Our second year Anniversary as of November 9, 2011 has been exciting and fulfilling. The first half of the year was uneventful until some excursions took place in August/September. Joe and I took separate trips 2 times each to Vilcabamba, EC. (Someone had to stay with Kaytee each time.) We were considering moving to a warmer climate by +10 degrees annually. VCB is 4.5 hours South by mountain road @ 11,000 ft elevation, near Loja, EC, a city of 200,000. The ride 40 miles from Loja to VCB is a “wild one” with taxi drivers who have races with each other. We stayed at a charming Hostel named The Rendezvous run by a French Couple for 8 years.
We had new friends Jim, Joe, and Richard who gave us good tours and “fair appraisal” of life in VCB being residents there for several years. VCB is in a zone of longevity for health, the water is unadulterated with population problems for now, and temperature so nice even the tile floors were warm to our feet! It is a beautiful area nestled in a valley of mountains and borders the grandiose Nat´l Park “Podo Carpus” which people come from World-wide to view Flora/Fauna.
We were thinking about transporting everything there for our next venture when something happened. I wrote in a recent Saga letter about the “loss of tranquility” incident. The mom who moved 12 feet from my bedroom window with 3 girls and a managerie of animals are still there “temporarily” as far as we know. This turned out to be what I call a God-cidence. Our search for a different living situation took one week from finding to moving into! The rest of the story has been explained, but for those who didn´t read it, I will be brief. We moved into Villa Ana Maria (pron. “veel-ya”) on Nov.7. The owner, age 77, died five days after we moved in. We offered the family, many who were raised in the house over 50+ years, a Memorial Tribute on Saturday, Nov. 13th. I had two cheesecakes, 3 plates of mountains of sugared scones, tea, coffee, and Lemonade. Thirty-five showed up and spent 45 minutes outside saying “good-by” to Alfredo Polo ElJuri´s remains which they scattered under the Eucalyptus trees. Then Joe and I gave our own Eulogy and Keyboard Tribute for a man we knew only one day in our lives.
This prompted the next event which was for the mom, Lucia, the widow, and young family—Oswaldo, Celina, and Valentina, age 3.5, who live across the street from our Villa. We invited them for TG American Traditional Dinner and 8 adults and two children showed up for a total of 12!
Here´s my Menu below. Most Ecuadorians do not ever taste this food. A funny incident took place when Joe passed the gravy “butler style” and pushed a hole in the mashed potatoes on each plate with the ladle. The ladies had surprised expressions on their faces like “What a nice idea”! It turned out to be a lovely and Blessed occasion.
Prayer for N. America, our founders, Native Indian participation, Traditions, Families so far away and Thanks to God for our many Blessings. (by Marie)
Broccoli, Asparagus, Cucumbers w/Curry Dip
Mango, Rice, Stuffed Mushrooms, Hot
Celery Stuffed with Sweet P. Butter
Cheese Cubes & Apples spiked in Red Cabbage
Hot, Mulled Spiced Fruit Punch
Turkey Breast with Sage Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Corn, Carrot, Hearts of Palm Salad
Green Bean Casserole and Sweet Potato Ring
Deep Dish Apple Lattice Pie w/ Ice Cream
We had “help” with the Salad, Rolls, White Wine and Ice Cream. The rest was expensive for our budget because Turkey (Pavo) is $6.50 a pound here! (not the 99 cents per pound it is in Willmar, MN at Jennio´s Plant, USA) It was worth the 12 hour Labor of Love. We are definitely established as part of this family and love it here. My “God-cidence” story completed.
Another surprise took place the week we moved in. Our friend, Homer from North Dakota via VCB, came to visit for 2 days. He brought his little QMC motor bike to possibly store here until his return to EC in February. He wound up selling it to Joe on time payments which included bike, license, registration and insurance for a year. We now have transportation to our little shopping center 3 miles one way. The s.c. has a mini-market, Drug store, Italian Pizza place, meat market, frozen fish market, 2 bakeries, a dentist, hardware, work-out gym and massage parlor, a huge gift store and a small clothing store. There is an internet cabina open only on weekends for a few hours only. Everything we need is there and not third world “character” at all. We could walk if absolutely necessary. The bus was taking 25 minutes each way. Now Joe can be on the “grocery mission” 15 minutes total!
The first project to enable our settling in was the removal of Honey Bees (abejas, pron. “a bay hahs”) which had established a home in the front porch ceiling for 3+ years. Oswaldo hired a “keeper” who tore ceiling boards off and exposed 14 pounds of honey in comb. We pleaded with them NOT to kill the bees because they are dying all over the world. So they somehow moved two Queens into other hives off to the side yard and in 8 days they were gone! We received two pounds of it with the Propolis. Joe has pictures of “happy honey hunters” we will send.
Our time and money will be budgeted carefully for December and January, maybe more. We are trying to equip the 3 extra bedrooms for our B & B to start helping the “expats” who are looking for rentals or permanent housing to buy here. We are only 20 minutes from the Airport on the Pan American Highway toward Gualaceo, or by Taxi for $5. We need frames and mattresses (two queens, maybe 6 twins—2 of them “bunk beds”). The rooms are large enough to accommodate families w/ 2 adults, 2 children. We also need towels, washcloths, sheets, topo bedding, pillows, rugs, and half-window curtains. The entire house has charming hand-made crocheted valances by Lucia, the former matriarch here. But----until we get the ½ curtains up we are living in a “glass house”, fish-bowl style. The windows are 79” wide and 60” high!
We found a furniture maker who can fashion bed frames with strong slats and two under-bed storage compartments for approx. $120 to $150 each. There are hoards of wonderful craftsmen here who work as carpenters and in construction for $20 a day!
Our “free” breakfast will consist of a huge fruit compote w/choice of Yogurt, a croissant or 7-grain bread, stove toasted, marmalade and butter, coffee, tea, and/or juice. There will be some specialties by Marie on some weekends.
Our Realtor friend, Susie Ochoa, found us a “used for 10 months” washer for a fair price and on two payments. The Califon (hot water machine) isn´t in yet but the Laundry room has been tiled and ceiling put in. The dryer will be the Sun! SOOOO…we are on our way to an income producing business.
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