Sunday, October 28, 2018

Day Off In Guayaquil - Museum of Anthropology

(Pictures were taken by my cell phone so they aren't the best)

What a fantastic day.  I was up at 6 a.m. after not sleeping so well.  I ate too many carbs last night and it made me kind of hung over.  I woke up several times during the night.  When I saw the clock at six I decided to get up.   
The hotel has coffee in the room.  It's an electric water pot like a percolator and they have terrible instant coffee that comes in a tea bag.   The other day I bought some Nescafe instant.  Instant is good if you know how to prepare it.  My oldest brother worked for Folgers all his life.  He showed me how instant is made and if you ever get a chance, check out a YouTube video.  The process will surprise you.  I had a couple of cups and hit the shower before heading down for breakfast.  

I confirmed my route with the concierge who said, "that is a very long walk you're taking".  Please, 3.5 km each way.   Off I went down the main avenue and through the Centennial Park.  I hit the beach head on.  It's not really a beach it's a river but it has a marvelous malecon.  

It's called La Perla.  It looks like a string of pearls.

The museum is next to this ferris wheel.  I was about 10 minutes early and hung around and took more pictures.  This mural was created by an artist, Rendon, and it was sitting in a warehouse for 28 years until it was installed outside the museum.

The doors never opened.  I asked a worker who was sweeping and he said that on weekends I had to enter on the first floor, another entrance that was not listed on the upstairs door.  No big deal.  

Each of the following depicts a different set of animals; squirrels, birds, sea creatures.

All the artifacts are from the coastal areas of Ecuador and date back to 3000 b.c.  An excellent exhibition that explains the history of the area, what crops were grown based on the different elevations as well as explanations of what trees and animals live or lived at that elevation.  I spent over two hours there and could have stayed longer.   I left because of this:

The museum is along the river.  All of a sudden, 50 to 100 very loud ski doo starting running up and down the river.  The noise was so irritating I decided it was better to leave.  The audios for the videos were drowned out by the sound.  I wasn't the only one who left.

After, I headed to the mall.  I didn't bring my black jacket and I have my conference on Tuesday.   I took a taxi for $3.50.   I was about a 15-minute drive across town.  I don't care for malls as its all lights, noise, and commotion.  I didn't find anything but I did buy a black shirt I found of all places at the supermarket inside the mall.  😃  It's your typical mall as you can see.

I walked back to the hotel so I did about eight kilometers.  A good Sunday walk followed by a nap.  Now, time for happy hour.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Trip to Machala, Ecuador

Hotel Oro Verde, Guayaquil, Ecuador

I just arrived back to my base in Guayaquil.  It was a great trip up the coast and I am enjoying the weekend.  First things first.  I needed to do some laundry, get a haircut and a shoe shine.   Here at the hotel, they charge $3.50 to wash one pair of underwear!  Yikes!  You can imagine the cost to wash a shirt or a pair of casual slacks.

We arrived back to Guayaquil at 8:30 last night via a transport van service.  Comfortable, 15 passenger Mercedes.   Good air, quiet and very dark.   Most people were sleeping and I took a short nap and then read a book on my laptop.   I arrived at the hotel and had a couple of cocktails and ordered dinner.   All the expenses are on the company but I just can't have a $30 dinner, it kills me whether it's my money or not.  And all the prices here are U.S. dollars because as I said they don't have a national currency of their own anymore.  I had a nice salad and went to bed.  

Woke up this morning at 7:30, I only do that on New Year's.   I had breakfast which is included.  The lunch buffet is $32 so I won't be having lunch at the hotel.   When we arrived in Machala on the northern coast, they have a very modern bus station kind of like the airport in Dayton, Ohio.   It is connected to a shopping mall with a food court.   It was late when we arrived and we had a nice dinner, chicken breast, rice, chifle (dried banana chips but not sweet banana), choclo (corn, in this case it was a half of a cob with butter and parmesan cheese), and salad with a drink for $3.00.  A big difference from the hotel.

So I'm going back and forth here.   I left the hotel here in Guayaquil at 9:00 looking for the nearest laundry which I located on the internet.  I called but the number was disconnected.   I went walking and the neighborhood I was entering was a bit sketchy.  I kept going with my dirty clothes in my backpack.   I found the intersection but no laundry.  A block earlier I saw a hair shop, heading back I stopped and asked for a haircut.   $3.00 and the woman talked my ear off.  I asked her about the laundry and she said it was around the corner and that I hadn't made the turn.  Found it!  One load of laundry washed, dried and folded, $3.00.   I also got a shoe shine for $.50 and the guy insisted on giving me change for a dollar.

I go back in an hour to pick up the laundry.

Here are some pics of Machala.  I visited 10 schools in two days and they were all private, Catholic, and all over the map in terms of socio-economic level, size (400 to 1600 students), and level of English.  The last school was a bilingual school, very upper level and all the teachers have degrees and speak 100% English.   In each school I give a short presentation and activities related to teaching and I thought, "what am I going to share with them?".   Turns out, we worked for an hour and a half doing group activities and they loved it.  They are coming to my conference here in Guayaquil on Tuesday.  We are expecting 250 teachers.

Went running on the malecon here in Machala.

The pier at Puerto BolĂ­var

Ships unloading cargo from Asia.

Looking down the street from my hotel in Machala.  They recently had a major renovation of avenues, streets, and lighting.  Everything is in very good condition and I could live here too.  Machala is the banana capital of the world as well as gold mining.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Guayaquil to Manta

I just don't have time to post.  Sunday, I spent the morning with a coworker with two coworkers, one from Guayaquil and one from Venezuela.  We walked the Malecon and then had a nice lunch of the freshest, sweetest shrimp I have ever had.

The city is truly a jewel.  It's clean, orderly as well as the citizens.  There isn't a lot of horn honking, people dashing across streets or speeding.  Speeding is a big no-no and I covered that before.  They have a points system and you can lose your license for a very long time.

I'm just not the type to say no to people.  I really wanted to see the museum of anthropology but I decided it can wait until this weekend.  There will be some interesting information to share about the museum and its history so I hope I make it so I can share with you.

This is the lobby of the hotel Oro Verde.  It has been around for quite some time.  After our tour of the city, I was waiting in the business center using the internet while I waited for the consultant who took me to the city of Manta.  All of a sudden, it was like a bulldozer dropped on my head, and my chair fell out from under me.  Then the shaking began.  I ran to the door and looked out the lobby.  The lights were swinging and people stood in their tracks.  We had just experienced a 5.2 earthquake.  I ran, like the others, for the front door and out to the street.   The streets were lined as people were looking up at the buildings.   It was over.  

On our way up the inland coastal route, we found many of these trees.  They are called Ceibo (say-bo) and only leaf when the rains come.  This is the end of the summer and the dry season.   It also has pods that open and has a cotton-like material inside.  They are huge, very bottle like in the trunk, and a very bright green color.  From what I have read, they are native to this area and I'm not sure if they are found anywhere else.

That's all for now. I'm back in Guayaquil and have a meeting at 7:30 so I need to get up early.  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Monterrey to Guayaquil, Ecuador

Saturday 2:45 a.m.   I woke up on my own before the alarm went off.  I had to go to the bathroom and when I got back in bed I decided to check my phone only to find out It was time to get up.  I went into the kitchen and started the coffee which we always set up the night before.

One cup of joe and I headed for the shower.  Great to have that shower fixed now and it was instant hot water although it comes from the other side of the house.  I had packed the night before but as always I leave something behind. 

Off we went to the airport.  It was raining lightly outside and the weather is still chilly from the cold front that came through on Monday.  Love this weather and I will never complain about cold, snow or rain.   It took 45 minutes to get to the airport.  As always we have good car talk and conversation so it seemed as if it was only minutes before I arrived at the terminal. 

First stop was immigration.  I have to ask for permission to leave the country every time I go somewhere.  There were only a few people in line.   I got to the counter and showed the official my documents.   My resident identification card is over 15 years old.  She made a comment about the card and said it was in very good shape.  I asked her if I could continue using it.  Now they have an electronic card they can swipe but she said it was fine as long as I don’t have any address changes.  She then looked at my passport and said that I was as well preserved as my immigration card.

I had called the airline last night to see exactly how early I had to be there.  The guy was very sure of the information and said 2 hours.  I told him I had nothing to check in, I did my web check-in but he insisted.  I told him that when I go to South America on Copa from Mexico City they tell me 35 minutes.  Anyway, I do my own thing.  I got there an hour early and I was still early.  They said I didn’t need to go the counter since everything was good to go. 

I went through security and on to the gate.  After I had sat down with a hot coffee, they called my name.  Document check.  I told them that their coworker at the ticket counter passed me through and they said they just wanted to see my immigration document.

I’m on the plane now and we are in the air.  This is an Embraer 190 so sits four across the plane.  I moved to an empty row so I have lots of space.  They kept sending me emails for upgrading to first class but they always want too much and I hate to waste my miles.  This works out great.  We have only been in the air for 15 minutes and you can smell breakfast.   I’m going to read my book, Fear, that Croft sent me.   It’s a travel book so I only read it when I am on the road. 

Breakfast was pretty good.  It was an egg soufflĂ© with sausage and potatoes.  I didn’t eat the roll or potatoes but the rest gets four stars.   The coffee was some of the best.  I had a coffee in the airport in Monterrey and it was, well, so-so.

The rest of the flight was pretty quiet.  I watched two documentaries on PanamĂĄ.  In one video, they showed the indigenous people who make molas.  Molas are a reverse applique design.  Its origin is in body painting and transferred to cloth after the missionaries arrived.  I have three of them framed, hanging in the living room.

Landed on time.  Actually, we were 15 minutes late because they did a runway inspection in Panama as we were taking off.  Immigration was a breeze.  The officer wanted to know if I had been there before and I said the last time was in March.  She confirmed that stamped my passport and off I went.  No forms to fill out. 

The chauffeur was waiting for me and took me to the hotel.  A quick 15-minute trip and I was in my room.  I took a nap and then headed off on the street.   I have pictures but my phone cable isn’t transmitting to my laptop so that will have to wait.   I received a message from a coworker that wants to take me out in the morning for breakfast.   That wasn’t the plan but it looks like nothing is static.  I couldn’t refuse, that would have been rude.  Maybe he and his wife will ask me what I want to see and I can say, the museum of anthropology.  

Friday, October 19, 2018

Leaving For Ecuador

Tomorrow I leave for Guayaquil, Ecuador.  The flight leaves at 6 a.m. and arrives at 1:30 p.m.  I can rest for a while and then go take a tour of the city.  I've been to Guayaquil twice before but not as a tourist.   Sunday morning I am planning a trip to the Museum of Anthropology.   I can't wait.  We leave at 4 p.m. for Manta, Ecuador. 

Lots of work and many cities to cover but I am looking forward to it.  They always treat me like a king so I know it will be a fun trip. 

Here is a map of where I am going.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Vini Vidi Vici - Little Brother Heads Home

Cañada de la Virgin San Miguel de Allende

My little brother (I guess I should say "youngest"), arrived last Monday and we have been on the go since then.   We toured the city of Monterrey, Santiago, and then we took a trip to San Miguel de Allende for five days to show him the colonial side of the country and a bit of history.  That trip included Dolores Hidalgo, Atotonilco and other sites in between.

We had the opportunity to visit with our friend Barbara and have dinner out one night. 

Visited the pyramids outside San Miguel de Allende and enjoyed a wonderful tour.

On the list of activities was a formal tour of the botanical gardens.   As often as we have stayed there, walked the gardens and lake, we had never taken a tour.  It was great and my brother truly enjoyed it.  One thing we learned is that there is a fight for the land by developers.   The wall in front of the parking where I have parked the trailer in the past was torn down by the city claiming it was violating the passage of vehicles.   We have now lost that boondocking spot.   I know that progress comes at a price, however, this is coming at a cost to the environment as well as the community.  Many homes between 3 and 5 million pesos that make it impossible for Mexicans, especially locals, to purchase.

We spent a few hours at the thermal water, La Gruta.  It has now become the gringo tourist center and prices have really shot up.  There has to be another more economical and less crowded place.

Philip left on Wednesday and we hope he enjoyed his stay and will come back soon. 

On another note, we were trying to get some things done before his visit.  The rains were heavy for more than three weeks.   People couldn't make it, couldn't do the work or something.  One of the things we wanted to remedy was our showers.  Both had old plumbing and it required opening the tile and concrete walls.  It didn't happen.

Now that he's gone, the plumber found the time and did an incredible job.  We had saved a few pieces of tile just for this type of event and it came in handy.   Before there was little pressure and it took forever to get hot water.   We don't take long showers.  In fact, we pretty much follow the boondocking method of getting wet, soap up and then rinse turning the water off in between.  At the gym, I never use hot water.   If I won't waste my own, I won't waste someone else's, doesn't matter if we are paying for it or not.   Water is a valuable resource.   The faucets were changed out for a mono-faucet.   We had to wait until today to use it.  Full force water stream (water saver showerhead), and instant hot water.  Total cost of materials and labor, 1500 pesos ($80 U.S.).