that encourage positive interaction and facilitate a deeper understanding of global culture. She also partnered with a national group, Mingas por el Mar, to help keep Puerto Lopez beach litter free.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Rice Fields - Beauty, Predators and Allies

Planting rice is not a joke
Just bending all day long
You can't even stand still
You can't even sit down.
-- Traditional Filipino Folk Song

Rice is a staple in Ecuadorian meals. It is generally served with your main meal regardless of what the entree is. A typical meal might include soup, chicken, rice, green salad, potato salad, and juice. The other side dishes vary but rice is always included. On separate occasions, I have served chili and spaghetti to guests and been asked if there was any rice (I had not made any). When eating out, I have been served a side of rice with my spaghetti so I suppose I should have known.

Since so much rice is eaten, a lot is grown. People in rice growing areas sell huge bags on the side of the road so you do not have travel to a market to make a purchase, just pull over for a few moments.

Rice for sale along the side of the road - prices in US dollars

Monday, August 14, 2017

Imagination, Moats And Drawbridges

Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. 
--Albert Einstein

When you were young did you dream of living in a castle with a moat and a drawbridge? Maybe you imagined you were a prince or a princess and your dog was your pet dragon, guarding your drawbridge.

Some kids in Ecuador's rice country have bridges over aqueducts leading to their homes. Parents build the bridge to get from A to B.


Imagination turns the bamboo walkway into a drawbridge (albeit one that does not raise) over a moat protecting the family castle.

Monday, August 7, 2017

When The Rooster Crows

“Where the rooster crows there is a village.” 
-- African Proverb

I spent most of my life thinking roosters only crowed at dawn. I was wrong. I had not lived among roosters before moving to Ecuador. These roosters are truly free range. They and their hens live in the open, without fences or cages, in every village.

Roosters, hens and chicks run around the neighborhood like dogs and cats during the day. They return home each night to sleep.

In Ecuador, roosters crow at any time of the day or night. This curious habit made me wonder what makes roosters crow.

Hey Mister Rooster - Why do you crow day and night?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tree Stump Art

"We have those in Houston now, too." 
-- My Mom when I told her about the chainsaw tree stump art in Cuenca

Many years ago, when my husband and I cut down a tree in our California backyard, we left the tree stump about 6 feet tall. Scott built a bird feeder on top of the stump. I planted flowers at the base. Birds enjoyed the feeder year round. It never occurred to either of us to take a chainsaw to the stump to create something beautiful.

Tree stump art was not a thing back then. Most people we knew struggled with removing unwanted stumps. We were glad to find something useful to do with ours. In recent years, people have been turning stumps into works of art.

City Park in Houston, Minnesota

During a recent visit to my hometown of Houston, Minnesota, Mom and I stopped to look at the tree stump art in the city park. It was something I had also seen in Parque de la Madre in Cuenca, Ecuador. Art is now found where trees once stood. The trees in both parks had to be removed due to disease. The parks kept the stump tall enough to transform it into beautiful chainsaw carved works of art.

Houston (population 978) is home to the International Owl Center, the only one of it's kind in North America. It advances the survival of wild owl populations through education and research. Around town, various owl themes can be found. In spring 2017, artist Molly Wiste carved four owls into one trunk in the city park. The level of detail in each owl is impressive.

Tree stump owl art, Houston City Park

Parque de la Madre in Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca's (population 400,000) Parque de la Madre (Mother's Park) celebrates (surprise!) mothers. The carvings in this park began in 2015. Several artists were commissioned to create four pieces each. You will not be surprised to learn that much of the tree stump art is shaped like women.

Pregnant woman, Parque de la Madre

Friday, July 28, 2017

Orphanage Teens Learn to Express Themselves Through DJing #WATWB

Welcome to July's installment of the We Are The World Blogfest, where we share positive stories on the last Friday of each month. The basic rules are:
  • Keep the post below 500 words. 
  • Link to a human news story that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood and share an excerpt.
  • No story is too big or small as long as it goes beyond religion and politics.
Thank you to this month's WATWB co-hosts:  Simon FalkRoshan RadhakrishnanInderpreet Uppal, Damyanti Biswas and Sylvia Stein. 

I previously wrote a couple of times about the Olon Orphanage (here and here). It is one of the happiest places I know. I love spending time there.

I was thrilled to see this story in the Huffington Post. Cynthia Cherish Malaran (DJ CherishTheLuv), a breast cancer survivor, recently spent three weeks in Ecuador. She was introduced to the orphanage by Erwin Musper, who works tirelessly to improve lives at the orphanage.

Cynthia came to teach young girls how to DJ. From the article:
“Actually, I taught these young teens how to express themselves creatively and loudly, under the guise of DJing. These girls have been traumatized. Silenced. Teaching them how to express themselves gives them the green light to ask for what they want. To say ‘no!’ To ask for a raise at work. It can change their life. Even save their life. I went there thinking I had something to teach them. But actually, they taught me… I came back a few days ago,” Cynthia reports, “and I was looking at all these sad, unhappy faces here in our awesome New York City, and I was so confused. I came back and realized we have everything. We have everything and yet, we’re not happy. The girls at the orphanage have the bare minimum, yet they are so happy. Why? Because they have each other.”


Cynthia teaching DJ techniques
Image from Huffington Post

Monday, July 24, 2017

Inca Ruins in the City

"Everything has crumbled and in ruins but you can still appreciate how grand it was."
-- Pedro Cieza de León, 1547, chronicler of the Spanish conquest, speaking about Tomebamba

Northern Inca Capital

The Inca conquered the Cañari people in 1470 and established the city-state of Tomebamba (Large Plateau) high in the Andes mountains. Emperor Huayna Capac (ruled 1493-1525) selected Tomebamba, where he was born, to be the Inca northern capital.

It was a short lived capital. A civil war between Incan brothers in the 1520s led to it's destruction. When the Spanish arrived in 1532, it was already in ruins. They established the modern day city of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca, burying most of the ruins under new buildings.

Pumapungo Archaeological Park

Today, the remains of the old capital are in the historic center of Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city. Visit Pumapungo (Puma Gate) Archaeological Park, located near the Tomebamba river, to stroll among Inca ruins in the middle of a city.

The features include footprints of buildings, a pool, ovens, gardens, terraces, canals, and a mausoleum.

Acllas (also called Chosen Women, Virgins of the Sun, and Wives of the Inca)

On top of the terraced hill are footprints of acllawasi (house of the chosen women) buildings where sequestered young women lived and learned. The acllas were selected when they were between ages 8 and 10. Families whose girls were selected saw their own social status rise. During their 4 years in the acllawasi the girls learned to produce luxury items like fine woven cloths, to prepare ritual foods, and other skills to service the social elite.

Once trained, some of the acllas were given as wives to warriors who distinguished themselves in battle. Others were concubines for the emperor and a few lived out their lives in the acllawasi. Those deemed most perfect were selected for human sacrifice during religious rites.

Footprints of acllawasi

Monday, July 17, 2017

Painting A Tall Building, Ecuador Style

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it."
-- Pericles

Painting tall buildings is not a job for which I will ever submit an application. Heights and I no longer get along. Perhaps Pericles would say I am not brave enough.

These four painters in Guayaquil, however, are. I hope they had a clear vision of what was before them when they accepted the work.


Monday, July 10, 2017

A Drive Up the Andes


"I can speak to my soul only when the two of us are off exploring deserts or cities or mountains or roads."

-- Paulo Coelho

Driving through dense fog is a stressful challenge. Breaking through that fog and getting above it can make for a relaxing drive, especially in the Andes mountains. These mountains are gorgeous.



Taking the road less traveled


The route Scott and I take from the coastal city of Guayaquil to the Andes mountain city of Cuenca is generally less foggy with fewer cars than the shorter and more popular route through El Cajas National Park.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Never Ending Aftershocks

"Anyone else just feel an earthquake in Cuenca?"
-- Facebook post by the author, June 30, 2017, 5:32 PM

June 30, 2017, 5:29 PM
The building began swaying back and forth, as if an enormously strong wind was blowing. There was only a light breeze outside. My husband, Scott, and I were reading in our tenth floor Cuenca apartment. We looked at each other, both saying "earthquake" at the same time.

There was no panic nor even any movement toward getting up from our chairs. We knew it was too light to be a problem for us. We were concerned about those living near the epicenter, wherever that was.

I posted on Facebook asking if anyone else felt it. It was my way to simultaneously find out how far the reach was and to confirm that friends were okay. Within minutes, I heard from people in various parts of the country. Most had felt it and some had felt nothing. Thankfully, no one was reporting injuries or damage.

Scott looked at his Sismo Ecuador application. The initial report was a 6.5 earthquake near Jama on the Ecuador coast, 331 kilometers from where we were.

We were in Cuenca during earthquake, 331 kms from Jama

Friday, June 30, 2017

3D Technology Helping Animals in Cuenca, Ecuador #WATWB

Welcome to June's installment of the We Are The World Blogfest, where we share positive stories on the last Friday of each month. The basic rules are:
  • Keep the post below 500 words. 
  • Link to a human news story that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood and share an excerpt.
  • No story is too big or small as long as it goes beyond religion and politics.
Thank you to this month's WATWB hosts: Belinda Witzenhausen,  Lynn Hallbrooks,  Michelle WallaceSylvia McGrath, and Sylvia Stein.

I have selected a story found in the Cuenca Dispatch about veterinarian Johnny Uday and electronics engineer and robotics expert Gabriel Delgado, who have brought 3D imaging to injured animals in Cuenca, Ecuador. I may be stretching the rules since this is more of an animal news story but I am an animal lover and I am human, hence, human news story.

Imagine being a bird with a broken beak and trying to break down foods before eating them. I am amazed that a prosthetic beak can be printed using 3D technology.

In addition to prosthetic parts, they are providing cast-like exoskeletons on injured limbs to allow body parts to heal properly.

Prosthetic Beak
From Cuenca Dispatch, Issue 45

Monday, June 26, 2017

Community Theater in Cuenca

"You Know You've Worked in Community Theatre if... 

...your living room sofa spends more time on stage than you do. 

...you have your own secret family recipe for stage blood. 

...you've ever appeared on stage wearing your own clothes."


The majority of my time in Ecuador has been in small coastal towns with no movie theaters.  My husband and I decided to spend the first half of 2017 in the Andes mountains. We chose the city of Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city.  We were looking forward to going to a movie or two while in the big city.

We found something that we enjoy so much more - live theater! Azuay Community Theater (ACT) performs several plays per year. According to their Facebook page, the ACT mission is:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quito Layover Tour

Planning

I recently had a twelve hour layover in Quito, Ecuador's capital and second largest city. My initial plans were to read while at the Quito airport and not much else. My imagination had this layover seeming to last a very long twelve hours.

Instead of staying at the airport, I decided to go on a six hour tour with Tours Around Quito. With my flight arriving around Noon, the tour would take me right up to a few minutes before the 6:30 sunset.

Quito Airport Arrival

Gustavo Tupiza, who owns Tours Around Quito with his wife, Elizabeth, picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to the historic district, Centro Histórico.

It happened to be May 24, a national holiday, and the day of the presidential inauguration. We had to get into and out of the historic area before it closed to vehicle traffic at 4:00 for inauguration festivities. After parking, we began our walking tour on Calle la Ronda, a street that comes alive at night.
La Ronda Street in Quito
The cobblestone streets and pedestrian walkways meander between buildings constructed over several centuries.

Monday, June 12, 2017

You've Got (No) Mail!

“I've always felt there is something sacred in a piece of paper that travels the earth from hand to hand, head to head, heart to heart.”
― Robert Michael Pyle, Sky Time in Gray's River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place 

Millions of people order products online every day simply by entering their address and payment information. Perhaps you are one of them. I used to be.

What would you do if you did not have home mail delivery or a post office box? I know the answer because I have neither. I can't order products online and have them delivered to my home. There is an upside to this...

I receive no junk mail! In fact, I receive no mail at all. Home mail delivery is not a standard practice here.

Ecuador does have a national postal system. A few years ago, they even assigned postal codes throughout the country.

Mail arrives in large cities daily and in smaller towns regularly. For example, it arrives in Puerto Lopez every Wednesday.

Historic mailbox in Puerto Lopez
Not in operation
People do send and receive packages, it just is not as simple as it was in the US.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Living History - Agua Blanca

Ecotourism: Tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife. 
-- Oxford Living Dictionaries

Agua Blanca is a friendly historic community five minutes northeast of Puerto Lopez. Some residents are direct descendants of the Manteño civilization, who lived here between 800 and 1532 A.D.

Community members keep their history alive with their lifestyle. They enjoy sharing their history with the public via tourism and a full time archaeology project in which anyone can participate. I wrote about my digging day here.

The small community has several hundred residents and several thousand goats. The goats wander around everywhere except crop fields, where they are fenced out, and inside buildings.

Goats can go anywhere except where crops are grown

Agua Blanca was one of the first Ecuadorian coastal communities to embrace ecotourism in the 1980's.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cuenca's Seven Acre Market - Feria Libre

"Wherever possible, I like to use home-grown or locally produced ingredients."
-- Mary Berry

Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site for its beautiful historic buildings. Ecuador's third largest city, Cuenca is 2500 meters (8200 feet) high in the Andes mountains. With tourists focused on architecture, it is easy for them to miss what could be a highlight of their trip.

In my opinion, the Feria Libre seven acre market is a must see. People travel from miles around to buy and sell goods. It even has it's own bus terminal. Buyers know this is where they will find the lowest prices. Entrepreneurs rent space knowing good products will move quickly.

While it is open every day, Saturdays and Wednesdays are the busiest. More people come those days, knowing the most products are available. Vibrant colors and numerous aromas fill the senses from all around.

The produce sections encompass areas surrounding the building exterior as well as large areas within them.

Neatly arranged produce at an indoor vendor

Friday, May 26, 2017

#WATWB - Clean Drinking Water

This is my first post for the We Are The World Blogfest, which occurs on the last Friday of every month.

I chose a story I wrote about a man providing clean drinking water to thousands in coastal Ecuador.

A few weeks after the April 16, 2016 7.8 Ecuador earthquake, Tennessee pastor Gary Vance arrived in Puerto Lopez. He had a suitcase full of water filters and a plan - provide clean drinking water for those who needed it.

Installed water filter post-earthquake, Ecuador
Photo courtesy of Gary Vance

Thursday, May 25, 2017

We Are The World Blogfest

I will be participating in the We Are The World Blogfest on the last Friday of each month.

What is the #WATWB?
Social media and news in recent times has been filled with hate and negativity. Just as you cannot fight darkness, only light lamps, Hate and Negativity cannot be fought. You need to bring Love and Positivity forward instead.

If you’re tired of negativity and strife on blogs and social media, check out the We Are the World Blogfest!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rain in the Classroom


"We get rained on while sitting at our desks."
-- Augustine, high school student in Puerto Lopez

A friend asked if we could help a Puerto Lopez student, Augustine, with his leaky classroom roof.

Augustine gave us a school tour and explained the issue - students unlucky enough to sit under holes in the roof get wet during rains. They remove their books so they don't ruin them. Government funding was not available because the school was slated to be replaced.
Roof in need of repair
I wondered how could anyone learn in that environment.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Guayaquil's Historic Park Wildlife

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
-- Gary Snyder

Free attractions abound in Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city. I highlighted three in an earlier post. One of my favorites is a historical park full of plants and animals.

Parque Histórico (Historic Park) is a relaxing retreat in the big city. The park has three distinct areas - wildlife, historic architecture, and traditional lifestyle. Today I focus only on wildlife.

The park's plants and animals are all native to Ecuador. Some animals injured in the wild find homes here.

Meandering through the park, pausing frequently to listen to the birds is a relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon. Raised walkways provide incredible proximity for visitors.

Visitors are close to nature on raised walkways
Parque Histórico

Let's meet some residents!

Monday, May 8, 2017

A to Z Reflections 2017 #AtoZChallenge

I survived the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge and earned a badge!


It is tradition for participants to post reflections after the Challenge. Here are mine.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zoo - I live in one! #AtoZChallenge

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo. 
-- Paul Simon

When I wrote my first post for the A to Z Challenge, I did not know the what the remaining posts were going to be about. While blogging about my life in Ecuador for the past month, I realized that I live in a zoo. A natural, wild, amazing zoo!

Throughout the month, I introduced the following zoo residents: (click link to open post)
  1. Blue-footed boobies
  2. Humpback whales
  3. Iguanas
  4. A Monkey
  5. Owls
  6. A Frog
  7. Sea Turtles

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Yuletide at the Olon Orphanage #AtoZChallenge

The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens, easing others' loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays. -- W. C. Jones

December 24 is my favorite day of the year. I spend it at the Fundación Santa Maria de la Esperanza Orphanage, or Olon Orphanage, as it is called.  The children give a performance for donors and volunteers who have assisted them throughout the year. It is their beautiful way of saying thank you.

Here are some highlights from the 2016 performance.

Nativity Reenactment


Mary and Joseph, seeking accommodation

Friday, April 28, 2017

Xanthophobia, Xenoepist, Xyzlacatosis #AtoZChallenge

The author suffered from xyzlacatosis. 
-- grab.com

Merriam-Webster publishes a list of user submitted new words & slang in their open dictionary. They remain there until they make it into the dictionary. Three words beginning with X caught my eye.

First I list the submitted word with definition. Then I use it in a sentence.
    • One of the primary colors on Ecuador's flag and national fútbol team is yellow. If you suffer from xanthophobia, Ecuador may not be the best place for you.
Yellow shirts are common in Ecuador

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Water. Clean Drinking Water #AtoZChallenge

Drinking tap water in coastal Ecuador is a great way to get parasites. Or worse.
-- EJB

A few weeks after the April 16, 2016 7.8 Ecuador earthquake, Tennessee pastor Gary Vance arrived in Puerto Lopez. He had a suitcase full of water filters and a plan - provide clean drinking water for those who needed it.

Clean water welcomed in a tent camp
Photo courtesy of Gary Vance

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vegetable Ivory - Tagua #AtoZChallenge

Thinking in generations also means enabling our young to have a decent standard of living. 
-- Paul Tsongas

Tagua, sometimes called vegetable ivory for it's resemblance to elephant ivory, is a nut from the Tagua palm tree. The hard white inner nut can be carved and polished like ivory.

Artists carve it into jewelry, figurines, and many other products. My friend Marianne Fry in Puerto Lopez has been designing and exporting hand-carved Tagua products for 18 years through her company, Feel Good Exports.

Each piece is hand crafted by artisans living in remote areas. These products afford families an opportunity to make a decent life for themselves who could otherwise be living off the land or separated. Without this Tagua work, one parent may move to a different town or country to earn money. 
Hand-Carved Tagua Figurines
Baúl de Tesoros, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Hand-Carved Tagua Jewelry
Baúl de Tesoros, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
Marianne and her husband, Abdullah, own the Baúl de Tesoros (Treasure Chest) gallery in Puerto Lopez. They feature Tagua as well as products from artists throughout Ecuador.
Wall hangings and purses made in Ecuador
Baúl de Tesoros, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Metal figurines made in Ecuador
Baúl de Tesoros, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
Is there an export from your area that is relatively unknown?

If you are visiting from the #AtoZChallenge please include your blog link in a comment so I can check it out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Underwater Endangered Testudines (a.k.a. Sea Turtles) #AtoZChallenge

The beach is in our blood. Everyone in our family returns to the beach instinctively, just like the sea turtles.
-- Sandy Archibald

Four sea turtles species live off the coast of Ecuador. Green Turtles, Leatherbacks, and Olive-Ridley are endangered and Hawksbills are critically endangered. People are working to improve their numbers and chances of species survival.
Sea Turtle
Isla de la Plata, Manabí, Ecuador

Sea turtles live the majority of their lives in the ocean but are born on beaches. Female sea turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay eggs. Each egg nest is marked to prevent human damage.
Each nest is marked with caution tape and
a sign identifying it as a turtle egg nest.
Santa Rosa Beach, Manta, Manabí
November, 2013

Volunteers with the foundation Oceans 2 Earth, Machalilla National Park, and people living near beaches monitor nesting areas. They record and mark the nests.

People return when the eggs are expected to hatch. They count the babies as they run to the ocean. They also ensure that the baby turtles run toward the ocean. They sometimes run inland by mistake. Humans help turn them around.

Adult sea turtles are frequently seen near reefs just off Isla de la Plata, where groups snorkel after touring the island to see blue-footed boobies.

Sea Turtle
Isla de la Plata, Manabí, Ecuador
The Machalilla National Park veterinarian maintains the Marine Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Puerto Lopez. Injured turtles receive care until they are healthy enough to be returned to the ocean.

Humans are responsible for the majority of turtle injuries, including cuts from boat propellers, plastic ingestion, and fishing net damage.

Have you seen turtles in the wild?


If you are visiting from the #AtoZChallenge please include your blog link in a comment so I can check it out.