Thoughtful update from reader/friend….Thanks, Bob!…What inspires expats to live in Ecuador…

On the few evenings when it hasn’t been cloudy, Tom has been able to take these sunset photos shown today.

Yesterday, we received the following email from reader/friend Bob, whom I’ve never met but who found our site on Tom’s Facebook page. He attended high school with Tom many moons ago. Bob has been a loyal and consistent reader for several years, and we certainly enjoy hearing from him now and then.

Bob either posts a comment on a particular post or sends us an email with questions or comments, all of which have been very kind and supportive of our world travels and lifestyle. Here is the message Bob sent yesterday, commenting about yesterday’s post found here.

I had written that I had no idea if the vegetables we’d purchased from Raphael’s truck were a good deal or not. With our intent to support local farmers and other local vendors, we weren’t worried about prices when we thought what we were purchasing was within a reasonable range of what we may have paid in the US. Plus, the produce is pesticide-free and organic, based on insects we’ve found on the products.

This shot looks somewhat like a question mark.

If, at any point, we feel a vendor is taking advantage of the fact that we’re foreigners, we’d either negotiate a better price or, in some cases, not purchase if we felt the item(s) were grossly overpriced. Most recently, when we stayed in the US for several months off and on, we didn’t go grocery shopping and had no idea how much prices had increased with recent inflation.

While in Florida for three months, from the end of April until July, we had groceries delivered From Kroger, when there is a possibility prices were slightly higher for delivered groceries. So again, our knowledge of prices wasn’t necessarily accurate.

When Bob wrote yesterday, he so kindly did the research for us, taking our list of items we purchased from Raphael’s truck to his local market, Cub, as described in his message below:

“I read your blog today, and since I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, I went shopping today. I went to Cub Foods.
I did a price shop for you.

Watermelon $5.99
Broccoli. Head $3.99
Whole cabbage $2.25
Med zucchini  $2.79 
Carrots $1.25 lb
Med Avocado $.77 ea (x 3)
Strawberries $3.99 lb on sale
So you got “fresh from the farm” for half what it was at Cub today.
I was thrilled to see this information from Bob. How thoughtful of him to take the time to check these prices and report back to us. Thanks, Bob! You inspired today’s post with this information and gave us peace of mind, knowing we weren’t overpaying, although in this case, for the convenience of Raphael showing up twice a week at our door, we may have been willing to pay more than US listed prices. Apparently, we did not overpay when Bob explained we spent about half of the current US prices.
Another stunning view.
Considering we’re currently buying food from Raphael and the little market in the gated community, we are only spending about half for groceries of what we’d have paid in the US or many other countries. When we return to Manta on November 22 to exchange the rental car and for my second cardiology appointment, we will grocery shop at a big market and have a better idea of prices in Ecuador.
Over the years, we’ve heard many expats have moved to Ecuador due to the low cost of living, including housing, products, and services. Most residents living in Mirador San Jose are French Canadians who chose to retire here, partly due to the lower cost of living here than in Canada.
The rays streaming down from the horizon are enchanting.
We’ve yet to discover the prices of the houses in this beachside neighborhood. Surely, we’ll hear about that and report back here. However, I found this one listing of a home currently on the market for $189,900s, not directly on the ocean as the holiday house we are renting. See here for details.
Also, here is a link for an oceanfront vacant lot for sale in Mirador, San Jose, priced at $34,000.
That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.
Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 12, 2013:

These huge pods have continued to dry out on a tree in the garden in Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

An amazing encounter with Raphael..Again, it’s the simple things…

Here is the produce we purchased from Raphael last evening. The total cost was US $12.50. I don’t know if this is a good price or not, but since we are grateful to be able to buy these, we are fine with the cost. There are three avocados behind the bag of strawberries and a giant zucchini to the right. We aren’t eating salads right now.

Last night, as we were preparing dinner of pork chops, rice, green beans, and cooked carrots for Tom and grilled fish (unknown type) and veggies for me, we heard Raphael’s honking horn. We couldn’t get outdoors quickly enough to find Raphael with a huge grin on his face while asking how we were in Spanish. We enthusiastically answered, “Bien. Como estas?”

Over the years of selling his fresh farm goods to the English-speaking locals in Mirador San Jose, he’s learned the English translation of all his fruits and vegetables, making selecting our preferences easy when we merely say the names of what we’d like to buy.

We don’t bother to ask prices for his bounties, nor do we attempt to explain why we aren’t interested in potatoes, beets, corn, and other starchy, sugary fruits and vegetables. When he suggests such items, we shake our heads, and he continues to let us know any new items he may have that he didn’t have last time. He comes by each Tuesday and Friday close to 5:00 pm.

I nearly jumped for joy when I spotted a container of blackberries and another with strawberries. With my way of eating, I can have berries in moderation, ½ cup per day. He let me choose those I wanted from the containers, as my mouth watered at the prospect of eating these fresh-from-farm berries.

The berries didn’t look as if they were washed. I’d picked fresh berries in the past and could tell. Since I will be eating them uncooked, we soaked and rinsed the two batches separately in bottled water, letting them sit for several hours. This morning, I put about a ½ cup of the blackberries in a bowl, which I promptly tasted. They were so tart, much to my delight, that I’d have to add a little of my sweetener to be able to eat them.

The fact they were tart indicated they weren’t genetically modified to be sweet, as are blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries in the US and other countries, to appeal to consumers who prefer fruits to be sweet. It was only when I was a kid, back in the 50s, that berries were so tart that my mother placed a bowl of sugar next to them, to which we added several teaspoons to the berries. Then, they tasted good.

Now, in the US and many other countries, when you buy berries, sugar is unnecessary when they are already so sweet they are hard to stop eating. Before I adopted a low-carb way of eating in 2011, I could easily and mindlessly eat a bowl of berries without any added sweetener, munching on them as if they were salty nuts, which also are hard to stop eating.

This morning, I had my usual bowl of two eggs cooked in a bowl with ½ avocado for breakfast. But this time, I added a small bowl of fresh, sweetened blackberries on the side. What a treat it was! For me, it was comparable to having a fine dessert.

As shown in the photo above, Tom will enjoy another watermelon while I munch on the berries until Raphael returns and hopefully has more berries in his truck.

We’ll repeat last night’s dinner tonight with pork chops (for Tom) and fish (for me), both of which are marinating in the refrigerator. But this time, we’ll add steamed buttered broccoli as our vegetable instead of green beans and carrots. Buying the pork chops and fish at the little nearby market in this gated community and buying fresh vegetables from Raphael makes shopping for food much more accessible than we initially anticipated.

When we return to Manta on November 22 to return the car and visit the cardiologist, we will shop at MegaMaxi, the huge Walmart-like store in the shopping center, recommended by the locals at Kokomo’s last Wednesday night.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, November 11, 2013:

On our first cruise and venture outside the US on January 3, 2013, on the Celebrity Century, an “Old Hollywood” style ship, sailing through the breathtaking Panama Canal. This cruise line and particular ship may remain our favorite, even after many additional cruises. Our all-time favorite bartender is shown on the far right, Juan. What a guy! 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.