Thursday, January 31, 2008
One of the jungle shots... wow, the leaves are humongous!
Lorraine is a chatty one... she knows a variety of whistles, giggles, must have been around a small child while learning how to 'speak'... she goes nuts when the chickens get too close, but she doesn't mind sharing her food/water with other birds who occasionally fly in. I tried to teach her some words (like, I'm a pretty birdie), but she just laughed...
Interesting airport in Manta... 3 domestic airlines (Aerogal, ours, and Ibarra and Tome), all share the same outside tarmac, the same security systems, the same waiting room and same gates. No flight status boards. We all loaded at the same time, through 2 doors for the 3 planes. A little confusing in the dark and the rain, but we managed to get on the right plane.
We'll be messing with the whole post-the-pics thing later, but wanted to check in...
Yesterday we had one-more wonderful adventure with Bob and Rox for the 3+ hr drive up the coast to Manta. Lots of photo 'opportunities', as we drove past wild burros and burritos (!), wild pig families, some horses, some great jungle shots of huge leaved plants and flowers...
Our good-buys with the workers was sad...just the *best* guys...such a tremendous honor to know them. I smile each time I remember the episodes with Jimmy and his eternal quest for the escoba......(broom) ... and Acedro's gardening techniques with the machete, and the guys up on bamboo scaffolding in their bare feet... and so many other nice memories.
Bob and Rox are the perfect hosts and it was joy to see them and share in their adventure. Each morning we just had to say....... another day in paradise! Thanks, Bob and Rox, for making the visit so special, relaxing and fun.
So, here we are in Quito... planning our last week in Ecuador....... we're definitely taking a trip to Otavalo, a HUGE market of everything... and we're hoping to get to Cuenca for a couple days of look/see, too. Today it's raining, foggy and right now we're relaxing with Ecuadorian coffee and croissants and fresh fruit... and getting organized for the last leg...
One more thing I'd like to do before we leave for home.......
......there is monument of the middle of the world mark on the way to the market and you know us! Cheesy/ultra-toursity, probably, but we've GOT to see that, too!
More later.... with pics, hopefully.
Friday, January 25, 2008
We truly are loving it here. We haven´t read all of our emails yet, nor read all of the updates on Bob and Rox´s blog (though we know he´s been posting about our visit, too)... so, off to catch up and see what you´ll are up to.
Keep those cards and letters coming! We´ll be answering soon.
Love, N (who is feeling so much better.)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Bob and Rox met us a the airport. It was good to see them. At first, they thought we didn´t make it because all the Manta bound folks without luggage came out and no Rich and Nancy. Conveyor problems. Rox wanted to go in and see if we were still inside, they said she wasn´t to go in. Finally, Nancy peaked out and Rox recognized her coat.
The 3 plus hour trip down the coast to their place seemed shorter for me because I slept for 2 1/2 hours of the ride. We stopped for wine and cheese on the crest of a hill overlooking a Bay and again by some interesting plant life in a jungle like area.
Bob and Rox have a crew of four men working on their place. They seem able to do any task from painting to heavy construction. All of which is accomplished with simple, non electric hand tools.
We have enjoyed dinner and breakfast at their local hang out, the Casa Blanca, in a quiet coast village. Few people with any clothes on, but who notices. Nice visits and deep conversations with very few gallons of vino.
Just about a half hour before we left to go to a wedding Saturday night for a family member of their foreman, a gentleman and the foreman came by. They asked Rox if she would simply be the escort of this gentleman (a prominent member of the local community) down the aisle with the bride and groom, no more than a half hour tops.
We´ve been working hard every day. Come to find out, turning pages in our books can be stressful. Temp has been about 75 degree every day. Air is fresh with with ocean sounds and scent. Sunsets could be in National Geographic.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
First saint, a woman from Ecuador. The presidental palace is actually occupied by the President. Nancy thought I should have a picture with the palace guard. The less formal guards all had automatic weapons. So I put off my request to talk to the President. Next trip.
One big surprise was that the people really use their parks. I saw a real cross section of folks. The market stalls were also a trip. Everything is for sale.
I had one heart stopping moment. I was trying out my barter skills with one vendor. I wanted to buy a neckless for Nancy. I got mixed up with the Spanish words for ¨Buy¨ and ¨Sell¨. The old man´s eyes lit up. Come to find out I had sold Nancy. The mistake was corrected, but it cost me a 20% premium to get her back.
Rich, more later...
Saturday, January 19, 2008
We rested for awhile in Quito hotel.....then had a delightful tour by taxi. We hired Raul to drive us around Old Town... and we parked and walked around the old Colonial district for a few hours. In the back streets and down alleys, we found some wonderful old shops ... a favorite of Rich´ s is a coffee broker for South American varieties. Nancy also spotted some yarn (acrylics, I think their version of Red Heart)...
We toured several beautiful churches... some up to 300 or more years old. Wonderful combination of moorish and traditional western architecture. We enjoyed the sights and sounds and smells of this area of Quito.... this area is diverse, high intensity, lots of life. And, lots of security. Raul got us into places, past the guards and military...the Presidential Palace, etc.
Rich and I got out of Quito ok yesterday. Got to the airport (several hours early, more on that
later, another lesson learned!), got on Aerogal flight to the coast..... met Bob and Rox in Manta... drove down the coast to their house.... wow, a whole lot of moving and shaking in the last 24 hours!
Could we tell you some stories!
Here´s the ´lesson learned´...... be sure you know about acceptable weights and size of bags, on your next flights! What is ok for, say, Continental, is NOT necessarily ok for, say, Aerogal Airlines. We were soooo over Aerogal´s weight and size limits! But it all worked out just fine...... but we sweated alot about that and repacked bags at the airport.... ack! We were over 150 lbs over weight limit... Penalty, if allowed at all, is 1 % of your ticket cost, per kg. (2.2 lbs.)
Righy now, Rich and I are learning all about internet cafes...actually, this one isn´t a cafe, it´s a bank of computers and fast connectivity... and phone booths. The gal helping us is soooo nice. We thought we had some pics here to share....but, no, we can´t find them on the camera chip. So, we know there are some on the laptop, so we´ll have to figure it out later.
Were doing great! You should see Bob and Rox´s place! Wowie, sooo beautiful! Our dinner last night at the Casa Blanca was a hoot! Food is delish there... and the whole town was ready to party! We sat at Bob´s favorite table and watched the fashion show pass us by...clearly the best seats in the house. Did you know that the Casa Blanca is also a hostel? Me, neither.
Today it is raining....a real tropical storm. This morning, we did ´Christmas., Birthdays, and every holiday all mixed in together. Lots of gifts and fun stuff.... we´ve got pictures...
Bob is running errands and he´s headed back to pick us up in a few..... so we´ll be trying to figure out the photo thing this afternoon, before the weding celebration tonight.....
Love to all,
Nancy (and Rich)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
We are feeling a little spaced today. Might be the altitude, but might just be general tiredness. Long haul to get here.
We ordered in some room service... wonderful breads, cheeses, yogurt, great coffee. There is an Ecuadorian breakfast on the menu, sounds good, but a little more hearty than we're ready for... will have to try later. (grilled steak with fried eggs, creole sauce, fried bananas, potato puffs).
Have to tell you about our last minute shopping trip at Fred Meyer in Portland... lesson learned.
As we were zipping up the bags, one of the zippers broke! ACK! Well, what to do at this late hour... we decided to just go buy new bags... the ones we had were such a deal, but sometimes the deal isn't a good deal after all....... So here's the lesson... don't get bags just 'cause they are cheap! Get a good deal, but be sure they'll last... at least long enough for the trip. Shoot, these bags didn't even last to get us to the airport...New bags held up just fine.
Today is overcast and a little humid... we asked the driver last night abut the volcano activity, and he just smiled and said it was a 'ornery'. Oh.
I see the news about the plane at Heathrow this morning...we're feeling pretty lucky we made it ok. No compaints here!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
We got out of Dodge about 5PM in the rain and made it to Portland. We will be at the airport about 4AM to tomorrow to board for Houston then on to Quito, Ecuador. Nancy is trying out the computer. We will keep in touch. It will be fun to catch up with Bob and Rox and hear about all their new projects. Pictures later.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Nice shots of the volcano in action. Crafters, note the handiwork in some of the pics.
So far the airport in Quito is ok..... but just read the airport in Mexico City has closed because of an active volcano there, and about 14,000 folks have been evacuated. Hmmm..
Well, worse come to worse, at least we'll have a few days in Portland.....ready for a break.
We'll play it by ear.
We figure if the planes fly, we will, too.
Just a few odds and ends to finish up and we're off......
I just noticed the pic of the deer that Rich posted has the reflection of the living room lights in it. Oh, we'll fix that later.
Our USA cell phones will work here through Wed afternoon, until we leave Houston. We plan to pick up new cell phones at the hotel in Quito -- we'll post the new numbers, as we can.
Looking forward to the adventure!
Take care, everyone, we'll be in touch.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Bob and Rox are at the coast. So, our plan is we fly into Quito (near the active volcano) and then catch a flight to the coast a couple days later....IF the planes can make it.
The airlines won't fly if the ash/smoke/steam is bad (messes up their planes). I guess it will depend on which way the winds blow and the intensity of the volcano's activity. I hear flights have been re-routed in the past... landing in Columbia or another 'safe' place.
Not my idea of fun, but the airlines would at least get us back on the ground.
If this volcano does blow big-time (and it looks like it will in a matter of days or weeks), then our other plans to visit some areas south of Quito could change. (By the way, a volcano in Chile is also really active now and folks have been evacuated in some areas there, too)
Our plan is to use Quito as the base for some side trips after the visit to the coast.
We're trying to be flexible...I added some dust masks to the luggage yesterday... not that that would help much if the ash is really bad, but might help some, you never know. Bob says the volcano is no big deal, but he's already at the coast and not planning to come home any time soon :-)
Rich is calling Quito to see what's *really* real before we get on the plane from Portland Wed....if it's really bad, we'll come on home.... or, decide something else.
So, that's the plan today.
I found another volcano video on the National Geographic site this morning... fascinating.
Ma Nature in all her glory.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Nancy found a "travel packing site" that appears to cater to worldwide backpacking folks. It gives tips on how to get that last item into the backpack. One such technique is to drop the pack from about shoulder height onto the floor. I figured if a little drop was good at compacting your pack, then a bigger drop would be better. I dropped our suitcase from the second floor mezzanine and it worked!! I would advise, however, that you take the computer out of the bag first.
Nancy said I would have to refinish the living room floor before we go.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Here are some good links for travelers...
seatguru.com Gives you seat information for a variety of planes. We l;earned 'bulkhead' isn't always the seats we want for more leg room. Depends on the plane.
magellans.com Good travel supply products, including 'buzz off' clothing.
Rich has new pics of the snow/river here that I think he'll be sharing later.
With all this 'weather' here, hard to get our heads wrapped around 'tropical', but we're working on it.
Ecuadorians flee volcanic risk
**At least 1000 people in Ecuador have been evacuated amid concerns that a volcanic eruption is imminent.< http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/player/nol/newsid_7170000/newsid_7174400?redirect=7174455.stm&news=1&bbwm=1&nbwm=1&nbram=1&bbram=1&asb=1 >
OK, I'm blog-challenged, and trying to get the actual feed uploaded, but this gives you a link.
You'll be sure we'll be watching this one. We leave for Quito 1/16.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
It's not just about knitting... the author spent alot of time in So America and adds bits of stories, too. A little history, a little culture of the Andrean folks artists, their traditions and customs. Several of the patterns are adaptations from the Incan Empire.
I love this book! Interesting to see the subtle changes in the patterns, colors and designs from country to country. Even Rich is impressed with this book.
You can find it on Amazon, or your favorite book store. I recently gave copies to one of my best friends and Mom and they love it, too. Both are superb knitters, so I'm sure they will figure out the patterns just fine. Since I'm such a novice knitter (if you can call it knitting!), I'm just enjoying the pics and the articles for now. I think you will, too.
OK, it looks like I managed to get a pic up on the blog from the web....that's progress.