Sans Ecuador

I had to laugh when I read @Tracy this morning – Mr @Tracy just returned from a month away and had so many shows to watch that he had recorded.  He and I did that too…even after just over a week, I’m still trying to get caught up on Housewives of Orange County, the Mentalist and Young and the Restless.  Most of the time I retire at 2000 hours and watch an hour of my soap or one of the shows that he hates..But sometimes when I do that, I miss one of the 9:00 shows that we watch together – like last night – Castle.  We have a few things we can watch together but for the most part, we hate each other’s TV shows.  That’s why the DVR connection in our bedroom worked wonders…kind of a marriage saver like the king size bed and ear plugs.

We have a day off together…I have an insane number of books to put on amazon today

Siding people are coming at 1400 to give us an estimate.

I’m giving serious thought to raising chickens.

Ate at Pizza Ranch last night to support the Jasper County Animal Rescue League…talked to a volunteer about fostering cats.  He was asking a lot of questions…Trying not to read too much into it…he’s working on the basement…perhaps he could make me a cat room too…is he reading this?

Until next time….

Ecuador Vingnette seis

Middle of the World – Mitad del Mundo

This is one of those touristy things I just had to do..and I’m glad we did. 

ya…I’m a dork with my camera and purse cris-crossing my body…guess I didn’t know I would look like this 🙂  Of course, just the fact that I thought it would be fun to have one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere proves that I’m a tourist!!!

He poses and is quite handsome

I’m not sure what this mountain is but we loved the look of the clouds and the mountain from the ecuator.

Interesting thing about this area…by the way this is where the restaurant and the delicacy were located…it also had lots of shops and was an obvious touristy place but shockingly there was no toilet paper in the bathrooms, nor hand soap.  When traveling to Ecuador tourist locations, you must carry your own wipes…although interestingly enough – we paid 15 cents for about 9 squares of t/p at a public restroom at Independence Square in Quito.

Currency in Ecuador is the American Dollar but they also use the sucre within the country so there is not currency exchange required.  They also use the Sacagawea dollar coin rather than the dollar bill.

Along the coastal highway between Manta and Salinas there were many speed bumps..mostly as you left/entered small villages or when they wanted you to slow down to look at their produce.  These speed bumps could be made from concrete or heavy rope layed across the road.  Some had alert signs and most didn’t.

During a trip to Otavalo for the Indian markets and Cotacachi for leather shopping, we noticed many of the hills, bluffs and mountains were quilted with crops…it was quite beautiful and a total culture shock thinking about farming in Iowa/United States..  These crops – some across the mountain and some vertical were obviously planted and harvested by hand.

The American Disabilities Act is for North Americans…things like wheelchair ramps and handicap accessible sidewalks, etc were not existent…in fact some curbs were a challenge for my short legs.

That is it for stuff that has flittered thru my mind this morning.

Until next time…

Ecuador Vingnette Cinco


Up the side of the mountain to volcano Pichincha – 14,000 feet by cable car…incredible…



…and the reason we went…wonderful dessert and I’ve developed a love for sugar in my Ecuadorian coffee …thanks for getting us both while we are chewing.

Here’s the write up I copied from a tourism site.

Imagen 088Quito’s latest attraction, the Teleferiqo takes visitors almost to the top of the Volcano Pichincha. It is worth putting aside a few hours for the trip, and day or nightime is equally interesting. The cable cars will take you up to almost 14,000 feet and the views are stunning. Just remember that at this altitude the air is thin and it can be extremely cold and windy. Ideally you should not do it unless in good health and you have already acclimatised to Quito’s altitude. Wrap up well too. Once at the top there is a range of restaurants, and you can also hire ponies for treks around the summit.


Apparently a delicacy

This was on the menu at our first restaurant.  Seriously;, I was rather hesitant to eat meat while in the country.

Tomorrow….the middle of the World…separated by the equator….

Misc Ecuador

Here’s the toilet lid and cover – they are throughout the complex…Chairs are also made like this…such a quaint touch.

Look at this awesome picture of a storm far off…not that far off…wasn’t long before we were taking down hammocks and heading for the butterfly suite.

Some random pictures of Quito.  First the home where we stayed….3rd floor.

Views of residential Quito from various windows

Checkout the dog on the roof … not uncommon

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auto-rickshaw aka taxi which you will see all over the beach/village areas.  There were always several waiting around the Mandala Hosteria in the mornings.  Although we didn’t – this is the way to travel over to Machalilaa State Park – Los Frailes beach – a beautiful horseshoe beach surrounded on both sides by cliffs…actually just on the other side of the cliffs north of the Mandala.  Machalila National Park is the place to do whale watching Mid-June to October.  From this area, you also can board your boat rides to the Galapagos and/or poor man’s Galapagos – Isla de la Plata…..

Fritz is on the beach at Hosteria Mandala

The theme of the Hosteria Mandala is Save the Whales – many signs like this lining the long lane into the Hosteria Mandala

…and the one picture Christa asked me to take was very common while walking along the beach

snails, snails, snails…lots of rocks and an unbelievable amount of sand dollars.  I started with a huge collection of sand dollars – only about 10 made it home.  They are very fragile. 

Moving on…meanwhile…back in Quito…the very first night, we walked into the master bedroom of the Andrade home to this view

there is absolutely no way this does the view justice…it is just amazing.  Not to infringe on their privacy, but this chair in the formal living room of the Andrade home

I love it!  Admired it throughout the visit.

Real – very real and fragrant.  Ecuador grows roses and exports them.  Two of these huge bouquets greeted us as we entered immigration at the Quito airport.  This is in the lobby of the beautiful restaurant which drew us in on our visit to Quito and Independence Square.  The next few pictures are random pictures of  Independence Square…I hope to get on line and read up on this area.  Adjacent to the square in all directions was shopping, steep streets and culture that I didn’t have time to let my senses take it all in.  It’s on the list for next time.

First and foremost – our travel mates – two of the best people I’ve ever known – and we are related 🙂
Lee and Christa

Plaza Indepencia

Until next time…..

Ecuador vignette tres

I thought I had a picture of the toilet when I downloaded..will have to check for it.  Beautiful wood toilet seat and cover – I’ve never seen one like it.  Check out the window above the bathroom door – Christa said at night when the bathroom light was on, it was a beautiful glow.

We spent a considerable amount of time while at the beach….at the beach.  I think it was 3 total days – in a hammock in our cabana from after breakfast until near supper.

Our entertainment

This is me – just under our deck at the butterfly suite…OMG I look like a tourist and I’m not talking about my lack of  leg color!!

It was just crazy beautiful and very quiet and peaceful – many times we were the only ones on the beach. 

The city of Porta Lopez is at the corner from where I was sitting to where the mountains sit to the west..easy walking distance from Hosteria Mandala.  Lots of shops, a fish market – actually where they unload the fish from the boats–and several restaurants.  We drove thru a couple of times but didn’t actually get out of the car.

Aureloio and Maja have 5 large dogs who sleep on the veranda during the day.  Each day we spent on the beach, we would see Aurelio taking all of the dogs for a walk along the beach…I would always a life.  The fellow above was christened Marmaduke by us.  He was my favorite…spent the afternoons laying in either the men’s or women’s restroom…a nice place to get away from the crowds and get a good nap in before dinner.

Then it was time to head back to Quito.

Back tomorrow…

Ecuador vignette dos


The pictures are beautiful – but you can’t capture the beauty and the feel for this wonderful place in a picture.  There are many of these paths and they all lead to private rustic lodging/cabins.  I posted the link to the resort in case you want to go in and browse around.  For starters.  We (4 of us) rented the Butterfly room – or Mariposa room.  Queen and single downstairs and larger than double upstairs in a loft:

This is the view I woke up to every morning

The deck with two hammocks.  I slept in a hammock my first night…

We ate every meal on the bamboom and thatched roof veranda – excellent food.  I mean homemade excellent food…fruits, italian, sea food, delicious desserts, 1/2 liter Pilsner beer for $1.70 on and on

There are other pictures of the veranda and dining room but it is taking a long time to download.
Prices were unbelievable.  4 of us in the butterfly suite eating every meal on site plus desserts and a few drinks – $1200 for 6 days – $600 per couple..Because of the season, we did have a few mosquitos but bug spray WOULD have kept them away.   It was suggested that we return in May, June or July – no bugs and nicer temps.  The times we spent in our cabana on the beach was beautiful – wonderful breeze off of the pacific, but there was no air in the room – I was comfortable with a fan on me but I have to admit – was a little uncomfortable before we figured that out.

We flew into Quito – the Ecuador capital.  Then flew to Purto Lopez on Aero Gal airlines.  It was raining when we arrived – they handed us umbrellas as we disembarked and walked across the tarmac to the airport building.

More on the adventure next time!!

Ecuador Vignette uno

It is good to be home. Left Ecuador around 7 am eastern time and arrived Des Moines 2300 Central Time. It’s a long trip by air but a blink of the eye if you consider how long it would take traveling northbound on the Pan-Am highway. Because I had only precious minutes of internet time, I used the “note” portion of my IPAD to keep notes because I knew I would forget little details…and I did not want to forget one little iota.

The first thing I must say is how incredibly wonderful the Andrade family is! I first met Veronica Andrade Breon several years ago as she was then the wife of a fellow I worked with. I reacquainted with her a couple of years ago when we happened into Greenburgs Jewelers at Valley West Mall in Des Moines…was it fate??? I had mentioned to Veronica that my brother-in-law and girlfriend had taken a trip to Ecuador and they were going back taking “He” and I with them…I asked to get together for lunch or dinner so she could give us travel tips. During this meal, she not only brought her husband and adorable daughter, Emily, but her parents, Fabian and Elvia Andrade. This was our first experience with the gentle Ecuadorian culture. They not only gave us a look at their country using words, they offered us their apartment for lodging during our stay in the capital city of Quito. When I say apartment, I mean full size house on the 3rd floor of a building in a gated community. Did I mention 4 bedroom – 3 bathrooms or did you pick up on the 3rd floor detail 🙂 Then had us met at the airport by Fabian’s sister, Susan and her husband Paco and their grandson, Xavier, as our interpretor. I immediately adored these wonderful, loving people as soon as I looked into their eyes! Because of the luggage and number of guests issue, they also rented a car and driver to make our short trip to the “apartment” more comfortable. I love that Paco loved my name and it rolled off his tongue like honey. Susan and I tried to work thru our total lack of spanish/english understanding using lots of sign language and feeble attempts at finding familiar words…nothing really worked other than hugs of love and appreciation….

I learned right off the bat that they call the United States – OO-SA – (USA). My first understanding of the language. Isn’t that just funny…

Elvia set us up with a driver who charged us $40 – $60 a day to drive us where ever we wanted to go. Keep in mind, Germone spoke no english.

The first little detail that quickly came to my attention was the fact that street markings ie. street lines are only suggestions – it is a crazy, crazy place to drive. I’m not sure there is any way for me to explain to you how unprepared I was. Let me start off by saying that it is not unusual for 2 lane streets to become 3. Weaving in and out of traffic within inches of bumpers is the rule, honking, honking is not an American road rage experience, it is a courtesy for the most part. Hey…I’m here, Hey, I’m going thru, Hey just to let you know….HonkHonk. I didn’t even find myself stressed out as we passed slower moving vehicles on 2 way mountain highways as the vehicle behind always allowed us back into the traffic flow. The best way to make my point is to think about driving on a two lane highway…we learn with experience how far ahead the oncoming traffic must be in order to safely make a complete pass and be able to get far enough ahead of the “passed” vehicle to safely merge back into the lane. In Ecuador this must be a few car lengths – if it doesn’t appear you have enough time, the car behind you slows to allow a safe merge for you…rather than honking and speeding up and destroying everyone’s peace of mind with road rage. Interestingly enough, I can count on 1 hand the number of accidents we saw along the road. I’m not sure what the reason is for the safety amongst the chaos but I did not fear. Did I mentioned stop lights and stop signs..ya…just suggestions 🙂

This is where I will end for now. I am home – things need to be done.

Until next time….

What can I say about today

We were told that there was a beach 5 kilometers down the road with white sand so we started there…not so white just a little lighter than we were used to. Because you cannot spend a lot of time in the ecuadorian sun when you are as incredibly white as we are, we decided to head back to our cabana and hammocks. One little detail that I find totally unbelievable is the temp at the equator. The capital of Ecuador, Quito, has a higher elevation so the day we headed to the Middle of the World, I was wearing a jacket…by the end of the day, we were in shirt sleeves.

Today, while sitting at the Pacific Ocean at the equator, we were chilled…shocking to me.

What upsets me is the number of dogs. Obviously no spay and neuter rules. Dogs everywhere – obvious mothers and puppy’s everywhere. One of the most fun things are the 5 large Dogs owned by the owners of the Hosteria Mandala who lounge on the wrap around bamboo and thatch veranda. The large black great Dane which we have christened Marmaduke sneaks into the restroom to sleep when the door is left ajar.

This trip is an incredible adventure.


We have an incredible advantage traveling with Spanish speaking friends; but I must say it is not imperative to speak the language to totally experience the Hosteria Mandala at Porta Lopez Ecuador. The adorable couple who own and care that your trip is spectacular are Swiss and Italian…she is a long legged middle age blond with a happy smile…he is a braided gray hair italian with a mustache, gregarious personality…Antonio and daaa-veed are the waiters who greet you every meal, are happy you are here and remember your habits. During our first night here, Dave made the comment that it is so wonderful that they can make a lot of mistakes and not ruin it. My biggest complaint is the puckering fruit juice they feed me every morning. I could add sugar but why? It Is the experience I wouldn’t want to miss. Because Dave understands the language and can speak the language, we have been a little more adventuress. We drove two hours down the coast yesterday and witnessed incredible beauty not marred by American standards. I do not and will not understand the lifestyle of simplicity and living standards in the villages but this is my issue not there’s. They are doing fine and do not need my sympathy. Christa took high school Spanish and has figured out word association in order to learn phrasing. It is shockingly easy to pick up. The MAndala is all inclusive in theory but without the set price. They just keep a running talley of your food and beverage expenses. Like $1.70 for a very large pilsner. Presently laying I. Hammocks in the beach cabana. Be back soon