Saturday, September 25, 2010

It Takes a Village

Let's wind the tape back to several months ago when we had first decided on this residence. When you rent an unfurnished apartment here you are normally expected to provide your own appliances. Who knew?? We had our washer, dryer, and refrigerator on the way in our container, but needed to go out and purchase a cooktop, oven, and microwave.

We looked around at several places and compared prices before deciding on a beautiful store specializing in kitchens and bathrooms. The ones that sold appliances and motorcycles (and there are a lot of them!) just felt a little too sketchy. Why appliances and motorcycles, you might logically ask? Class, who's been paying attention? Johnny, what's the answer? "I have no idea." That's right! Good job!

This store feels just like a high-end place in the States, and in fact carries a number of US brands. We picked a GE microwave that was in the same price range as South American brands we'd never heard of, figuring we couldn't go wrong with the reliability of a product from back home.

It quit working as soon as we plugged it in. (Sigh).

So we took it back immediately and said we wanted another one. Thus began an ordeal that, for me like watching a "Sex in the City" or "Traveling Pants" movie, seemed like it might never end.

You see, this store feels like a US store; it looks like a US store. But when you need for something to happen, the clock strikes midnight, that illusion vanishes, and Cinderella's beautiful coach turns back into a pumpkin.

Or in this case a bumpkin. A whole store full of them. You talk to this guy. He shuffles through some papers, leaves, and returns with another guy. They both frown and stare at the computer, confer, then go upstairs. You wait. And wait. Then---you wait some more. Everyone comes back downstairs with even more papers, maybe even with a new guy, that they all seriously study.

Finally they have reached a decision. We can't have another microwave. Their technician needs to diagnose the problem. But this is a brand new appliance under warranty--why don't you just give me another one and send this one back to the factory?

Oh, you may have guessed I'm not actually saying any of this; we brought along our Cuencano ally to run interference. This was very soon after our arrival here, when our language skills were limited to "please," "thank you," and "where's the bathroom?." Now months later we can effortlessly toss out more complex utterances like, "Excuse me--can you please tell me where the bathroom is? Thank you very much."

After much jaw-boning the truth is finally revealed--they don't have another microwave like ours. They could order one from their store in Guayaquil but aren't sure when it would arrive, but their technician could look at ours first thing in the morning and--------.

Fine. Fix the damn thing. Three days later----no microwave, no call about the microwave--nada. So we bring our friend back into action, she calls and chews them out and magically it shows up the next day.

And it works! For about 3 days. This time our landlord graciously returns it to the store. About a week later here it is again. And it works perfectly. Until last week when it suddenly flatlines.

There is a saying that the third time's the charm. For me it's three strikes and you're out. I'm done screwing around with this BS. Our friend and I load that piece of crap back into the box and stomp into the store ready to rumble.

She is a lawyer, proceeds to demonstrate why if I'm ever in court here, God forbid, I want her in the chair next to me. Her eyes are shooting lightning bolts like a character in the X-Men; she's spewing Spanish so fast an auctioneer would have stared in amazement. To his credit, the poor guy stood his ground throughout this withering assault. Then he started shuffling some papers, left, and returned with another guy. Sound familiar? Here we go again-------

Except this time it's more serious. We have demanded to walk out of that place with another microwave--NOW. If there is a difference in price I will gladly pay it, but---NOW. A decision is required, and it appears that no one in this culture likes to make a decision. So we wait. Up the stairs. Down the stairs with someone else. He gets chewed out. Back up the stairs. We wait. More paper shuffling and frowns and computers. Which microwave is it you want? That seems like progress. More this, that, and the other.

After at least an hour of this nonsense a decision is reached: they can't give us another microwave yet. WHAT!?!? Yes, you see, it seems the technician spoke to a worker in your building months ago who said that your plug was 220 instead of 110 and that's what is causing the problem. We must investigate to see if this is true.

My eyes start getting a weird color--my skin starts turning green--my shirt begins splitting down the back--I'm "Hulking" right here in Cuenca, Ecuador, baby. I didn't give a rat's ass if anybody understood a word I said. I unleashed shock and awe that had been marinating for months about this and every other frustration of trying to get anything done around here.

These folks hate confrontation, and the manager had sweat beading up on his forehead. But the SOB held his ground--the technician HAD to come by, and an appointment was set for 9 AM Friday. (Double-sigh)

9 AM--no technician; 9:15--no technician; 9:30--my friend, who is taking time out of her workday to stick with me through this fiasco, gets on the phone and after 5 minutes says, "Let's go. We're going to get a microwave right now."

What?? I ride in the cab in stunned silence. I'm afraid if I say anything I'll break the spell. We arrive, she talks--quietly this time--to some "old friends" there and several new ones (how many people are there upstairs??), I pay the difference, sign about four new pieces of paper to add to my fistful of previous ones, a guy loads the microwave into the trunk of another taxi, and we're on our way home.

Now I can ask. What just happened? What did you say to these knuckleheads on the phone earlier?

She smiled and said, "Before this morning they thought I was just your friend. Today I became your lawyer. Did you notice they called me Dr. instead of Senora? And how they treated us with respect? I told them if they didn't give you a microwave immediately I would sue them. And I would win."

Thus ends a three month ordeal. Multiple trips back and forth way across town. Before writing this I thought back over the whole process and believe it's safe to say we spoke with 8-10 different employees. All over a $145 microwave.

For those of you who wonder or ask, "So what do you guys do down there?"----------. It's a great life, and we have tons of fun. But this is not Utopia, my friends, and having the patience to deal with stuff like this is part of the price of admission.

In the end, is it worth it? Oh, hell yes!!

By the way, the burner on that new oven we purchased from the same store keeps going off. A technician is coming to look at it next week-----------------------

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No McDonald's Here, but------------

A year and a half ago, during a period of unemployment, I started this blog pretty much just to have something to do. What a hodge-podge it was—satire, recipes, philosophy—basically whatever struck my fancy. Then I went back to work and the blog, no longer having a gap to fill, went silent.

When we decided to move here to Cuenca I thought it would be fun to chronicle the what’s and why’s of our adventure, so eddsaid was resuscitated. Never could I have anticipated that five months later over 1000 people a week in 25 countries (4 in India?) would have any interest in the lives of a couple bumbling their way through a new life in Ecuador. Never.

From the title these musings are not the true subject of this entry, but I mention them as a lead-in to thanking so many of you for the online posts, emails, and even Skype messages supporting Cynthia and I during these recent difficult days. Please know that I have forwarded every kind word to my wife, and she is honestly overwhelmed by the love expressed by folks we in many cases have never met. Damn it, I’m getting teary-eyed writing this.

So let’s talk about those ribs I was looking forward to cooking the other day. I’m a Southern boy and barbeque, especially pork ribs, is important to me. Quite frankly, the ribs I’ve found here suck so bad I won’t even buy them. They’re these little bitty things that look like they were butchered from a cuy (for newer readers that’s guinea pig, a local delicacy).

If I could speak better Spanish I’d ask the butcher, “Where’s the rest of this hog? You hiding it in the back?” But “Where’s the of this you in the?,” my current competency level, doesn’t really get the message across very eloquently, so I have futilely scanned the meat department at the SuperMaxi for months.

Then I found a deli last week that had some awesome looking ribs and I bought a half rack on the spot. They were frozen but I didn’t care. I put them in the newly-relocated refrigerator to thaw and whipped up my favorite homemade barbeque sauce.

Overnight the ribs thawed and the sauce ingredients blended. It was time. I haven’t bought a grill yet, but oven ribs are acceptable in a pinch. So I pulled them out and was immediately puzzled by the limpness of what I was holding. I unwrapped the paper and found a slab of meat in the exact shape of a rack of ribs that had no ribs whatsoever.

Immediately my mind flashed (the synapses still fire rapidly enough to occasionally generate a flash) to the McRib sandwich from, yes, McDonald’s. Don’t say you don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ve had at least one. We all have. That’s why they keep bringing them back for “a limited time only.”

I’d always quietly wondered about McRib sandwiches because in spite of the name you're aware they have no ribs. Or even any McRibs. Since I speak English and McDonald’s is an American company my silence wasn’t due to language barriers like with the ribs here but simply that I didn’t know who to ask. What I’ve wanted to know is, “How did you do that?” We’ve made enormous strides with selective breeding and bioengineering , but it’s really hard to picture a pig trying to stand around, much less hold its organs in place, with no ribs. So I always assumed there was a machine that took a piece of pork and fashioned it into the shape of---------.

And yet-------. And yet, here I was in Cuenca holding in my own hand what appeared to be a slab of McRib non-ribs. I’m thinking, maybe this is where McDonald’s gets that meat. I mean, the “ribs” in the grocery store are pathetic. My rack of ??? has no bones. I could be on to something; some mad Nazi scientists escaped to Ecuador and------------.

Meanwhile back to reality. I’m standing in the kitchen grasping a limp chunk of pork. Only one course of action. Full speed ahead!!

So how did they/it turn out? I’m always gonna tell you the truth, and the truth is---OK at best. You know I love living here but in general the meat leaves a little (all right, sometimes a LOT) to be desired. I guess it’s the price we pay for not ingesting jacked-up, corn-fed, hormone-laden, over-medicated cows and pigs.

But---- my barbeque sauce rocked!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Celebrating Sherry

My sister-in-law died this morning at 6:30. I described in my post last night the tragic family circumstances involved, and the road ahead will indeed be difficult for Sherry’s husband and young daughter (I was incorrect—today is her 5th birthday).

These situations make it easy to question the “why” of it all. Does everything really happen for a reason? Is life basically unfair? If God in fact has a plan for us all, this one is beyond mysterious. Part of the grieving process involves finding peace in whatever helps us try to make sense of what appears senseless.

While my heart is absolutely broken I want and need to focus on what was good about Sherry’s too-short life. And as I sit in quiet contemplation I find an incredibly positive lesson we can all take from this sad day.

I have known Sherry for almost her entire life. As a little girl she was terrified of pain. Removing a splinter from her foot was akin to amputating her leg without anesthesia. She would absolutely go wild and have to be physically restrained. I’m not exaggerating—it was that bad.

So first I want to celebrate her bravery throughout this entire ordeal. She unflinchingly embraced every suggested procedure that could help prolong her life. She was poked, prodded, opened up and sewed back together—you name it, she experienced it. And never once did she complain. Amazing.

Next I want to salute her patience. Sherry married somewhat late, even by today’s standards of postponing life’s big events. But she didn’t settle and waited for Mr. Right to come along. Good for her!

How about her courage for choosing to immediately bring a child into this uncertain world? And jettisoning a bright career to stay home and raise her? And continuing to drive to school and swim lessons until just a few weeks ago when she could no longer get out of bed? Remarkable.

This was a woman with reserves of passion and spirit that none of us who thought we knew her could have ever predicted. There is much we can learn about the power of love from her example. I am so proud of her.

And yet she is gone now. Sherry could not have foreseen this end to her story, and here is the larger lesson I think we can all take from her life. We can plan our journey in advance down to the slightest detail; we can envision clearly what is going to happen and when; we can anticipate arriving at our destination as well as all the events that happened along the way.

But we never truly can know what’s over the next hill or around the next curve, can we? There are in truth only two certainties of our existence—the first is our birth, and the other Sherry experienced this morning. Although we cannot write we unknowingly “sign” a lease upon our arrival, but we can’t ever be sure from moment to moment if it’s going to be renewed.

So thank you Sherry, for the example you have given us to not postpone our joy—to do and not just think about doing--to live and appreciate our lives fully each day. Your time here was worthy and valuable. I love you and will miss you always.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weak Week

I wish I could entertain you with lots of funny stories about being "Home Alone" in a foreign country, but it really hasn't been that kind of a week. Once each entry is published I honestly don't read my own blog so I can't remember if I mentioned this, but the reason Cynthia is in the States is because her sister is dying.

And this isn't one of those, "Well, she's old and had a good life" situations. No, we're talking mid-forties and leaving behind a loving husband and 6 (tomorrow) year old daughter. Very, very tough. And casting a l-o-o-o-n-n-n-g shadow over all of us, even reaching from LA to Ecuador.

My coping mechanism for "alone-ness" has been to be overly busy. You saw that the refrigerator finally found its way home. That was only Monday morning. Since then curtains have been installed, electricians have almost moved in they've been here so much, measurements were taken for the handrails on the staircase, plasterers have been plastering, and our damaged dining room table has been shipped out for repairs.

So I've pretty much been kicking ass and taking names. And in between all that furious activity I've also been accepting every possible invitation--3 hour lunches, late night dinner and drinks--pretty much anything to one-thing-at-a-time suspend the reality that I'm on my own in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Today and tonight for the first time I really am alone. On purpose. During another dinner last evening I actually turned down an invitation to go out of town for the weekend because I realized my overcompensation is both understandable and unsustainable. There's 3 1/2 weeks until my sweetheart returns and my body absolutely cannot take the abuse like the old (young) days.

This morning I slept late, cooked myself some bacon and eggs, then went to the gym. I got out the recipe book, strapped on the backpack, mounted my bike and went to the mercado for produce, a deli for meat, and the SuperMaxi for everything else. Made egg salad, barbeque sauce (ribs tomorrow, baby--yeah) and from-scratch Caesar dressing (fyi--all the bottled salad dressing here sucks!). All the while drinking vodka and belting out some Journey and Eagles. Found time for a long nap somewhere in there.

It's raining right now and the streets are quiet. I'm enjoying a glass of vino and noticing, really for the first time, how excellent our apartment looks at night with strategic lights on here and there. Would be much better if I were enjoying the moment with my bride but pretty damn good nonetheless.

Our new microwave is on the fritz for the 3rd time; 2 "blog buddies" are in town; I'm joining a local biking group; I'm opening a checking account and maybe investing in an Ecuadorian CD; I need to get our TV up and running---hopefully the coming week will produce more of those entertaining stories I very much enjoy writing and you seem to enjoy reading!

I don't even know many of you who follow my blog, and I can't begin to express how much your interest and support mean to me. Thanks for everything.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stairway to Hell

While once again trudging up and down the "Stairway to Hell" this morning I was inspired to compose a parody of its famous Led Zep namesake. In the tradition of Weird Al, here's OddEdd's version of "Stairway to Heaven."

There’s an hombre who knows
His legs are getting old
And he’s climbing the Stairway to Hell

When he gets there he knows
An Ibuprofen dose
Will allow him to get what he came for

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh,
And he’s climbing the Stairway to Hell

There’s a sign on the wall,
But he wants to be sure,
'Cause for him Spanish words
Have no meaning

Hell, he don’t need to cook
There’s delivery that brings
Sometimes all of our meals must
Be driven

Ooh, and it gives me hunger
Ooh, and it gives me hunger

There’s a feeling I get
When I just need to rest
And my body is crying
For sleeping

In my thoughts I have seen
Dreams of help for my knees
And the choices of maybe not cooking

Ooh, and it makes me older
Ooh, it really makes me older

And it’s whispered that soon
Workers may come at noon
Then the fridge will be in my apartment

And a new day will dawn
It won’t take too long
For the building to echo with laughter.

Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, ooh, whoa, oh

You’ve pulled a muscle in your sacro
Don’t be alarmed now
It’s just extreme need
For morphine

Yes, there are hot packs that you can go buy
But in the long run
There’s still time to find
The drugs you want

And it makes me younger

Aw, uh, oh

Your bowels are rumbling but they won’t go
Unless you say so
The diaper’s called Adult Depends

Dear hombre, can you hear the farts blow
And did you know
Your stairway reeks from you breaking wind?

And as he climbs to his abode
Carrying the groceries up two floors
There walks an hombre feeling low
Who whines a lot and wants to know
How everyone just tells him “no”
But if he’d listen it’s not hard
The truth will come to him at last
Whine all you want, someday they’ll come
Forget the clock, it’s Ecuador!

And he’s cli-i-mbing the Stairway-----
to Hell.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Problem with Planning

This was Day 1 of getting some structure in my life. And it all started out so well (uh-oh—is this a dead giveaway or what?)----------.

I was going to get up at a specified time—check. We won’t discuss what that time was because I went to bed rather late—actually very late—who knew going to the damn symphony could turn into a party--but work with me, I’m easing into this.

Go to the grocery store—check. Strapped on the backpack and jumped on the bike. Barely got everything I bought into the backpack, almost fell over sideways hoisting my leg over the bike with an incredibly cumbersome load now on my back (wine is heavy!) and got everything here and unloaded.

Do yoga—u-m-m-m. After all this exercise I’m hungry, and I just bought the fixings for a yummy sandwich. You know what’s good about yoga? You can do it anytime. So later on that one.

Explore a new area—w-e-l-l-l-l. It was a beautiful day and this was a great idea. But the US Open semifinals were happening, my son, daughter, and respective spouses were actually at the Open last weekend, and I haven’t seen one second of TV in two months. I’m wishing my son-in-law Happy Birthday online, at the same time bitching about my situation, and he suggests a “live streaming” website.

I try it and it works! Well, it kinda works—more like live dripping than live streaming, but in fits and starts I hear John McEnroe’s voice and tennis players moving around, I see a couple of commercials (I remember hating commercials) and I’m so excited.

I go downstairs to get a beer—oops, I just realized I haven’t told you this part of our story. Yes, we moved into our residence, but I cannot get anyone to show up and move our HUGE refrigerator from the 2nd floor to the 4th floor. So down and up, down and up I go every time something chilled is a requirement for my existence. I’ve nickname this particular part of our building the “Stairway to Hell,” as opposed to------.

But in the stairwell, inside my neighbor’s door I hear—I think I hear—so por que no, I knock. He opens the door and—YES!!!—he’s watching the tennis on a real TV, not a herky-jerky little laptop. I offer beer as an admission fee; he accepts!

So I didn’t explore the new area today. I watched TV with my neighbor for the 1st time in two months, the US Open semi-finals on a real TV, and I’m damned proud of my decision, even though Federer lost in 5 sets.

I think planning is overrated. No, that’s not fair. I think obsessive planning is overrated. From my time on this planet I’ve learned more than once that you can plan a trip in every detail—where you’re staying every night, what you’re doing every day—I’ve done it--but you can never plan for what’s over the next hill or around the next curve. More than once it’s been a figurative 18-wheeler on the wrong side of the road.

And I have myself uttered the old chestnuts about “A failure to plan is a plan to fail” and “If you don’t know where you’re going wherever you end up is fine.” God knows those words have never been even thought of in Ecuador, but somewhere between the obsessive/compulsive behavior of the US that has created so much so quickly, but at what cost, and the “es possible manana” culture that makes Ecuador, well, Ecuador, I’m seeking equilibrium, a happy medium between anal/retentive and carpe diem. Today was a good 1st step—the tennis is over, and that neighborhood will be there tomorrow.

In the meantime, there’s still time for that yoga---------------------.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Work Like an Egyptian

I showed you the parts of our new home that are completed but alluded to the fact that other areas are "in progress." So we've had electricians in here the last two days installing some lighting and plugs. Sometimes only one; sometimes as many as three. They seem to just kind of mysteriously come and go. You don't ask---at least they're here!!

But it's amazing how little they seem to accomplish. You know what the room looks like before the work begins. The guys go up and are banging and drilling and making all sorts of racket. You check on the progress an hour later and nothing looks different. How is this possible? Were they playing a recording of construction noise or something??

When they showed up on time this morning to finish what seemed easily a one day job I wanted to hug them because--well, unless this is your initial visit to my brave new world, you know why--and then slap them because I was going to have to endure another day of pounding and debris in our new, previously clean place. "Why pounding,?" you Americanos might astutely ask. Because the walls are made of concrete here, not sheetrock. So holes are chiseled, not sawed.

And these guys speak no English, which gives me the opportunity to share with you the Holy Grail of expat existence----Google Translator. With our lawyer--with our landlord--with all the workers who have come in and out of our lives these last four months, this tool has been a lifesaver. Sometimes, like our episode at the dry cleaners, playing Hangman and Charades is a lot of fun. But when important stuff involving real money is involved it's important that everyone really understands.

It's not perfect, but-------. I sit and type what I want to say. Entende(understand)? Si. You get up, the other person sits down and types the reply. Back and forth. Our landlord and I have become really good friends mainly communicating this way. It's pathetic, we both admit, but until our Espanol is up to par, this is far better than major misunderstandings and disappointments.

So tomorrow the boys will be back for Day 3 of a one day job and I'm starting to understand how the foremen on those pyramid projects must have felt. "Holy Ra, these stone blocks moved like, what, ten feet yesterday? I mean, these slaves are good guys and all, but in the name of Osiris, is this damned tomb going to get built before Ramses friggin' dies? I flog 'em; I beat 'em; I kill a few as an example--nothin' works with these guys!!"

And then there's the other crew that's supposed to have shown up to move our refrigerator from the 2nd floor for the last two days. Sigh---------------.

Home Alone

I put Cynthia on a plane for Estados Unidos Tuesday night. For a variety of reasons she will be gone up to 5 weeks. After two nights together in our own bed for the first time in four months, I'm now alone in a foreign country for the first time ever, and this will be our longest separation in 39 years of marriage.

How do I feel about all this? Honestly, at least right now, OK. As you know we just moved into our permanent residence (and many thanks for all the kind comments, both in public and through email), so there's the stimulation of all that newness (is that a word?). I can't sit around and watch TV the whole time, or any of the time, because we still don't have service connected. All our books are still packed and will remain so until mi esposa's return.

That means I'm either going to meditate a lot and work on my "spiritual journey," or I'm gonna hit the streets and have some fun. Let's see--contemplate my navel or have some beers with friends? Chant "Om" or join that biking group? Tough choice but--------, I think I'll go with Door #2!

And that's the main reason I think I will successfully survive this separation. We lived in Las Vegas for 4 years and left with one new friend. Pathetic--that's one tough town to meet people. We've been here 4 months and have quickly developed such an amazing network of expats and locals. Folks like us that have a zest for life and want to get out and do things, experience things, and are happy to have others come along--would rather have others come along.

As an example, I mentioned in my post about Salinas that Cynthia and I were contemplating just taking off up the coast on buses with a little money and no agenda. I was drinking some of those aforementioned beers last night with a couple who had read this entry and they said,"Hey, we loved your idea about that trip but we're buying a car soon. When Cynthia gets back why don't we all go together?." See, once again these difficult decisions--comfortable car with friends or backpacking on buses with strangers? Gosh, this time I'm going to have to take Door #1.

And please understand that we didn't arrive in Cuenca with a calculated agenda of, "OK, here's the plan--let's get unpacked and start attending every event possible and meet as many people as possible and-----." No, we came here with no preconceived notions about anything except that we would jump into this adventure without our swimmies, not drown, and have fun. Everything beyond that simple notion has developed organically.

One thing I'm definitely looking forward to, now that we've at least secured a beachhead, is establishing some semblance of a routine. The only regularly scheduled aspect of our life, and this speaks volumes when I think about it, is our hot stone massage appointments every other Thursday. Freelancing has been a blast, but there can perhaps be a little more "meat on the bone" here. Baby steps, though--yesterday I scheduled a facial for the off Thursday next week. Hey, it's a start!

So, totally uncharted waters ahead for yours truly and we'll learn together how this ends up. Upbeat now but it's early in the first quarter. Stay tuned--we'll be right back-------.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Manana Finally Comes!!

When Cynthia and I first announced that we had decided to move to Ecuador, almost everyone we knew thought we were crazy. Of course nobody actually said, "What, are you crazy?." Well, maybe somebody did; I can't remember. But I know that's what a LOT of people were silently thinking when they said things like, "Really? Ecuador? That's interesting---------."

You know what, I don't blame them. Before we started researching relocation possibilities I couldn't have pinpointed Ecuador on a globe if you had offered me a million dollars (apologies to my geography teachers, whoever you were--sorry, I can't remember you either!). And Cuenca? How do you pronounce this place, honey--Soo-In-Suh? (it's Coo-Wayne-Kuh). At the time, who knew?

So of course we got our fair share of teasing about living in a grass hut and trading in our car for a burro, right? Then when we moved here but first were staying in a hotel, then a furnished studio, then a "temporary" apartment while ours was being "finished"--month after month after month--well, folks were perhaps starting to get a bit suspicious. And, again, I don't blame anyone for those thoughts. If I was in the States and had no familiarity with the endless "manana's" that define the Latin American culture I'd probably be saying, "Those crazy Staton's. They up and move to friggin' Ecuador. Edd blogs about all this fun they're having, but what's up with this place they never seem to move into? I'm telling you, there's something wrong down there!!"

Guess what---WE'RE IN!!!!!!!! Finally a week of harmonic convergence appeared out of nowhere and last night we at last slept in our own bed, in our own residence-----------------.

I had to pause for a moment just then. This journey has blessed us in SO many ways, and sitting here right now surrounded by our possessions in this beautiful home is almost overwhelming---I don't think I can even describe my feelings at this moment. Let these pictures speak for me and put to rest any feelings of those who were genuinely worried about us. We truly appreciate you caring.

Our foyer.

View down the foyer.

Breakfast room


Living room

Dining room

Master Bedroom

Master Bathroom

As a dear friend of mine in the States said, "Not bad for a couple of gringos on a fixed income in a 3rd world South American country." I think we're gonna be fine.