Mama Tungurahua is my Neighbor

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September 12th 2018
Published: September 19th 2018
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Dear Friend BeatrizDear Friend BeatrizDear Friend Beatriz

Enjoying a huge bowl of pasta at Leprechaun Café during her visit to Baños. We had the leftovers for breakfast the next day!
As always, my low-key semi-retired life ends up getting more busy than I expect! In the past two months I've received several visitors (back-to-back visits from two of my closest Ecuadorian friends!). I've driven back and forth to Quito half a dozen times (helping my friend Shana renew her passport and visa, picking up donations, transporting friends' family members to and from the airport and driving the volunteers from Engineers Without Borders).

On one of my airport runs we stayed the night in a hostel near the airport and then I drove my friend's brother to the terminal at 4:30 am for his early international flight. I had donations to collect but couldn't arrive before 7:30 am -- just my luck, my good friend Betti who lives 2 hrs north of Quito was staying at Hotel Quito and she agreed to receive me at 5:30 am for a picnic breakfast on the floor of her room as we watched the sun peek over the eastern mountains. Fond memories of swimming in that pool 30 years ago when I lived just down the hill from there! Betti and I lounged and
Daybreak from Hotel QuitoDaybreak from Hotel QuitoDaybreak from Hotel Quito

Dear friend Betti received me in her hotel room at 5:00 am for a picnic breakfast, a long chat, and to watch the sun rise.
lolled, chatted and laughed - all at the butt crack of dawn!

Once again I made the 6 hr drive down to Cuenca, taking friends with me on the way down, collecting donations there, and listening to an audiobook on the solo drive back. Upon returning from Cuenca I had an extra busy week, sorting and pricing all of the donations to sell in our little shop, BIB Bazar. Sometimes we have to wash, iron and mend the clothing before it is ready for sale. Our secondhand shop continues to be an essential source of income for the volunteer children's library! Lots of driving can be hard on my aging body, but the breathtaking views along the way are so good for the soul!

We have a wonderful group of expat friends here and every few weeks there's either a housewarming or a potluck or a birthday celebration. When she moved back to Canada, Tamara left me some Asian cooking goodies and I've had so much fun experimenting with rice wrappers to make spring rolls. Cutting, chopping, combining
Spring RollsSpring RollsSpring Rolls

Thanks for leaving behind the rice wrappers Mama T. I had fun adding different fillings and making spring rolls for two different potluck dinners!
satisfies my need for a creative outlet. The red curry shrimp rolls were a big hit!!

The nearest big city to where I live is Ambato, an hour away. I usually go to see doctors in Quito 3 hours away, because my insurance has its clinics and labs there, but I was having some serious intestinal distress so I decided to make contact with a gastroenterologist closer to home. I set an appointment for 9:00 am and arranged to drop my truck off for service before that. At 8:30 am I got a call that the doctor had cancelled his morning appointments and couldn't see me until 4:00 that I had to spend a long day in Ambato (while dealing with tummy issues and having had almost no sleep the night before). I decided to take my time shopping for a new bathroom sink. I've been wanting to replace my ugly old one ever since I moved in! I visited several kitchen and bath shops, ogled tile designs and started dreaming up remodeling ideas!

I finally found
My Ugly Old SinkMy Ugly Old SinkMy Ugly Old Sink

It always felt grungy and didn't even match the white toilet!
the ideal sink and a multi-storey Chinese hardware store and learned that I'd get a significant discount if I paid cash, so I hoofed my way over to my bank's ATM almost a mile away. I had to work for that discount! I took a taxi back to the Nissan dealer and left my sink in their storeroom as I continued on towards the Mall de los Andes. I splurged for the $1.75 Shiatsu chair massage and it proved to be the best three minutes of my day! I still had hours to kill so I decided to shop for new tennis last pair was shot and my knees were starting to hurt on long walks (what a drag it is getting old!). Looking for shoes in Ecuador was a big mistake! Since there are outrageous import taxes, I found almost nothing under $100! I'm used to spending $20 or $30 for New Balance or Skechers on the DSW discounted back racks! I tried on a dozen pairs and finally settled on a $44 pair of black canvas tie shoes.

While I was in the Supermaxi grocery store
My Stunning New SinkMy Stunning New SinkMy Stunning New Sink

I found the perfect sink and cabinet for the small space in my bathroom. Now I can hide my spare TP rolls!
where I like to buy gourmet items we can't find in Baños (asparagus, fine cheeses, fancy mushrooms, etc), I got a call from the Nissan dealer telling me that I needed a new clutch ($500 !!) and that my truck would not be ready until after 5 pm. It was turning into a very expensive day...and I hadn't even been to the doctor yet. In the end I spent 11 hours and $1000 in Ambato that day!

Every taxi driver I met knew of the doctor and had only positive things to say about him. I found him very thorough and approachable. He even confessed that he had never treated someone with Crohn's disease and asked me to tell him what I knew to help him learn about it. My lab results from the previous day showed not only a high level of parasites (bichos) but also a severe intestinal infection. No wonder I had been feeling like there was an alien trying to escape from my gut!

The doctor's initial consultation fee was only $35, but the
Ladies' LunchLadies' LunchLadies' Lunch

At the base of Chamana Falls is the magical Regine's Cafe Alemán. Enjoying lunch al fresco with Beatriz, Shana and Jody.
prescriptions that he ordered totalled $115. I had to drive across town in rush hour traffic to the pharmacy that I was told stocked the prescribed medications. It ended up that they were a few tablets short of the antibiotic and we decided that rather than them sending them to Baños on the bus, I would wait while a motorbike courier rushed some pills over from their other branch. This meant that I had to drive home on curvy mountain roads after dark, something I prefer to avoid - but I made it ok! I started on the meds right away and felt a good deal better almost immediately, however two days after I finished the 10 day course of heavy duty antibiotics, the diarrhea & gas returned with a vengeance. Once again I was suffering from what a friend calls FoF (fear of farting).

So, it was back up to the doctor with more lab tests, this time including a full blood panel (over $100). We'd managed to kill the parasites, but the bacteria was still present. Yet another round of antibiotics and finally I began to feel
3D Patchwork Fields3D Patchwork Fields3D Patchwork Fields

One of my fave roadside views! I love the bushes used as divisions & windbreaks between the fields...a true quilt effect! my amazement the doctor called me a week later to see how I was doing! My insurance company reimburses 80%...unbelievably they processed my reimbursement within 3 days of when it was submitted!

One day I took a trip down to Rio Negro (45 minutes east toward the jungle) to visit friends' farm. As I was leaving I had a slight run-in with a narrow bridge. Even as I was lamenting my dented truck bed, the day got worse and worse. I discovered that the ruby had fallen out of my favorite ring (my grandma's filigree setting) and that evening my laptop stopped connecting to the internet (which in the end was easily enough solved with a $9 modem stick). Nonetheless, these three unfortunate occurences made for one terrible horrible day! They say bad things come in threes...I'm done for awhile!

Whenever I'm back in Baños between trips I manage to find time to swim and soak in the hot springs 2-3 times a week. It's a 5 minute walk from my house and if I wake up
Bascun River ValleyBascun River ValleyBascun River Valley

Follow this river up a mile or so towards the volcano's base and you get to my house! photo credit: Antonio Toapaxi
early (one of the many gifts of menopause) I head up the hill at 5:30 am and float in the warm pool watching the sky brighten to the east through the mountain Vs that drop down to the Amazon basin. I am blessed to live in a place so rich in natural beauty. Shana and I enjoy our once or twice weekly Scrabble sessions, and usually one of us makes lunch for the other. I also find time to give some English conversation lessons in exchange for weekly massage...what a luxury! Helps me to me stay healthy and sane!

The next series of photos documents Mama Tungurahua's keen fashion sense. My neighbor volcano has an ever-changing wardrobe made of snow and clouds. Sometimes she is almost completely shrouded, like she's wearing a fluffy white burka balaclava. When there's a clear view, the snowy summit makes it look like she's wearing a stocking cap; if there are lenticular clouds hovering above I see her in a jaunty beret. At times she's rocking a tutu or flouncy skirt; at others a scarf or shawl. One afternoon she was sporting an off-the-shoulder
As Seen from my GardenAs Seen from my GardenAs Seen from my Garden

The front garden is growing in nicely. This gives you an idea of how close to the volcano I live!
gown and I've even seen her in a puffy bikini! Use your imagination as you enjoy the following pics... and be sure to scroll all the way to the end and click for more photos too!

I'm just getting ready for a long visit to the US (over two months!) I hope to be able to visit some of you who are reading this. My next blog entry will have a new perspective-- that of a tourist in my country of birth!

Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 28


A Jaunty BeretA Jaunty Beret
A Jaunty Beret

Lenticular cloud formations create a variety of hats and caps for my fashionable neighbor, Mama T.
Volcano ShawlVolcano Shawl
Volcano Shawl

Mama Tungurahua has her shoulders covered today
Evening GlowEvening Glow
Evening Glow

Another view of Mama T, this one at dusk.
Off-One-Shoulder Off-One-Shoulder

Mama Tungurahua models the latest fashion in cloudwear.
Fluffy HatFluffy Hat
Fluffy Hat

Mama Tungrahua models at dawn.
Draped in CloudsDraped in Clouds
Draped in Clouds

Is she wearing a bikini? midriff peeking out!
Snowy Stocking CapSnowy Stocking Cap
Snowy Stocking Cap

Today Mama Tungurahua is sporting a snowy cap and nothing naturel!
Strapless GownStrapless Gown
Strapless Gown

Just the summit is visible above an elegant cloud gown
Puffed SleevePuffed Sleeve
Puffed Sleeve

Just a bit of fluff on the side...and a sock down below!
Just a Hair BowJust a Hair Bow
Just a Hair Bow

Wispy bits of cloud cling to the top of her snow dusted head.
My House from AboveMy House from Above
My House from Above

A friend climbed the hill across the way and used his fancy camera to capture this image. Count down 3 light poles from the top and there's a big tree in the middle of a lawn. My house is just below the tree. See my translucent terrace roof at the back of the lot?
CiCi loves her new bedCiCi loves her new bed
CiCi loves her new bed

Made from braided fleece trimmings, she thinks it's just the coziest!

19th September 2018

mama tungurahua is my neighbor
Jill, I hope when you're back in the US you can make it up to Portland. Would love to see you! So sorry to hear about your bad luck day, but you always bounce back stronger than ever. Stay well.
19th September 2018

Thanks for sharing news of your adventures. I'm so glad to hear you've been using the rice wrappers! I love those things, and have been finding endless ways to stuff them. I've also double-triple stacked them and used them in lasagna-like layered baked recipes. I'm happy to hear you're also feeling much betters. Big love to you, Mama J.
25th September 2018

Hi Jill! Thanks for sharing those beautiful volcano photos!! And Cicic is looking healthy and happy too! Hugs, Julia

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