Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nancy walking the street, who would have thought

Goodbyes to B&R.s' workers who became our friends, too.

Nancy left a parting offering for her friend she talked to daily.

Last evening on the back deck. Sunset was National Geographic stuff.

Early morning rain outside the Casa Blanca.

Nancy walking the streets again looking for breakfast.

ok, let's share some pics

At the CB... Che is popular here and Rich has a new t-shirt from one of the street vendors...
Another batch of baby chicks at B/R's...

Bob says iguanas don't come out much until it's about 90 degrees... here's one of the babies...a family of 6 live in the palm trees off the back deck...

One of the jungle shots... wow, the leaves are humongous!

Lorraine the parrot (Bob/Rox inherited her with the house.) Here's me feeding her some popcorn... she only liked the kernel parts...and the other parts went to the ground for the chickens.
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...

Wish we'd gotten a shot of the little pepito black doggie at the Casa Blanca one of the nights. He had the pathetic/I'm starving to death look down and, of course, I fell for it. He didn't like the bell peppers from the omelet, so I knew he wasn't that hungry... Such a cute doggie though, and my best buddy, that is until Rich slipped him some bacon... then he became Rich's best friend.
And, then he invited all his other doggy friends... way too many dogs, so we helped them on the way.
The dream catcher above is huge and hangs across the road in Montanita.
A rainy day in Montanita and the banana delivery truck outside the CB:

Hitchhikers ...

Pics from the drive to/from Manta on the coast... more fishing boats.

And... more pics of Mantanita and us just having fun with B and R...and the shell collection!

The shells stayed, but we got pics.

We're all set to visit Otavalo tomorrow! That's where the llamas and alpacas are...and the yarn, and the fleece and the weavings, crafts and colors! You know there will be lots of pics to share when we return from the day.......we can't leave Ecuador without seeing/buying yarn! I'm ready to maximize the day!


We're back in Quito

All's well, after a long day and night yesterday. The flight was delayed a couple hours...and we got into the hotel after midnight. Again, we were so grateful to see hotel staff waiting for us with a big sign with Richard's name.

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.

Love, N

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bob and Rox´s blog

Here´s the link

Thanks, Bob, for keeping the flow of news and pics going for us!


...And Now It´s Thursday...

So, you´ll see the previous post was a bit dated... we´re still getting the hang of the blog. The delays and timeouts seem to just be related to us trying the technology halfway around the world and back.... alot of translations going on, both in language and systems. In fact, we logged into Google Columbia to begin......


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

Having a blast at the Coast....

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.
Turned out, it was more than that. Rox became part of a 5 hour affair. Seated in front of God and the community for hours and took communion. The lighting came right through the ceiling.

Nancy and I were part of it too. Being part of Rob and Rox´s family, we both were placed in a place of honor at the reception table with the bride and groom. Who would think.

Nancy speculated that it might be like old Europe wedding where respected persons in the community were a part of the event as witnesses. Anyway, lots of fun. Rox said she was not going to say, Si Si so fast in the future.

We had a nice breakfast the next day. We found out the the party went on until after six the next morning.

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.

We´re going to post this now... 21Jan08.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Quito, a Quiet Town in The Mountains

Our free day in Quito was educational. We hired Roual and he took us to the old quarter and as Nancy said I was looking for history, culture and coffee. He treated us to a round of individual tours by some of his friends through a number of churchs. Some more than four centuries old.
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´re at the Coast!


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

Catching UP

Well, Rich got successful in posting on my behalf last night, I see. Not the most flattering pic of me, but the flowers are nice.

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!

More later......


Quito -The eagle has landed!!!!

We arrive in Quito safely. We made it to our room at the Sheration at about 11:45PM. Everyone was nice to us. The folks who met us at the airport from the Hotel got us through customs quickly. Seemed to have a special relationship with the people in Customs. They opened the ropes and motioned us through without a personal inspection. There were people all around with contents of their luggage in big mounds.

Our room was a surprise. Security elevator to a floor with only four doors. Japanese style furniture. Flowers everywhere!! Stargazers. Great fragrance to greet you when you're warn out.

More tomorrow. Just wanted to let everyone know we made it OK.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On the road to Mandalay--First Stop, Portland

Hi Folks,

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

More volcano shots

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.


Leaving for Portland today

Still on target.....

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

Trying to stay flexible

I've been watching this volcano like a hawk.

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

Volcano update -- not good

OK, you can call me a matter.

The volcano outside of Quito is intensifying. You can see videos of the latest from the link above. Whoa.

Well, Arnette, THIS can give one 'pause'...


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Christmas is over and the deer are out to pasture

The deer tell us that our deer proof garden is working. While we're packing to visit Bob and Rox in Ecuador, our four legged friends outside are helping.

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

some links for travelers

Before I forget --

Here are some good links for travelers... 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. 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.


another format for video

Active volcano today

Just saw this on the news...outside of Quito.

Ecuadorians flee volcanic risk

**At least 1000 people in Ecuador have been evacuated amid concerns that a volcanic eruption is imminent.< >

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

Happy New Year!

Whoops, forgot to wish everyone a Happy New 2008!

I'm sure Rich will be chiming in later, too. I'll let him tell all about our re-packing exercise yesterday...


Speaking of knitting...

For all the knitters out there, and all those who are curious, this book is fabulous!

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.

More later...