Sunday, January 24, 2010

Playa Escondida, Northern Coast of Ecuador

I'm trying something new here, I've downloaded a slide show to Youtube and hope you can access is by clicking here.

The slide show is of my trip to the northern coast of Ecuador with Gary, Karen and Bey for the weekend of January 8th, 2010. Playa Escondida is an eco lodge set in a bay near Esmeraldas on the Pacific Ocean, it's a little bit of paradise after going through some otherwise not very scenic towns of Ecuador.

The white cat is Pele, who lives at Judy's house where we all are staying when we're not on the road. Karen's parrot came with us, he enjoyed looking at the ocean as much as we did.

Let me know what you think of this format for seeing photos, I know the music needs a bit of tweaking, I'm going to work on that :-)

From Mindo to Otavalo, Ecuador

After a short 7 hour plane ride (3 to Miami and 4 to Quito) from Boston I arrived in Ecuador on January 5th. Same time zone as the east coast, same currency, same electrical current and much, much warmer temperatures, you gotta love it!
My friends Gary and Karen, Americans who now call Mindo their home, met me at the airport with another friend of theirs who had also just arrived from NYC, Bey. The 4 of us headed back to Mindo, and hour and half drive from Quito, arriving at midnight. All 4 of are staying at Judy's house, a great 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom home with spacious living areas that she built a few years ago.

I've had adventures galor since arriving here, but no fast internet connection to post the photos. The internet at Judy's is about the speed of dial up, sometimes slower, it really makes me appreciate high speed cable. I'm in Otavalo now, a beautiful city north of Quito, and will show a few photos of my time with the children of Mindo and some of the Otavalo area.

My Camera for Kids project at Salem International in Mindo has been very rewarding. Here's one of the children bringing the toothbrushes out for use after lunch. Each hole has a name on it.

Carla, everyone's darling. She's the daughter of Paula, who works there and had Carla at 15, the average age of young mothers in Mindo.

Having fun with the cameras everyone was so generous in donating. See blog link on the right if you want to see more.

I'm arranging a ride home to Judy's while downloading the photos off of the cameras.
Janet's helping, too.

Photo of my friend Janet, taken by one of the kids, they loved photographing us and each other.

Another photo by one of the children.

An outing Paula arranged for all of us with our cameras.

Mindo, at the Yellow House.

Downtown Mindo.

Gary, Karen, Bey, Janet and I having dinner at Quetzel's in their lovely outdoor space.

One of my favorite waters, a naturally bubbly water served with an Ecuadorian lemon. Looks like a lemon, tastes like a lime. Popcorn is served with soup and everything else.

Gary and Karen drove Janet and I to Otavalo with their parrot, Paco. I have never traveled with a parrot before but Paco is very well behaved and had lots of personality.

Beautiful city of Otavalo.

View from our Hotel Coraza.

Vulcan Imbaburra at dusk.

We visited San Antonio with Karen and Gary the next day looking for furniture and wooden doors for the house they are building in Mindo. Beautiful craftsmanship and really low prices, like most things in Ecuador. It's just about half an hour north of Otavalo on the way to Ibarra, where we had lunch. I didn't like Ibarra much, a large city of 100,000 people, very dusty and congested with traffic.

San Antonio.

San Antonio, rain has been scarce in these parts, the umbrella is for sun protection.

Children in San Antonio.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year or Feliz Ano Viejo

The last 2 months of 2009 didn't go exactly as planned, I spend a good part of them in New Jersey taking care of my father. He's doing well now after 3 surgeries in 5 weeks, it's been very impressive how at 82 years old he recovered from a quadruple bypass and 3 weeks later went in for a hernia fix. The good part is I was able to help him and spend lots of time together, the bad part is that Joe and I missed our trip to Ecuador. Joe wasn't able to switch his time off, so now I'm going to Ecuador without him :-(
Ian is having a grand adventure in Peru with his friends Andrew and Chris, equally passionate birders. We keep in touch with facebook and emails, and on Christmas day by old fashioned phone from a cabina in a rural Peruvian town. He's seen over 800 species and here's a photo I love he took in Contamana Hills, Peru.

Red-and-Green Macaw. Photo by Ian

Moving on from tropical birds to snowy New England!

Our neighbor, a monk from Thailand, clearing his front stairs.

Walking to the library in the snow yesterday, Joe and I admired the homes covered in white.

Joe clearing our front walk with a bit of help from Milo.

December, West Orange New Jersey, Kessler Rehab. The same place Christopher Reeves went for his spinal injury. My dad spent a few weeks here working at recovering from his small stroke and bypass surgery. After a while I grew accustomed to seeing people in wheelchairs in various forms of disability, and the naked behinds or fronts, yikes, of those not in wheelchairs.

My dad's spacious shared room after he was switched out of the awful first cramped room. Squeaky wheel and all, but I always tried to remain a pleasant squeaky wheel. We were later told the old room would not be used anymore for 2 people...

My dad with his new cell phone!
I was caught off guard in NJ without my winter gear. It was relatively warm when I left and I didn't bring my scraper, winter boots, etc. The ice on my windshield made for a good photo, and I learned how to use a credit card as an ice scraper.

My dad with a hat I crocheted while sitting around hospitals. Crocheting and GPS were life savers for me during my time in NJ.

Cabbage outside of St Barnabas Hospital where we spent a day in emergency. Turned out all was fine.
Morristown Memorial, a very well funded hospital where my dad had all his surgeries.

Getting ready for the Blizzard of 2009, December 19. Morristown Memorial Hospital.

Medication is now dispensed to patients from these carts, all computerized and rolled from room to room.

Back home for Christmas!! Ian's in the photo, but definitely not home for the holidays, and I'm missing him.

I'm home for 2 weeks and have spent time with friends as much as I could before leaving for Ecuador on Tuesday. Julie and her lovely children came for a visit. Maddox giving the thumbs up!

Danika being very resourceful, she found the stool and dragged it over to the chair so she could have a seat. My version of a booster chair was to pile on the seat cushions. Gail, do you recognize the stool Dave built for me about 30 years ago?

The building blocks representing love, laughter, good health and friendship for a Happy New Year!