Blog Hits 100,000 Views, Thank You

Well today is a pretty special day for us and the blog. My readers have now viewed the blog 100,000 times as of today. Thank you, thank you, thank you for following our adventure, our little bitty lives in Ecuador. I started the blog July 6, 2010 as a way to archive our stories as well as safekeeping of our photos. When we first arrived in Ecuador to start our new lives was the perfect time to start writing.

That adventure took us to Quito to get our visa applications started, Puerto Lopez just for the fun of it, Salinas, Playas and now to our home in San Clemente.

It has been a wonderful experience none of which we would change.

Thank you again for being a part of our lives. We now consider you our extended family wherever you may be.

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Christmas in August

Joe and I are big readers and when we lived in Panama we had a wonderful used bookstore “The Bookmark” within walking distance from our home.  We were spoiled, Hal would order anything you wanted from the US and had a really good selection on hand.

When we moved we left with five suitcases – holding all our worldly belongings. Yes, some books made it that were extremely precious to us like our family bible, Purpose Driven Life, three cookbooks that I have owned for almost 30 years and my three handwritten books of recipes along with Atlas Shrugged,  several works by Anthony de Mello and of course our guides to Ecuador and South America.  In our travels we have purchased books in Quito, exchanged books at several places in Puerto Lopez but found ourselves book deprived here in Salinas. We did get an offer from Ocean Hideaway to exchange books there but between getting settled in with all the apartment chores and just trying to relax after several months on the road we have not had the time nor the energy to visit.

Joe found a bookmark that we were given from Confederate Bookstore in Quito, (Calama 410 y Juan Leon Mera) in his last unread book . So he emailed Bill Grochowski (billgrok@hotmail.com) the owner with a proposition, we would give him a list of authors and some specific book choices and asked if he would put together a box of book and ship them down to us.  It worked perfectly and yesterday our package arrived.

Books, Books, Books

Books, Books, Books

It was like Christmas, Joe and I opening this huge box and pulling out a wonderful selection of reading material.  Bill even picked out a few cookbooks that will keep me busy in the kitchen and make Joe very happy.

Our only decision now is which book to read first as our hammocks are ready and waiting for us.

Money — It’s a real trip here!

The money used in Ecuador is the US Dollar. That is good for those of us who would have a problem learning about exchange rates – it’s tough enough having what Joe calls “cabeza frito” or “cabeza frita” depending whether he is talking about his fried head or my fried head.  We struggle each day with our Spanish. It’s not that we don’t try — we listened to several different tapes for months on end and only learn by repeating it over and over again in every day life.  Well to add another item to our over taxed brains would be way over the top so we are very happy that the US Dollar is what is in use here.

But you need to know about a few items, if you think you can just walk around with $50 or $100 and pass them out you will quickly get a wake up call.  We found that using $20 in Quito was fine in almost all circumstances and did so to get every dollar and coin we could get our hands on, which I set aside for when we were back on the coast.  Because as soon as you leave a big city and go to, lets say, Puerto Lopez, it’s a totally different money climate.  Most places don’t have any change. If you go into a bank and ask for cambio they won’t give you much more than $10 and maybe a few $5.  Taxi’s want exact change, the small tiendas want exact change even when you go into a larger grocery store and give them 3 – $20’s they ask if you have exact change.

Coins used in Ecuador

Coins used in Ecuador

Ecuador mints their own coins and they are the same size, look and feel of the equivalent US coin. They are also very partial to the $1 US coin which they do not mint.

I have gone to several banks and have asked for change  for a $20 bill I have never once been given a one or a dollar coin they will give me $5’s and $10’s that’s all. Yesterday we went to our bank and got $300 worth of small bills, including 100 $1 dollar bills – this will not last long and they did not have any $1 coins.  If you use a taxi or bus they expect to receive exact change.

Our advice for anyone coming to visit or moving here is to bring a nice supply of singles and some change with you as it will be very difficult unless you will be in a big city to get change.

Ecuador Andes – these guys were great

This group was playing at Parque La Carolina when we were in Quito.  I like the pan flute but these guys did not do the standard stuff you hear they did their own take on Andes Music with a young contemporary approach.  We watched them perform for almost an hour they were very entertaining.

Back to Quito to finalize our residency

On May 16, our attorney had us come back to Quito to complete the final phase of our residency.  We spent another few weeks taking in the beauty of this great city especially the area surrounding Parque La Carolina.  Our stay at Finlandia Hotel was exceptional, everything was perfect even though they were in the process of adding a 4th story to the building and we were on the third floor.

We again got to eat out at some of my new favorite restaurants including a great place for steak La Barcarola located in Plaza Kendo (Av. República El
Salvador y Portugal).- under the owner, Oswaldo Martinez’s tutelage we were made the most tender perfectly cooked steak with a spicy red and green pepper sauce it was to die for. We actually went back three times in total to feast on this excellent meal. The waiter/bartender was a Cuban born genius with his version of a Mojito Cubano.

We found a bakery that made the most decadent pastries filled with Chantilly cream and tarts with an assortment of berries. They also had flautes (french breads) and sold different cheeses cut from huge wheels of brie, cheddar or the Holland cheese they love so much here.  We would pick up a loaf of bread, a sweet tart and a few slices of brie, walk next door to the fruit market and buy a box of raspberries or Joe’s favorites the Uvilla, pick up two bottles of Lemonada Natural and have ourselves a picnic in the park – the weather was beautiful a bit crisp when the sun went behind a cloud but just beautiful for an impromptu picnic.

Police presence - Parque La Carolina

Police presence - Parque La Carolina

We walked the park each day in search of encebollado which is a fish soup made with tons of onions – what a treat it is served with a bowl of popcorn and plantain chips and aji sauce.  Or the choclo cart with it’s over sized kernelled corn on the cob that they coat with a queso fresco or even better an avocado  sauce that made your mouth leap with joy.

Joe enjoying his first bowl of encebellado May 24, Parque La Carolina

Joe enjoying his first bowl of encebellado May 24, Parque La Carolina

We left Quito on June 1st after receiving our resident cards, censo and our stamped passports.  We are now legal residents of Ecuador.  Hi Ho– Hi Ho it’s off to the beach we go… to find a home for Joe and I,  Hi Ho — Hi Ho!

Arrived in Ecuador

On March 17th after living in a hotel in David, Panama for almost three weeks we finally flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and then on to Quito, Ecuador.  Upon landing we found the city of Quito to be fascinating.

Welcome to Quito

Welcome to Quito

What we saw first was how beautiful the weather was it had just rained and the air was cool and not humid at all.  We had lived with constant high humidity for the past several years so this was a real change for us.  Our hotel picked us up for our short ride to the Parque La Carolina area of Quito.

Parque La Carolina, Quito, Ecuador

Parque La Carolina, Quito, Ecuador

This area was just lovely, a nice big park that has soccer fields, jogging and running tracks, a paddle boat pond, botanical garden, biking, roller blading and skateboard tracks, aerobics on the weekends, food vendors. The park has soccer fields, jogging and running tracks, skateboard, bike and inline skate tracks, a pond with paddle boats, a botanical garden, vendors with food and drinks as well as aerobics on the weekends and other special events.

Quito, Parque La Carolina Botanical Garden

Quito, Parque La Carolina Botanical Garden

It is  surrounded by apartment buildings similar to a NYC residential area — shopping, restaurants and stores on the lower floors with office and residential on the upper floors.  We could not get enough of this area, shopping was incredible with four malls within walking distance of our hotel.  We found Japanese, Thai, Italian as well as Ecuadorian restaurants.

Parque La Carolina

Parque La Carolina - Site of Pope John Paul II visit in the 80's

Quito is a very metropolitan city with so much to offer.  We spent the next two weeks traveling the areas around the city from the Old Town with it’s beautiful historic buildings, museums, churches and the Presidential Palace, to “La Mariscal” the new section with trendy places to stay, shop and eat.

Old Town, Quito - Presidential Palace

Old Town, Quito - Presidential Palace

There is also an artisan mall that covers almost an entire block filled with Ecuadorian treasures from Alpaca blankets and shawls to silver jewelry and Panama hats.

We found the area around Parque La Carolina to be very safe and quiet.  We had heard the stories about being attacked and robbed but we used caution and did not walk around at night.  Most of our travels were during the day, we used marked cabs and were aware of our surroundings.  I purchased one of the locally made small bags and wore it between Joe and I when I was out.

Our first appointment was scheduled for early the next week with our attorney.  She turned out to be the best find in our planning and preparations for our move.  With two apostilled documents and a one page application with maybe 8 questions on it we were in and out of her office in 30 minutes.  Within a few days we had our passports back with our 6 month visa and were happily on our way down the coast.