Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast

This Week started 
Last week ended with a Sunday that was just the sort of day you would want to have every day. The temperature was just right, the wind was just right, the waves were just right, and the day moved along like a train moving into a station. Evelyn made a fruit drink that was the best she has made, and the food tasted like it had been prepared just for me. This was a day that I felt I had to do nothing but just enjoy what came. That night I went to bed and slept. That is unusual for me because I like to read and play chess and fall asleep when I am not able to think of the next move.
That night I slept.

As if to offset the previous day, Monday was a do nothing day. It rained during the night, and rained almost all of the day; some times heavy and most of the time a light fine drizzle, the sort of rain that soaks you through. But this rain was warm, and felt comforting as it fell onto my face, standing next to the pool watching the drizzle blur the surface of the water. There were no rings pulsing out from the drops as you would see with heavy rain, just a blur.
The dogs lay out in the warm drizzle, and a fine layer of dew formed on their coats until they got up and shook themselves and the process started over again. By the gate, there were leaf cuttings, ants loaded with their bounty heading for their nest, humming birds drinking from the flowers. But there was a muted silence, no kids crying, no hawkers shouting, no traffic. The day seemed to be in sympathy with the weather on the east coast of the US.

Fine rain coating the street

Quiet, no movement

Now that hurricane Sandy has made land fall on the U.S. east coast, the force and destruction that was predicted has become a reality. Thankfully, the authorities were able to get a jump on the responders needed, and with federal support, aid will get to those that need it the most.
This disaster will not be something that the area of impact will be able to recover from in a short time. The financial cost and infrastructure will be impacted for a considerable time.
Our immediate concerns are to family that reside in New York, and are at this time without power and water. Inability to communicate is hard, but we hope that they are able to get through this, as we do for everyone that is impacted  by this storm.

Are you prepared?

It could be that you have broken down in your vehicle, got stranded in an airport, been in an accident. 
Earthquakes, floods, fires, hurricanes, and the above are all disasters, but if you have a plan, you can reduce the impact of the incident and get through it a lot better.
When we lived in California, we had plans up the yin yang and never had to implement them; we did come close with a wild fire in Benicia when there was a fire at one of the refineries.
But because you are here in retirement mode means that you have more time to develop a plan. Most who have moved here are away from their children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters. They need to be included in the plan.


Evelyn heard from her sister from her email at her job in New York this morning. All of her brothers and her sister are out of power in their homes. We are not surprised, due to the high number of people without power and the scale of the disaster area.
Also this week, there were two earthquakes on the west coast of North America, one in the Los Angeles area and the other off the coast of Canada. These did not impact human life, however.
Looking at the aerial maps of New York, we can see clearly Queens, the area in which our family members are living; the waters have not reached them, but they are without power.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast


We spent a lovely afternoon in Ballenita a few months ago when Randy and John took us to the Farallon Dillon and had lunch there.  We met the owner’s son, Douglas Dillon, who was gracious enough to give us his time in speaking about the Farallon Dillon’s beginnings and also take us on a tour of its many treasures.
        John drove us there, since it is a bit off the beaten path and we never would have found it if we had to take a taxi since it is a little out of the way.  But you know you have arrived because it is in a superb location on a hill looking out over the Pacific Ocean.   The views are extraordinary;  we got a table outside that had a tremendous view of the water and the sea breeze was perfect that day. 
 Lunch was scrumptious as we all had the seafood bisque, which was filled with shrimp, scallops, and other seafood  and perfectly seasoned with a delightful bisque soup.
         After lunch, we were taken on the tour by Douglas, who is very enthusiastic in his speaking about the Farallon Dillon.  Inside the area where we had lunch is a huge room where we saw sea folklore just about everywhere we looked.  Large cups with the weatherbeaten faces of old sailors, fishing nets, sextants, portholes, old figureheads, carvings, heavy wooden tables and chairs.  And then up a flight of stairs took you to a group of rooms that you could pay for a night’s stay- all the rooms  were named after the phonetic alphabet- alpha, bravo, Charlie ,delta, echo, foxtrot, etc.  Some rooms were smaller and others were larger, but they all had an aura of days gone by. 

           Then, Douglas took us to another huge room which was around the side of the property which housed the remains of a ship that had sunk off the peninsula many years ago, which was very fascinating.  Some wonderful pieces were part of this collection, including photographs. 
            There is also a chapel on the grounds and tennis courts, where Yolanda Dillon, the owner, plays when she is there.  She was not there on the day that we went, although I would have very much liked to have met her if she had been there.  This splendid place is a must to see and have lunch, also.  We intend on taking Evelyn’s sister and brother when they visit in November.

As I have said in the past I make films, but I also watch films, here is a link to a film I watched recently and liked, check it out.
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This month

1929 was the year the US stock market collapsed, black Tuesday the beginning of the great depression. 

Born in 1921 this iconic name became part of US life during and after WW11 Bill Mauldin cartoonist. 


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast


I last told you about a New Orleans Night at a new venue called The Bolero. Here is the skinny.
Evelyn and I met up with John and Randy and got to the club just after 6 pm. We were greeted by Kimberly; she handed out roses to the ladies and took the money from the men.
By the time we got to the place, there were a number of people there, around about 30 I would say, and there were people coming in behind us.
We mingled and made conversation with people we knew and people we did not know. There was quite a large crowd around the bar. However, the chatter at the bar was about the price of the drinks.
We found ourselves seating and continued to chat with people around us. As we entered, there was music playing from the disco above the dance floor. When we got to sit down, the volume of the music increased to the point where we had to raise our voices to be heard.
The music that was played in no way represented any style of music I knew from New Orleans. In fact, the only part of the evening that came from New Orleans was Randy and John.
In the email that I received the listed food was: chicken, beef, fish, shrimp, Jamaican rice, white rice,and three different salads.
The food came out and a line formed. As we neared the head of the line it became obvious that New Orleans was not on the menu. Also, the food was nice, but the chicken was under cooked.
There was no fish, shrimp, Jamaican rice, or three different salads.
We sat and ate the rest of the meal. Some ladies got up to dance, but for us the music was too loud and we moved to the door. Evelyn danced for a short time,but left the floor because of the too loud music.
The question is, would we go back?
The answer for us is wrapped in the fact that we felt short changed on the food, the place plays the music too loud and the drinks are very expensive. We have not paid that price for a drink in San Francisco, CA. ,so why would we pay it here?
Good luck with this venture, and look for a younger crowd with disposable income.

La Libertad Malecon 
The Restaurant El Tigre

After my last appointment at the dentist which lasted two hours, we left hungry and wanted to try the above named restaurant.
We entered and sat down at a table that could seat four. A man in a tee shirt came over with two menus and placed them on the table, left and came back several minutes later but did not stay to take our order.
A party of four and a couple came after us. We were the only non Ecuadorians in the place.
 The six people that came after us were waited on before us. Their drinks were brought out, and we still were not waited on for our order. At this point, I stood up and shouted at the waiter, who just ignored me.
A short, stocky man came over and said, "I will help". He sat with us and took our order, and wanted to sell us wine.
By this time, we had been in the restaurant 25 minutes- we still do not have a drink or food. Five minutes later, my drink came out, but no drink for Evelyn.
Forty minutes had passed and still no drink for Evelyn or food for either of us. The 6 people that arrived after us have finished their food.
Fifty minutes have now passed, and a plate of food and a drink  have been brought out for Evelyn.
Ten minutes later, my food was brought out. The rice was hard, the breaded fish I had ordered was burnt on the outside and still frozen on the inside. I took the meal to the manager, and he turned up his palms and sighed.
The bathrooms were very dirty, no soap, towels, or toilet paper.
This place is a health hazard to non Ecuadorians. Avoid it at all costs. Also, the food that Evelyn was served was no better. We left hungry. We will not be returning there,ever.

This month

1728 was the year that Captain James Cook was borne the British explorier.

The sweet and energetic sound of Niccolo Paganini the Italian violinist borne 1782.

The 26th president of the United States was Theodore Roosevelt borne in in 1858.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador Coast

                  We had a great day! Babs, Evelyn, and I hired Carlota for the day and we went to Guayaquil to shop. We left around 07.00 and got to the city about 09.00 and started our shopping day at a store called Boyaca. This is a store where you can find a lot of the things that you are used to seeing in the US.
They have a great selection of garden furniture, bathroom items, flooring, lights and fans.
This is a great place to come and find out what is available in the big city. There are, however, many shops that have great selections but you have to find them. This is where Carlota came in handy, as she has local knowledge and was able to point us in the direction of shops that did not have such a wide selection of many different items, but they did have a large selection of say lights, reclining chairs, beds, carpets, and so on.
As the day passed by, we soon ran out of time and had to head back toSalinas, but we did have a stressless day with Carlota at the wheel.

Nice leather lounger

Steamer trunk converted to a drinks cabinet 

We are trying out a put-you-up
Carlota Jodie Evelyn in the Mall de Sol

              Sat down to breakfast, poured out a nice cup of tea, and when I came to drink it, there was such a pain in my tooth that I thought I had been shocked with electricity. The pain subsided, and I went on to eat my breakfast with varying degrees of pain. I said we have to go to the dentist.
Evelyn had gone to a dentist a couple of months prior to this for a cleaning and had a good experience, so we decided to go there.
We got on the bus which dropped us off almost at the front door of the dentist in La Libertad.
As we were a walk-in, we did not expect to receive any treatment, but hoped that we could make an appointment for the next day or two.
There were several people in the waiting room when we arrived. As luck would have it, the lady that gave me the massage on Monday was there talking to the dentist, who turned out to be her husband.
I think the only word of English the dentist knew was "open", so it was good that she was there to translate. We were told to sit in the waiting room which very quickly emptied, and  I was asked to get in the chair.
The room was large and clean, the equipment modern- just what I would expect to find in a dentist office in the US. The dentist began to examine my mouth and quickly found the pain spots. He then proceeded to take X-rays. When they were developed, through his wife, he said that he thought it was an abscess and that it could be treated with antibiotics. After further examination, he said that he should do a root canal. 
Before I knew it, he injected my gum with lidocaine, and I was on the way to having the root canal treatment.
The dentist said that there were three roots and I would need to come back for additional treatments. He wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and pain medicine, set an appointment for next Monday, and told me that it would cost $250.00 , 50% now and the rest when the treatment was completed.
I would recommend this dentist to anyone based on the treatment I received.

Dentist and assistant

Had a good night's sleep after the treatment at the dentist yesterday. We wanted to have a walk and stop off somewhere to have lunch, so we walked down to the bus terminal area, hoping to get an empanada at Loretin restaurant. Just as we were about to turn the corner to the place where we wanted to eat, we heard a voice shouting out "hi, girls". It was Mary, just returned from the garden store with a handful of plants for her balcony.
Mary asked if we would like to come up and have a glass of wine or two, so we did go on up and have some wine and good conversation.
Mary has a love bird as a pet that has a very loud singing voice, and is just getting over a parasite infection that made her lose her feathers.
As we all had the same idea of eating, we went down to the water slide area, as the place we wanted to eat was closed, and ate at one of the big food places that are in that area.
The food was good and the price was right. We also were serenaded by a local with a guitar.

This Month

El Alamein offensive in Egypt began in 1942 led by the British.

World War II in the Philippines- 1944 the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.

In 1945, the United Nations became formally established.

We do not use them now, but in 1861, the first transcontinental telegram was sent.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast

What a week

Spa Day
Went to La Libertad for a massage and a facial.

Here I met Teresa, a nice young lady that has a good command of English. She gave me a facial and a massage that lasted 2 hours for the price of $35.00.
The room was clean and contained all that you would expect to find in a facial room of a Spa.

Teresa, the owner's daughter

Teresa performed the facial well, the products were good and the equipment worked well. The facial was performed by candle light; the music was loud because the player was in the hall.
The massage was good; she gave a very light massage and it was one that was without experience. The moves were all there and the routine, but in need of more experience.

One of the spa rooms

Hallway to the spa rooms

Two large spa tubs and a steam room

Waiting area for the spa rooms
Evelyn had Isabelle for the facial and massage.  She was small in size, but was powerful with her hands and did a great massage( Evelyn likes a firm pressure) and was very good with the facial, also.
Waiting area for nails and hair

Reception and salon

Some of the stations
Evelyn and I would go back to the Five Senses Spa because we were treated well and had a good experience.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast

Club Bolero

This is a new club bar opening here in Salinas, and to kick it off, they are having a 
New Orleans style night.
The party starts at 6 pm and all you can eat dinner starts at 7 pm. The price for this is $9.95 per person.
The date is the 25th of October and an RSVP is requested; contact:

 Kimberly Kagan-Quintana
Island Estates International
312.985.7703 Internationally
08.621.2688 Ecuador 

Directions from the Malecon: the road that runs down the side of the  Tesoro Del Mar, take it away from the Malecon until you see the building in the image below and you are there.
From the Salinas Mercado: take the main road towards La Libertad until you see the building in the image below on the right, and you are there.
Hope to see you there, enjoy.

View from the main road

Stage for live bands

Dance floor and DJ up to the top right

Full bar

comfortable seating

Look up

standing bar

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador Coast

This Blog is a shout out for a family that made the difference

When we moved to Salinas, Ecuador, we had the good fortune to meet and make friends with a family that made the difference for us moving to Ecuador.
Before I go into who they are, I would like to say the difference they made for us was not just giving us a piece of information or pointing us in the right direction. They made the difference between us staying here in Ecuador and going back to the US.
This is a wonderful family. They have a loving husband and a great father. The wife is a mother who displays love and affection for her family with abundance.
Their two children are the result of a loving, hard working, and devoted mother and father.
And yet, they still find time to help others that come into their lives. They have a business that requires time and effort to run, grow, and flourish in Salinas.
Knowing this, they make time for others and ask for no reward. Such people as this you meet once in a lifetime, if you are lucky.
They made time for us, they helped us, they directed us, they stood by our side, and because of this our transition here went from a very bad start to a place where we are able to sit down and say we now feel like we are retired.

The family in question is Ralph Jones, his wife Andréa, and their children Samantha and David, and also their extended family living here.
Not only do they run this fine establishment, but they are a wealth of information and support.
They have helped us out so many times. Here are a few:  we had problems with the land line phone. Andrea came with me to CNT and translated so we could get the phone working.
We had major problems with the electrical wiring in our house; Ralph brought over the guy they have been using and he was able to sort us out.
Ralph took us in his truck and showed us where to buy materials for the house. Andréa, through her Dad, found a doctor for Evelyn, and went with her to translate because the doctor did not speak English.
I am not able to thank them enough. I do hope that this will help them by providing them with additional publicity.
Please go there and try the food. They have a great  menu and the food is superb! The food Ralph produces has no match here in Salinas. Thank you to the Jones family from Evelyn and myself.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador coast


That is the number of tea bags I have consumed since I have lived here. This is not a statistic that I would normally reach for, but I thought it was a number that is significant. It means that I only have a three months' supply of tea bags left at an average of 5 tea bags a day.

Here in Salinas, we too celebrate Octoberfest, but in a slightly different way. The country has a bank holiday or two this month, so the roads are busy. The beaches are packed and the bars and restaurants are making some money after a slow low season.
Soccer is in full swing and Ecuador won a match. Did you see the parade of the Emergency responders taking their trucks from Salinas to La Libertad and back down the Salinas Malecon?

If you missed it, here it is!!!

Pool cleaning
Well, we have been here for eight months and it seems that every week we have been doing something to the house or for the house.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. This last week, we had the pool drained, the old grout chased out and the new vinyl based grout put back in its place and a new hand rail installed. The whole process took a week, and now we are filling the pool- 20,000 gallons through a 1" hose takes a long time to fill a pool.
I have some images and video of the guys doing the work. At the same time as this, we have been looking for some furniture for our living room. It may come down to us having what we would like made locally- the search goes on.


We made a friend when we came here. His name is Richard, he is retired and traveling around, taking in the life from different countries. He was nice to talk to and very interesting to listen to. Richard recently went back to the US and said that he would be back next year. Richard, we enjoyed knowing you and hope to see you next year.

From left to right Richard, Ralph's Dad, Evelyn, in Ralph's Restaurant 
This weekend is a bank holiday, so we did our shopping early and took the dogs out to the beach before it gets filled with people. It is hard to walk them when the beach is busy,  because of their size. The locals get scared of them and some panic.

Restaurant Review

Six of us went out for a meal to a place that was recommended by Linda and Ron, who have since moved to Cuenca. I thank them for passing on this information.

This restaurant is located behind the Perla Del Mar. It is on a corner and has easy parking. You enter through a picket fence half gate in need of painting. The floor has red tile in place and bare concrete which makes the floor uneven in this area. To the right as you walk in is an area accessed by climbing two steps. The open plan is enclosed by a knee wall and what appears to be a fishing net; the entry gate opens out to the street and has no security. This is a concern in light of what took place only two blocks away a few months ago.

The tables and seats are of wood construction. The tables are small, but when joined together we sat six comfortably. They have two BBQ pits, one small and the other larger. When we arrived, there was a family of six and a couple already seated but not yet eating, so I was not able to see the food plated. On the walls they have hand woven art, fishing tackle and retro photographs. There is a small bar inside and the kitchen beyond; they do have a modern POS system.
The staff were polite and knowledgeable; the menu was clear and in Spanish, but the staff spoke enough English to provide clear descriptions of the items on offer.
With our order taken, bread and dips were brought to the table with our drinks. We were able to see the cuts of meat being cooked on the BBQ which added to the ambiance, but this sound was drowned out at times by the traffic noise.

Because this restaurant is off the Malecon we were not pestered by hawkers. This meant we could enjoy the meal and conversation. As the plates arrived, the staff were eager to make sure that we were happy with our order to the point that they forgot to bring out the condiments, which was not an issue.
The food portion was immense and my first comment was that the dogs will be happy. The meal came with a very basic salad- lettuce, tomato,cucumbers, and onion -no dressing, and no dressing offered.
The meat I ordered was undercooked, so it went back to the grill and came back just right with no fuss.The meat was brushed with a light sauce and tasted nice. The meat was tender and juicy, I asked for fries also which came on the same plate. The fries were frozen, not a deal breaker.
It took some time for me to eat what I could and have the rest bagged for the dogs. They offered only two desserts and both were ordered. One was a flan style cheese cake with raspberries,  and the other a meringue base with cream and fruit. Both were excellent, both are homemade and they vary from night to night.

The bill was printed from the POS printer, was clear and easy to read. This is nice when a group is eating, so each member can see what they have been charged. A service charge was included.
Our bill for 6 total was $105.00.

Where      Parrillada
                 Gral. Enriquez y Guayas y Quil frente al Hotel Marvento, Salinas, Ecuador, Telf.  2773749

Open       Low season - Wednesday through Sunday evenings,  High season- lunch and dinner. 

Rating     Overall 3 stars- this due to the lack of security.

Experience  very enjoyable.

I would return if  the security issue was addressed.

This month

This month ,1066 ,William the Conqueror fought the Battle of Hastings and won.

The founder of Pennsylvania was born this month in 1644.

A great Poet, e.e. Cummings, was born in 1894.

Dull photos 

If you have old photographs that have lost their luster, you can use a thin coating of clear shoe polish to bring them back again. Lightly buff with a soft cloth.


Monday, 8 October 2012

Living the Life Ecuador Coast

Did you know?

The roads here in Ecuador running between the cities are well maintained, and for the small toll of $0.25.
Included in the toll fee is a service; this service is if you break down or are in trouble; there is a number on the receipt. Call it from your cell phone and they will come; the one drawback is that you will need to know some Spanish, but such a deal.

Many people say that you can live in Ecuador on $600.00 a month, but would you want to? In the next blog, I hope to have a score card of our experience living in Ecuador and what lead up to our move. I thought it was going to be easy putting it together, but there have been so many variables that it is taking me longer than I thought.

One of the benefits of living in a house is that you get to see and enjoy the local life. Part of the life is that we have vendors coming around the streets selling fruits,vegetables, fish, lobster, and a host of other things. Here you will find a video I made of a vendor coming to the house selling dorado, a locally caught fish. I hope that you find it informative and entertaining.

Health care

Here is a topic that is on the mind of any traveler, visiting outside of their native country. Where can I get treatment, and will it be as good as I get at home?
Well, since we have lived here, we have had the need to use the health care system here, and not found it wanting.
We have had a doctor do a house call for $30 and found that doctor to be very competent. The medications that were prescribed were readily available in the local pharmacy. Now, both the doctors and the medicine were obtained at a very reasonable cost. Let me put it in perspective: when we lived in California, our co-pay would have been higher than the cost of the visit and meds.

New people

When we meet new people here in Salinas from another country or from another state, we try to make them comfortable by introducing ourselves and passing on any local information that we think would help them while they are here. One of the things we volunteer is that we do not have a car and do not need one. This is to some a point of amazement; we explain that for now, we are getting around just fine using the local buses, taxis, and walking.
Another question we get asked is, "Where is it safe to eat?" This is a tricky question because we have eaten all over the place and have not gotten sick yet.  So, the most diplomatic way to answer the question is to ask a question back.
"Where would you want to eat or where can you eat?"
You can be bold and eat anywhere, or you could be safe and just eat in the gringo hangouts. If you are thinking of living here, or are you just here for fun and a vacation, you may think a bit differently for each of these answers.

Trip to Guayaquil 

On a recent trip to Guayaquil, Evelyn had to go for some tests at the doctor's clinic. We had a 12:00 midday appointment, so we got the bus from Salinas and a taxi from the terminal, which all went very smoothly.  The test was carried out and Evelyn did not feel like shopping, so we got a taxi back to the terminal, had a great lunch for $3.50 each, and then made our way to get the bus back to Salinas, and that would be a whole day gone.
The bus service here is great! For half the amount it costs to cross the SF Bay Bridge, we are able to travel in a luxury bus with reclining seats, bathroom, and TV. They play up to date movies in Spanish, but when they see us, they put up the English subtitles.
We have used this service a number of times before, and found it to be very good.  The price for a ticket one way is $3.55; this takes you in comfort 124 Kilometers, such a deal.
On our return trip, we had an encounter with the national police. They had a roadside check point where the bus was pulled over to the side of the road and boarded by the police. One of the police officers issued an order to get off the bus in Spanish. We worked out what was said by the fact that the other passengers were getting off. The men were moved to one side, and the women and children were moved to the other side.
Officers boarded the bus and searched it, and then moved on to the men who were searched along with their bags. The women were not searched and allowed to get back on the bus. No explanation was offered by the police; then the men were able to get back on the bus and we were then on our way to Salinas.
A street in Guayaquil 

I liked this door

Looks very old

Fun and music here 

Looks like a fun bar

Church in the same square as the water feature  

Water feature  in Guayaquil 

This is a building in Guayaquil  

Men being searched by national police


In the news were the forest fires in Ecuador, which were started by four youths who have been caught. The damage that they caused stretched the fire service here in Ecuador to its limit; towns and villages had to be evacuated.
A combination of air tankers and ground crews were able to contain the fires, but not for several weeks.   With the support of volunteer firefighters (our pool guy is a volunteer firefighter and was called in to help fight the fires), no lives were lost, but structures, businesses and homes were.

Bombero shouting for help