Saturday, 30 June 2012

Living the Life


Modern art at entrance

Typical wood and bambo house

They lived upstairs

tools they would have made

Sleeping quarters

The cooking area

The washing area

Bellows used in forging metal

This is an oven

Brown cotton tree

White cotton tree

White cotton

A reconstruction of a boat

For history buffs:

         On Thursday of this week, we were treated to lunch at friends of ours, Randy and John Poindexter, in Santa Elena.  After lunch, Randy drove us to the archeological site of “Amantes de Sumpa”, about 1 km. from the regional center of Santa Elena.  This museo was created in 1997 to familiarize people with the customs and life of the Vega people, or Las Vegas, who lived on the peninsula between 8000 and 4000 B.C., probably the original inhabitants of this area.  This museo contains some human skeletons ,  the most famous of which are the” Amantes” or lovers locked in an embrace. These are the human remains of a 25 year old man and a 20 year old woman with the man’s right hand on the waist of his partner and his right leg over her hip, and the woman in a flexed position with her arm over his head.  A beautiful and touching sight to see! These ancient people buried the dead in their homes in order to keep communication with them.
         There are also artifacts such as ceramic figurines and cups, shells, metal tools, textiles, a farmhouse with a primitive kitchen sink, cooking pots, a washtub, a simple loom to weave fabrics, bellows used to heat coals to forge metal, like a blacksmith. These people were farmers and fishermen,  and they sailed long distances.  Even a simple iron to iron clothes was among the items.
          As  new residents of Ecuador, we feel privileged to be able to have experienced this museum, which contains vital information of how these ancient people conducted their lives.  We will go back at another time to the USPE University to see more of the ancient remains of these primitive cultures.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Living the Life EC

Breaking news

We have some exciting news to share with you! The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, his Minister of Defense, and other high-ranking Ecuadorian officials met with members of the SOA Watch Delegation. We are delighted that we can inform you that earlier today, President Correa started the meeting at the Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador, by announcing that Ecuador will no longer send its soldiers to the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC). This is a tremendous victory for the human rights community across the Americas! 

More good news Big Ralph's is planning to continue the Sunday Brunch and have a rotating menu so the delights will be different from week to week.

Sunday 1 July 2012 10.00 to14.00










Overgrown sidewalk
 Crash Helmets and seat belts are safety items that have been mandated by law that they be worn if you are the driver and front passenger of a motor car and also driving a motorcycle.
When you are walking around Salinas, you very soon find out that your safety is not a consideration when it comes to sidewalks; they come in all shapes and sizes.
Poor condition to good condition
The condition and their construction can be good to poor or non- existent. The material used is mainly concrete, but pavers are used and also ceramic tile. 
Sidewalks can vary in height and width; the height of a sidewalk  for the most part depends on who put it there.
The malecon, which was installed by the city and forms part of the sea wall, is covered with pavers and, for the most part, is very well maintained. Along the Malecon, there are two ramps for the wheelchair bound to use; both of these are located on either side of the boat ramp.

In need of maintenance 

There is a photo of a city maintained sidewalk with a ramp cut into it.
The other images show various sidewalk examples, where the sidewalk is in disrepair. The height of the sidewalk is a big trip hazard. If you are walking along, talking or taking in the view, you can easily not see a change in the height of the sidewalk and take a tumble.

Cut away ramp for wheelchairs

This is all part of living here, where there is a mixture of thoughts on how to build without a standard, and then who maintains it.

More Breaking news

Just heard the Supreme Court's ruling -- such exciting news! Obamacare has passed.
We don’t know all the details just yet, but this hard-fought battle was worth it. The Court’s ruling means we can expand coverage, lower out-of-pocket costs, allow students to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26, and end insurance industry abuses like denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

If you have news or announcements please submit them 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Living the life

July the fourth

This a day that Americans celebrate in a way that no other country celebrates; and for those Americans that live outside the US, it is a time to take them back to the days of parades, BBQs, soda,beer, and saluting the flag.
Here in Salinas, Ecuador, there is a small number of expats from the US, and they, for the most part, will be at one of the corner pins of the US expat community, Hostal Aqui.
Hostal Aqui has been around for only a few years, but has become a flag pole for the US expats as a place to meet, eat, and stay, with rooms to rent, a full service bar, snacks and meals to order, and they speak American, so why not be here?

Monday, 25 June 2012

Robin Hood Theme Song

Robin Hood Tax: U.S.

We have been hearing a lot of talk in the expat community about the Robin Hood tax. Not all of what I have heard is good, so I did some research and found out that the proposed Federal Transaction tax (FTT) is still only a proposal and not law yet.
 The tax is surprisingly small: less than half of 1%, or about 50¢ on every $100 of trades. It would apply not to ordinary Americans, but is aimed at the banking institutions. A similar tax has been proposed or adopted in 14 other countries, with rates of 0.05 to 0.1%.
This is a lot less than the 1% which most people are talking about, and that they would pull their money out of the US market. With the EU and other countries adopting this type of levy aimed at the banks, I do not see any benefit in moving my money.

Catherine, Tricia, Richard, Evelyn, and Larry
enjoying their food

There is a new place in town!

Well, not really, but judging by the response to the Sunday brunch, there was a need there to be filled.
Joe, Peggy, Will, Ed, Parisa, Pete,
Mary, and Patti waiting to be served

Here is the powerhouse Ralph!
Behind every great man is a great woman, Andrea 
For the first time has put out a Sunday Brunch menu to the delight of many. When I spoke to Ralph and Andrea the next day, I was told that they had run out of some items by the end of service and that they had over 50 customers.
I hope that it will become a regular hangout for Sunday brunch.
Island Kitchen Cart - Natural Wood Top

In the video above, you see local workers cutting one of two mirrors that will replace a window in our home. As you walk into our home, to the left of the front door is an indoor garden, which had fallen into disrepair. So, we ripped out the plants and other debris; the window to the area was cracked from one side to the other, so we took this opportunity to replace the window with a mirror on the inside and the outside.
 I recorded this because I have never seen glass of this size cut freehand like this.
 Elegant Home Fashions Netheland Wall Mirror

If you have something to say or announce, please submit it.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Living The Life EC

We can start this blog with good news 

Hi Everyone,
 The surgeon originally thought Javier would require 2 surgeries to repair his blocked colon before he could remove his colostomy bag. As it turns out, he was able to completely repair Javier's colon during the first surgery and no second surgery is needed.
Javier has returned home without the colostomy bag that you see in the attached photo and all is well!  He will be able to run, play, and swin with other kids and grow up without worrying about that bag on his side.
No words can discribe how thankful Javier's parents are that their little boy had this live changing surgery and they are amazed that total strangers provided the money to made this happen.
We agree with Javier's parents, it is amazing that we have such a generous expat group here in Salinas!

 We have a treat coming up for the discerning pallet in the Salinas area


WhenSun, 24 June, 10:00 – 14:00 GMT-05:00

This fine young chef has worked in and with the best in the UK, here are just a few.
John Elliot, Paul Gauot, Marco Pier White.
Did you know that Salinas had such talent?

If you have something to say or announce please let me know.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Living The Life EC

There are many things that are different here, and depending where you are from, some of the differences are frightening. In this image, you are looking at a shower head that provides hot water.
In this area, it is very likely that the house or hostal you are staying in does not have hot water. For a lot of people here in the Salinas area, you will see water tanks: some blue, some black, and some made of concrete. They perform two functions: the first is that a pump has pushed the water up from a holding tank in the ground to provide head pressure for the supply to the house; the second is that due to the tank being exposed to the sun, the water gets heated to whatever the ambient temperature is.

Do not touch when in operation

We have been using them successfully

These provide the only source of hot water in our home. We have not had any issues with them; we just leave them switched on at the wall and turn the water on. The faster the water is turned on, the cooler the water is. Now, they can get very hot, so test it before you get under the water stream.

"Volume Control Hand Held Massage Setting Shower Head"

This week, we had to go to Guayaquil again to get our visas and our passports back. Now, we have corrected the errors of the consulate in San Francisco, CA. We can now start working on the visa for our residency. We may have to apply for an extension because the visa process does take a long time; but we are told that the process has improved, and the time it is taking now has been reduced.
 Before we moved here, I wanted to purchase a pair of Birkenstock shoes because they are very durable. I am so glad I did because I have been wearing them every day since we have been here.

Water tanks above a house

We had to say goodbye to our 40 & 50 foot tall cacti this week. We have had some strong winds this week, and a contractor we know said that we should cut them back because if they break and fall on the house they would damage the roof. So, based on that, we had Anthony cut them back to a height that was not a threat to the house.
As you can see, they were very tall; and I must admit that I did not consider that there could be a danger from the weight and height of the cactus.

As you can see, they were very tall and heavy.

Not long after the plant was cut down, a neighbor came around, asking if they could have the parts that had been cut down. I said, "Take what you need".
After Anthony had cleared away the sections, he came to me and said that a section had hit the roof and went through it. We found that a 3 foot section had gone through the roof; so we had to remove it and repair the roof.

The restaurant we like going  to is  about to start opening for Sunday brunch, and one of the offerings is waffles Black & Decker G48TD Grill & Waffle Maker and strawberries. Ralph did mention a few other items but my mind was stuck on waffles, strawberries, and cream.

This is the month when my best friend has a birthday, and I will not be around to celebrate it with him and his partner. Joe and Bill have been very close friends, and if there is one thing I miss from the SF Bay area, it is their friendship.
This picture was taken in a restaurant on our last night in the SF Bay area and we had a wonderful time.
At our age, it is harder to make friends; but here in Salinas, Ecuador, we have met some great people and are making friends. Joe and Bill were very concerned that it would be hard for me to fit in, but I have been doing fine so far.
Just want to say ' have a very happy birthday, Joe, and we will see you in the new year'.

Chili Peppers restaurant
Last week we actually got to Chili Peppers Red Hot Chili Peppers Tee. The restaurant was closed the week before on Tuesday. We met the same couple as the week before. Thursday night, we got to the restaurant a little bit early and sat down to wait for Randy and John. While we were waiting, we ordered two margaritas,  one for each of us. We had been told that this place serves a really excellent margarita, so we wanted to try it. Believe me, these margaritas were soooooooo good! The place is very nice; it has an outside area and an inside area, the lighting  is adequate to eat by. The menu was in Spanish; as we had been living in California for the last 20 odd years, we were used to seeing this type of food in Spanish. While we were waiting, we ordered, as I said, margaritas. This gave us a chance to sit down and soak in the atmosphere. The music they were playing was good, not too loud, and they obviously like Abba, the Beatles, and Gloria Gaynor. Randy and John turned up and we moved to a different table, mainly because the table we were at had a slight lean and there did not seem to be a way to correct it. Randy and John confessed that they had come last Saturday to this restaurant. They knew in advance what they were going to order, and as we had had time to go over the menu, we two also knew what we wanted to order. As we sat there, the conversation became very engaging, talking a little about the political scene in America, but quickly moved on to television and in particular HBO. Randy and John are from the New Orleans area and lived through probably one of the worst times in the history of the area, the Katrina disaster. The way we got onto the subject was that we were talking about the HBO series called Treme, and the series True Blood.
The food arrived and the presentation was very nice. Everybody seemed to enjoy the food. Evelyn and I had the fajitas, which were excellent. Randy and John had the enchiladas, which they said were fantastic. For me, though, the tortilla chips were overcooked. But for the whole evening, that was the only thing I can say that didn’t meet my expectations. Yet another superb meal ,a nice restaurant with great company and very stimulating conversation, we highly recommend this place for an evening of delicious food and good music, and with the right company, very enjoyable!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Living the Life

Some fish we see on sale 

This is the open market

The market is open every day from 07.00 to 15.00

Being by the sea we get a lot of fish

There are also fruits and veg

Live stock is not uncommon 

Sunday morning Naval band helping fight diabetes 

Automated lighthouse 

It is not all beach

we used to have a septic tank, now we are using city sewage system

Here are the gas bottles we have for cooking on

This is our fresh water tank

This is where the tanker puts the hose through the wall to fill the tank
Just thought I would give you a tast of where we live and some of what we see every day.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Living the Life

When we came here in November, one of our concerns was that there was no 911 or 999 emergency service. To offset this, we were told that there were a couple of ways to get over this.
One was to buy or rent in a gated community, apartment building or a condo complex. As we did not want to do that, we would have to go with the second option.
As we were looking to buy a house, we would have to rely on the local guardian, who would have the cell phone of a local policeman who would know how to get in touch with both the ambulance and fire departments.
In Salinas, the fire department is staffed by volunteers and the ambulances are owned by the hospital or clinic they serve. This is a far cry from what we have been used to.
There is a military base clinic and a Red Cross clinic in Salinas; the base charges $15.00 per visit and the Red Cross  charges $4.00 per visit- that was last year.
This year, the base and the Red Cross have not changed their prices, but we do now have a 911 response service.
This last week, there have seen lots of adverts on billboards and on the buses promoting this service. We spoke to our guardian and asked if he would use it, and he said 'yes' but not for the police, since he does not think that the Salinas police are on the system.
Whether they are on the system or not, I do not know at this time, but to have an emergency service is a major move forward for this country.
Evelyn needed to have some meds renewed and was asking around for a doctor recommendation. The other night at dinner with our friends, Randy gave Evelyn the name and number of a doctor they use.
This doctor makes house calls! Evelyn contacted the doctor and he said that he would be by in the morning. He came by and they had a consult for about an hour. He provided a prescription for the meds that Evelyn needed and provided a prescription for a natural medication, also. He told her where to get the meds, and his charge for all of this was $30.00. Pretty reasonable, eh?

Turntable ladder 

Fire house

Volunteer with the quick response vehicle 

Second turntable ladder

Engine MAC

Paramedic and her ambulance

More response vehicles

Off shore rescue vehicle

This is what they used in the past
         On Tuesday this week, I started to take zumba classes led by Linda, an American expat who used to be a dancer. Jodie has not been to the classes yet-she does not know what she is missing.  It is fun exercising to this latin music.  We start off slow to warm up, and then we really work up a sweat doing zumba and this country line dance called "boot-scootin' boogie", which is also a lot of fun and we laugh a lot when we miss some steps.  We live only 2 blocks from the class, which is on the second floor of this bar-restaurant called "Sin", which has karioke (sp.) on some Fridays and live bands on some Saturdays. It is a large place on the first floor, with a nice-sized bar and area for eating and a good-sized dance floor, also.  The dance classes are from Tuesday through Saturday from 3:30-5p and we even have 3 fellows that join us besides at least 5 ladies besides Linda. Linda is very good and shouts out the moves to keep us all in step. Just wish there were more people in the class. I can honestly say that after 4 classes this week(I missed Friday), that I am getting better, can move more easily and I definitely feel better.  Riding our bicycles along the Malecon at 8am from one end to the other is also invigorating.  You see many others either jogging, walking, or riding their bicycles also. The other end of the Malecon leads into Chipipe, a lovely area of homes and some high rises with a very calm and quiet beach. The end of the bicycle ride at that end of the Malecon runs right into the Naval base entrance. A fantastic breeze keeps you cool on the bicycle and the salt air is so clean and fresh- it is wonderful!