Sunday, April 24, 2011


I thought it would be nice to pass on the information I have found about Macara, before I go on my trip tomorrow. I think I said in my last post, that we were leaving on Saturday.. well it was pushed out to Monday due to the Easter holiday.

I pulled up "Weather Bug" to see what the current conditions were of my destination. 29 degrees Celsius.  I still don't know exactly what that is so I go to the conversion chart I have in my favorites.
I know is says something about teaching English in Japan, I just happen to like this chart because I can change the increments and its fast and easy. So I plop in my numbers and find that it is about 85 degrees F. And it is supposed to get down to a chilly 18 degrees C at nite.. 64 F. brrr..(uh, I'm joking...)

When we visited Salinas, EC in December, it was about 27C (80) with humidity.. I was croaking. I was relieved to see that the humidity in this region does not seem to be an issue.

I searched a bit further and found a website that told about Macara.  It seems this is an area known for its dry tropical forests, birds and growing rice. A small town, not interested in the tourists, even though it is a major crossing spot into Peru.

My host Chella, is from this region, and seems very happy to be taking someone who has never been there. She made sure to remind me of all that I needed to take, and that we would be also venturing into Peru. So my passport would be needed. Hooray. a new stamp in my passport! I have made sure to add my Yellow fever card to the bundle I am taking, just in case I have need of it crossing back into Ecuador. I learned my lesson when I had to have Randy overnight my Cedula (Ecuadorian residency document) to me in the US last November.

Since I don't have any photos yet of Macara, I will share with your the links I of found for photos of this area.

Oh and I hope you all had a Happy Easter! We are having a few folks over for lunch. Randy is making BBQ Pork chops and Vegetarian Refried Rice. As usual he is going for the Kimbler's take on traditional Easter Brunch! And as usual it's going to be very yummy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Adventure # 1 (Misadventure?)
I fell.. I wasn't watching where I was going..again. I have this little technique that usually works. I keep watch, out of the corner of my eye, on Randy. I make him walk in front of me.. if I see him dodge or change his cadence, then I know I need to look where I am going; to be alert for road hazards. Well my "little technique" did not work this time.

We were walking through one of the Art festival displays at the Otorongo Plaza. Randy saw the drain that runs lengthwise through the whole Plaza. It is shallow at one end and deep at the other (where we were).. His stride was perfect to walk over it without changing his cadence.. I, on the other hand, steped right into it.PLOP. Fell very hard, on concrete. I managed to not break anything and due to ice and one whole day to just recover, I have bounced back to my old self.. minus the "little technique".

Why? you say, would a festival be located with a very long open drain running through it? Where un-observing people can step into it? Why was it not covered with wood, so folks would not fall into it?
Well thats Ecuador for you. They depend on folks looking out for themselves. It's one of those things here that you have to understand. Road work is usually done without alot of danger signs or barricades either. If there is an effort to make the way passable for foot traffic, a very flimsy piece of wood is used, without hand rails or other safety precautions. Each person has to take responsibility for his own safety. That said, I rather love that about this country, even though I fell into that ditch. I wish that they would cover it with a grate, and I hope that they do someday. But in the mean time I am learning to walk with caution and take responsiblity for my own safety, and not rely on others to ensure it. Randy is pretty happy about that too.  Here are some photos of a sidewalk on our way home from the bus stop.
Log anyone?

Big chunk of brick and concrete.
Everyone is talking about the rain. It comes and it goes. I tend to hang out at the computer when its too rainy to wander around town. I am lucky that I have this great view too, so I can watch people coming and going. On this one rainy day we had hail that was deafening ! I was looking out the window and noticed that these folks on the other side of the river had just hunkered down with a big plastic cover and were waiting it out..
 Right after the hail let up, these two ladies made a mad dash with just umbrellas.. no coats and one is in high heels. I just had to laugh!
Adventure #2 is not so painful...I am going to be leaving for the southern part of Ecuador this Sunday. I have been invited to go with our friend Chella to visit her family in Macara. Her father is being honored with a school dedication. We are also going to be able to go into Peru for a visit with her other family. I am packing for hot weather, mosquitoes and stomach I was told to bring something for digestion. Chella is worried that the spices there will upset my stomach. She says their food is much spicier than Cuenca! I am more worried about the mosquitoes, I can never stop scratching! I may have to talk with Chuck Watson about his mosquito cure when he went to the jungle. I think it was dragons blood and whiskey?
This is Chella!
Adventure #3 is our Gardening Adventures. 
Here are some cheery flowers we are very proud of
Yep, they finally are blooming!
Not a clue, anyone know what this is?

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This is a common sight in front of anyones home this time of year. Even if you have a rain coat, its better to take an umbrella. Sometimes it rains so hard that the water will run down your nice REI raincoat and soak your nice jeans... first hand knowledge on that one.  Oh and Thanks again Mom, I love the umbrella, its the only one of its kind in Cuenca. I think I am the envy of every black umbrella toter!

Here is a nite time photo of the Tomebamba river. It is very high and very fast. I keep wishing I had a huge white water raft to head down the river. We live across the road from the river. Normally due to the high embankment I cannot hear the water until I cross over the street. Today I noticed that I can hear it from our yard.

We have been having lots of fun going to our friends houses, and discovering new places to have dinner.
Here are some photos of our friends and dinners we have been enjoying.

Chris Bluefield of Kookabura Cafe fame..

Spectators, Geri Johnson, Jenny Bluefield and Randy Johnson

Karen Wine, snuggling one of 3 pups in the house that nite.
We have been invited to a home that puts on dinners every saturday nite. It is a grand event and the food is marvelous. We are notified by email what the dinner will be, and the price. Limited to 28 guests. Its always packed and we always are asked if we want seconds!


Sweeping staircase to the second floor

Their rendition of a Capresi salad.

Those tomatoes were peeled, sliced and reformed with the mozzarella and greens inside..

Wonderful homemade noodles, chicken, shrimp and a side of a cheesy spinach ..oh yum.

OOPs I forgot to take a picture before I began.. Chocolate pannacotta with strawberry sauce

It was real good!
To make up for all the food we have been consuming we have tried to walk every day. I have convinced Randy to walk along the river so we have some better sights than buses and houses. Here are some pictures I took along the way.
This climbing yellow flowered vine is covering all these yucca type trees!

Cool house with a monster yucca
Cuenca verson of "Follow the Gray Brick Road"..Tomebamba almost over the banks on the right.
On this day, when I took this picture, we were so excited that it was nice and sunny, so I left the house without a jacket or umbrella. I ended the day by having to call Randy to meet me at the bus stop with an umbrella, as it was pouring down rain, and I could not get a taxi! I had on a nice cool tshirt.. and it was white.. so I was not wanting to dash the two blocks home in the rain.  Thanks again Randy.. I won't forget the coat or umbrella again. We have been told for the next two months always carry an umbrella. I think I got that one imprinted in my brain!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Randy has a habit of jumping the gun when someone mentions something that he thinks is a good idea. He blew off my suggestion of waiting for his Cedula before he bought his motorcycle (thanks Clarke), and once again he has jumped to deciding now was a good time to get his automobile drivers license. We do not own a car, and will not own a car for quite some time.. but our friend Chuck was going to go to school and well, Randy thought it would be fun to go along. So he did..

After you attend driving school (everyone has to), you have to wait a week or so to come back for your certificate. Then you take the certificate along with the required documents. These are 2 photos, front and back copy of your blood type card, color copy of your cedula and censo, police record and the driving school certificate.

Randy, Chuck and Tom all took classes together so they all went to the police station to take their tests together. I am told that Tom had a $10 tucked in his pocket just in case the story about bribes was accurate.
They arrived about 11:30 in the morning and was told that they needed to come back at 1:30. I got a call saying they were off to Kookaburras to while away the time and would I be joining them?

I parted company with them at Kooks and off they went all excited to be on the last step of their license journey. Time ticked by.. I received several phone calls from Randy saying he was still in the gristmill of getting the license..he finally arrived home at 4:00 and this is the story I heard.

The trio arrived a little before 1:30 and joined the line that had already formed. While in line Chuck and Tom realized they did not have all the proper documentation, so they dashed off to get some copies made. (50 ft away). As soon as they were out of sight the doors opened and the people swarmed in. Randy being the good friend that he is went to the back of the room, thinking he would save the other guys seats... not to be..Ecuadorians are not very understanding of lines, so Randy saving seats was way beyond them. Chuck and Tom were relegated to standing in the back with some other folks.  A gentleman announced that all those standing would have to leave, as they only had a set amount of seats for testing, and those standing were beyond that number. So poor Randy, all alone. He said he offered Chuck his seat, but Chuck declined. His idea of them all testing together just went out the door...

The process as described by Randy is this. You wait  as one by one folks take their documents up to the processing person. If you have all the correct documents you go sit back down, and they keep your paperwork. Those who don't have correct paperwork are asked to come back at another time. Once everyones paperwork as been looked at they count how many vacant seats there are and then offer those seats to anyone waiting outside (Chuck and Tom could of gotten in on this if they had known).

At this point you are given a test with your name and cedula number on it. (P.S. be sure to bring your own writing implement!) While you take your test an officer walks around the class keeping and eye on the participants. When you are done with the test you signal the officer who has you sign your test, and takes it. You continue to wait quietly until everyone is done with their tests, and the officer has collected all of them. The officer hands off the tests to a person who we assume takes them to be corrected. The test takers continue to sit and wait for the corrected tests.

When the correction person returns he calls each person up one at a time and shows them their test scores. If they passed they get a slip of paper and are directed up to the second floor to the doctors office.

Upstairs again you sit and wait your turn. The doctor takes your slip of paper, then gives an eye test, notes your height and eye color and blood type. If you pass the eye test he gives you another piece of paper and directs you to another building.

At this building you are greeted by a lady who magically has your test. You pay her your $38 and are directed back to the original building to have your photo taken.
***side note.. When Randy when up to this lady, she rattled off something in Spanish, and Randy did not understand her. He apologized in Spanish, and explained his Spanish was not very good. She responded in perfect English.. What? You don't speak Spanish and you passed this test and only missed one? You must read better than you speak.. he agreed. She said MUY BIEN! He was very happy with the compliment.

Well, after all the flush of the compliments wore off, Randy realized that he wasn't sure where he was supposed to go for the photo.. as he stood there looking bewildered a nice lady came by and said "Photo?" and waved him to follow her. So he got his photo taken and then within 5 minutes he was handed his new Ecuadorian drivers license!

I have to note here that the license is only good for 5 years and then you have to take the test part again, NOT the drivers training part. Which is kind of funny, because we probably wont be able to buy a car for about that many years!

Randy will be returning on Monday with Chuck and Tom. To do this process all over again... to get his Motorcycle license!