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.

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Fruits and Peppers in the Garden

We have such an abundance from our garden.  Below are just a few of the fruits that we gather each week. I am happy to say that many of my neighbors and folks on my daily walk like guava or guayaba, everyone here uses lemons on almost a daily basis so we are happy to share what our garden produces. Some of our other trees do not yet produce enough to share a great deal. I just cannot use all that we get from our garden so giving the egg delivery guys a bag full of guayaba is a wonderful way to thank them for their service and use the extra fruits that Joe and I can not eat.

San Clemente 8.4.2014 048We are blessed to have found a home that had a garden filled with fruit trees. Each day we pick fruits for our table and share with neighbors and friends.

San Clemente 8.4.2014 036San Clemente 9.23.2014 011San Clemente 9.23.2014 029San Clemente 9.23.2014 027The above four photos are our pomegranate or granadas.  I have made Pomegranate Syrup to use on pancakes.

San Clemente 8.4.2014 043San Clemente 8.4.2014 046These are one of several lemon trees that give us fruit almost year round. The trees have just finished blossoming and we have picked all the old fruit to allow the new fruit all the nourishment the tree can give them.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 030San Clemente 9.23.2014 031San Clemente 9.23.2014 026The pepper plants in the ground are not as happy as the ones in the pot. Our soil is basically sand, I am amazed anything can grow in it.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 028San Clemente 8.4.2014 037Star fruit or fruta china is an exotic fruit, sweet, juicy. Wonderful for juice but they never make it to the juicer. With only one ripe at a time it is so easy just to wash it and eat it right out in the yard. And that is what I do most times.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 024This papaya is located outside our fence but it started from seeds that I tossed so I think of it as mine, ja ja  They are getting close, I just hope they are sweet with dark fruit, some of the lighter fruit papayas are tasteless.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 025San Clemente 8.4.2014 040Naranjilla is another exotic fruit and I do not think its natural habitat is on the coast. This is a sierra fruit but I found a tree and am babying it hopefully soon to put it in the ground.  The leaves and stems have thorns and can cause some good pinches. You can use the fruit for juice by boiling it for about 10 minutes and then blending and straining, adding water and some sugar. I like to use it in Seco de Chivo or Seco de Pollo.

San Clemente 9.25.2014 024Our guava or guyaba tree seems to be always producing. I make marmalade and paste from the fruit as well as an occasional batido. The tree is also a wonderful shade tree to keep our little yard cool during those hot sunny days.

San Clemente 9.23a.2014 002San Clemente 9.23a.2014 001Thanks for taking the tour of our garden which is only 20 x 30 feet. Small but filled with such surprises. And smiles.

Naranjilla in Bloom

The other day while watering my plants I took a good look at my naranjilla plant (gift given to me by Deborah Millard just a few months ago) and was very surprised to see it was in flower. It is so small I just did not feel it would start to bear fruit for years, much less in a handful of months.

San Clemente 9.5.2013 007 San Clemente 9.5.2013 006 San Clemente 9.5.2013 004From searching online it looks like even this little plant can have fruit.  Not sure if I should allow it to continue to fruit or get rid of the flowers so that the tree itself would strengthen, if anyone has any experience with naranjilla let me know what you think.

Kefir

While living in Panama, I was given a gift of Kefir Grains. I did not know anything about kefir at the time but decided to try it. What a wonderful yogurt type drink it makes. I think it is more flavorful than anything you buy in the store. First I guess I need to explain that kefir is a probiotic beverage. I have purchased two types of grains: milk kefir grains and water kefir grains.The milk kefir grains can be used with cow milk, goat milk or coconut milk. The water kefir grains can be used with sugar-water, juice or coconut water but more on water kefir when I start working with that in a few weeks.

Kefir grains consist of bacteria and yeast existing in a symbiotic relationship. The term “kefir grains” describes the look of the culture only – it is not a grain at all.

San Clemente 8.18b.2013 002I purchased these grains from a company in the US and had a friend bring them with her when she visited the states last month. They come in a dehydrated state and need to be rehydrated with milk to work properly.

Kefir 8.11.2013 008 I have a supply of raw milk delivered to my door three times a week. For .60 cents I buy a quart of beautiful full fat milk that I have used for making puddings in the past. Now I am using it for my kefir. It will take up to 8 attempts to get my grains really producing. Right now I am only making one cup at a time to get the grains to multiply. Once they start to multiply I will have more grains than needed and will eventually be able to share with friends and neighbors.

Kefir 8.11.2013 011The result, using one cup of kefir with a half pint of fresh frozen strawberries, was two dessert dishes of almost soft-serve consistency. No sugar added just the fresh frozen berries with the tart kefir…it was a hit.

Pomegranates (Granadas)

Pomegranates are bountiful on the little tree we have in our yard. I have handed them out as folks come by because unless I decide to juice them we will never eat all the fruit. Just one section has the following fruits.

San Clemente 7.18.2013 008The trees are lush and green with more fruit now that they are being watered and fertilized regularly.  We may have to remove this tree when we finish our plans for a ramada and patio in this section of the yard.  I would love to try to transplant it to another part of the yard but am afraid that it will die if I do that. Anyone have any suggestions on how to move this beauty with a high rate of success?

I did plant a few seeds at the suggestion of my friend Deborah from Bahia and have what looks to be three baby trees starting up. She did tell me that grow fast so my next move is to transplant them to their own container and see how fast they really grow.

San Clemente 8.3.2013 017I also tried juicing the seeds, it worked well adding them to the blender and giving it a quick buzz for about 20 seconds. Pour into a strainer and uses a spatula to squeeze the juice out of the pulp. It was delicious and this is an easy way to use the fruit.