Review of 2013

For me New Year’s has never really been about new beginnings or starting over, but a chance to continue on the path of adventure and discovery. I have the same expectations for 2014 and hope that it is just as good as or better than 2013 turned out to be. Here’s a recap of our last year in Ecuador.

January – Construction finished on our new house. It took us over a year here to decide exactly where we wanted to settle and get started on construction of a house. You might wonder why we didn’t buy a pre-existing home and the answer is simple. Most of the houses here are not built to American standards. Meaning, they might look very nice, but you’re likely to have a leaky roof, leaky plumbing, peeling paint, unsafe electrical wiring, or some other problem you’ll only find out about after the deal is done. See, there aren’t home inspections here either before you buy a house – it’s buyer beware. So, we had ours built by an American builder and we were able to come see the house anytime we wanted during the construction phase.

rumy tola
Our house is in the middle.

February – We moved into our house on February 1st. Less than two weeks later we were in Quito where David and I had been invited to speak at the International Living Conference. We had a lot of fun, met some great people, and were put up in a swanky hotel. Oh yeah, we had a nice little earthquake while in the conference room too. The epicenter was in Colombia, but we swayed back and forth nicely for a minute or two.

wendy
Getting ready to speak.
DavidSpeech
David during his presentation.

March – This month saw our last days of owning and operating our restaurant, Trebol. After a year of running a restaurant on our own, David and I were starting to burn out. David also became ill (with what we now know was Hepatitis A) and was out of commission for several days. It became apparent that we needed to find a less intense way of earning a living. Luckily an American-Ecuadorian couple bought the restaurant and has continued serving great food and providing a place for musicians to jam on Friday nights.

April – This is the one month of last year that I wouldn’t mind forgetting. Thanks to my sweetie’s adventurous eating habits, he contracted Hep A. We didn’t know it at the time and thought he was just down for a few days with a particularly nasty flu. And then I got sick. Really really really sick. I was down for a week with severe aches, inability to eat or drink much, and extreme fatigue. Finally I went to a doctor in our little town who threw some pills at me for symptoms I didn’t have. The next day I went to a clinic in nearby Ibarra where I received EXCELLENT treatment.

I was quickly diagnosed with Hep A and this is when it dawned on us that David also had it several weeks prior (and that’s how I picked it up). I required four bags of IV fluid because I was severely dehydrated and an overnight stay in the hospital. Great care and nice facility. Total cost – under $350. Still, I strongly advise international travelers to get their Hepatitis shots.

May – We added a cute little addition to our family with a German Shepherd puppy, Rocky. People here get rid of puppies very early so Rocky came to live with us at six weeks of age. He’s had plenty of puppy issues, but now at 10 months he’s turned into a pretty good pooch.

Rocky Flowers
Rocky as a puppy.

June – Our intent after selling the restaurant was to travel more and we finally got the chance when we went to Panama. We spent three days on a fishing boat where we hauled in plenty of tuna, dorado, amberjacks, and jack crevalle. Our first day on the boat came with pouring rain and lightning that was a little too close for my comfort, but the next two days were much nicer. We also found time for snorkeling on a nearby island.

Wendy Tuna
One of our many tuna.
Jesse Snorkle
Learning to snorkel.

July – We were invited to attend the Confirmation service for one of our friend’s daughters. Afterwards, a large gathering was held at their house where they served everyone lunch of chicken soup, a piece of fried chicken and lots and lots of potatoes. They also cooked up some cuy (guinea pig) which David and the boys sampled. They all gave it two thumbs up.

August – In August we really lost our minds and brought home another puppy. This one was a miniature Australian Shepherd. We had an Aussie back in the states and we love the breed. When friends ended up with a litter of mini Aussies, we couldn’t say no and voila, we had another pup. Though Rusty and Rocky are separated greatly by size, they’re great friends. Most of the time it works out well and other times life gets a little crazy with two pups under a year running through the house.

Rusty
Rusty

We also spent a weekend in the Ecuadorian cloud forest town of Mindo. The boys loved the butterfly garden, I was pretty happy at the chocolate factory, and David was just thrilled to get off the cable car!

September – The beginning of September started with a huge horse parade that marched through town, culminating in a bullfight. I’m told the bullfight was humane, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

horse22 horse30

The month ended with a large harvest festival in the village where we live. Friday saw parades, music, dancing, and a whole lot of beer and puro, the local equivalent of moonshine, being passed around. In the evening live performances took place on a large stage complete with sound professionals from Quito managing the event. Justin was asked to play a couple of songs on his guitar and though we were told we could get a copy of the video, we never did. Next year I’ll bring my own camera and make sure I record it! The party continued on Saturday but by that time so much drinking had occurred, that most people were passed out.

October – We took it pretty easy this month with a lot of planning out future travel goals and income strategies. We did manage to attend a Halloween party for Ecuadorian and expat kids where the kids played games, broke open a piñata and ate way too much junk food. A great time was had by all!

November – This was the month I overestimated my powers as Super Mom. Jesse wanted to earn some money so we decided that he could make pumpkin pies for expats who wanted them for the holidays. Pumpkin pies are a rarity here, so we figured he would probably sell a few. We were wrong. Instead of four or five, he received orders for dozens! It was great for Jesse’s piggy bank, but I had to make all the pie crusts and organize delivery/pick up. By the end of the month I was ready to never see another pie again!

The highlight of the month though was celebrating Thanksgiving with friends. We had gorgeous views, good conversation, and exceptional food. Can anyone guess what we brought to the dinner? You got it – pies!

Oh, I also had the chance to sample deep-fried beetles, called catshos. They tasted a bit like corn nuts, but I’m not in any rush to chow on them again.

beetles1
Handful of beetles.
beetles2
Down the hatch.

December – For the second time since our arrival in Ecuador we were privileged to help in distributing gifts to preschool children in several villages. These kids often have very little and the small bag of candy, cookies, books, and a few items of clothing that we were able to hand out may very well have been the only presents they received.

In our house, Justin and Jesse were thrilled to receive their own Kindles for Christmas. Some friends of ours also gave them a gift bag packed full of games and activities. David and I took each other out for dinner as our present to each other and I remembered how nice it is to go out on dates again. It’s been over six years since we last went out without kids!

elves
My elves cleaning out the fudge pan.
kindle2
Jesse with his new Kindle.
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