Micro Brewed Beer at Agricola Mercado, Montevideo

We spent most of last week in Montevideo, a bit of time for business but mostly for personal. After spending three months there back in early 2017 it was wonderful to spend time in the same area, Buseo, because we knew everything already.  The apartment was a sweet, very comfortable efficiency and get this – it had under floor heating as well as a reverse a/c heat unit.  And the kicker was it was only one block from the Montevideo Shopping mall.  We just loved it.

While there we had plans to find spices and condiments I could not find here in Atlantida as well as sneakers for both Joe and I and some warm clothing.

Our first morning we spend at the Agricola Mall.  And after a complete circuit of the stores, we decided to stop for a cold draft beer at their artisan beer stand.  This is Mastra a local artisan beer company.

I ended up picking the Honey Amber Ale while Joe took the Strong Pale Ale.  Both were cold and very refreshing.  They even sold a few selections in small kegs.

You could also get a little treat but we were looking forward to lunch at Rudy Burger so we passed.

Did not take us long to get refreshed so we could make another attempt at those stores.

It was fun and we would go back and do it again,,,but right now we had more shopping to do.

US Consulate, Guayaquil

We have visited the Consulate here in Guayaquil a few years ago about Joe’s social security. Today was my turn. The Embassy in Quito handles the submission of the paperwork to Social Security but you can turn in your paperwork in the Guayaquil office. It was the most painless process that I have had with any government agency in many many years. They only accept Social Security paperwork between 8am and 11am Monday thru Thursday in the Guayaquil office. So we were on the road by 8am this morning and at the checkpoint outside the building before 8:30am. After having our belongings searched, removal of the battery from our cell phone and being wanded we were searched a second time inside the building and had to go through a metal detector. We had most of our belongings put in storage and were on our way to the second floor to submit the paperwork.

The entire process took less than 10 minutes.

We walked across the street to the Hotel Oro Verde to their exquisite bakery for a breakfast of cappuccino and almond croissants.

1157_13053104580012591456_STD 3259921955_d31e01c86a Hotel Oro VerdeHonestly the best experience with a government office in my memory and the most beautiful pastries I have had in all of Ecuador, it was a great morning. Sorry I did not take my camera as we were going to the consulate – the above photos are from the internet but give you an idea. This place is a must try as the baked goods are just so darned good.

 

The Stinging Sun

This past week two things happened to make me wake up to how hot and how strong the sun is this time of year. I fell asleep in the hammock one day last week and woke up to a stinging pain on my face below my right eye. I thought I had gotten a bite and asked Joe to see if he could find where the actually bite mark was and maybe put one of his ointments on it for me. He could not find the mark and within a few hours it was red and burned like heck. It took me several days to figure out what I had done, in the meantime it looked as if I was hit in the face under the right eye. Then I noticed a few stripes on my forehead, that were actually sun burn marks. I am fastidious about keeping the sun off my face after moving to Florida back in the 70’s and seeing the faces of the old women on Miami Beach after years of sun abuse.  I use a face cream with a 15 SPF every day and always wear a hat when I am outside and 50 or 60 sunblock when we sit on the beach. The sun has shifted in the sky and the corner of our hammock obviously is getting the full force of that sun in the afternoon. The second thing that made me very aware of just how hot the sun is this time of year is when Joe and I walked down the beach to catch the bus to San Jacinto last Friday morning. I was wearing a sleeveless blouse and when I got home my shoulders, arms, chest and back were a bright red from that short walk up and down the beach.  DO NOT underestimate the sun here, it is very strong and March seems to be the worst time of the year.

San Clemente 3.22.2013 004

We normally use 50 block while on the beach but during this time of year I have started to wear it every day along with a healthy dose of Detan for the mosquitoes. If visiting or living here on the coast please do yourself a favor and wear sunblock and repellent every day.

The weather has been beautiful and I do not want to complain but am very excited about the cooler weather right around the corner.

Liz Gilbert, a guest blogger, on her thoughts on traveling in Ecuador

Liz and Roy have just visited Ecuador and have followed our blog for some time. We were sad not to be able to connect with them when they passed through San Clemente but Liz was kind enough to email and gave me permission to reprint her email on their adventure. Here it is in its entirety:

Hi Nancy!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 2 months since our trip to Ecuador! It has taken us all this time to recover!

What a wonder trip it was! We drove and drove and drove some more – I think we put close to 3000 miles on the rental car. However we still missed seeing alot of things – we have decided that when we come back we’ll stay in one area and do day trips from there. We spent a lot of time trying to get from one city to the next – not realizing that what would typically be a 2 hour trip would take 4!

We started in Guayaquil – stayed there for 2 days and then left for Salinas – then onto Manta. We spent several days in Manta – going up and down the coast. We made it to San Clemente but unfortunately we kept missing you guys! We left Manta and drove across to Otavalo, spent 2 days there and then headed south. We made it to Banos, Tena, Cuenca (all places in between) and then headed back to Guayaquil for our flight back.

I would say the hardest part for us was getting into a city after dark and not having a place to stay. We had bought a cell phone to use but unfortunately we couldn’t get it to work when we reach Otavalo. And the directions were in Spanish! We had a GPS which would pull up the names of hotels, etc but some of the places you wouldn’t want to stay in! We met a young man who spoke English and he actually gave us the name of the Hotel Indio. It was right downtown and a really quaint hotel.

Our next hardest part was coming into Cuenca. We went to a hostel that was listed in the tourist book but they were full. Again with the handy tourist book, the lady at the hostel made some calls for us and found a hotel in historic Cuenca . But that took us about 2 hours to find! All those one way streets! At that point we just wanted to throw the GPS out the window – it kept taking us to a dead end street! While in Cuenca, we just parked the car and took a taxi. It was nice to let someone else drive who knew where they were going!

My advice to anyone coming to visit for the first time:

Not a problem driving – just expect it’s going to take longer to get where your going!

Invest in a GPS – WELL WORTH THE EXTRA MONEY

Get all the insurance on the rental car you can – we ended up with huge scratches on the right front and rear door panels – almost like a scooter just ran up and scraped it.

Go Big with the Car! – we wanted a smaller car but they didn’t have one available. We ended up with a Ford Explorer. We came to appreciate the larger vehicle for comfort and acceleration! When you end up not seeing those “sleeping policemen” bumps in the road you’re glad you have a little more cushion under you! Also it’s much easier when driving in the mountains to have a little more power to pass all those buses and tractor trailers!

Have a place to stay – with address and phone number (and a phone that works)

Buy a cheap phone – but be sure you understand how it works – it ended up that ours had 2 lines, some how it had gotten switched to the second line and it was telling us that it was for emergency only.

Take some snacks – all that time on the road – yes, you go through lots of towns but how brave are you when it comes to eating from a roadside stand? After Roy’s bout with bad seafood in Salinas, I was very apprehensive about eating. We both lost weight! The little mini stores will have some things, but mostly the banana chips or sugar wafer cookies.

Take some toilet paper! – I took your advice Nan…you had written on one of your blogs. Good idea! TP is not available in most of the gas station rest rooms. Also good to take are wet wipes – nice to have something to wipe your hands with while on the road.

Take an IPAD or something that you can use to translate with. Even though you don’t have internet access while driving – I had downloaded an English-Spanish app and kept busy looking up words that we would see on signs. Good way to help learn the language!

Take lots of 1$ ..coins or bills. You’ll need them for all the toll booths. In general, small bills are better. We only used the credit card for car rental and hotels.

We are both ready to go back – we were able to get a really good feel for the country but we would like be able to enjoy more of what the country has to offer. At this time we are undecided as to whether it is the place for us to retire – I say “we”…it’s more me. Roy would move tomorrow. I’m worried about the logistics of being able to spend time with my grandson and daughter, and the rest of my family. Bringing the dogs, we have 2 Yorkies – what would I do with them if I come back to the States for a couple of weeks?? Roy tells me I worry to much – he’s probably right!

Keep posting Nan! I love the day to day postings you do! I had to laugh when I saw your posting about the tenderloins…That was one of the first things I noticed about the meat there…always seemed a little tough.

I better get back to work before my husband fires me! Take care and I do look forward to our next trip and being able to meet you guys!

Until next time – Liz

Thanks so much Liz for your comments, these are things that every traveller should be aware of and even folks like Joe and I could use this information after living here.

Jim Peterson visits San Clemente

I have corresponded with a great woman for many months now, Bev and I have formed an email friendship after she found our blog and started to follow our little adventure in Ecuador. This week her husband Jim has had some adventures of his own in Ecuador and we just needed to meet. Of course we did not have internet for the first part of his travels and I was so upset that I thought I would have missed him completely but on his way back he made the effort to see us. It was a great visit with Jim, Kris and Seth who are traveling with him. Bev could not make the trip but Jim promises me that she will be taking the next one very soon.

I had to that this next picture of just Jim and I, what a special visit and a very special man.

Missed you much Bev, now you will just need to plan another trip, I think Jim is up for it so now you just need to make the time and get back here as soon as you can.

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.

Being Cautious and Aware of Your Surroundings Here

 

Be cautious and aware of your surroundings while traveling around Ecuador. Before you say well I have half a brain, or I’m from Chicago do you think it’s safe there, or repeat the realtorspeak about how they don’t feel uncomfortable day or night walking anywhere and that you just have to use common sense etc. This is a very important message and a lesson in risk/reward. This is our take!

Please do yourself a favor and leave all your good jewelry, fancy expensive clothing, watches, fancy purses, backpacks, laptops and camera equipment at home. Bring items of lesser value; a small inexpensive computer, a camera you picked up at Wal-Mart, a well-worn backpack and other items that if taken would not necessarily ruin your trip. If wearing a backpack, have it hanging across your chest or under your armpit not on your back and do not put anything under your seat or above your head while riding on a bus. Keep all your belonging in your lap so that you can control them. Make copies of your passport and other important documents and lock the originals in the hotel safe. Do not bring a wallet full of debit or credit cards, only big stores and upscale hotels accept credit cards anyway. In Panama, we remember trying to use a US Visa card at a place that said Visa accepted only to learn they meant only National cards (cards issued within the country) not international. Be sure that your bank in your home country knows that you will be traveling in Ecuador and that your ATM cards work in Ecuador. Have the list of contact numbers in a separate place for these cards so if they are taken you can cancel them immediately. Do not carry large sums of money on your person, only take what money you will be needing for the time you will be out that day. Keep money in different pockets, a few dollars here, a $10 bill there, DO NOT pull a wad of cash out in public and wave it around. You are just looking for someone to follow you and knock you over the head. If you have an old wallet put a few expired credit cards and a small amount of cash in it and use it as a throw away wallet. If confronted, throw the wallet down and run in the opposite direction.

Recently a traveler we met had a bad experience when taking an unmarked taxi in Guayaquil and lost her luggage. In my personal opinion it was the bus services unprofessional handling of a situation that led to this women being left off the bus at the bus companies office instead of the bus terminal. The only taxis available to her were unmarked instead of the yellow licensed taxi. This kind of theft happens regularly. Never walk away from your luggage, do not use unmarked cars or taxis that do not have the drivers identification located either on the headrest or displayed on the dashboard. I have a friend who sits in the front seat and writes down the driver’s name and ID number on a pad right in front of the taxi driver or pretend to use you cell phone to call and give a friend this information. Not that all theft can be avoided but you should make an attempt to show that you are a smart traveler. Some folks just don’t have anything and see foreigners with things that they could sell and feed their families for weeks.  Busy areas like bus stations, airports and now even shopping malls seem to be prime places for theft. One scenario that I have heard about is a fine-looking gentleman approaches and while he is distracting you his accomplice is taking your packages. This has been done with beautiful young women, old ladies asking for directions to a bank and guys dressed in suits distracting you for a split second.  These folks do this for a living and are very good at it. I am not telling you to be rude to people but be extremely cautious. Do not place your handbag or packages on a separate seat or hang you purse on the back of the chair while in the food court, instead place these items on your lap or between your feet so that you are always in control of your belongings.

Keep things like laptops in a small store bag, do not carry it in its little pouch for all to see. It costs nothing to find a Super Maxi bag. Not many folks are going to try to take a shopping bag from your hand. Keep your camera in a pocket or a small handicraft bag worn across your chest DO NOT hang your bag on one shoulder or dangle your camera from your wrist. If walking with another person put your bag between the two of you not on the exposed side..

For safety reasons don’t bring your fancy high heeled strappy sandals. Between the pot holes, missing chunks of sidewalk, missing water covers, uneven or non-existent sidewalks and roads a turned ankle will ruin your day. Instead bring a good pair of flat sandals with straps, a nice pair of worn sneakers or comfortable walking shoes. And don’t leave your shoes, sandals or anything of value on the sand away from you because again they will be gone when you turn around to find them.  We had friends in Salinas who took their footwear off and left two pair of nice sneakers on a rock in Chipipe while they took a swim in the ocean. You guessed it – they walked back to their Salinas condo barefoot.  Bring a ball cap or buy a hat when you get here as the sun is harsh. Even when it is hidden behind clouds you can get a nasty burn. Wear sunblock, we wear 50 or higher block when sitting on the beach, you can burn in just a matter of minutes so be kind to your skin and maybe save a ruined vacation by using a good block.

You cannot drink the tap water on the coast but bottled water can be cheap. We get a 5 gal container of water delivered to our home for $1 and he brings it right into my kitchen. Small bottles of water are available for as little as .30 cents in most stores a bit more in restaurants and you have a choice non carbonated (sin gas)  or carbonated (con gas). Place a bottle of water in your bathroom for brushing your teeth as well.  Toilet paper should not be flushed anywhere in Ecuador. There will be a small trash can in each cubical for this purpose, please be respectful of the customs here and do not leave some hotel or restaurant stuck repairing a toilet issue that you caused!  That awful sewage overflow you see on a nearby sidewalk may be yours! BE AWARE all places do not provide toilet paper, please carry a small flattened roll and be sure to have it with you when using a restroom. Some places like malls have one paper dispenser outside of the stalls for toilet paper.

Dogs are allowed to run free as far as I have seen on the coast, I have never been afraid or approached in a threatening manner by a dog in all these years but folks I know have had some problems so just be aware. Most are not family dogs, what I mean by that is they do not know about being petted and will only approach if you are offering food. I would not give food to them unless you want them to follow you home. These dogs may look homeless and uncared for but I assure you their owners lock them on their property at night and allow them to roam free during the day.  A dog’s life in South American is harsh but it is the way it is.

Jellyfish in the water can be a very painful experience. If the winds are high or it is several days after a full moon the chances are good that jellyfish will be floating around in the water. If stung do not wash with salt water, do not rub because you can be pushing the little stingers into your skin. Instead use vinegar or lemon juice to wash the area.

Fly season on the coast can be unbelievable. We found that Salinas had some issues with flies but Playas was terrible for several months with a great deal of flies all around town. We found a strange and unusual remedy of filling clear plastic bags with water and dropping a penny into each and hanging them around our porch in Playas. We even would take a bag to our favorite restaurants and put it in the middle of our table while we were eating. It was a very big problem and the thought of them landing on my food really turned me off. I’m talking 20 or 30 on your table, arms, food……We put on repellent on our arms and hats (which we leave on the tables).

Mosquitoes are another issue at certain times of the year on the coast. We have made it a habit to use Detan liquid each morning after our showers and Joe uses it again before retiring. Palo Santo is a wood that is sold for chasing away mosquitoes, along with these electrified plastic rackets and the small cones and coils that you light. Using a mosquito net to cover your bed is also practical.

Mosquitoes here or anywhere in South America are not playing around. If you are bit by one you may well get dengue. The locals call it Breakbone Fever http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever, it is extremely painful and there is nothing that you can take to ease the pain only for fever. DO NOT take ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory as it can cause an escalation to hemorrhagic fever (now called severe dengue). Also, if you have gotten dengue the chances on getting Hemorrhagic Fever with the next infected mosquito bite are greatly increased. And hemorrhagic fever can be fatal. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001373.htm  Buy repellent and use it often. This is one of those risk/reward things you don’t have to think about.

Weather related issues. Rough weather happens on the coast, with unusual high tides and rip tides you need to be aware of the warnings that are posted in the newspapers. The Portoviejo paper is http://www.eldiario.com.ec , the Guayaquil paper is http://www.eluniverso.com these are the two main papers for coast news.  Each coastal area has its own ocean idiosyncracies ask the locals about the swimming conditions and if you don’t see anyone in the water there is probably a good reason.

When traveling around Ecuador you can find yourself at elevations over 9,000 feet. If you have health issues that can be exasperated by high elevations you should be cautious and consult your doctor before traveling to these high elevation cities. Here are a few articles that my help before you decide on your itinerary: http://www.eso.org/public/outreach/pressmedia/high_alt_fact.pdf as well as http://voices.yahoo.com/the-health-benefits-risks-high-altitude-living-4171887.html?cat=5

Malaria, yellow fever and the like. If you are going into very rural areas or the jungle you should read the precautions that the CDC has listed on their website http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ecuador.htm and this other article http://www.travmed.com/guide/country.php?c=Ecuador  We have not heard of any issues related to these illnesses in the cities on the coast. If you are not going into rural or jungle areas we feel that the use of these medication could be more harmful that beneficial.  We know folks who suffered for months taking unneeded precautions. The only caveat would be Esmeraldas has had some reports of malaria.

Please do your research before making a trip to Ecuador. It is so much better to be prepared. There will be enough surprises and hopefully many of them will be good ones. And, as they say, this ain’t Kansas.