Friday, September 6, 2013

A Week of Drama, Fun, and Frustration in Our Final Week in Bahia!

So incredible that it is once again the final week at a location we've called "home" for a month. We have so enjoyed our time here! And, have made some very good friends!!

Last Sunday was Mike's actual 65th birthday and we went to San Clemente for a surprise lobster feast. Our friends, Miriam Weaver and Dave Causey are the ones that came up with the idea and made the arrangements. Thank You!!

Mike had no idea what or where or with whom until the taxi arrived for our pickup along with Miriam and Dave. We had a great time looking at all of the new scenery along the way, as Mike and I hadn't been anywhere south of Bahia during our stay.  And, in San Clemente, we stopped at a condo complex affiliated with a beautiful resort hotel right on the beach.

The 4 pounds of lobster had been caught just that day right out in the ocean in front of the restaurant, which is owned by Meirs, the German fellow who sells us our Booz at the Thursday Booz runs at Coc Bongo. It was a fun bohemian kind of place that was right up our alley!!  I had chi ken along with the best French fries!!  A great time!

We continued to celebrate on Monday by going to Isla Corazon, a mangrove reserve, just a bit up river from here with Susan and Karl Heer. We took a taxi again were dropped off at the park grounds. Francisco greeted us and took us on a walking tour along the edges of the shrimp ponds and mangroves explaining in broken English along with Mike's Spanish how mangrove forests grow and how they harvest the shrimp.

After a very interesting video with English subtitles, we boarded a motorized ponga for the pier with a canoe in tow. Once across the river and arriving at the mouth of a natural 1km waterway through the mangrove forest, we transferred ourselves gingerly into the canoe in open waters. Thus began our discovery and exploration of the multitude of birds that call this island home.

At one point we were dragging butt through the shallow waters and Francisco and his son were working hard to pull us through the mud in the canoe.  Oh, did they work hard!! LOL

Reaching the other side, we were greeted by thousands of frigate birds flying and nesting in the trees with their young. The males puff out their red throats when mating, the females have white breasts, and the young born white. Simply beautiful!

Another larger group had appeared on this side with another canoe and so e process of trading boats began. Since we had already done this, we were completely comfortable doing so but they were a little freaked out!  It actually all went smoothly and I was so glad to get out of the canoe since for balance purposes I had to share a very small seat with Mike and we were definitely not comfortable. I have the bruises to prove it!

We then motored around the south side of the island to see many different other types of birds that call this island home. Then headed back to the mainland. A fun, enjoyable thing to do!

As we were crossing the river bridge to go to the Island, we came upon an "accident". There was quite a traffic jam. It as we made our way past the site, we saw a man with his helmet still on completely covered and lying a pool of blood. No one was helping him at all, so Mike knew he was dead. One puzzling thing though was that we really didn't see any evidence of an accident. His motorcycle was standing upright with no evidence of damage and there were no damaged cars anywhere. Something didn't seem quite right. 

We have since heard several different versions of what happened but he was definitely dead. Drugs, resisting arrest?  Who knows but it doesn't change the outcome and Mike was shaken by what he saw since he had the best view. 

So since this is our final week, we are eating as much of the food we have left but supplementing by eating out with friends and saying "See ya later!"  And that's just what we did Tuesday night!  

After a very frustrating day of working on my blog problems, we decided to get together with Donald and Diane Murray at Arena Bar. It was a perfect choice, as we hadn't been there before. We were the only customers there all evening while we there for 2.5 hours. A delightful meal where Don ate mine and I ate his. By the time we truly discovered that, we had both eaten half and so continued on!

A fun evening with new good friends who I know we'll somehow be seeing again. It will probably be in another country in this big beautiful world! That's one of the really cool things about this journey and meeting likeminded travelers. 

However, Tuesday was also spent working on our on going water issues here at our condo. If I had to make a specific reason why we wouldn't live here it is the water issues here, not just in our building but most of them. Even though there is a "city" water system, the water never makes it down to many buildings.  So it is necessary to buy water, which is then delivered in rusty old tank trucks, which are owned by the mayor. Hmmm, not quite the incentive to fix the water system is there?

From day one, we've had issues!  After 3 days of little or no water, the "guard/caretaker" of our building showed up wanting $20 from us, if we wanted water.  Not!  Our rental agreement was that all utilities were included in our rent.  We called Miriam and after she spoke with the owner of unit, she paid $20 for a huge tanker to come deliver water.  They did BUT all of the Quito owners of units in our building showed up with all of their large families for vacation and used all the water but didn't pay. They used the water from the tanker we paid for.  Most of the condo buildings here are Ecuadorian owned units and are only occupied for vacation purposes, so we're the only ones in our building on a full time basis.

Now that we're the ONLY ones in the building, there was no more water. So...Miriam had to give them another $20 to buy a tanker. That's total BS!!  There's no way we used a huge tanker full for the 2 of us!  But, we now have water. Something that must be considered when renting in a high rise anywhere!!  Do the owners pay their bills including monthly HOA fees?  We've heard horror stories, so be sure to ask all the right questions before renting anything or you might get stuck paying them!

The one really bright side that we found out on Tuesday and dealt with on Wednesday, was that I got notified by Social Security that I'm eligible for a small pension amount from a previous employer!  I had wondered about this over the years but didn't know how to go about figuring it out. The company is a major car and financial institution and their bureaucracy is horrendous !  Anyway, with the info reported back in 1991 to the Social Security Administration I had all the info I needed to contact them and get it all set up for my first payment in November. So psyched!  Not much, but I'll take it thank you very much since I earned it! WooHoo!

The rest of the day was spent working on fixing the blog, coordinating the pension payment, walking on the beach, and laying by the pool in the sun. Not bad for an old fart!  Oh, and the "fix" I worked out after many hours of research worked!  Last night all of my followers on my blog got their update email with three blog posts. I was really stressed over this and thrilled I hadn't lost my mojo!

Mike took the bus on Thursday to go pre buy our ticket to Guayaquil on Saturday morning so we were sure of getting a seat on the Express bus.  It will be a 6 hour ride.  And, the day was rounded out with dinner at Amistad with friends, Susan & Karl Heer for our final "See ya later!"  Oh, I do love their BBQ pork ribs!  I gorged myself, which I never do but oh so worth it!

We ended the evening with friends and a fun evening of Trivia at Coco Bongo with Sean Cater and many others we have gotten to know. A great way to bring our time here to a close!

Today, Friday we spent the day cleaning and packing, with our final dinner at Claudia's. Time to say goodnight!

Some Observations: 

Mike and I love to read!  He - political, environmental, science, etc.  Me - suspense thriller, murder mystery fiction, and maybe a romance thrown in once in awhile. But in the quiet evenings after dinner, we've been watching via Netflix, Orange is the New Black (seen them all and can't wait for new season!), Breaking Bad (Mike watches this mostly and I just found the new season 5 for him!), and, Dexter (about half way through). Our watching ability depends on our Internet connection, which has been difficult and slow in many of our locations. This is also a MUST for us wherever we settle because it's our lifeline with family and friends back in the states. 

At this point in our search process, things have become pretty defined for us as to what we are looking for. So far, we know we could live financially anywhere we've been but will it give us the best quality of life value based on our parameters?  We have not found nirvana yet. But, keep in mind, that we know there will always be compromise for where we choose. There truly is no "perfect" place, not even back home. 

Our budget for this month proved to be very close to our $1,800/month goal.  For details, read my blog post below this one. But, it also proves that Ecuador has not been any less expensive than Panama or Costa Rica. Interesting!  And, that's why we're "country shopping" to gather all this information.  

As we will now be traveling as true "tourists" for the next 5 weeks, I'll be keeping track of our budget but can't use it for our budget analysis. On Saturday, we take a bus to Guayaquil, spend the night in a Hostal, then catch the bus up into the Sierras to Cuenca. We will be there for 5 days, then travel north to Alausi for a day, then further northeast to Banos for 3 days, a day in Riobamba, then on up to Quito for one night (because we don't travel busses at night), continuing on the next morning to Otavalo for a day, on to Cotacachi for 3 days, and returning to Quito for 5 days. 

On October 1, we fly from Quito to Lima, Peru. After 2 days there, we join a tour group and fly to Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, and on up by train to Macchu Pichu. We have 2 more days in Lima once we return from the tour. Then from Lima, we are flying back to Ft Lauderdale for 2 nights before flying direct to Managua, Nicaragua. Once there, we will be back to our "normal" routine of spending a month there. Then a month in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Again, flying back to Ft Lauderdale and on to Puerto Vallarta on December 15 for a true living experience of 5 months!!

Are you keeping up? LOL

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