Today is our 11 year anniversary of traveling the world…Happy Travel Anniversary, my love…

View of the houses on the oceanfront in Mirador San Jose, Ecuador, one hour from Manta.

It was 11 years ago today that we began this journey. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed. Now, as we research where we are headed next, we wonder, based on health limitations at this point, what is our best move. There is the whole world in front of us, but we’ve already been to those places that appealed to us the most, and now, we must pin down options for the future that meet our current criteria.

The ocean is closer to the house during high tide.

Times have changed over the years. Prices have rapidly escalated for flights, hotels, and holiday homes since the pandemic, and searching for options has become an entirely new ballgame, requiring diligence and patience. In the past few days, we’ve done a lot of research and eventually have to take a break when flying out of Manta is a real challenge. But we carry on, trying off and on until we’re able to pin something down.

A kind, well-intentioned reader wrote that it may make sense for me to focus on getting fit while here, and I appreciate the sentiment. But, with rainy, cloudy weather, I am not motivated to use the pool. My walking ability is limited, as mentioned, and I cannot walk even short distances. Once the weather improves, I will walk in the pool and see if that helps.

The chaise lounges for a sunny day for some vitamin D.

He also suggested I write a cookbook using the locally available foods, and again, I appreciate the good intention. Still, I have no desire to write a book after writing 4085 posts in the past 11 years. I spend enough time sitting at my computer, and spending more time writing a book, especially when we have an imminent need to research, doesn’t appeal to me.

But I appreciate our reader, who’s simply coming up with suggestions on how to enjoy our time better here. In the past few days, as we’ve become more settled, we’ve overcome the hurdle of how we’ll spend our time, and now, as we plan for the future, we are content and finding ways to enjoy our surroundings. No more angst, thanks to the help from our owner/landlord, Igor, who addressed our issues with speed and diligence.

The house is on a steep rocky hill. To get down to this sidewalk, one must walk about 1/2 mile to a stairway going down.

I think I freaked out once we arrived. I was stuck in a state of Afib for the first four days. In this state, it’s easy to panic and feel stressed, which, of course, only makes matters worse, but it is challenging to psyche oneself out of it when it feels like birds are flying around in your chest. Plus, it wasn’t very comforting to think it might never stop, which happens to many with the condition.

Now, after a week on the miraculous drug, I am Afib-free and was able to reduce the dose in half in the past two days, which I take at night, and it just so happens to make me sleep better. Whew! I am hopeful. I have enough pills left to make it through our remaining time in Ecuador, with about ten doses remaining until we get somewhere where I can buy more. So far, we haven’t found a pharmacy that carries them, but we will try a few when we get to Manta in about three weeks.

It’s unlikely we’ll use this brick charcoal grill on the right in this photo. The interior is in rough condition and would require some work to make it usable.

Once we get to Manta, we’ll also swap out the rental car for another and do our grocery shopping, this time away from downtown. Loading the groceries was a hassle for Tom while in the center of town.

Today, the cleaning person was here. I failed to buy cleaning supplies when we shopped, but fortunately, I had a bottle of plain vinegar that Maria used. She just left and did an excellent job. It is such a relief we don’t have to do the cleaning ourselves. The fact that we are tidy helps keep the place clean in the interim.

A tree in the pool area.

As for our anniversary today, there’s nothing on the agenda other than our filet mignon dinner tonight. Tom, as always, will have rice with his steak tonight; I’ll have sliced avocado on the side. Perfect. We don’t have any wine, beer, or cognac (Tom’s favorite) to share a toast. But that’s OK. Maybe tomorrow night, when we head to Kokomo again (they are supposed to be open on Wednesdays for $5 burger night), we can share a toast. We’ll see how that goes.

Have a fantastic Tuesday. We plan to.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 31, 2013:

Walking on the beach on the Indian Ocean yesterday afternoon, Tom shot this appearing footless photo of me. I was wearing those ugly water shoes, grateful they were hidden in the surf.
I suppose I should have zoomed in as he did when taking mine. Look! You can see shadows as I’m taking the photo. I’m too busy to edit photos right now! For more photos, please click here.

The pounding surf…There’s no “free lunch”…

Five black vultures drinking from the pool. Some stop by every day.

The constant sound of the surf is calming. We’ve always loved being situated at an oceanfront holiday home. The sad part of such proximity to the sea is the damage and wear and tear of the exterior and interior of the properties. Salt air quickly damages metal parts on kitchen appliances and electric equipment that are rarely fixable, short of replacing the items.

Most of the houses in Mirador San Jose are stucco on the exterior, and it is easy to see the damage over the years, resulting in expensive repairs most homeowners here can’t afford nor want to pay even if they can afford it. Even the houses not directly on the ocean show signs of damage from the salt air on their exteriors.

We also observed this when we were in Florida. The more expensive homes were mainly in excellent condition when owners could afford the upkeep. But, the mid-range and lower-valued homes were often sorely lacking in upkeep.

The sun setting over the ocean.

In life, there’s no “free lunch.” There is always a price to pay for whatever we love and may, on occasion, experience in excess.. whether it is food, drink, shopping, or exposure to sea air. Even spending too much time and energy engaged in favorite activities may result in a price to pay when ignoring loved ones or responsibilities.

We’ve also experienced the “no free lunch” concept in our travels when we get a great price on a property, whether it’s a hotel or holiday home. Once we arrive, we often say, “We got what we paid for.” Although at the time of booking such a property, we may have been enthused over an excellent price we negotiated, once we arrived, we assessed that it wasn’t exactly as we’d expected.

This isn’t always the case, and many times, we’ve been thrilled to find the location and the property is more than we anticipated. The same goes for cruises. Recently, we paid a higher-than-usual price for an Azamara cruise to Norway. The ship was fantastic, the food excellent, and the cabin acceptable. But, somehow, we’d expected more, although we loved Greenland, the passengers, and more.

More of last night’s sunset.

So was the case here for this property in Ecuador. Yes, the house is lovely and was fairly represented in the photos. The owner is excellent and helpful. The pool is beautiful, as is the beach. But, with the limitations of being unable to dine out or socialize, we’ve decided to make the best of our time here.

We’ve been making delicious dinners and enjoying our evenings streaming shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Thank goodness, the WiFi on the main floor is working well. Although there was another power outage this morning, it only lasted for two hours, and we’re back online now, enabling me to do today’s post earlier rather than later in the day.

We are discussing where we’ll go when we leave here in 72 days. Nothing has been decided yet, but most likely, we’ll do so in the next week or so and provide our decision here for all of our readers to see. There’s nothing more we can do at this point.

The ocean at sunset.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you have a wonderful week ahead of you.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 30, 2013:

Finding the Colobus Monkeys beside us at the pool put me on a photo-taking frenzy. No more “borrowed” Colobus Monkey photos for us! Could this guy have given a more appealing pose? For more photos, please click here.

Life goes on and with it, a more positive attitude…Photos from the neighborhood…

This is Kokomo Restaurant in Mirador San Jose, which wasn’t open when we stopped by for dinner last night;

Gee…sorry we’re been so negative lately. We always promised to “tell it like it is,” which we’ve done, but we know we’ve been sounding negative. From here, we’re doing everything we can to be more upbeat and make the best of our situation wherever we may be. This was just a bump in the road.

Most of the houses in the gated community are boxes with flat roofs used as observation decks.

Last night, we showered and dressed to go out to dinner. We’d heard from Gilles, the grocery store owner, that the local restaurant Kokomo is open on Wednesday and Saturday nights. We knew they closed at 8:00 pm, so we arrived at 5:30, thinking they’d open the bar and restaurant. Nope.

There wasn’t a soul in sight, and when we peered in the windows, it didn’t appear that the restaurant would be open anytime soon. The chairs were askew, the floor was dirty, and it didn’t look as if it had been open for a very long time. We hopped back in the car and headed back to our holiday home.

Most of the houses in the gated community are boxes with flat roofs used as observation decks.

We hadn’t defrosted anything for dinner. However, we always have onion, mushroom, and cheese omelets or scrambled eggs as a backup plan. In no time at all, we were seated at the island in the kitchen, eating our breakfast-type dinner and watching an episode of Hell’s Kitchen on my laptop with the portable Bluetooth speaker so Tom could hear.

Check out the exterior staircase on this house.

In the evening, we use our HDMI cord hooked up to the TV to watch a few streamed shows before heading to bed. By 11:00 pm, we were both sound asleep and slept well. I never woke up once during the night, which was wonderful. By 6:30 am, Tom was up and dressed, and an hour later, I had done the same.

It’s somewhat of a bright color for a house.

Right away, we got busy prepping tonight’s dinner, a cheesy hamburger mushroom bake that we both love. It would be nice to have green beans or broccoli with this dish, but none were to be found anywhere we shopped. It looks like I am mainly eating carnivore right now (except for garlic, mushrooms, and onions), which I don’t mind, and Tom would be also if it weren’t for adding rice to his dinner. It won’t hurt either of us to eat this way while we’re here.

Scenery at the edge of the gated community.

By the time we get to our next location, destination unknown at this time, we’ll be chomping at the bit for some veggies and salad and some restaurants where we can socialize and dine. For now, we’re managing with what’s available here. As a reader reminded us when we were whinging over the past several days, we have each other, and that in itself is everything. So true. Our best times are spent with just the two of us, entertaining ourselves and having fun.

We especially liked this house since it was wood, not stucco, and was more appealing.

We haven’t purchased any alcohol while here. Right now, I am avoiding wine entirely while getting used to the Afib medication, and Tom doesn’t care to drink when we aren’t socializing. This is no big deal to either of us, although I am looking forward to a glass of wine in the future when the time is right.

Many unfinished construction sites have been left unattended, most likely due to the owners running out of funds to complete it.

During the day, we often listen to podcasts, including Garage Logic in Minnesota and a variety of others. It’s been cloudy and rainy most days, so we haven’t tried the pool yet. When it warms up, we will.

We’re looking forward to that time.

There are a few single-story houses in the gated community, but not many. Most of the houses appear to be unoccupied, but it’s hard to tell.

Today is a quiet day. We aren’t going out today except to sit outside when the sun sets around 6:00 pm, hoping to take a few photos. Have a pleasant Sunday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 29, 2013:

Tom spotted this monkey outside the window while we stayed at a resort in Kenya for our travel anniversary. I couldn’t grab the camera fast enough. Surprisingly, he didn’t move when he saw me. They have become used to humans at the resort. For more, please click here.

Off to Puerto Cayo to check out the village…

A hut on the beach on the way to Puerta Cayo.

Today, we drove to Puerta Cayo to check out the town and the pharmacies. Here are the stats on this village:

Puerto Cayo, Manabí, Ecuador
Area of Puerto Cayo, Manabí, Ecuador 175.2 km²
Population: 3,642
Male Population: 1,923 (52.8%)
Female Population: 1,719 (47.2%)
Population change from 1975 to 2015: +110.2%
Population change from 2000 to 2015: +22.3%
Median Age: 24.1 years
Male Median Age: 24.9 years
Female Median Age 23.3 years

Two days…two power outages…We don’t know why this is happening and can’t ask anyone to find out the details.
I am writing this post offline on my phone without a WiFi signal since there’s no connection during power outages. Since I started this post, Igor informed us there will be power outages in the next 3 or 4 days for 2 to 3 hours per day. Great.

So it goes in Mirador San Jose, one surprise after another, but we strive to adapt and find ways to enjoy ourselves. Neither of us is distraught. We are adapting and holding our own.

A cemetery we encountered on the road to Puerto Cayo.

The Afib stopped yesterday afternoon. I am hoping to continue taking the meds to ensure it doesn’t return. I am adjusting to the side effects and almost feel like my old self again. Unfortunately, I will run out of the pills in about 35 days. Thus, this prompted today’s visit to Puerto Cayo, the closest town with pharmacies.

When the power returned around 11:00 (it went out at 7:30 am), that was when we jumped in the little car and drove to Puerto Cayo, where three pharmacies were located. I brought the package of medication with me to show the pharmacists. We stopped at all three pharmacies, and none had heard of the medication.

As we drove into the village..

On Monday, I’ll start calling pharmacies in Manta to see if they have it. If not, I will have to figure out an alternative plan. I am trying to figure out a way to get the medication sent to me from afar. Otherwise, I will have to come up with Plan B, perhaps taking them only as needed during Afib events, which is a common practice called “pill in the pocket.”

Tonight, we will attempt to go out to dinner at a little restaurant, Kokomo, here in the gated community. Supposedly, they are open on Wednesday and Saturday only, but we don’t know what time they open. We’ll head over there around 5:00 pm and check it out.

A home or business on the highway.

All we know about the restaurant is that they close at 8:00 pm. There’s no menu online, although there were a couple of photos online showing deep-fried meals. I can always order a cheeseburger without a bun and some cooked vegetables. That always works in those cases.

Last night, we enjoyed a tasty batch of chicken salad using the second chicken we’d purchased in Manta. Tom had his dinner with rice. I didn’t have a side without appropriate vegetables. My avos are yet to ripen.

Hammocks under cabanas on the beach for anyone to use.

We are hoping to meet some locals and start some social life while here. We shall see how that goes. There are a lot of English-speaking residents here, and we have already met a few: the shop owner, Gilles, and a customer, Luke, both from Quebec, Canada.

A couple of islands at a distance

We are okay. The challenges we experienced on Tuesday and Wednesday have mostly been resolved. We have hot water, and I took my first hot shower this morning. Of course, we are wondering if these power outages will be a regular thing.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 28, 2013:

Coconut-crusted parmesan chicken with sliced tomato, avocado, and green beans. Our usual cole slaw. It is on the side plate. All the vegetables were purchased fresh yesterday from the vegetable stand down the road from us; the cabbage, carrots, tomato, avocado, and green beans were delivered as we arrived by a guy on a motorcycle with colorful bins stacked high on the back seat. For more photos, please click here.

Trying to settle in and adapt…

Look carefully at this photo of the gizzards and livers inside the two chickens. Notice the two chicken heads, one with eyes open. Oh, dear. We’d never made a chicken with heads and feet included, but I guess the Ecuadorian people use everything.

Note: Right now, with things getting done around the house and us getting organized, I haven’t taken any photos yet but will do so soon. Thanks for your patience.

As each day passes, we get a little more settled in. I’ve unpacked everything I need to use while here and left the remainder in the bags sitting open on the beds in both guest rooms. When it’s time to go, it will be easy to pack. Tom has done the same, only wearing a few different shirts and pants.

We haven’t been able to use the pool yet since it’s been cloudy and rainy. But once the sun appears, we certainly will. Start using it. The pool guy has been here twice since we arrived, and it looks cool and refreshing. It’s been warm and humid most days, and we’ve certainly used the aircon in the bedroom at night and the living room. We are conscientious about turning it off when we leave the room or go out and about.

Yesterday, the little store here in the gated community was open. It’s only open Monday, Thursday, and Friday, so we jumped in the car and stopped there to see about buying jugs of bottled water and to check out their inventory. We purchased a one-pound filet mignon that would be enough for one meal, a giant jug of water, and a few odds and ends. A small box of Kleenex was $4.50. The filet was $10, and the big 19-liter water jug was $1.40.

The owner of the store, Gilles, from Ontario, Canada now, after eight years living here, has a strong Spanish accent but speaks English, and we were able to ask him many questions about the area. He was very kind, and indeed, we’ll continue to stop there for eggs, water, and possibly meat since he has a small inventory.

Anything to avoid making that long drive to Manta for groceries, including the difficulty finding a parking spot and the commotion in the market. We were able to purchase most of the items we needed and may never be able to find them here. We’ll continue to stop at the little markets we encounter.

It was wonderful having a nice dinner last night. Without vegetables, I ate just the chicken. Tom had chicken and rice. When we head to Puerto Cayo in the next few days, we’ll look for the farm stand I read about online in the famous expat town. There’s no significant market there, but perhaps we can find a few things we’d like, such as green beans, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower.

I have four avocadoes sitting on the kitchen window sill to ripen, but it could be a week before they are ready to eat. A half of a sliced avo is an excellent addition to any meal for me. Tom, not so much. I don’t enjoy just eating meat and no sides, and Tom always enjoys rice on the side.

Last night, we enjoyed speaking to our friends, Kathy and Don, in Hawaii. We are planning to meet up in Marloth Park next year. They have been such wonderful friends, as have many others, and we always feel blessed for our friends and family members. It was great spending so much time with everyone in Nevada and Minnesota.

Now that we’re in the same time zone as Minnesota, we’ll easily be able to talk to family members anytime. What a treat that is!

As for the house, we don’t have any hot water. I reported this to Igor, the property owner, and hope to hear back soon. It’s been challenging taking showers and doing dishes in cold water. We are still waiting for the WiFi solution for the upper level. We gave up trying to get the electric kettle to work, and I am using a small pot to boil water for my decaf coffee and tea. Adaptation always prevails. But, the cold showers and dishwater aren’t something we feel we can adapt to.

I still have Afib. Even taking the potent drug. In the next few days, we’ll head to a pharmacy to buy more of the drug in case I need to up the dose. At this point, I am at a moderate dose with an option to increase the dose if necessary. It makes me feel shaky and out of sorts, but it’s what I have to do now during this period. It was prescribed for me last April when I was in hospital for Afib, but I’d never taken it until now when I had fewer symptoms.

It is estimated that the prevalence of Afib in the US ranges from 2.7 million to 6.1 million. This number is expected to rise to 12.1 million by 2030. It’s become more prevalent since people have discovered it using their fitness watches when they get an alert on their device that it detects Afib. My Fitbit does this, but I can feel it when my sinus rhythm is abnormal. Some people don’t feel any symptoms at all. I am not unique with these symptoms, but I’d like to learn how to manage it better.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a fantastic Friday.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today. October 27, 2013:

This photo was taken at Tom’s retirement party on October 27, 2012. At this point, we only used our smartphones to take photos. Little did we know then how much would change, how much we would change, how important clear photos would mean, and how much we had ahead of us. How does one unload their entire lives and travel the world for years to come? Now we know. For more photos, please click here.

I don’t know where to begin…It wasn’t an easy transition….

Boats tied up on the shoreline.

Sorry, there was no post yesterday. I had run out of steam and simply couldn’t muster the energy to get it done by the time we returned from Manta. We had no groceries when we arrived on Tuesday, and for the second night in a row, we didn’t have anything for dinner.

There was no supermarket, open shop, or restaurant nearby, but we made it through the night without a bite to eat since breakfast. The prior night we arrived in Manta too late to eat, and that’s when the lovely young daughter of the hotel owners went to a little local market to get me some cheese.

I don’t know how to start this post. Shall I minimize the ordeal of the past 48 hours to indicate we are less adaptable than usual? Or shall I, in our usual way, tell it like it is, causing our readers to perceive we aren’t as tough as we used to be? I’ll opt for the latter and tell you exactly what happened.

Sure, we may not be as tough as we were years ago. We’re getting older and have various medical issues, typical for our ages, that impact how well we tolerate certain situations. But the fact remains, regardless of our ages, we still don’t whine and complain during difficult times and forge ahead, doing the very best we can with a good attitude, however difficult it may be at any given time.

Boats along the highway from Manta to San Jose.

Yesterday was one of those times. I don’t know how we got through it, but we did. And now, here we are in our oceanfront holiday home, not quite unpacked but with laundry done, groceries purchased, and a roasted chicken dinner on the menu for tonight.

First, before I go on, I want to preface that the property owner, Igor, who lives in Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia), is a fantastic guy. Had he known what would transpire on Tuesday, he would have gone to any lengths to avoid the frustration we experienced. He’s making everything right over the next few days.

Properties on the ocean road.

So here’s how it rolled out. As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, we had a long wait at the gate to Mirador San Jose for Igor’s house manager to arrive. We arrived at 10:45 and ended up sitting in the car with nothing to drink, no bathroom, and turning the car off and on to cool us down in the warm, humid weather on a cloudy day.

At 1:10 pm, I walked up to the guard gate building and explained our plight to the guard. He raised a piece of paper showing our names, that we were expected to arrive, and that Sylvie, Igor’s property manager, was supposed to come at 11:00 am to let us into the property.

Although the guard and I somehow managed to communicate, he even had Sylvie’s phone number programmed into his phone. Immediately, he called her, and she acted as if she didn’t know we’d been waiting there for 2½ hours. Igor had told her we’d be arriving at 11:00, but she didn’t bother to show up.

Flowers at the entrance gate at Mirador San Jose, where we waited for over two hours on Tuesday.

After the guard called her, apparently she lives nearby, she didn’t arrive until 15 minutes later, acting as if nothing was wrong. We both surmised she had forgotten we would be at the gate at 11:00. She spoke no English other than a few words. But we don’t expect people to speak English in other countries. It’s us who has to figure it out.

When we finally got to the property, she handed us a pass to enter and exit through the gate. I asked her many using my choppy Spanish language skills, but she didn’t seem to know the answers to many of the questions, even when I used the translator on my phone.

The entrance gate to Mirador San Jose, where our holiday home is located.

After she left, we were at a loss  as to how to handle the following comments and questions, which I later posed to Igor on a WhatsApp call:

Sylvie didn’t know anything…if we hadn’t had the gate people call her, she wouldn’t have shown up. Please see the bold print after each issue to see what has been done

  1. Where does the trash go? There’s a bin down the road, and we can dump our bagged trash in the bin any day of the week.
  2. We couldn’t find any of the restaurants or grocery stores Sylvie mentioned. None of the restaurants she mentioned were open, or after reading the menus for the few that were open, we realized most likely we wouldn’t be able to dine out here. All of the food is deep-fried.
  3. The pass to the guard gate wasn’t working. Igor contacted the gate people and got our gate pass activated. It’s working now.
  4. Who will provide more gas tanks when the stove runs out? Igor contacted a guy who will deliver extra gas tanks, and when we run out, he will get him to install the new tank.
  5. The towels in the bathrooms are threadbare. Igor instructed Sylvie to purchase quality towels, which she delivered yesterday.
  6. There were minimal supplies at the house when we arrived…toilet paper…soap….trash bags. Without cash to shop at the area’s tiny shops, we had to drive back to Manta (one hour each way) to find an ATM for cash (they use American dollars here). Then, we found a grocery store and purchased about 80% of the items on our list. The larger grocery store in Manta accepted credit cards.
  7. The water machine wasn’t working. What do we do about bottled water? Igor said we have to leave the big bottle on the sidewalk with $1.25 underneath the bottle, and once a week, the water guy will come by and refill the bottle. What day? No one knows.
  8. Who do we contact for maintenance? We will contact Igor.
  9. There were several bulbs burnt out. Today, a guy came and replaced all the bulbs except one he needed to purchase and then returned in the next few days to install it. 
  10. WiFi doesn’t work upstairs. We need WiFi on both levels. Igor is working with the WiFi service providers to install an additional router upstairs.
  11. I would like to have known we needed to bring a lot of cash when most small-town shops and restaurants don’t take credit cards. Most guests stay a few days. We are staying 79 days, and our need for cash is much greater.
  12. There is no book in the house on handling any of these issues. With these questions answered and mostly resolved, we won’t need a book of instructions. But we always appreciate these books.

    The beach along the road to Manta, taken on our second trip in two days.

Of course, after all these issues arose, I contacted Igor, asking him to call me on WhatsApp, and he quickly responded as usual. He’d since addressed each of the above issues, and they are getting accomplished one by one. Igor has been responsive and supportive and shocked we had to deal with many of these issues. Igor informed us that good help is hard to find in Ecuador.

Once in the house, after doing considerable research, we concluded we had no choice but to drive back to Manta for the cash and to the supermarket. All the local markets are like “Quick and Easy” type stores, carrying soda, snacks, rice, and beans. There’s such a little shop here in the gated community, which we’ll check out today, but I doubt it will carry anything we use.

Large black bird at the edge of the pool at our holiday rental.I will continue researching to find what type of birds these are.

We’ll have to drive back to Manta every few weeks to buy groceries. We purchased as much as would fit in the freezer and only a little bit of fresh produce when they don’t carry what we typically use. Most vegetables were starchy, like peas, squash, and corn. There were no frozen vegetables we would use.

Before dinner last night, we had no water. We contacted Igor, and he said to leave the faucets open to clear the lines of air. We did this, and it worked.

An iguana we spotted at the airport in Quito.

I think we’ll be OK from here. We don’t like the prospect of driving to Manta every few weeks, but we will go check out a meat market in Puerto Cayo, about 30 minutes down the highway. If we can purchase meat, we can go to the supermarket once a month for staples at the same time as returning the rental car once a month. They wouldn’t allow us to keep the car for more than 30 days and put a hold on a credit card for $5,000, the most we’ve ever seen. It’s Avis, so we felt it would be OK, and most likely, they’ll release the hold in a timely manner.

We’re feeling better now that most of these issues are being resolved. Right now, I am having lots of Afib bouts and, fortunately, have medication with me for such an occasion. The side effects make me feel awful, but it’s what I have to do right now.

Last night, we were so exhausted that we made scrambled eggs for dinner. Bacon is basically unheard of in Ecuador. Tonight, we’re roasting two chickens for dinner with rice for Tom. We won’t be eating salads while here or any raw vegetables due to a high risk of illness from the impure tap water. I didn’t even buy celery, one of my favorite additions to various dishes.

I will try taking photos, but it’s been raining since we arrived. Once we have a sunny day and I feel better, I will be motivated to take photos. More on this story in tomorrow’s post.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 25, 2013:

Who can be bored in Kenya when the playful antics of our temporary dogs, Jessie and Gucci, never fail to entertain us? For more photos, please click here.

Yeah, to sea level!…Instantly, feeling better…Now the interesting part begins…

The pool at Pikiera Hotel in Manta a quaint little cultural hotel owned by a most charming couple and their daughter, Crystal.

Right now, as I write this, we have been sitting in the little rental car, packed to the roof with our bags, outside the entrance gate to Mirador San Jose. We are waiting for Sylvie, the property manager, to arrive to let us into the gate and then to the house. Beyond these gates is our home for the next 79 days, which we hope has good WiFi and is as nice as the photos as represented in VRBO.

Early in our travels, we were sorely disappointed by a beach house in Placencia, Belize, with fraudulent reviews and no running water. We left in a week and never got our money back. In those days, the holiday rental business was different than it is now.

The bar is to the left of the kitchen, where the owners cooked our breakfast of scrambled eggs and ham.

Our only recourse at that time would have been to sue the owners, and we didn’t want the beginnings of our travels to revolve around dealing with a lawsuit. But now, as we are sitting at the entrance gate, Sylvie hadn’t shown up at 12:45 pm when the plan was 11:00 am, two hours earlier than our original arrival time of 1:00 pm.

This morning at the hotel in Manta, I contacted Igor, the owner, who lives out of the country, and he arranged for her to arrive at 11:00 instead. Sure, she may have had other plans, causing her only to be able to come at 1:00. We shall wait and see. At this point, we have no other option but to wait.

As for yesterday, our travel day, we were able to stay in our hotel room in Quito until 2:00 pm and then spent three hours waiting in the lobby for a Celebrity escort to the airport. We’d prepaid $60 for two extra bags and seamlessly moved toward our gate.

We encountered several roundabouts on the drive from Manta.

I felt so awful from altitude sickness after the second 48 hours in Quito that I couldn’t wait to get on the pressurized airplane. The wait at the gate was short, and the flight was even shorter at only 35 minutes to touchdown.

We ordered a wheelchair for me. In my weakened condition, my legs felt like lead, and I was short of breath, sitting and doing nothing. Within minutes of the airplane doors closing, I felt a wave of calm wash over me. I could breathe, and the lightheadedness immediately dissipated. What a relief!

Parts of the road were barren and desolate and other parts were like a rain forest. As always, taking photos in the fast-moving car wasn’t easy.

When we arrived at the small airport in Manta (population 300,000) in minutes, we had our luggage and exited the area where, for the first time ever, a man stood with an Avis sign waiting to escort us to the little rental car in the parking lot.

Moments later, we were on the road to the quaint Ecuadorian little hotel, Pikeiro Blue, where we have ever stayed, at a rate of $45 a night, cash only. We just needed a place to sleep. But, minimal, it was charming nonetheless. The owner sent his daughter to a little market to buy us two sodas and some cheese.

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and I was hungry, but Tom wasn’t. The lovely English-speaking daughter returned with the sodas and cheese in no time. We tipped her with gratitude. Her parents were so sweet and kind, and we conversed on Google Translate.

It was a joy to see the ocean about halfway through the drive.

The room was spotless, with only bright overhead lighting (no lamps) and two double beds perfectly made. But, the beds were comfortable, the WiFi excellent, and the aircon chilled as we needed.

After a fitful night’s sleep this morning, we showered (cold water only) and dressed to head down to the pool level while the hosts made us breakfast, which was included in the $45. It couldn’t have been a more pleasing cultural experience.

The one-hour drive from Manta was interesting and also cultural. Once we reached the ocean along the highway, we were in awe of the massive waves, ideal for the most experienced surfer, but no surfers were to be seen on the pristine beaches.

A little church along the way.

Today’s photos are from the above-described experiences. Tomorrow, we hope to be back with photos of the house, finding ourselves unpacked and with some groceries on hand.

Hmmm ..we have yet to see a market…what will transpire there? Again, we shall see and report back tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 24, 2013:

Last week in Diani Beach, Kenya, when dining at Sails Restaurant, the moon was in its full glory. A few months after we left Kenya, this restaurant where we ate most Saturday nights was bombed by terrorists on a Saturday evening. For more photos, please click here.

Flying away tonight…Can’t wait to get down to sea level…Final photos from Galapagos Islands…

Blue-footed booby on a walk, although they are excellent flyers.

Note: Our naturalist, Orlando, took today’s photos, which he sent me daily via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando!

Shockingly, I haven’t suffered with Afib while we’ve spent five days total at an altitude of 9350″, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly since we arrived in Quito on October 11, 12 days ago. During the five nights we’ve spent at the JW Marriott in Quito, Ecuador, we’ve both felt the effects of the altitude in many ways, more for me than for Tom.

Tom gets out of breath during exertion, and my heart races when I walk or move about the hotel room. Fortunately, once I rest, it goes back down to normal. However, when we got off the boat on Saturday, my heart rate hovered between 85 and 100 all night, high for me. Last night, for the first time in 12 nights, we both slept well.

Salted lagoon, Floreana Island.

For the first of the five nights in Quito, my heart rate was normal, which allowed me to sleep. My Fitbit says I slept for a much-needed eight hours. But now, at noon, almost two full days since we returned from the boat and its frequent seasickness, I must admit, I am looking forward to getting down to sea level and situated in our new holiday home on the sea.

The smell of the fresh ocean air and the use of the infinity pool will be such a welcome relief which I hope to do daily, weather permitting, for exercising my legs, hoping for some improvement in walking. All of my whining is related to having had open heart surgery in 2019 and the lingering effects that have impacted my (our) lifestyle to a great degree. If I walk too much, I get Afib. If I don’t walk enough, you know what I mean.

Gorgeous scenery at Floreana Island, a millions-of-years-old volcano.

I apologize for whining. Once we get settled, I will be a new person. In 24 hours, we will go to Mirador San Jose, Manabi Province in Ecuador, a gated community with a beautiful property. Many photos will follow. It will be delightful to grocery shop at the nearby supermarket (supermercado) after we’ve seen how much space there is in the refrigerator and freezer.

Often, refrigerators in holiday homes are small. But, if so, we will manage and simply shop more frequently—no big deal. Also, there is often a lack of storage space for non-perishable food items, but here again, we’ll make do. We’ve hired a three-hour cleaning person every Tuesday morning at 8:00 for $20 per week. In the US a year ago, we paid $25 an hour, as we did when we had the cleaner once a month when we stayed in The Villages in Florida three months ago.

 A Galapagos flycatcher. Adorable.

Gee, I haven’t cooked a meal since then, and I look forward to making a special home-cooked meal at least five nights a week after we investigate to determine if dining out is a good option in that area. If so, we’ll dine out every Friday and Saturday night, which might allow us to socialize with locals and tourists.

It’s funny how I remember several Spanish words we learned when we spent four months in Costa Rica. I can easily read a menu and road signs and understand short sentences. I can’t necessarily speak it well in sentences, but with the help of Google Translate on my phone, we’ll be fine.

Speaking of my phone, I couldn’t get into our Google Fi account to access WiFi once we left the hotel after using their WiFi for five days, which was very good. I tried everything I could to get it to work, to no avail. I had no choice but to call Google Fi, which quickly responded, but when we were halfway through the troubleshooting process, the call dropped. I called back and again, and a rep responded quickly.

A wave albatross flying back to Espanola Island, the oldest island in The Galapagos.

We resolved the issue quickly when I had to select an arbitrary network Google Fi uses in Ecuador, Claro. I’d never have known this if I hadn’t called. Good thing I called, or we’d had a nightmare on our hands tonight when driving in the dark to the hotel and tomorrow, driving to the house without the ability to use Maps. Any time we’ve tried to use “Maps” in many countries without being able to connect to Google Fi,  depending on satellite conditions, we often hear “her’ say, “Make a U-turn,” over and over again. This drives us crazy.

Well, enough about all of that. In less than seven hours, we’ll be on the plane, pressurized for easy breathing, and God willing, all will be well. It’s only a 50-minute flight. We’ll most likely miss dinner again tonight since last night, I wasn’t feeling well enough to go to the restaurant and couldn’t find anything on the room service menu. It will be close to 10 00 pm by the time we get to the hotel in Manta. So, well miss two dinners, two nights in a row. That’s no big deal, either.

After grocery shopping and unpacking a bit tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be back with a new post with some photos of our new home. Stay tuned for more.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 23, 2013:

A bushbaby with a banana was next to us last night as we dined outdoors at the Leopard Beach Resort in Diani Beach, Kenya. A small platform was set up for the bushbabies, loaded with bananas to encourage them to visit the guests while dining. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back in Quito…Good to be back on land, but again we’re high in altitude…Whew!…Wrapping up The Galapagos photos…

Giant tortoises at Isabela Island Breeding Center.

Note: our naturalist, Orlando, took all of today’s photos, which he sent to me each day via WhatsApp. Thanks, Orlando, for thinking of me!

The two-hour flight from Baltra, The Galapagos Islands, was almost a full-day journey. We disembarked the ship at 11:30 am and didn’t arrive at the JW Marriott Hotel in Quito until after 5:30 pm. We collected our stored luggage from the bellman and headed to a different room than we’d had over a week ago when we stayed here two nights before the cruise.

Tom was looking into the mailbox at Post Office Bay, where he found a postcard left by a visitor from South Africa, which he took, and we’ll ensure they receive it once we return to Marloth Park.

The only flight we could get to Manta was on Monday, so this time, we’ll spend another two nights at this high altitude. So far today, 18 hours after our arrival, we’re holding up OK in the 9350′ altitude. Our legs feel like lead when we walk, and my heart rate is 10 to 15 beats faster per minute than at sea level. The heart compensates for lack of oxygen at high elevations, and thus, one’s heart rate may increase until adapted two to three days after arrival. We will only be here for two days and won’t be adapted by then.

Tortoise heading out to sea.

But, in one way, the altitude right now is more tolerable than the seasickness we suffered on the ship, a 98′ long catamaran with eight passenger cabins for 16 guests. Feeling nauseous is worse than feeling out of breath and tired. I look forward to returning to sea level by tomorrow night after our 50-minute flight to Manta, leaving Quito at 7:25 pm.

Another green tortoise was heading out to sea.

Once in our room, we unpacked what we needed for the night and this morning and didn’t bother to unpack anything more. We never unpacked while on the cruise, making packing much easier when it was time to go, as will be the case here. When we were in lockdown in India in the Marriott Hotel for ten months, we never unpacked there either. We pulled out the three outfits we wore repeatedly and never touched anything.

A sea lion at the beach.

While staying in Nevada and Minnesota in the past few months, we never unpacked in either hotel. With 11 years of travel experience, we’ve gotten pretty good at “living out of a suitcase.” However, when we arrive in Ecuador for 79 days, we’ll unpack and wash everything since we’ll have a washer and a dryer. How unusual!

Sea turtles mating.

After we got situated in our room, we rested for a few minutes, never napping. At 7:30, we headed downstairs for dinner in the Botanica Restaurant, which cost was included in our cruise, along with this morning’s and tomorrow morning’s breakfast. Our hotel for the two nights was also included. But we’re on our own for dinner tonight.

A blue heron.

Most likely, after having a big breakfast, Tom won’t be hungry by dinner, so we’ll head down to Fogo De Chao, where, once again, I’ll have their salad bar with a vast array of foods I can eat. There’s no way I could eat the classic meats served tableside that they are known for. It’s just too much food.

A blue-footed booby and an iguana.

We have no plans for the next day and a half. We’ll have to sit in the lobby tomorrow afternoon when checkout is noon. But it’s more comfortable to sit in the lobby than get comfortable in the room. We could get a late checkout as VIP members with Expedia on our site here. But those few extra hours in the room make no difference to us.

Hood or espanola mockingbird, the largest on the island.

In 48 hours, we’ll be at our holiday home in Mirador, San Jose. I found a nearby market online, so we can bring our bags into the house and head to the market to shop. That’s quite fun for us since we love being able to check out local foods befitting our way of eating. Plus, we’ll need to stock up on bottled water since the tap water in Ecuador is not potable.

Floreana daisy.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you’ve enjoyed our Galapagos photos and Tom’s adventures. No doubt it would have been a lot more fun for him if we’d been able to experience the excursions together. In the future, we’ll keep this new adaptation in mind when we are booking plans for the future.

A yellow warbler.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, October 22, 2013:

Due to a WiFi issue, we cannot post a photo from ten years ago. For the story, please click here.