Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Living the life Ecuador coast

Celebration of life

We attended a celebration of life for Bob at Score Bar. It was Saturday, early evening, and the celebration started at 17.00. A nice number of people turned up, and were happy to swap their knowledge and stories of Bob, and for some their short but pleasant meeting with this man.
Towards the end, his health was an issue and he was not able to get around as I am sure he would have liked to.
But he was cheerful and full of conversation to the point that you would not have known that he was ill.
At Score Bar, there was a nice display of food that was provided by Peggy and Kimmi.

There was a toast from Will made with a shot of Bob's favorite tipple, and an emotional and heart felt toast from Mary and Tod Freeman.

We had had a very busy day, and left early, about 19.30. On our way home, a block from where we live, we were accosted by two youths that probably watched us leave the Score Bar  and thought we would be easy targets.
Well, they got more than they bargained for, because the one that went for me was 5'5"with a white jacket, hat, and sunglasses. He received a blow to the jaw that took him by surprise and left him open to receive another blow to the nose; he then took off. His friend was tussling with Evelyn trying to get her purse. I was able to go over and help her. Evelyn was screaming her head off, the strap on her hand bag broke when the youth (dressed in the same manner except his jacket was blue), tried to rip it off her shoulder. Evelyn held on to that hand bag for grim death. With his partner off in the wind, he also fled the scene. With the noise  that Evelyn made screaming, neighbors came out and asked if we were okay and some of the young men went looking for them, but they had melted into the night.
Our only loss was our basic cell phone, which fell out of the hand bag. We think they picked it up; we went back and looked around for it, but it was gone.
We only suffered a pulled muscle to Evelyn's shoulder and the loss of the cell phone; it could have been much worse. So we had a celebration of our own lives-that we still had ours.
Up to that point, we had a very nice evening and were not thinking about our surroundings as we walked home. From this point forward, we will take precautions and think about where we are. And no purses any more.
Let's be careful out there. 
              United States        1
               Ecuador               0

In 1970

Paul McCartney announces that the Beatles have disbanded

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) begins operation

The US and the UK lowers the voting age to 18 from 21

Monday, 30 July 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast

Did YOU Feel IT??!!!

We were awakened, thought we were back in California again.

This is the epicenter. It was a 4.5 level at a depth of 61 KM. There are no reports of damage at this time. If you felt it, report it on the USGS  web site.
There  have been a swarm of earthquakes in New Zealand over the past week, 20 in all. There was also a shaker not far from Oaxaca, Mexico which was reported as a 4.4.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Living the Life

       The Fun of Taking a Trip to Guayaquil on a Friday         

       We had to take a trip to Guayaquil  on Friday since the electrician finished his work only on Thursday and I did not want to wait any longer to change my reservations to New York in late August.        
       So, first mistake was to leave from Salinas at 9a. I am not an early morning person, so getting up early is not easy for me. So, to save some time, we took a taxi from Salinas to the airport in Guayaquil.  The taxi driver was slow to begin with (not good).  So, first we had a bite to eat there , and then we went to the LAN office and wanted to change the date on my reservations.  Well, you think this would be simple. Are you kidding?  We wanted to use our original return trip reservations from New York to San Francisco as a credit, but that was not possible.  Since Jodie is not even returning to the States, we wanted to use her original reservations as a credit toward my new reservation, but that was not possible, either.  So, to make a long story short, we did get a partial refund for cancelling Jodie’s original flight and I had to pay an extra amount for the difference in ticket price from Guayaquil to New York.  Okay, that entire transaction took about 1 ½ hours.  Then, we went by taxi to the Mall del Sol, where we had to apply for Jodie’s refund at the LAN office at the mall. The first time we showed up, they stated their system was down, and to come back in 1-2 hours.  So, we had lunch at the food court there. 

         Mind you, it is July 27th, they have on the opening ceremonies for the Olympics in London on the gigantic TV screen, and everybody and his brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, BFFs, grandparents, etc. were there.  You think they were giving away food with the amount of people that were there. And this was a HUGE food court!  So, we ate our lunch, which was , by the way, delicious and we then went back to LAN. The system was up (yeah) and so we spent about  one hour there since we had to wait to be called with our number.  So that is taken care of. 

           Then we decided to do a little shopping at the Mega Maxi and window shopping since I had not been at his mall before.  Then we got a taxi to the bus station since we wanted to get a bus back to Salinas to save some money.   Oooohhh!  Wrong decision again.  The line for Salinas at the bus station was very long.  But we said, ”It should not be too long a wait.”  So we waited.  In that amount  of time, we told 2 women and 1 man to get to the back of the line. They were trying to push ahead of others and us.  The Ecuadorians in the line did not seem to be bothered by this.  But I , being a New Yorker, definitely was!  All 3 of them went to the back of the line. I guess they did not want to contend with me! About 2 hours later, we paid for our tickets and then tried to get on the bus that pulled in.  We tried to sit in the seats that were assigned to us(yes, they assign seats here as these buses are filled to capacity). We found 2 others sitting in our seats, and told them that these were our seats. These people did not speak any English.  We could not understand them, either.  So, a security guy told us ,in broken English, that this was not our bus. Our bus was no. 35 and this was bus no. 9, which was not on the front of the bus that we could see.  So, we had to get off this bus with our belongings, and wait for the next bus. 

The Mall
Crowd waiting to buy tickets

Who knows how long that would take!
           By this time, we were on our very last nerve.  While Jodie was seething, I chanted “Nam myoho renge kyo”, my Buddhist chant, to let the next bus come quickly.   We were both quite exhausted, and  had let loose with some pretty foul language.  If this had been in New York, there would have been a riot and some people would have gotten seriously injured. But, these Ecuadorians were quite tranquil.  A few raised voices was all they did to complain.  Even the security guy told Jodie when she lost it to be ‘tranquilo’.  Yeah, my chanting paid off as the next bus showed up within 5 minutes. We got on the bus to our assigned seats. The seats were comfortable, the a/c was on just right, and we settled back for our trip to Salinas.  It took a while to leave the outskirts of Guayaquil because of the traffic, but we finally made it safely back to Salinas at 8:40p.  Well, we learned some things on this trip.  First, do not travel to Guayaquil on a Friday . Leave earlier in the morning next time.  Also, if things get too overwhelming and seem hopeless, either pray or chant or go to your spiritual side for answers.    Ciao!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Living the Life

Do you Remember

The European Cup of the champions and the inter-city Fairs cup both started in 1955 and are awarded in?

Soccer,    Hockey,    Volleyball,    Cricket,

Did you Know

To help keep mosquitoes from getting in your house plant near the doors Basil or Tansy, as the smell is  repellent to mosquitoes.

Look out for the construction


Under construction but open for business 
WhenSun, 29 July, 10:00 – 14:00 GMT-05:00

What do you do all day?

     A question that I have been asked a few times is, "Now that you are retired, what do you do all day?"
     Well, there are things that I would do if I were still working. I still get up in the morning and go to bed at night, I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we take the dogs out, we both enjoy reading and socializing.
     The big difference is that we have the time to enjoy those activities and can devote additional time to them.
     We still enjoy going to the cinema, and visiting new and different places; and again, we have more time to devote to them. The one thing that I have not been able to work out is that I would fit all of that in when I was working; but now, I do not seem to have enough hours in the day to fit it all in.
One thing is for sure. Down here, everything takes much longer to do. After I get up in the morning, I  go for a swim in the pool and then have breakfast; after that, I get on the computer and look at the news and read my email. Reading one's email can be a task. Here in our house, we have the local phone company internet service which is the best. On average, the system is down 3 times a day and the speed can vary so much that downloading a video from Netflix is just impossible.
      Do not come to a place like this and expect it to function like or even close to where you have come from.
     The simple act of employing a contractor is, even with recommendations, frustrating. Here is an example.
     We wanted to get some work done and needed to hire a contractor to carry out the work. We drew up an outline and presented it to the prospective contenders.
     The first one came in and we went over the outline (our Spanish is not the best, most people like us make the mistake of believing that we understand what they are saying). He said that he can start in the morning. We asked what would be the cost, and do you not want to take measurements?
His answer was three weeks and $100.00 a day plus materials.
The second one came with several friends and was happy to start that day.
The third one pulled out a tape measure and asked for a pencil so he could write things down on what looked like a receipt from a store.
     Since we have lived here, we have made many mistakes in who to use and what to pay for things. Here is an example of what is called 'gringo pricing'.
     We looked at an apartment, not with the intention of buying, but to give us an idea of what is available for some friends that are interested in moving here. The apartment has three bedrooms, four bathrooms, maid's quarters, pool and BBQ. We looked around and asked what the price was and we were told without hesitation that the price was 87K.
Now, to be honest, we both thought that this was a good price and left thinking that it may be a good investment.
     The next day, we had a friend, who is a native of Ecuador, visit the same property and she showed interest in the property. When she asked how much the property was being sold for, the answer was 60K and that is open to negotiation.
     Sorry, went a bit off track there, but what else do I have to do all day?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Living the Life

Do you Remember

Who was the first women's world chess champion ?
a,    Katalin Szoke   b,  Lyndia Skoblikova   c,   Carol Thompson   d,   Ludmila Rudenko

A neat way to store Garlic 

Place peeled garlic in a jar of olive oil. It extends the life of the garlic and as a bonus gives you garlic flavored oil.

Ecuador hospital offers indigenous Andean treatments

A hospital in Riobamba, Ecuador, offers patients traditional indigenous Andean medicine alongside Western treatments.
When a patient arrives they are asked what beliefs they have - and then if appropriate they are referred to a "yachak" (or shaman) instead of a conventional doctor.
The traditional treatments offered include "limpias" or spiritual cleansing treatments, which are meant to clean the patient's aura.
According to the team behind the hospital, their ability to offer a combination of cures is very important especially in indigenous areas, where people are often skeptical of accepting Western medicine.
They say people are more willing to take other medication if it goes alongside what the shamans say.
Irene Caselli went along to the clinic to meet patient Jenny Layedra and yachak Mariano Atupana.
Produced by Irene Caselli and Pablo Gordillo.

·      One day off to the market here in Salinas. The market here In Salinas is called the Mercado. This is not a trip to the opera; this is a  place where the local community can buy fruits, vegetables, fish,and chicken. They also use this place for social gatherings, and this is also a place where they can sit down and eat. While we were there, we were able to buy some fruits and vegetables, a DVD, and a whole chicken. The process of buying a whole chicken I found very interesting; basically, pick out the one you want and while you wait, it is cut up for you.
.     So, instead of describing how they do this, I used my camera and made a video of what was going on.  Before I get to the video, I will describe what it is I’m seeing and hearing.
From where we live to the Mercado is about five blocks away, so we walk there and back.  When you get there, it is a large steel covered area with stalls inside arranged in areas: meat, chicken, fish. There are also stalls which sell all sorts of things and stalls which sell vegetables and fruits. There are two DVD stalls and about a quarter of the area is devoted to food service. That is to say that you can buy food to eat there or you can buy food to take away. Take away food is in general served in a gray plastic container, which would hold about  2 pints and this seems to be a take away for workers. While there, as I said before, we purchased a whole chicken.  Now these people that you see on the video are doing this from seven in the morning till three in the afternoon, seven days a week. And by the way, we have not gotten sick from chicken or fish bought from there.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Living the Life

Social life with a view

     The other day, we were invited to have cocktails with some new friends we have made. They live on the 12th floor of a building that is right in the heart of the Malecon, where by day you look out from the balcony and see the beach reaching out like arms hugging the cove. The view below allows you to see the busy street with taxis, cars and people moving around to and from where they are staying or working. The beach has it ebb and flow of people. The first wave is the cleaning crews, then come the entrepreneurs who set up their spots so they can sell, offer, or provide a service, goods, or food and drink.
     At the same time you see the dog walkers and the keep fit brigade; then as the day awakens, the trickle of sun worshippers parade onto the sand to find a spot.  This dance goes on every day.
But we were invited for cocktails in the evening, and could not soak in that daytime dance. The night moves to a different beat. While we were engaged in conversation, snacks, and drink, the beat of the night could be felt with the pounding of the waves on the beach and the wind carrying music from a nearby disco. This was our backdrop to finger food,  conversation and drinks as we looked out of a picture window and felt the sea breeze. The view of the sea and sky was black, and not so black being punctuated with flashing lights to the left and to the right.
As we looked down to the street,  we saw cars and people moving about and a few people fishing on the beach. The street lights threw a glow on the sand and sea that is not only attractive to insects, but people are drawn also.
     The experience of the evening was very pleasant. As we left the building and stepped on to the Malecon to walk home under the warmth of the street lights and the cool sea breeze, we passed couples making out in the shadows and men on the beach casting out their lines trying to catch fish. On the other side, the restaurants were busy and the boom! boom! boom! from the discos was palpable.
As we walked towards our home, the noise faded and the number of people dwindled. We left the Malecon and got to our home greeted by our dogs. We then went to bed having had a very nice evening. 

Patti and Joe, our hosts

View to the west of the Malecon 

View to the north of the Malecon 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Great News

After spending some quality time with his Dad here in Salinas, 
Ralph and Andrea will be open again. As they say, Bon Voyage to Leslie until the next time!


WhenSun, 22 July, 10:00 – 14:00 GMT-05:00

One of the drawbacks of owning property is maintaining it. As we live by the sea, the constant salt air is a force of nature that we battle every day.
The need to paint and clean off the salt are a constant reminder of where we live. Back in California, we painted the house once every five years.
Below is a video I made when we needed to have a door lock replaced on one of our side doors.
Down here, you just cannot go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy a lock.  If you did go to the ferretería (hardware store) to buy a lock,  you still would need the tools and the skill to install it.
This is one of our side doors where the lock was replaced. Actual time for the lock to be replaced was 1.5 hours and the total cost was $25.00.

If you have something to say, let me know so I can put it in the blog.

Monday, 16 July 2012

On the beach 

On the beach with the dogs, we meet all sorts of people, and feeling that sea air blowing against your skin, you cannot help but feel good.
 The dogs provide us with lots of entertainment on the beach, but we also are provided with a plethora of birds and sea and beach critters.
Standing with my feet in the sea, watching the seaweed floating in and out with the waves, little fish dart from one clump of seaweed to another.
Time passes so quickly. We know we have been on the beach long enough when the dogs do not want to chase the ball anymore.
On this day, we were treated to a number of sea birds diving into the sea looking for a meal. I had my camera and took these shots. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Living the Life

Living the Life
Living a Second Life

Dear Friends,

Some people celebrate only one birthday.  Not John Poindexter, who has two.  Today, Bastille Day, marks the anniversary of John's second life, living 28 years longer thanks to another man's heart.

John is not up to celebrating today after a recent bout with pneumonia and a blood clot.  But you can help to make his day special by sending him a congratulatory email at Johnp4524@gmail.com.

John Poindexter "A Healthy, Full and Vibrant Life"

Mr. Poindexter believes his heart problems began when he contracted a virus while working in the Middle East. Doctors were able to manage his cardiomyopathy for nine years with medications until July, 1985, when he received a heart transplant.
Dr. Denton Cooley visits with John Poindexter.Dr. Denton Cooley visits with John Poindexter
"Medically I’ve been very lucky and done very well. I’ve maintained a healthy, full and vibrant life and remained in my occupation as a lawyer," said Mr. Poindexter. "I’m very thankful that there was a donor out there to save my life and allow me to have more than 20 years of existence. I don’t take that for granted as I did prior to the illness. I’m very thankful for my good luck."
Mr. Poindexter believes he was able to get a very close tissue match with his donor heart because he’s never had a tissue rejection episode. He also credits a positive mental attitude for his success.
"I left the hospital ten days after transplant – the earliest anyone had ever been discharged after transplant at that time. I had a very speedy and uneventful recovery. I had a very accepting mental attitude that these were just things that were going to heal, and sure enough, they did," he said.
Mr. Poindexter was active in the Heart Exchange support group at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital after his heart transplant and estimates he assisted about 100 patients during his time as a volunteer. He said he believes the difference between those patients who did well and those who did not was a matter of mental attitude, and it was his goal to instill the right mindset in the patients who were candidates for transplantation.
"I’m very happy to have achieved this anniversary. Twenty years ago I was something of a novelty and that’s not the case anymore. These days, people will always know somebody who’s had some kind of transplant. It’s been a big change," he said, adding "I can remember most of the transplant team. It’s one of those things you don’t forget."

We are proud to have John and his wife Randy as our friends here in Ecuador.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Living the Life


If you are staying, living, or visiting Salinas you probably will go to the Paseo mall to shop or eat.
Well, we ventured into La Libertad to shop with the locals. We did have an agenda, and that was to pick up some supplies for a jewelry making class that Evelyn is taking, and to go to the bicycle shop to get a basket for Evelyn's and a gel seat for my bicycle. We were able to get the basket, but the gel seat-none in stock.
     We then went into the area in front of the Buenaventura, where they have two water features, which depicts their association with the sea and also provides convenient seating for the weary shopper.
In this area are venders and local police on foot working with security guards. Over to the right, there is a food court where you can indulge in locally prepared food that reflects the culture.
As we walked inside the Buenaventura, it opens to an upper and lower level, with a wide staircase leading downstairs, and a monk standing at the top of the stairs with a stick and a bowl requesting donations. The stairs are clearly marked right side for down and left side for up. As we moved down the stairs, we could see many stalls, most of which were promoting the sale of electronic goods.
We made our way to the rear downstairs where we found the stall that sold the supplies that Evelyn was looking for. As we moved on, we passed phone, DVD, hat, belt, pet supplies, jewelry,clothes, and shoe stalls.
     The place was a hive of people buying, selling, and moving around, but not a place where we felt unsafe or ill at ease. We had a very good shopping experience, which included the bus ride to and from Salinas. 

One of the water features

Walking on the lower level

Looking in from the rear entrance

DVD stalls are very popular

Main entrance

Food court area

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Living the Life

                Our visit to the Museo de Ballenas                                                

Earlier this week, Jodie and I visited the Museo de Ballenas, or Whale Museum here in Salinas.  We live less than 3 blocks from this museum, so that is a plus right there. This museum is run by a wildlife enthusiast, Ben Haase, originally from Holland. Ben has been in Ecuador for the past 25 years, and in that time, has collected many bones of whales and dolphins. He started the museum 9 years ago.  He has erected a skeleton of a humpbacked whale right on the premises and also has a few baby dolphins preserved in formaldehyde-they died in the womb when their mothers perished.  You can tell by the enthusiasm with which he speaks that he loves these cetaceans, as he calls them. Cetaceans are the mammals that are best adapted to aquatic life and include the whales, dolphins, and porpoises.  Ben is a wealth of information about the different species of whales, dolphins , and coastal birds not only in South America, but in the Northern hemisphere as well. His museum is on the first floor, but he has rooms on the first and second floor that are chock full of whale bones, etc.  that are not on display; not yet, anyway.  What Ben needs is room for expansion of his magnificent museum.
        Ben and his Ecuadorian wife, Brenda, also run their restaurant, the Oyster Catcher, on the first floor, outside of the museum area, and serve shrimp and oyster dishes prepared by Brenda on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Something else to look forward to!
         They are both involved in Ecological Expedition, an Ecuadorian institution dedicated to ecotourism and its main goals include making people aware of the importance to conserve nature and offering opportunities to experience wildlife. This includes whale watching (June-October), dolphin watching, bird watching (ECUASAL salt lakes)-there are 125 sea and coastal bird species, South American sea lion colony at Punta Brava, Salinas, Chocolatera  (Ecuador’s westernmost main land point). When I first saw the sign Chocolatera, I thought it meant a place where they made chocolate and I wanted to go there immediately!   All of these activities can be done in Salinas- another reason I am happy we chose to live in Salinas.

Directional sign

The museum and restaurant entrance 

Ben Haase

Standing next to a whale skeleton 

Whale skulls 

A preserved Dolphin 
Big Ralphs Hostal & Restaurant

POACHED EGGS BENEDICT                        
SMOKED SALMON & SCRAMBLED EGGS                                                  

Last, we'd like to inform that due Ralph's Dad visit,  the restaurant will be closed from July 11th to 18th.  

Thanks for your understanding.

Best Regards

Ralph & Andrea Jones

Dirección: Av. San Lorenzo y Av. Carlos Espinoza Larrea,
(Diagonal a Pizza Express)  Salinas - Santa Elena, Ecuador

Telefonos: (00593) 42 930910 / 096188111
Horario de atención: Mie - Sab 18H00 - 22H00

Friday, 6 July 2012

Just thought I would share with you a short I made in San Francisco last year, this week Discover channel Canada is airing a program about the same place and a friend of mine the artist Dan Fontes

The 4th of July

Being an English person living with an American there are certain celebration that we each follow which respect our different cultures.
One of them is the 4th of July, this is a national treasure and represents the beginning of American life.
So for all US expats out there I hope that you enjoyed the 4th the way you would want to.

      We celebrated here in Salinas,Ecuador, very well, thank you.  We started out by going to Will and Wendy's (Score Bar) where they provided delicious BBQ chicken and all the expats who came brought different delightful dishes. Lots of different salads,beans,black-eyed peas, and don't forget all the yummy desserts( I believe the small round sweet things were gone first). Don't know what they were called, but they were heavenly!  After we had our fill and catching up with friends whom we may have not seen for awhile, we had a pleasant visit from the mayor of Salinas,AB. Paul Borbor Mite, and his team of officials. He gave a spirited welcome to the expats present and said that we are close to his heart and expressed gratitude that we live in Salinas. After this, we all headed down to the beach, a few blocks away, to view a superior fireworks display, thanks to Will Taylor, Alex(Wendy's son), and a third fellow whose name I do not know.  Jodie caught the display on video, as well as the mayor's welcome and most of the people who were at the display and at the restaurant. Excellent crowd- about 75-100 people,including children. And I know THEY enjoyed themselves! A most wonderful evening for everybody involved. We wish to thank everybody who worked hard behind the scenes to make this a memorable 4th, but most especially Will and Wendy, for giving us their place to enjoy it all! 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Living the Life

Unsung Heroes

In society today, we take for granted that the task performed by trash collectors will go on, regardless of living in modern countries such as USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. These functions do go on as if in the background, and nobody takes any notice of them. Yet we find that these tasks are absolutely necessary for the good of modern society.
 When you travel abroad, one of the first things that you come across in countries which are not as far advanced as the UK, Australia, Canada, and the USA is how they deal with garbage refuse or rubbish.
Having now lived in Ecuador for three months, and producing a blog trying to tell you how things work down here, sometimes it’s hard to relate how things work because you become oblivious to that function. The function of garbage removal in Salinas, Ecuador, is handled very well.  It would appear that, on average, we have three pickups a week and one additional pickup for garden waste. There seems to be nothing that they won’t take away. In the Bay Area, San Francisco, California, should you put the wrong thing in the wrong container, they will not take it. In fact, they will give you a ticket warning you that you may lose your right to have your garbage hauled away.
So, the people that come around here three times a week to collect the trash are highly visible.  They are decent, hard-working people, and they work seven days a week, which you would not find in the US.
So for me to say that these people are heroes might seem a bit much; but I have seen firsthand what happens when the system falls apart. It seems like a very, very long time ago that I was involved with the British Army when we had the firemen’s strike, the miners’ strike, the garbage strike. Everybody was going on strike. The service that was missed the most was the garbage service.  These men and women  come along every day taking away what we don’t want to keep.  The next time you put something out in the garbage, think about the people that take it away and keep our streets clean.

crew and truck collecting trash

This is a common site

Above and below are 2 old trees with a great canopy about 75 to 100 years old



I have a warning for any of you out there that have IMAC computers plugged into  the AC supply. It has been my experience that here in Ecuador, they do not ground the domestic supply, and instead rely on a negative ground.
This is not adequate and can lead to the metal frame of the IMAC computer to carry a charge.
The charge is non lethal. But for those of you that have a heart condition or a pacemaker,  this may be an issue.
This came to light when I had a power surge and the surge protector blew up. I have since installed a clean supply outlet for my computers. Hope this is of help.