Month: March 2017

Heading to Galapagos!

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The time has come, and we are so excited. All paperwork has gone through and at high tide this afternoon we will pull up anchor, raise the sails and head for Galapagos. It is about 545 nautical miles (627 land miles), and we are expecting about 8 hours of wind followed by absolute calm seas with no wind at all. We expect it’ll take us 3 or 4 days. Our friends on Zatara will be leaving at the same time and we will buddy boat the entire way.

This morning we loaded into the dinghy and Renee and her two younger munchkins and I walked over to the grocery store, while the girls went to the fruit market…it’s the divide and conquer provisioning approach.

The girls are so good at purchasing what we need, and are incredibly responsible. On the way we saw some little children working out in the mud harvesting shrimp.

They have a huge area to cover…

They spent $30 and returned with 2 huge watermelon, carrots the size of dinosaur eggs,

a couple dozen fresh croissants, a few dozen passion fruit, avocados, pineapples, 6 lbs of fresh shrimp, a few pounds of finger bananas, and a couple pounds of fresh peanut butter in a bag…because how else would you buy peanut butter!!!? It’s actually quite delicious.

At the store Renee and I were at, I bought beets, potatoes, cabbage etc – things that last a while. I also bought bottled water because the area we will be sailing through is once again pirate territory, and sometimes the way they have approached sailors is to come close up in their fishing boats and ask for water. People let them on board and give them water, which is when they pull out machetes and all goes to heck in a hand basket. If anyone comes close enough to ask for water we will not let them board or tie up to our boat but will toss them bottles of water.

Again, the good thing about buddy boating is that there is safety in numbers. We don’t expect any problems at all.

One of the unforeseen projects we’ve had to hurry and work on, is that the window in Mycah’s head started to separate. Danny showed Mycah how to remove the window, peel off all the sticky, messy black bonding nonsense and reset her window. She rigged up the bosuns chair, repelled down the side of the boat and went to work.

Check out the disgusting brown water below her. Since the earthquake last year, all sewage is dumped into the ocean, and between that and the water flowing in from the mountains during this rainy season, we feel like we are on the chocolate river in ‘Charlie and the chocolate factory!’

Danny and her worked hard, and Mycah learned a new skill and had fun swinging around.

During the process she did have a little accident…at first she had the dinghy tied to the side of the catamaran and was standing in it to work, and accidentally dropped the knife which landed on the dinghy, poked hole and fell into the depths of the muddy mess. Keith brought his patch kit over and saved the day.

In these last couple of hours we are cleaning things up from provisioning, getting checkout paperwork taken care of, and Emma and Anna are enjoying some delicious dragon fruit together. More fun times and grand adventures await!

Back on board

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I apologize for the double post today, but the previous post was unfinished and I sent it off accidentally…

Yesterday morning we left our hostel by taxi with our friend Cesar, at the wheel.

Danny had asked me to try find a couple parts for our engine, so Cesar told us he’d drive us around to try find them, then drop us at the bus station so we could buy tickets for our trip home. At that point we had no idea what the bus schedule was.

We traveled to 6 different stores before we found the parts, then set out for South Quito, where the bus terminal was. En route, we stopped at a look out that oversaw South Quito, and it was quite impressive!

About 2,000,000 people live in Quito.

Over 4,000,000 people are without jobs in Ecuador.

We have really loved our visit to Quito. The people are hard working and friendly, transportation is readily available for very cheap and the scenery is gorgeous. The only word of advice I must offer, is that when you use the restroom, take your own toilet paper, and many of the public restrooms cost 10c for guys and 15c for girls because they hand girls a paper napkin the same roughness as dry corn on the cob, to use for wiping.

When we stopped to take pictures, Emma collected a beautiful bouquet of yellow flowers. I love my sweet girl and her thoughtfulness.

When we reached the bus terminal, Cesar came in with us and helped us locate the correct terminal. We found that the last bus of the day would be leaving in 45 minutes, which was amazing, so we bought our tickets and said goodbye to Cesar. What a great guy.

We all used the loo and grabbed a drink for the 8 hour trip, and relaxed for a few minutes.

When the time came we loaded up, relaxed into our reclining chairs on the bus, and enjoyed reminiscing about the trip and the experiences we’d had.

Our adventures in Quito will always be such fond memories to reflect on. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to see more of Ecuadors beauty, spend time together as family and friends, and most of all, to hold precious angels – even for just a moment.

Back on board

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Yesterday morning we left our hostel by taxi with our friend Cesar, at the wheel.

Danny had asked me to try find a couple parts for our engine, so Cesar told us he’d drive us around to try find them, then drop us at the bus station so we could buy tickets for our trip home. At that point we had no idea what the bus schedule was.

We traveled to 6 different stores before we found the parts, then set out for South Quito, where the bus terminal was. En route, we stopped at a look out that oversaw South Quito, and it was quite impressive!

About 2,000,000 people live in Quito.

Adventures in Quito, day 2

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Our day began with a wonderful breakfast here at the hostel. I believe that Ecuador hot chocolate is the tastiest in the world. When the woman asked us how we’d like our eggs, we didn’t know the Spanish word for scrambled, so we told her in charade form. Imagine that! It’s not easy to do!!! Crazy thing is that she understood.

When we discussed how we wanted to spend our day, we all agreed that we just couldn’t stay away from the orphanage, so we spoke with Rex Head once again and he told us that we could go over to Ramar after noon when everyone had returned from church. We caught a taxi to a grocery store and bought some supplies to take to the children. We bought nail polish to paint the girls nails,

some cute things to put in their hair,

and teething rings and extra nipples for baby bottles.

We also loaded up on bags of potato chips, books and balloons for them.
As soon as the kids at the orphanage arrived, they ran to us and embraced us. They had no idea we were returning and were so surprised and excited.

We returned once again to the playground and got busy painting nails. They especially liked light blue nail polish.

We had an interesting experience when we handed out the books, balloons and hair things…

until that point, all the children were playing so well together, and were loving and compassionate toward each other. As soon as we brought the stuff out they began to fight and argue. Some tried to take more for themselves and didn’t want to share at all, some wanted more than we had and began crying. It made me wish we hadn’t taken anything for them because they respond so much better to love and attention than material things. Since I adopted a child from one of these orphanages about 15 years ago, I know from personal experience that gifts can be too overwhelming and causes anxiety.

We quickly distracted them with more nail painting, soccer and a game of volleyball.

The girls really liked Jude’s camera and took pictures of each other with it.

We read books and played.

Eventually we pried ourselves away, realizing that most likely, none of us would ever see these sweet faces again. That made us sad, but we hope that we have helped them feel important and loved.

We decided that since we’d been on our feet so much, walking the streets of Quito, we were ready to treat ourselves to a movie so we could sit and chill out for a bit. Beauty and the Beast was showing in English, so we bought tickets, grabbed some fast food and settled in to watch the show. It had been so long since we’d been to the movies, and was such a fun treat. The movie was wonderful!
Afterward I brought up our route back to the hostel on WAZE, and we began walking. Aidan was delighted when we came across an epic skate park.

Since we are all easy going and just happy to be here, we stopped for a while and let him have fun.

It was fun watching him with his ninja skills.

After a while it was time to head back, and as we walked it started to rain. We still had a couple miles to go so we hailed a couple taxi’s. It felt amazing to finally take our shoes off, wash up and snuggle down for the night. What another beautiful day.

Adventures in Quito, Day 1

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Our first day in Quito was packed with adventure from beginning to end!Our friend, Rene from Zatara, and two of her kids (Jack and Anna), and me and our four creatures, boarded a comfy bus at 10:45pm on Friday night for $6.50 a ticket.

We reclined our seats, fell asleep and woke at 5:45am when we arrived in Quito. We noticed that the bus terminal was at the airport – aside from that we had no idea where we were, and were completely content with that. We knew we wanted to explore Old Town Quito, so we set in search of transportation and found a bus that would take us there. While standing line for tickets, a taxi driver made us a sweeter deal, so we followed him out to the two waiting taxi’s. A few minutes into our drive Rene realized she’d left her glasses on the bus, so we turned around and began searching for the bus we’d been on. Her glasses weren’t in lost and found at the bus terminal, and the bus wasn’t at the main hub, but while driving we spotted it parked by a big metal building, so the taxi driver jumped out of his taxi at a traffic light and ran over to find it. A few minutes later, after lots of hooting cars had gone on their way, Rene and her glasses were reunited and all was well in Ecuador.
As we arrived in the Old Town section half an hour later, the kids spotted a McDonalds which they hadn’t seen in many months, and we were dropped off there.

While eating a breakfast of champions, I contacted our friend, Rex Head, who has a wonderful organization called OSSO (orphanage support services organization). They support orphanages and have an amazing volunteer program. Rex and his beautiful wife, Melodie, have hearts of gold and have had such a massive positive impact in so many lives. Check them out online if you’re interested in volunteering. I asked Rex if we could help at an orphanage anywhere in Quito, and he made arrangements for us so that we could.

From the second we arrived at Ramar to the moment we left, we had beautiful children in our arms, holding hands with us, playing games and giving hugs.

We left our backpacks up in a bedroom and made our way through the rooms and hallways to find a place where we could play.

It felt so good to be back. The last orphanage I had been in was in Belize, which was just too long ago. We have so much love to give, but always come away feeling and overflowing of love from the children…far more than we offered.

We went outside to an open courtyard, where Aidan and Jack played soccer with a bunch of boys.

They had so much fun.

We played on the playground equipment for a while.

Giggles and smiles and expressions of love have no language barriers.

Mycah fell in love with a baby girl named Scarlet, held her close, cried for a bit and showed her lots of love.

Such a precious angel, holding a precious little angel.

Jude was mauled by two sweet little girls,

Anna was kept captive too,

Emma was taken by hand and led around the entire place for quite some time.

We gathered all the kids in a circle and played duck duck goose, which was so fun.

After lots more cuddling and playing,

If I would have been allowed, I would have taken a baby home with me.

We took a nice big group shot, hugged and kissed the munchkins goodbye and headed to the grocery store with the orphanage managers.

We bought over 300 lbs of rice, as well as various other supplies for the orphanage, and sent it back with them. We feel so blessed to be able to have had the opportunity to spend some time with the children.
We walked down several streets in search of Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal, a local market.

The streets were lined with beautiful buildings,

and churches.

Finally we found the market and loved chatting with the locals and admiring their handiwork.

We of course had to get our beautiful granddaughter, Zailyn, some stylish Ecuadorian clothes! Aidan bought himself a spiffy hat.

Cute little kids played around while their parents worked.

We walked through a park with art work for sale,

chatted with vendors,

ate street food,

Got goofy,

And acted like tourists…just a little.

By the time we reached our hostel, our feet hurt and we were completely exhausted. What a great day!!!

Shots and surfing

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We’ve had a busy couple of days here in Ecuador.Danny seems to have hurt his knee somehow, and has been limping around with some sharp pains at the top part of his knee cap. I secured it with an Ace wrap and iced it, but it has not helped much. Yesterday when we had to make our way over to the vaccination clinic for yellow fever shots, we put Danny in a tak tak so he could rest it.

I asked the gentleman peddling to sit next to Danny and I would peddle them both, but he wouldn’t do it.
We were told by the doctor who boarded our boat with customs when we first arrived, that we had to be current on yellow fever shots to go to Galapagos, but have since then been told by the guy overseeing the Galapagos paper work that we don’t need it. We decided just to be safe, we’d go ahead and get it done.

Emma and Mycah have never been ok with needles, but both did beautifully. Mycah convinced herself that all would be well and she would feel no pain, and that’s exactly what happened. Emma squeezed the blood from my hand, and was such a trooper.

Keith and Rene from Zatara were well behaved too!

Aidan was so sweet, as soon as Emma was done he gave her a flower.

On our walk back we stopped by a park so the creatures could show us their ninja balancing skills on the see -saw.

Of course Danny and Keith were instant Pro’s too!!!

After that we stopped for ice cream, and then lunch. A curious bird watch us closely from the waters edge as we walked passed.

This morning Danny stayed home so he could rest his leg, while the rest of us made our way over the the creatures surf lessons. Emma was ready to tackle any wave she came across.

Jude climbed on the tandem with the surf instructor, and we followed them to his home to pick up the boards.

Several homemade looking boards were brought out from the house and neatly arranged out in front.

After that they were stacked onto a tak tak and everyone made their way to the beach a block away.

Jude and I eyed out the balancing bundle and the old man who was to peddle the load, and decided to stay and help him.

It was a good thing, because we had to stop and push hard to get over some bumps from construction in the road.

At the beach, the creatures were so excited to get started.

Everyone helped unload boards,

and before long they were all nicely arranged and ready for action.

After some exercises in the sand, the creatures grabbed their assigned boards and took off behind the instructor into the ocean.

They each took turns being taught and pushed along. The waves were small and perfect for learning. Jude got up on her first try!

All the creatures got stung by jellies, but ignored them and had a blast and a half. Aidan is a natural.

They all are!

So fun!

The Zatara creatures did well too. Here’s Jack,

and Anna.

After 2 hours of lesson, and lots and lots of progress, the creatures posed for a photo with their instructor.

Such a fun experience with an amazing group of kids. They now feel like they could rent boards and keep practicing on their own and learn by practice and repetition.

I found out the name of a doctor we could take Danny to, so he and I caught a taxi and had it checked out. The doctor examined his knee, said that it’s a ligament problem, and gave him a couple shots of cortisone right into his knee, and another shot into his butt.

He then attempted to explain to us what was going on, but we simply couldn’t understand each other, so I called my friend, Elayne, and she translated. Danny is supposed to stay off his leg for 8 days and take some prescribed medicine, wear a brace and hope things improve. If there is no improvement after 8 days, an MRI would be needed. The hour long appointment, shots and meds all came to $80!

In the mean time we are still waiting for our Galapagos paperwork to go through and continue to enjoy the beauty this country has to offer.

Road trip to Manta

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We recently found a great place to grab a bite to eat. The food is good, inexpensive and they have enough room for all of us to sit together!

Danny ordered a dish that had octopus tentacles in it. Luckily that sort of thing doesn’t bother him…it doesn’t bother me either, as long as I’m not the one eating it!

Yesterday we had to travel to a town a couple of hours away to sign some papers pertaining to our stay here in Ecuador, so all 12 of us piled into a van and set out on a 2 hour drive through the countryside to Manta.

The Tanda Malaika and Zatara creatures took up the back seats, chatting and laughing among themselves. They are having so much fun spending time together, exploring, watching movies in the evenings and playing games.
We passed through areas of really dense foliage where endless green reached far and deep.

Some hillsides were covered in neat rows of corn, and continued on as far as we could see.

After passing through a small town with some sketchy looking electric wiring jobs, we continued on into more green countryside.

We passed areas where rice was being grown. It was all fascinating to see.

What a beautiful country this is.

My favorite tree that we saw is the Ceiba tree. They stand tall with wide branches and look like they’d be perfect for climbing and building tree houses in. Many of the people from Ecuador and Peru believe that deities live in the Ceiba tree.

We thoroughly enjoyed our road trip, and got the papers signed that we needed to. Any day now we should have all paperwork approved for Galapagos. We are all excited and ready to set sail.

In the mean time, we continue to work on projects, explore our surroundings, and spend time together as friends and family. Life is good.