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Ten Things We Will Miss When We Leave Ecuador

10. The Farmer’s Markets:
I have always wanted to live somewhere with a year-round fresh food market. The ease of purchasing delicious fresh fruits and vegetables has greatly improved our eating habits. I don’t know what I currently weigh but I know I’ve lost weight since arriving here and a good portion of that is because we are eating fresher, less-processed foods. The avocados, bananas, mangoes, strawberries, oranges, and many other fruits grow year-round and plentifully here and they taste amazing! We visit a market at least once a week to stock up. I have had some of the best fruit salads, smoothies and fresh fruit juices ever while living here. 20140302-201645.jpg20140302-221055.jpg20140302-221617.jpg

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9. The Perpetual Spring Climate
Cory may not agree with me on this one as he’d prefer to live somewhere with 4 seasons but I am not missing winter (and I hear this one has been brutal) and especially not summer! The only issue I have with it is that it’s hard to remember what month it is when the climate really doesn’t change throughout the year. The temperatures can vary from about 45-80F throughout the day and depending on the time of year there may be rain showers every afternoon that last for an hour or two.
Perpetual spring also means a perpetual growing season. That means we can enjoy the above mentioned fruits and veggies throughout the year and gardening is quite a pleasure. And a bonus is that the trees and flowers are in perpetual bloom.20140302-221312.jpg20140302-221411.jpg

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8. The City Parks and Town Squares
Cuenca has a multitude of parks and plazas, providing many opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors. Some of the equipment isn’t always in the best shape but many of them have updated exercise and play structures as well as plenty of green space to allow the children to run off their energy.
I also really love that each town has a square, usually immaculately kept with beautiful flowers, a statue, and possibly a fountain. And on weekends and special holidays they are crowded with families. 20140302-221742.jpg20140302-221753.jpg20140302-221802.jpg20140302-221811.jpg

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7. Walkability of the City
Growing up in the big city of Houston, I am impressed by cities that are easy to navigate via foot. Houston is so spread out and 99% of the year the weather is too unbearable to want to be outside the comfort of your air-conditioned SUV. I love exploring this town on foot, finding historic buildings, street vendors, and quaint shops along the way.
The only caveat to this is that the drivers are not entirely pedestrian friendly. The car definitely has the right-of-way in this town so you have to rush across crosswalks. Plus, drivers cannot be trusted to observe stop signs so you must always be vigilant of the cars here.
If someplace isn’t as close as you’d like, you can always take the buses for $0.25 per person (age 6 and under are free) or a taxi for about $2-3 a ride. And, coming in the next few years, there will be a light rail system in place. I just love places with great public transportation! Hopefully the light rail system will cut down on the diesel pollution from the buses. 20140302-225316.jpg20140302-225302.jpg

6. The Low Cost of Living
This extended vacation would have never been possible without the fact that it costs very little to live here. That is why many North American retirees flock here every year, they can stretch their retirement dollars so much further. Typical rent for a furnished apartment runs between $400-$700 a month, usually including all utilities/cable/Internet. Gas tank refills for hot water, gas stoves, and gas dryers run $2.50 a tank! We can eat a delicious meal at a restaurant for somewhere between $10-30 for our family of 4, depending on the restaurant. Diesel fuel is $1/gallon and we only have to fill up once, maybe twice a month. A trip to the farmer’s market provides us with ample supplies of fruits and veggies for less than $10. Mangoes the size of a my baby’s head are 4-5/$1, strawberries $1/lb, 15-20 bananas/$1. I’m going to miss these great prices and the ability to barter for the best deal.
A trip to the pediatrician cost us $6 and $20 for 4 medications. The dentist charged us $30 to clean our teeth (and that was more than some cost but she spoke perfect English so she catered to the Gringos and therefore charged more). Unfortunately, the low cost of human healthcare means that as veterinarians I shudder to think of the measly income we would make working here. Many people ‘have’ animals but it is uncommon to see them neutered and many of them freely roam the streets, often with a limp most likely a result of being hit by a car and not receiving after care. 20140302-225433.jpg

5. The Gorgeous Landscapes
From the beautiful Andes Mountains, to the azure Pacific Ocean, to the verdant Amazon Region, Ecuador is a country rich in natural beauty and, for the most part, the people here respect nature and take very good care to preserve it’s beauty. 20140302-225602.jpg20140302-225623.jpg20140302-225700.jpg20140302-225714.jpg20140302-225728.jpg

4. Los Ecuatorianos
The people here are hard-working, kind, and laid back. Despite the crazy driving here, road rage does not appear to be an issue. I especially love the indigenous, Quechua people of the Andes. I truly will miss seeing them in their brightly colored skirts, carrying a baby or something even heavier on their backs.
We also love how this is a family-centered culture. You see many people working alongside each other, children, parents, grandparents. Women wear their children on their backs and breastfeed wherever and whenever their child gets hungry. 20140302-225850.jpg20140302-225917.jpg20140302-230146.jpg

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3. The Popularity of Our Daughters
Everywhere we go we hear, ‘que linda’, ‘que hermosa’, ‘que bella’, ‘ojos de los angelitos’, while people old and young stroke their hair and grab their hands or feet. The light hair and blue eyes are quite the hit here. I even forgive them for calling the Miss P a boy because she doesn’t have earrings. Apparently the Ecuadorean girls have their ears pierced when they are 3 days old. Miss E finds the attention a bit overwhelming sometimes but it’s been a great way to keep up with her Spanish greetings. But alas, we will head back to the States where they will blend in with all the other gringitos. But I guess I am glad they aren’t teenagers here as they would probably be rather popular with the Ecuadorian boys, and I’ve seen plenty of public displays of affection at the local parks to be a little concerned about that. 20140302-230243.jpg20140302-230305.jpg

2. The Driving
This is all Cory. Other than the time I reluctantly drove to Loja, I have no desire to drive here. But, according to him, he enjoys the seemingly lack of road rules. Although, just before we moved here, there was a crackdown on speeding resulting in many people being jailed for infractions. So, I wouldn’t consider it a lack of laws, but they are not always enforced.

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1. My City Home and Country Home, the Best of Both Worlds
We were so blessed to have an apartment in a great part of the city as well as full access to my dad’s farm. I’m not a city or country gal as I like both for different reasons so it was nice to have the option to stay at either location. The city offers many great options for entertaining us but the country is a great place to relax and recharge.

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Honorable mentions include
Street Art: these elaborate murals are much more than just ‘I wuz here’ or ‘I heart insert name here’, they are true works of art.

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Ice Cream: there are some good ice cream shops here and we tend to have the mentality that we should stop for some because we are on ‘vacation’. Thankfully we do a lot of walking so we can burn off the extra calories. My favorite has to be Mixx off of San Blas Square. They have delicious creations, including many adult varieties, like Zhumir (an Ecuadorian sweet liquor in a variety of flavors), Bailey’s Irish Cream, wine, and many other flavors. Don’t miss this gem. My only complaint was the spumoni ice cream had candied fruits, not cherries and pistachios like I am used to. It was definitely not my favorite flavor from there. The Almond Joy and Bailey’s were a hit with my taste buds and tummy though.

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Cleanliness: while this is not always true (see my post from our visit to Puerto Cayo) many towns are kept extremely neat and people are constantly sweeping sidewalks and cleaning up stray litter.

Our new friends. We have met many wonderful people from all over that we will keep in touch with forever.

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The conejos (rabbits). Miss E adored her Papa’s bunnies!

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Christmas parades.

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Relaxing.

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Oh, The Places She’ll Go!

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Friday was Miss P’s first birthday. Ever since Miss E had her first birthday I have been obsessed with planning fun parties. I totally blame Pinterest for this. I have been thinking about the party for about 6 weeks now. I get so excited when I settle on a theme and start planning out everything. For Miss E’s first birthday, the theme was hippos because we called her our hungry hippo, but Miss P hasn’t really inspired any nicknames like her sister. But, she has had a very adventurous first year, traveling to 3 continents and 5 countries! So I settled on a travel/Dr. Seuss Oh, The Places You’ll go theme.

Decorations included a map bunting, hot air balloons, globe balls, map flowers and Dr. Seuss quotes. I wish I had a printer here but I had to settle on handmade signs. The gifts were left at the baggage check-in table and favors were picked up at baggage claim. I had a little art corner for the girls to design their own hot air balloon and we ended the party with a canned snow fight. The only decoration I forgot to make was mile markers of places we’d been. Oh well, Miss P didn’t notice.

For food I made hot air balloon sugar cookies with buttercream icing and chocolate ganache details. I made a globe smash cake with stars placed in the locations she visited this year. With the rest of the cake batter I made matching vanilla cupcakes with marshmallow cream icing. I put flag toothpicks in each as a simple decoration. We had vegetable crudités and chips with a sour cream and onion dip, sun dried tomato, spinach and salami pin wheel sandwiches, and fruit salad in a hollowed out watermelon hot air balloon with yogurt and homemade granola. Get the granola recipe here.

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Miss P thoroughly enjoyed her cake. She took awhile to get into but in the end she demolished it and once she removed it all from the platter, she signed for more. At the end of the party the kids took home favors of travel stickers a globe beach ball, a few chocolates and a foam puzzle of South America. We had a great time with new friends and their children. It was another party success if I do say so myself!

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Puerto Lopez, Machalilla and Ecuador’s Rich Coast

Just south of Puerto Cayo lies Puerto Lopez. It was a larger, busier town than Cayo, which seemed like a ghost town. We enjoyed walking along it’s beach (also peppered with litter) and it’s very nice pier and eating at our favorite cabaña, Cafe Normita. Each little cabaña had hammocks to lounge on and enjoy a cocktail or fresh jugo (juice) or batido (a fruit and sweetened condensed milk smoothie). We went to Cafe Normita so many times the waitress knew our names and they enjoyed passing Miss P around. The girls are quite popular wherever we go in Ecuador, and the Pacific Coast proved to be no different. I even saw several Ecuadorians snapping photos of our little muñecas (dolls).

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We also explored some of the area between the two towns, specifically Los Frailes and Agua Blanca. Los Frailes is a crescent shaped beach that is part of the Machalilla National Park which meant it was a much cleaner beach. I sat with the girls on the beach while Cory further explored the rocky shore below the cliffs. There were colorful sea urchins, crabs and coral. The entry to this part of the park was free and it is definitely worth visiting just to enjoy a nearly litter-free beach.

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20131213-152210.jpgMiss E briefly went for a swim with dad but she was unimpressed with the waves. As she came running back to me she stopped and seemed to spit on her arm. I was puzzled by this action until she told me daddy was going for a quick ‘spit’. I said, “I think he meant a quick dip.”

The other stop in Machalilla was at Agua Blanca, a natural sulfur spring. Now, I’m not much for bathing in a stinky pond, no matter how much it helps your skin, but there was much more to this place. The cost is $5 per person (the girls were free). Our first stop was a small archaeological museum. The are is rich in archeological findings dating back to 1500-2000 B.C! At the museum, Julio, our guide greeted us and explained many of the artifacts to us in Spanish, some of which I actually understood. He then stayed with us, guiding us across somewhat difficult terrain, including steep dirt steps and a nearly dry riverbed. Of course I picked that day to forget Miss P’s baby carrier! We also got to see some of the excavation site, the local village of bamboo huts, and the sulfur spring. Cory and Miss E took a dip while Miss P and I rested in one of the hammocks. There were many animals to see that Julio pointed out to us. From local farm animals, like chickens, horses, goats and cows to wild animals, like lizards and birds galore. If you’re a bird watcher, this is the place to go!

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20131213-152759.jpgAccording to our guide this cactus is at least 100-125 years old!

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20131213-152918.jpgwe had to explain to Miss E this cow may not be as friendly as grandpa’s vacas. She seemed to have no fear of the giant beast!

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As you can tell, the coast is rich with history, culture and scenery beyond just the beach. There was so much for us to explore and enjoy.

Here are a few more photos from the surrounding coastal areas.

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20131213-153733.jpgMiss E is just like her mommy, leery of public restrooms. We have a portable potty and she will ask to use it sometimes in favor of the public bathrooms. Cory happened to pull off at this lovely overlook when she requested a bathroom break. Not too bad a view.

On our way home we took a different route down the Ruta del Spondylus, formerly the Ruta del Sol. I’d say my favorite was the area surrounding the hip surfing village, Montañita and the Ayumpe rainforest. I wish we’d had time to stop and photograph and explore the area but eight to nine hours is a long enough trip! Further south it felt as if we were in a dessert. There was nothing but the brown of the dirt, a few yellowed leaves on the plants and the contrasting blue ocean, that disappeared behind us as we drove east toward Guayaquil.

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Puerto Cayo

20131211-125733.jpgPretending to sleep in the hammock.

20131212-212543.jpgOur “Casa Blanca”, the red-tile roofed house.20131211-083230.jpgOur view from the bedroom balcony.

Puerto Cayo is a small, sleepy fishing village on the Pacific Coast of Ecuador. It is just west of Jipijapa (hippy hoppa) and between Manta and Puerto Lopez. The house we stayed at was two blocks up from the beach. Our first morning there we decided to spend on the beach. Miss P slept in so we didn’t make it out until around 10 am. I was concerned the beach may be busy but there was no need to fear. It seemed the only people on the beach, and there were only a few, were fishermen and a couple cops patrolling.

20131212-212044.jpgYes, the water was that blue!

The beach was nice, except some litter in the area just before the sand became moist and packed. I was rather unsettled by the amount of syringes I saw. I’m not sure if they were from local medical trash or illegal drug paraphernalia. Either way, I dint want to find any needles with my feet. We found that despite the many signs discouraging dumping trash it was a common and unfortunate occurrence.

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We spent the rest of the morning playing in the waves. Miss P squealed with delight as they crashed against her legs. She also enjoyed digging in the sand with her fingers. She’s quite the opposite of her sister who has always had a dislike for dirt (and sand). Much to my dismay she also tried eating the sand and rubbing it in her eyes. I had to fight the urge to keep her completely away from the sand and allow her to explore the world, but I am the one that will have to change that sand-filled diaper soon enough.

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There were several cabaña restaurants lining the beach and we frequented those during our stay. I brought food to cook but found the desire to dine on fresh seafood outweighed my desire to cook (or even throw together a few sandwiches). We sampled the ceviche (calamari being my favorite), fried seafood rice (calamari being Cory’s favorite), and pescado (fish) dishes (apanado/breaded and fried being Miss E’s favorite, though she thought it was chicken, and al ajillo/in garlic sauce was my favorite). The dishes were served with chifles or tostones (thin and thick fried green plantains, respectively). We even went out for breakfast one morning and sampled the local cabaña’s 3 breakfast dishes, two of which featured bolones, a large, round fried cake made of mashed cooked green plantains with queso fresco that is fried. Of course, I forgot a photo, but it was quite delicious served alongside fish in a pepper and onion sauce.

20131211-153717.jpgTypical cabaña menu.

20131211-153728.jpgAll the cabañas had seashell wind chimes. It was so relaxing to listen to them ‘chime’ along with the ocean waves.

20131211-153605.jpgCeviche de calamar.

20131211-153613.jpgArroz mixto (Fried rice with shrimp, king prawn, crab, octopus, fish and calamari.

We went to my father’s friend’s hotel (Los Sueños del Mar) the same evening to get some wi Fi and we watched the sunset over the ocean. Miss E enjoyed playing with the sweet hotel kitty and swinging in the hammocks. On the drive to the hotel I was struck by the simple houses we passed. I can’t fathom how poor some of these people must be, but then I thought of how rich they were in their landscape, the seaside, and that perhaps the life of simplicity truly was a richer, more fulfilled life.

20131211-154438.jpgI love her beach waves!

20131211-154458.jpgThe hotel kitty.

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And a bit more of the town:

20131212-212707.jpgA grazing burro near the town center.

20131212-212733.jpgI loved the seaside chapel.

20131212-212645.jpgThe stone work looks like a whale’s tail. Whale watching is a big tourist attraction in the area. Unfortunately, we were a bit late for whale watching season.

20131212-212628.jpgThe local meat market? It’s difficult to see but that stuff hanging was meat/tripe/pork skin.

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Mama’s Taking Us to the Zoo

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On Sunday we visited the AMARU Zoológico Cuenca with our friends. The park is on the Eastern side of Cuenca up the side of a mountain. It’s not like most zoos I’ve been to as it was basically like hiking on a trail in the wilderness. In fact, you walk right through the capuchin monkeys’ habitat. I was looking for the cages when Cory said there’s the monkeys. I asked, “where?” He answered above your head just as the monkey let out a loud chirp. I looked up to find a small monkey just over my head and I screamed. That startled her and she jumped causing me to scream again. Once I realized she hadn’t escaped from her cage they were pretty fun to watch. See how close we were?

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The zoo is filled with animals native to Ecuador. So we saw an Andean bear, an ocelot, crocodile, parrots, pumas, wolves (that look like foxes), Galapagos turtles and tortoises, llamas and an Alpaca and many other animals. The star attraction was the 2 month old lion cub that you could take your picture with. We also got to watch the lions be fed. The sound of the male lion’s roar may haunt me forever. Not only could you hear it but you could feel it shake the ground!

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We had such a fantastic time even though we were there for five hours and were exhausted afterward. Unfortunately, the high from that day wore off quickly. Miss E was ‘sick’ Monday. Immediately after leaving the zoo her nose started running and she was sneezing. We kept her home from school Monday. She was a maniac! I wish I felt that good when I had a cold.

Another thing that brought me down was there has been an awful odor coming from the master bathroom intermittently. It has gotten so bad that I was having nausea and headaches. At first, I though it was from the upstairs neighbor’s dog but then I realized there is no way he could poop that much! I then realized it was sewer gas and called the realtor so she could contact the owner. The odor was so bad we stopped sleeping in that room and on Monday morning it was quite potent. The owner and the plumber showed up in the afternoon and wouldn’t you know the odor had nearly completely dissipated by then? So her solution was for me to put a tile over the shower drain and she became rather defensive when I told her in broken Spanish that we could not continue to live here with that stench. They did get some drain cleaner and I was instructed to cover the shower drains with a tile when not using it and flush it with water at night. Fingers crossed it works. Today there was no odor. Yay! I hope it stays that way. It was almost as if we were living in a zoo, but the zoo smelled better!

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Being Tourists

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Usually when I go someplace new I immediately like to take a guided tour but it’s taken us a month to go on one here. Saturday, after what seemed like hours of dressing and feeding kids, changing diapers and packing bags with diapers and water we finally made it out of the house! We walked back to the new cathedral and found the double-decker tour bus stop. We bought a ticket for the next tour. After incessant prompting from Miss E, we headed across Parque Calderon to get ice cream while we waited for the bus. We were delayed some because we stopped to enjoy a parade heading through town. There were dancers in traditional costume and bands playing music. It was so much fun to watch, but I wish we’d had more time to enjoy it.

We got our ice creams and headed back to the tour bus. It was a beautiful sunny day, but perhaps a touch too warm. Thankfully, they supplied umbrellas to help shade us. The bus took us by the major landmarks and up to Turi, overlooking the city. I showed some photos from there in my post Christmas in October. The narration was in Spanish and English (albeit a bit broken). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take a bunch of photos of our tour because it was difficult to photograph and hold/nurse Miss P, hold the umbrella and snap photos. Fortunately, Cory took some for me.

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The night before our bus tour we met some friends for a park date and dinner. They have a daughter at Miss E’s school, Miss C and will be joining us at the farm to celebrate Thanksgiving. The second we arrived at the park, the local girls swarmed us, ogling over the two girls. An older girl, Marina, took a special liking to Miss E and took good care to keep her from falling into the fountain. She even gave her the last of her ice cream (maybe that’s why Miss E has a cold now…). Marina kept coming up to me and asking, “¿Come se dice?” (how do you say). Most questions were about how to say ‘be careful’ or ‘you have beautiful shoes and hair’. What a sweet child she was!

After the park we headed to eat dinner at a fabulous pizza restaurant. Miss E even ate spinach pizza! The child that is afraid of anything green ate spinach pizza and LOVED it! So did we. Rich, what was the name of the restaurant so the blog world can know about this fabulous pizza? Oh yeah, and Fridays are 2 for 1 Margarita night. They weren’t fabulous, but 2 for $4 it’s hard to complain about!

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Oops!

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Well, I’ve leveled the playing field. Cory may have lost (and retrieved) his wallet but I got us to the rental car place an hour after closing (for the entire weekend). Yeah, I totally forgot the place closed at noon and didn’t reopen until Monday. Renting this car was the whole reason we lugged two car seats to Germany and Switzerland and why we were to stay at our current place for the entire weekend. It was how we were going to explore Schwarzwald (The Black Forest) on our own. 

This morning we left Lucerne earlier than planned putting us into Freiburg, Germany at 12:55 pm. We got to the train station and of course the rental car place was not nearby. Google directions said for Cory to take a bus for 3 minutes and then walk for 23 minutes in a serpentine fashion but we decided to pay €18 for a taxi. We loaded up and secured the girls in their car seats for the ten minute ride. The man dropped us off, unloaded our stuff, we paid, he left, we then realized, in the middle of nowhere, that we were SOL. I called the rental car number…blah, blah, blah in German then it hung up on me. I called our hotel which is 30 minutes from Freiburg in Rust and in broken English she said go to the train station and ask at the information center.

We decided to see if we could find a bus back to the train station so we walked in the direction Cory had seen one pass. We passed an elderly woman using a walker and Cory pulled out some German asking how to get to the train station. She said a bunch of stuff, gestured a lot, Cory nodded and thanked her and she walked away. Apparently he didn’t understand everything but felt we were on the right path. We quickly came across a bus stop but could not make heads or tails of it. Pretty soon the little old lady came back by us and told us we needed to go further. Then this 90 year old (I’m not exaggerating here) woman led us not just to the bus/tram but on it and all the way to the train station!!!! While on the tram another woman saw we looked lost and offered in English to help us. She pulled out her handy iPhone and found the correct train and bus we needed to take. So here we are at Rust/Europark. Don’t ever let anyone speak ill of the Germans! 

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Never Again!

“Mommy I want to ride the excavator!”E wanting to take the airport escalator.

As the date crept closer I began to worry about how I would navigate two flights with two kids younger than 3 and all our stuff. I had two rolling bags, a diaper bag/backpack, and 2 (20 lb) carseats in bags that could be worn as a backpack or pulled on their wheels, my baby in my Boba carrier and the toddler on a leash tether. Getting through security was ‘fun’. At least it was at the small Augusta, GA airport and not a bigger airport, like Atlanta. We made it to the gate where one agent took pity on me and helped me to a seat to wait.

When it came time to board the plane, E, my 2 1/2 year old was excited about getting on an airplane. Unfortunately the excitement faded by the time I had to put her in her seat.

“I DON’T WANT TO GO ON THIS PLANE! THIS PLANE IS GOING TO CRASH!”

Excuse me? Where did you hear that? Now I’m kind of freaking out because you hear about all these intuitive children and I’ve never once discussed a plane crashing. I’m also rather embarrassed because now the rest of the passengers are boarding. I quickly change the subject and hand her some trail mix (or her idea of a game of find the m&ms). All was well after that. Thankfully, my daughter is not clairvoyant as we made it safely to Atlanta.

My plan in Atlanta was to find our gate and grab a bite to eat. After leaving the plane I looked for the televisions displaying the gates. Did I mention I was wearing my 16 lb baby on my front and a 20 lb carseat on my back and that there was something on that damn carseat cover that kept poking me like a needle in my arse? Yes, that would be my fantastic luck! Finally, after what seemed like a mile of walking, we found them. But my flight was not on it. So I have to walk another quarter mile to find a gate agent. They told me my flight would leave from gate A33 and I was in terminal D. So down to the train we trudged. As the train started we all nearly fell down. We made it to terminal A and got off the train. I don’t remember exactly where we met the angel that helped us but an airport employee took pity on me and took it upon herself to lug some of my stuff and escort us to the gate. We hiked behind her and ended at gate A33.

“Here are two More San Francisco passengers for you,”she said to the gate agent.

“Um, we’re going to Houston.”

The gate agent confirmed that we were at the incorrect gate. It had been switched to B27 they just hadn’t bothered to change it in the computer system! We then had to get back on the train to get to the B terminal. Thank God I had the foresight to schedule the flights to have a two hour layover! Our angel then escorted us back to the train, to terminal B and to our gate on the passenger cart.

“Bless you!”I told her.

(While trying to keep up with this kind-hearted stranger my toddler decided to have a meltdown. She threw herself on the floor and yelled at me she did not want me pulling her by her leash while I panicked that I’d lost sight of the woman with my suitcase and carseat and diaper bag. Ugghhh!)

By this time I’d completely given up on lunch. No way was I waiting in line with all my s#!* to eat overpriced airport food! I considered giving a stranger some cash to get us something to eat and drink but decided against it. We would sit and wait for the plane. But…the gate would change yet again. Thankfully it was in the same terminal this time.

When we got to our final gate a woman said to me,

“You are brave, you must be SUPERWOMAN!”

“Or I’m crazy!”

I’m still not certain which I am.

One of the flight attendants was nice enough to take E’s carseat on board and set it in her seat. There were no tears this time getting her in her seat because I’d promised her a lollipop if we made it on the second plane. She sucked on it for a bit, gave it back to me a promptly passed out before take off. We made it to Houston and the flight attendants helped me get our stuff down to baggage claim to meet my father. E happily followed the sweet woman but when she handed the tether back to me, mere steps from the exit, another tantrum ensued. Please, Dear God, we’re nearly there! After threatening to leave without her and then allowing her to walk untethered she got up and walked with me. It made me so happy that she ran straight to her Papa when we finally found him.

I hope and pray that I will never have to make a trip like that again on my own. Thankfully it went rather smoothly for the most part, but I don’t ever want to do that again by myself, Supermom or not! Now my husband may be Superdad because he made it to Houston driving the moving truck pulling our SUV in one day!

I would like to thank all the Delta employees and countless strangers that were so wonderful to help make my trip a little less miserable than it could’ve been.

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Hotter than Hades

What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.

~ Jane Austen

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It’s been a long time since I was in Texas and the last time I was here it was November so I’d forgotten how brutal summers are. I have long since become accustomed to the Southeast coastal weather which is fairly similar to Houston weather, hot and humid. But Texas never likes to be outdone so just for our arrival it has been hovering near 100•F! It’s hard to be motivated to do anything when the heat is this ridiculous. I can’t believe I used to drive a car without air conditioning here!

It’s a sad state of affairs when the temperature drops to 92•F and you consider it comfortable. We decided a visit to the zoo would be a great way to celebrate the ‘cold front’. So we loaded up our stuff and the kids. We wanted to leave earlier in the morning but we seem incapable of leaving the house before 11 am with two kids. Why is that and are we the only ones with this problem? We got to the zoo just in time for lunch and of course E’s nap time is usually just after lunch. Luckily she was pretty good during our visit, thankfully avoiding any (memorable) toddler meltdowns. Poor thing had to walk the whole time because daddy forgot to load her stroller.

We saw fish, birds, hoofed creatures, elephants, cats and larger-than-life Lego replicas of animals. As we walked around, 92•F didn’t seem so comfortable any longer. Luckily, the zoo has a splash park where we cooled ourselves off. E had a blast! When we got back to the car I noticed that the temperature was not the lovely 92•F the weatherman forecasted but 99•F. No wonder we were so freakin’ hot! We are very happy Papa has a pool at his apartment where we can find refuge from the sweltering heat

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Ahh, the lovely Cuenca weather sounds like it will be refreshing after our Texas summer. The temperatures tend to be consistent throughout the year and range from the 40’s at night to the upper 60’s/lower 70’s during the day. If you thought Ecuador was an extremely hot country you’re not alone. I swear I remember learning in school it was hottest along the equator because of the proximity to the sun, but Ecuador remains fairly temperate because of the mountains, the ocean and the rainforest canopy. Because Ecuador lies on the equator they do not have 4 seasons (neither does TX) but rather a rainy and a dry season.

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Moving Right Along

“Haul Uhaul, Haul” ~The Flying Fish Sailors

“Leaving on a Jet Plane” John Denver

We loaded up the moving truck last night and Cory set off about 30 minutes ago, Texas bound The girls and I will be catching a flight just before noon and should arrive in Houston around 5 pm.  I am not sure which of us has the worse end of the deal. Cory has an estimated 14 hour drive. That must be without stopping to sleep, eat, urinate… I have to navigate through the Augusta, and worse, the Atlanta airport with a crazy toddler, a baby in my Ergo, two carry-on bags, two 20 lb car seats, and a diaper bag! Thanks to my friend Jennifer, I have a leash for Evangeline. I am not too proud to say that it is essential for travel through the Atlanta airport. It may even make a reappearance on our visit to Venice. Ahhh, the nightmares of a toddler diving into the Venetian canals!

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