Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Halloween is coming, and here in Cuenca, we are ready.

Halloween nails:

Creepy, creepy spiders

Have a Happy Halloween everyone. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Yum, yum!!

Took a walk over to Poochito & Paco land the other day.  Carried with me some pork rib bones left over from our lunch.  The boys enjoyed them immensely.  After some initial "words" between them about whose bones they were, they behaved beautifully and took turns taking them, all the while waiting patiently for their turns.

Note Poochito's tongue in the last picture above (click on it if it's too small for you to see here).  These things were lip-licking goood!  Paco always says "thank you."  When it's a bisquit, he gives me a sweet little whine.  When it's bones, he lets out a huge, long whine.  The little whine means  "Gracias."  The big one, "Muchas gracias!!"  Both are accompanied by wiggles.

Paco also tried to give Poochito a lesson in how nice it is to get petted.  Poochito considered it, but ultimately decided that if the bones were gone, he'd be too.  But, he has stopped running from me when he sees me. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

This and That

First, we ladies had our nails done today.  Here are Karen's nails.  Click on the picture to get a better look.  Is that cute or what?  Little tennis shoes on her fingers.  Viky is sure talented.

Poochito has been channeling Rin-Tin-Tin.  Just before I managed to get this shot, he was standing on that scaffolding!  I ran to get the camera, and just as I was about to snap the picture, he turned and went back into the building and down onto the floor you see him on here.  He was watching some dogs playing in the field below him.

And then there's Poochito at rest. He makes us so nervous when we see him up high like this, and with his feet hanging over the edge.

And at one point, I thought he was going to jump!!  Fortunately, he thought better of it and just lay down again to watch the other dogs.

But then, I make him nervous too.  He's getting better though.  He let me pet him again the other day.  But only after I gave him a few biscuits and called him a cobardito (little coward) when he started to run away.  The construction guys got quite a kick out of me calling him that.  They've seen me enough times trying to get him not to run from me.  Gil had a dream in which he had a conversation with Poochito, and Poochito wanted to know why I wanted to touch him.  "What's with that?", he said.  "She's weird."  Anyway, a little bit at a time.

What a pretty boy!!

It's heading toward summer here.  Well, actually, we have two seasons, dry and rainy.  Dry is during the US summer and is pretty cold.  Rainy is during the US winter and is warm.  So we are heading into the rainy/warm season.  Generally, rainy season means that it's beautiful in the morning and in the afternoon (usually around 3:00 or 4:00) we get a storm.  That's not always the case -- sometimes it's dreary all day and sometimes it doesn't rain at all for a few days.  But, that seems to be the general rule.  So, lately, we've had many beautiful mornings and an occasional deluge in the afternoon.  Soon, the river, which is currently pretty low, should be back to all of its glory.  Hopefully, we will have some pictures of it soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Going Coastal

Last week we visited Ecuador’s coast for the first time, in the company of our buddies Larry and Karen Schunk.

The route to the coast is over a 13,600 foot pass in Cajas National Park. At seemingly the top of the world the massive rocks can appear spooky in the fog, like Inca fortresses re-materializing from the past. On the other side of the pass, the magnificent canyons plunge thousands of feet. Arriving at the coastal plain. The manner in which the mountains suddenly leap out of the completely flat rice paddies is astounding.

On route Larry and Karen introduced us to Noe Sushi Bar in Guayaquil, an authentic Japanese restaurant that is as good or better than any we used to patronize in San Francisco’s Japantown. Notice in the photo not only the sushi rolls, but also Deborah’s finger nails with tiny flowers painted on them. Deborah, Karen and various other amigas have their fingernails and toenails painted every couple of weeks by a very talented Ecuadorian (well, Mexican actually) lady named Viky Reyes. Karen and Deborah were also sporting sea blue and aquamarine toenails with seahorses painted on them. Perfect for beach going.

Here are two photos of billboards along the highway from Guayaquil to Salinas, the likes of which we’ve never seen in the United States.

Salinas is similar to Miami Beach (although much smaller), with a wall of high rise residences and hotels at the edge of the sand. (You'll notice that in all of our coastal pictures it was cloudy. It was chilly too. But, beach season is just around the corner.)

Walking around, we found an impressive, genuine sand castle!

At Salinas, we stayed at a picturesque, converted private residence a block off the beach, the Hotel Amira. It has has gorgeous, multi-colored bougainvillea bushes along the several hundred feet of its perimeter wall. It is a very nice little boutique hotel.

From Salinas we drove north along the coast on the Ruta del Sol. We stayed at Azuluna Eco-Lodge, a few miles south of Puerto Lopez. The exteriors of the various eco-lodge buildings are delightfully funky, the interiors wonderfully colorful, and the gardens truly tropical.

Where we live in Cuenca there isn't a plethora of birds, other than chickens. We were therefore delighted with the abundance of sea birds we found when walking the beach close to the eco-lodge. The pelicans (which we never tire of watching) are very much like those in San Francisco; those are pelicans in the photo of the interesting rock formation offshore. Frigate birds are a new favorite, especially with wings that look built for supersonic speeds. The big surprise was buzzards, lots of buzzards, both in the sky and holding conferences on the beach; the red-headed one in the photo is perched ominously on a sign for a magic labyrinth (made out of beach stones, that Deborah and Karen were able to traverse without incident. It was probably those seahorses on their toenails that protected them).

The beach was wide, long, and (when we were there, on a cool overcast day) deserted. The first photo is facing north (with a buzzard assembly in the foreground). The second is facing south, with an appearance reminiscent of Northern California beaches. The third shows one of many thatched-roof beach huts, in this instance containing several of the coast’s ubiquitous black hammocks.

Our next trip will be when the weather is more conducive to lying around in one of those hammocks, with cerveza or umbrella drink in hand, lazily admiring the sea birds and assigning cute names to our buzzard neighbors. Meanwhile, though, we have our fond memories of our first exploration of Ecuador’s coast.