Note: We’ll post a few photos of our condo and its grounds daily. Stay tuned for more. Thank you, reader/friends, for all your well wishes, love, and support during some challenging times.
We’re sitting on the comfy sectional in the beautiful great room of our new holiday home in Lake Las Vegas, Nevada. We love this place and couldn’t be more pleased with it and to finally be here. The lovely condo is fully equipped with almost everything we need to make this feel like “home” for the next 105 days.
Deciding not to post for two days wasn’t an easy decision. After the long day of travel before we departed Ecuador and our expected late arrival in Las Vegas, I didn’t feel like preparing a post while we waited for boarding. We were seated at the gate, and I couldn’t motivate myself to take out my rickety laptop and try to type when the screen would flop down with no way to support it.
We flew on Copa Airlines. The first short flight had entertainment screens, but the longer seven-hour flight did not. It was a long seven hours with nothing to keep us occupied. A baby behind me cried hysterically for over an hour, and the kid kept banging on my seat while on the dad’s lap. I only cared about getting to the US safely and ending the flight. The baby was a mere annoyance.
Then, on Friday, with only two hours of sleep, preparing a post was out of the question after we’d arrived at the condo at 3:00 am, which was 6:00 am to us. I never fell asleep until 4:00 am and awoke two hours later.
Yesterday, I was dragging more than ever. It wasn’t jet lag since the time difference wasn’t a big deal. Lack of sleep was the biggest problem. Tom was tired but slept a little longer and handled it better than me. We had a busy day ahead of us, and I knew it would be another long day with lots of walking.
We started with breakfast at Denny’s, which was close to Costco, where we had to pick up my new laptop (which I am using now that is set up with all my files-very nice) and at Walmart, where we’d buy paper products, soaps, and some staples. We had sticker shock when the bill came for our breakfast. It was $46 with tax and tip. Wow! I guess we’re in the US now!
Before I get further into yesterday’s events, I’m anxious to share details of the harrowing event during that 3½ hour drive from Mirador San Jose to the Guayaquil airport. We started on reasonably good roads at 8:15 am as planned, and all was going well. Our flight wasn’t scheduled until 2:53 pm, so we had plenty of time and didn’t need to rush on the two-lane roads with many trucks and slow-moving vehicles. Tom didn’t speed.
When we were about halfway to Guayaquil, Tom mentioned there was a cop with flashing lights pulling him over. My heart sank. Oh no. He hadn’t done anything wrong, wasn’t speeding, and was following all the lines on the road, allowing passing at specific points.
Tom calmly rolled down the window. He was not asked to provide his driver’s license or his name. The cop used a translation app on his phone, which stated he’d passed two vehicles where it wasn’t allowed. This was not true. He didn’t hesitate to say the fine was US $190 (they use US currency in Ecuador).
Of course, we objected that he hadn’t done anything wrong, but the cop (with two others with him) held steady on the amount of cash we had to pay. We asked for a ticket. He said, “No ticket.” Pay the $190, or “they” will come to get you.” Oh, good grief. He was threatening jail.
There was no negotiating with him. Of course, this was a scam. They saw our vehicle loaded with luggage, knowing we were tourists heading to the airport and most likely would have cash on us. Thank goodness we did. We handed him $100 at one point, suggesting that was enough! This didn’t satisfy him. Those three cops would be splitting our $190.
We had no choice but to pay. There was no alternative. After we handed over the cash, I asked for a receipt to make the point that we knew it was a scam. No go. He wasn’t about to give us a receipt!
We spent about a half hour dealing with this. Tom carefully drove away, checking periodically to see if they were behind us. They weren’t. We both looked at each other as we took off and said, “Get me out of here!” Neither of us could wait to leave Ecuador.
We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight. There was a 22-minute delay when the plane didn’t arrive at the gate. But about 15 minutes into it, we were able to board. Weird food served. Tom ate nothing for 36 hours until yesterday morning’s breakfast at Denny’s. I ate a few bites of chicken.
After breakfast, we headed to Walmart, where we spent over $300. Tom was desperate for a haircut, and we found a nearby Great Clips with a 20-minute wait. I was happy to wait in the car to rest my weary body. While waiting, I searched online to buy a clothes drying rack. There isn’t one here. When I found one, I got out my wallet for the credit card company and noticed my wallet wasn’t in the bag.
While we were having breakfast, my bag fell off the booth’s bench and ended upside down on the floor. I carefully scoured the floor to see if anything fell out. Nothing had. Then, while waiting for Tom, ready to make the purchase, I suspected my wallet had fallen out of the bag when it fell on the floor at Denny’s.
When Tom returned after his haircut 30 minutes later, we had no choice but to return to Denny’s to see if they found my wallet. It wasn’t there. Oh, no, I thought, what if someone found it and kept it? Worrying about this only increased my exhaustion when we went to Costco to pick up my new laptop and buy groceries. We didn’t buy any perishables at Walmart and needed meat and produce from Costco.
As it turned out, my Fitbit showed we’d walked over three miles by the time we returned to the condo. Our unit is a long walk from the parking area to the condo. Shortly after we arrived, the owner of the condo, Zoltan, and his wife came with a few odds and ends for us to use. They are both so kind and thoughtful. The only item the unit is missing for our needs is a microwave. We’ll try to figure out how to live without a microwave, which we often use.
Much to our delight, my wallet was on the nightstand when we returned to the condo. In my tired state, I hadn’t realized I left it behind. Whew! That was a relief.
Tom had quite an ordeal getting all the groceries from the car to our distant unit. But he used a luggage cart that made the task considerably more manageable.
We didn’t prepare dinner last night. Tom bought an apple pie at Costco and was happy with a piece of that, and I ate a bowl of Greek yogurt and raspberries, which hit the spot. I spent most of the evening setting up my new laptop, and I’m completely done. I wanted to ensure I could use it this morning to prepare the post.
By 9:00 pm, I headed to bed, falling asleep shortly after that. Unfortunately, I awoke at 4:00 am and never went back to sleep. I feel fine today, and after uploading the post, I will finish unpacking after we watch the Minnesota Vikings game at 10:00 am this morning.
We are both content in this amazing location and living in this lovely area and good-sized, well-appointed condo. Ah, what a relief!
Photo from ten years ago today, December 16, 2013: