Cuarentena Musings


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South America » Ecuador » Centre » Baños
May 24th 2020
Published: May 31st 2020
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Selfie in the MirrorSelfie in the MirrorSelfie in the Mirror

Greetings from Quarantine! My hair is wild and crazy, my mask rash is in full bloom, I've never looked better! Hoping you and yours are all happy and healthy.
Quarantine, coming from the Italian word quaranta (40) is Cuarentena in Spanish cuarenta (40) but here in Ecuador we’ve been in isolation for twice that amount of time with daily 2 pm to 5 am curfews, permission to drive a vehicle only one day a week (based on the last number of the license plate), and requirement to wear a mask in public and disposable gloves in the grocery store. There are road blocks at either end of town and provincial borders are closed around the country, allowing only food supply vehicles to cross. As of this writing all domestic and international flights are grounded. Those arriving on humanitarian repatriation flights undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government approved hotel. My friends who just got back to Quito were not even given a key to their room at the Marriott to ensure that they didn't leave it for two weeks.









Since my rhythm of life had already become more slow-paced and unscheduled since the beginning of 2020, the lockdown routine wasn't an abrupt or difficult adjustment for me personally. I find that I now spend more time on facebook and allow
Daily Scrabble Joy!Daily Scrabble Joy!Daily Scrabble Joy!

Alternating between my house and hers, Shana and I play at least 2-3 games a Scrabble each day. Bliss for us word nerds!
myself to watch at least one movie or documentary per day; however planning, shopping, prepping and preparing daily meals for my 80 year old neighbor and myself keeps me relatively busy and provides some structure to my days.









The following personal musings about this bizarre and unusual time we are all living through will be divided into the following sections: What I’m grateful for…What I’ve missed most… What I’ve enjoyed … How I’ve exercised my brain and body … What I’ve found most strange/unusual … What is most different … What I’ve found most frustrating … What I’ve learned … What I hope...









I am so grateful to be living in a place of incredible natural beauty. Every morning CiCi and I take a long walk in the hills just up the road from my house. the healing power of nature makes our daily walk a sacred time. Although my house is small, I have amazing views in every direction! Each day as afternoon turns to evening and the day's light starts to slant in dramatic angles, I spend time hanging in
After the rain...After the rain...After the rain...

The trumpet flowers burst into bloom all at once and Mama Tungruahua sports a snowy cap of white.
the hammock on my rooftop terrace. Breezes gently rock me as the birds twitter and chirp in the trees all around. For a different perspective I make my way to the small upstairs balcony of the little cabaña on the front of my lot, admiring my overgrown garden from above and watching the activity on the street below. From this vantage point I see the town below in the valley and I can hear the rush of the Bascun river, especially musical after a night of heavy rains.Today I was watching kids flying kites down along the edges of the river bed...no power lines there!









My dear friend and neighbor Shana and I are thankful for one another's company. We are both Scrabble enthusiasts and we play at least 2 or 3 games every day before and/or after lunch. We look forward to watching Grey's Anatomy together once a week at her house when DirectTV shows a morning marathon. Knowing we will spend time together daily, either at my house or at hers, gives a steady regularity to these otherwise bewildering times when days run into one another.


The Healing Power of NatureThe Healing Power of NatureThe Healing Power of Nature

Walking in the hills every morning (sometimes even in the rain!) keeps me and CiCi sane and healthy!







Since we live in an agricultural zone, there's an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available. The town's one supermarket is fairly well stocked, except for that time I had to go chasing all over town searching for real butter in the small corner shops (most folks here use margarine but refer to it as butter so I had to insist and moo and explain that I was looking for dairy butter). Not so many different brands are arriving and the selection is somewhat limited, however we are filled with gratitude that no one is going hungry!









I am extremely grateful for a reliable online connection. Early this year my internet provider improved their fiberoptic coverage so they brought me new equipment to bump up my service at no additional cost! It's great to be able to keep contact with family and friends via facebook and email. I taught an English class via ZOOM for a few weeks (not my cup of tea) and now I am just getting into videochats with family. Netflix offers a viewing smorgasbord...I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the choices!
El Salado Thermal BathsEl Salado Thermal BathsEl Salado Thermal Baths

The hot springs complex, 5 minute walk from my house, lays sad and empty. I stare longingly down at the healing pools when I walk with CiCi each day.










What I’ve missed most are my regular visits to the thermal mineral baths, a five minute walk from my home. My morning walks with CiCi take us up in the hills above the El Salado complex and I stare longingly at the now empty pools. Actually, the covered hot pool is sometimes filled with water since the guy who lives next door to it has special privileges --his father owns the land where the source of the mineral spring is located and he gives free use to the municipality so gets free use in return. I have tried to contact him via phone and facebook to see if I can get on his personal bathing guest list, but he has not responded. Me so jealous!!









Some neighbors who live up above moved rocks and created a shallow warm pool alongside the rushing river. It is fed by the an overhead outflow pipe from the thermal mineral spring source. Alas, the word got out and even when CiCi and I got up there before 7:00 am there were already more than a dozen
Afternoon Hammock TimeAfternoon Hammock TimeAfternoon Hammock Time

As the day's light begins to fade I make my way up to the terrace for a swing in the hammock with a new perspective.
people in this tiny pool, reggaeton music blaring from a cell phone. My daily walking path is now far more littered with bottles and plastic since the partiers discovered the homemade pool. We humans are the virus on this planet with constant abuse of and disrespect for resources.









I do miss social gatherings, especially our monthly expat potlucks (lots of foodies among us!). I am misings my voice lessons with Billy and I really miss my yoga classes. I had just been getting back into the routine of going to twice weekly yoga sessions; however I have been unable to muster the self-discipline to continue a regular practice on my own at home. If I feel stiff or sore I do get down on the floor with CiCi for some stretching, but it's not the same as entering into the rhythmic breathing and meditative state of a yoga class.









I must confess that I miss my monthly trips to Ambato, the big city an hour away that has a large supermarket with a myriad of luxury foods not found here in Baños
View from my front BalconyView from my front BalconyView from my front Balcony

Opening off of my library/art space room is a small balcony overlooking my overgrown front garden and the street and riverbed beyond. A refreshing perspective to help me feel less closed-in.
where only basic veggie options are available (carrots, green beans, broccoli, celery, tomatoes, zucchini, squash). At the Ambato Supermaxi I indulge in portobello mushrooms, asparagus, Chinese pea pods, sundried tomatoes, quality pasta, aged cheeses, smoked salmon, turkey, natural sesame crackers and corn chips, etc. A trip to Ambato usually includes going out to lunch and sometimes a visit to the Home Depot style hardware store. Baños is a small town of 15,000 and though we can find most all basic necessities, there are few imported goods. I know, first world problems!!









I would have to say that what I've most enjoyed during this slower-paced period is the time I spend in the kitchen. I am inspired to try interesting recipes I find online and I have the patience to cook complicated recipes, taking time to make fiddly stuff. Cooking is an important creative outlet for me and I sometimes invent new dishes by combining uncommon and unexpected ingredients that I find in the back of the cupboard.









Thanks to my English friend Jean I have a huge rhubarb plant in the garden
Shrimp Prep ProcessShrimp Prep ProcessShrimp Prep Process

Each widdle shwimpie is carefully dredged in flour, dipped in egg, and then lovingly encrusted in bread crumbs mixed with sesame. Creating deliciousness.
which produces prodigiously. I have made lemon-ginger-rhubarb marmalade and an interesting creation of rhubarb tapioca pudding. I also learned to make traditional tapioca pudding as well as rice pudding (in memory of my Dad – they were his faves!). Comfort food...









The grocery store got a shipment of frozen shrimp at $5/lb and since Shana and I both love it, I stocked up. I've been having a ball concocting a different shrimp dish every week. So far the biggest winners are: shrimp spring rolls, shrimp curry, pasta with creamy shrimp sauce and sesame crusted breaded shrimp. I 've also made sea bass ceviche twice - works well with frozen fish fillets. It's so easy to make and is such clean, healthy food.









On the last Sunday market before lockdown I found a leg of lamb and roasted it whole with carrots, beets and potatoes. It made for two scrumptious meals and there were still leftovers which I turned into a white bean stew with lots of sage…my own creation and it turned out yum!







Daily Lunch CompanionDaily Lunch CompanionDaily Lunch Companion

Mmmm...Pad Thai! Shana is the appreciative recipient of my creative culinary attempts. We enjoy sharing a meal each day.


Once a week Shana and I bake a stuffed chicken...feels like Thanksgiving (but the cranberry sauce is all gone now - boohoo!). With the leftovers I make chicken salad with craisins stuffed in avocado halves, or my creation of shredded chicken and sundried tomatoes with pasta which was a hit! There are lots of avocados around -- four for a dollar right now when they're in season. A new fave salad is sliced avocadoes with grapefruit segments (membranes removed) and chopped cilantro, sprinkled with roasted squash seeds (pepas de sambo). SO yummy...yep, I've become a true foodie.









Shana doesn't eat onions and I'm allergic to bell peppers so it's been a bit of a challenge to spice up the meals. I've learned to use celery and ginger in different ways, especially in vegetarian Pad Thai - rice noodles and steamed veggies tossed in a scrumptious gingery-peanut sauce and topped with crushed peanuts. Creativity knows no bounds! A neighbor gave me some molasses so I figured out how to make a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce by adding some chipotle salsa. I jazzed up brown rice one day by putting in
Celebrating Shana's 80th!Celebrating Shana's 80th!Celebrating Shana's 80th!

We ventured to town (her first time in 6 weeks!) to raise a glass with a few friends and celebrate Shana's 80th birthday.
slivered dried apricots and unsweetened coconut shreds. Special!









For Shana’s 80th birthday I baked her a carrot cake - it's sort of become a tradition for us through the years to make this favorite cake for one another. I used my sister’s recipe plus added more goodies. The shaker top fell off the allspice and I couldn't fish out the excess so I just went with it and...wow! Wicked good! It wasn’t too much when offset with a bunch grated fresh ginger and white raisins. I only make desserts once in a while, but the iced lemon peel cookies (my tree was heavy with fruit) and the homemade Reese's peanut butter bars (with 82%!b(MISSING)ittersweet chocolate topping) were the BOMB!









How I’ve exercised my brain ... Due to spending more time on the computer, I haven't been reading as much as I might have, but two profound books which have most recently graced my bedside nightstand are "The Inheritance of Loss" by Kiran Desai and "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari. I've been working through Sapiens for over a month, taking time to
My New Blender CoverMy New Blender CoverMy New Blender Cover

A repurposed table runner that was hand-embroidered by my Aunt Selma got creatively stitched together with a dishtowel to creat this beautiful, practical appliance garment.
digest the dense and fascinating content of this learned work. I DO try to limit my online COVID reading; I've perused enough articles to feel well enough informed, but not so many as to whip myself into a frenzy of panic. I quickly scroll past anything political, or about anti-maskers or anti-vaxxers, etc..I find that a bit of "head-in-the-sand" ostrich behavior is warranted during these strange and stressful times.









It still feels decadent to me to dive daily into the world of Netflix. I have mostly avoided TV series (I have a history of getting too sucked in and sometimes watching all night!) but I did enjoy the first six seasons of "Grace and Frankie", the limited series "After Life" with Ricky Gervais and Morgan Freeman's "Story of God". "Daughters of Destiny", a mini-series about a special school in India for girls from the Untouchable Caste was well worth the time. I also watched "93 Days", about the Ebola outbreak and I've been perusing lots of documentaries about the Holocaust - since the last of the survivors are dying off there seems to be a surge in video reporting. And to
Meet BABS (short for Barbie)Meet BABS (short for Barbie)Meet BABS (short for Barbie)

A bright green mannequin bust fell prey to my baubling lust! Mostly covered with old buttons, beads and tagua (vegetable ivory) pieces, she is a sight to behold!
learn more about Chasidic Jews, I watched "Unorthodox" and then went on to see "One of Us" and "The Awakening of Motti Volkenbruch".









Some of the movies I've especially enjoyed recently are: "This Beautiful Fantastic", "The Great Gilly Hopkins", "Tallulah", and "Collateral Beauty". I'm often watching a film while lying in bed in the evening and I've found that if I try to follow subtitled movies they put me right to sleep! I should turn off the subtitles when the movie is in Spanish or French and force myself to just listen...when the subtitled words are there it's automatic to just read along.









One of my adult English learners, Darwin (yes, that's really his name!) suggested that we try having daily English lessons via Zoom. It was my first experience and it only lasted a couple of weeks. There was always a delay between his mouth and the words, children screaming and dogs barking on his end. I found it very stressful to have to look at myself while teaching and, truth be told, I got frustrated that he continued to make
Bauble MadnessBauble MadnessBauble Madness

A most pleasant way to spend an afternoon -- fiddling with shape, size and color to create a pleasingly harmonious decorated frame.
the same simple mistakes over and over again, it became clear that he wasn't making the effort to look over the class notes I prepared for him after each lesson -- at a given point in time it didn't feel like it was worth my effort. Also I felt myself constantly straining against technology angst.









Having said that, next week I will begin to take conversational Hebrew lessons via facebook messenger videochat, and I will be giving Spanish classes to a friend in Quito who wants to be able to read to her 4 year old son in Spanish. We will be using children's books for our classes. I also just took part in a ZOOM gathering with more than a dozen others, most of them in Aberdeen, a number of them old friends that I ran with in the Hash House Harriers in Scotland in the mid-80's. The virtual running course was set in Ecuador this time, with the final drinking session at my house. Very cool experience! Maybe I can get past some of my perceived tech blockages!









And of
Sunburst ArmpitsSunburst ArmpitsSunburst Armpits

Just how wacky to get and when to actually stop... the biggest challenges in baubling Babs!
course my brain is flexed daily by our Scrabble tournaments -- Shana still manages to beat me quite often yet I find I need to help her more often with scoring as her memory slips. We both look forward to these matches every day! We are fast players - an average game for us lasts 20 - 40 minutes and our average scores tend to be in the mid- to upper 300's, and it's not uncommon for one or both of us to break 400. An exceptional game has our combined scores totalling more than 800. That would likely include at least one or two 7-letter words or each of us (bingos which get 50 bonus points). We DO play "compassionate" Scrabble which means we can look up possible words in the dictionary or on the 2- or 3-letter word lists without getting challenged and losing a turn. We also recycle the blanks, meaning you can replace it with the letter it was used for and use it again.







And then there's the needed exercise of the creative mind. I've enjoyed baubling several afternoons a week -- aside from my ongoing project of
Rock CollectionRock CollectionRock Collection

Fave rocks and coral bits from many different places. I'm definitely my mother's daughter...picking up rocks wherever I go. When she was in Israel the guide joked that she was helping to clear the land!
adorning BABS the Mannequin (Babs is short for Barbie), I have created and completed designs for over a half a dozen frames using buttons, pearls, beads, broken bits of jewelry, coins and assorted odds&ends. There is something soothing and calming about organizing and classifying my multitude of art baubles...I enter a different mind space for a few hours...a mental vacation.









How I’ve exercised my body (or not!) - As mentioned before, my half hour daily walk with CiCi is sacred. The first 15 minutes are uphill and I feel like I've gotten stronger, walking faster and without pause, getting my heart rate up. We try to go a little bit further each day, weather permitting. Every day when we go out for our walk CiCi greets the elderly lady who lives up the hill; she sits in her doorway waiting for her cuddle and kissies from my sweet pooch. It's a lush valley cul-de-sac which backs up to the "faldas" - the skirts or foothills of Mama Tungurahua Volcano which is over 5,000 meters high. There is so much wild and wonderful plant life to enjoy, a shifting show of tiny
Messy FaceMessy FaceMessy Face

Fuzzy, furry velcro dog drags bits of nature into the house and leaves behind rafts of drifting dog hair.
blooms - always changing.







Since I am doing very little driving my shoulder and hip discomfort have decreased and I find that the regular walking is the best cure for the hip pain. On days when I feel stiff I do get down on my yoga mat and do some stretching, but not nearly enough! Every morning CiCi does her downward dog stretch and reminds me to do the same, but alas I have not gotten into a daily yoga habit - even though I have downloaded online yoga sessions with Adrienne and there are several other teachers I know offering livestream classes.









What I’ve found most strange/unusual: I was shocked when I received a text message on my phone sharing a Civil Registry link to be used for reporting deaths online. Then there came the ads for biodegradable corrugated cardboard coffins just as world news was blasting images of dead bodies piled up in the streets of Guayaquil. The country's largest city, about 5 hours drive from where I live, is a densely populated, hot and humid port city perched on the edge
Sleek and StreamlinedSleek and StreamlinedSleek and Streamlined

Right after grooming CiCi shows off every spot and freckle and looks slim and svelte. Would that it were so easy for me to change my chubby look!
of a long estuary. COVID-19 peaked early there and in April Ecuador was branded as the most dangerous country in South America for the virus.







I continue to be flummoxed (as I'm sure many others are) at how they can come up with numbers and graphs -- with the haphazard, inaccurate testing available there's really no way to actually know how many people are infected or even how many deaths can be attributed to this virus. We humans seem to have a need to classify, categorize and create visual representations of this unquantifiable pandemic. Perhaps it makes people feel that they can dominate the intangible by giving it graphic form, making it spike and curve and bend to their will; interpreting results in whatever way suits the needs of the moment in a given situation.









Since they shut down the hot springs complex at the top of the hill where I live, my street has essentially become a dead end road. There are virtually no vehicles cruising up and down my hill which means that CiCi gets more off-leash time before we even get to the hilltop. I'm going to have to start reining her in once traffic begins to resume. Currently we only have daily visits from the garbage truck; a digital tune announcing its arrival. It's somehow soothing to hear this familiar song from pre-lockdown days! Once a week the agricultural caravan of trucks comes up our hill. Since the markets have been closed down, the municipality has created this caravan of vendors, complete with its own loud-speakered song, "Now is the time to come out and buy, one person per family, each with a mask." It's actually a very catchy tune and I've heard people humming or singing it while waiting in line at the bank or the pharmacy.









Every day at 2:00 pm a series of shrill sirens blare over the valley to alert the start of curfew. The city had installed these high tech siren towers as a volcano alert system, but then Mama Tungurahua was declared dormant a few years ago, so the municipal employees are thrilled to have this new chance to make use of their noise toys. We are within earshot of 5 or 6 different shrieking
The LuLusThe LuLusThe LuLus

Lupe and Lucy are Shana's little doggies. They love it when their big cousin CiCi comes to visit!
towers, each higher pitched than the last. There seems to be no protocol as to how long the siren should continues...some days an enthusiastic worker can give us a concert for up to 20 minutes. Agony! I stick my fingers in my ears. And the poor pooches. When curfew is pushed back to 9:00 pm next week I wonder if I'll be awakened by the dang sirens --yes, I go to sleep early. I wake up automatically each day at 6:00 am when it gets light (living on the equator daylight is approx 6 am to 6 pm every day, year long).







When I buy fruit and veg from the growers' caravan they spray my coins with rubbing alcohol before accepting them. Many wear the full liquid barrier hazard suits while they are out and about among folks. At the grocery store the clerks and baggers also wear full suits, masks, hoods. I got scolded for starting to put my purchases on the conveyer belt before the guy in front of me had departed the register area. I was ordered to stand BACK on the #2. I thought they were sending be to
Social DistancingSocial DistancingSocial Distancing

Downtown Baños - folks waiting patiently on their white dots for their turn to enter the bank. Baneños are very rule complaint citizens.
cashier #2 and I know full well that credit cards are only accepted at #1. Mumbled speech from beneath a mask made me get shamed in a public place!! It ends up that the guy in front of me was my dentist...I only recognized him because I'm used to seeing him in a mask!







All around the center of town the pavement is painted with oval patches to demarcate the proper social distancing required while waiting in line for the bank (only 5 people allowed inside at a time...the rest circle the block along the pavement). One person per painted lozenge and no one enters the smaller shops --everything is sold at sidewalk's edge. Some pharmacies have set up devices with cardboard ramps or a plastic basket reached out to the customer on a pole to deliver the purchase and collect payment, while the pharmacist stays at a distance.







What has been most different: Since I only take my truck out once a week, there are now cobwebs forming along the truckbed as well as spiderwebs on my front gate, which gets very little use. There's
Street ScrubbingStreet ScrubbingStreet Scrubbing

The whole town gets washed down with a bleach solution on a weekly basis. Who knows how much good this can do, but there you have it!
a guy who zooms down my practically vehicle-less hilly street on his skateboard every day, and the quantity of horses and cows left to graze (and poop) along the grassy edges of my roadside has definitely increased since lockdown. Deciding to let my hair grow has been different, and I have removed all of my rings. Since I am cooking so much, I am also doing a lot of dishwashing. To protect my hands and nails (the cuticles get so dry and cracked) I let the dishes pile up for a few days, then I put on music, slather my hands with lotion and slide into rubber gloves for the big wash-up. Rings are definitely not advised when using these gloves, or the protective gloves required at the grocery store.







CiCi has become much more demanding...largely due to no afternoon walks. She gets the zoomies and the crazies right around dusk. Sometimes she'll let off steam chasing her baby elephant toy around the lemon tree. I give her a chew toy most days for her to release a bit more energy. As her fur grew out, rafts of CiCi hair would float by
Armchair BedArmchair BedArmchair Bed

CiCi loves this homemade bed, an old cotton sweater repurposed around a pillow and foam bolsters. Strategically placed in a corner of the dining room she can look out but stay warm and dry.
every time I opened the door, skittering across the wooden floors and stick to the edges of rugs. I am not a fastidious housekeeper, but spending so much more time at home I found the daily accumulation of dust and fur annoying! But as soon as I'd clean the house would feel dirty again. Why bother?







I admit I'm spoiled - at $10 per visit I've now hired my cleaning gal to come every week. When I had my kitchen renovated we decided I'd trade her my oven in exchange for cleanings. Then she got pregnant, then the lockdown, but I am thrilled to say that Cristina has now resumed her weekly visits - with baby Angeles nestled in the middle of my bed while her mommy works. The good news is that the groomer has resumed work so now CiCi's shorter fur is much less of a hassle (and she's so soft to pet and cuddle!)







What's been most frustrating: After wearing a mask for 3-4 hours while do shopping and running errands I almost always develop a face rash (especially if it's a warm
Enjoying the view...Enjoying the view...Enjoying the view...

On rainy days this is where you will find CiCi, perched on her indoor bed with full outdoor exposure.
morning) and as I have very sensitive skin, it usally takes the whole week for the rash to fade...and then it's time to go into town. I'm trying to experiment with different types of masks -- the one I wear while walking with CiCi can be pulled up into a headband when there's no one else around.







During this lockdown time my entire body started breaking out in itch welts - it's an allergic reaction to dust mites which are endemic in this damp climate. I ran all of my bedding through Shana's electric dryer (I only have clotheslines here), I've kept my curtains and windows fully open to better ventilate my room. Into the 3rd week of antihistamine tabs and dabbing individual welts with tea tree oil and aloe leaf, I was still breaking out in new itchy patches every day so I bit the bullet and went to see one of the few doctors in town. I'd never met Dr. Polo before, but a friend had gone to see him. When I explained that I'd had allergic reactions like this before (on the coast and when I worked with the Engineers
Come Fly With Me!Come Fly With Me!Come Fly With Me!

With her own personal wings Babs can go wherever she desires whenever she wants to!
Without Borders in the high parramo) but the doc said he wanted to give me an antibiotic injection. WHAT?? I flatly refused! I told him that I was sure that a cortisone shot would halt the reactive phase. I finally got my cortisone injection (it did the trick, by the way!) but he never asked my name or my age during the entire 15-20 minutes he spent with me. He did ask where I was from and if was taking any medications. Don't think I'll be back to see that guy again, but I got what I needed and the whole visit, meds included cost $15.







Then there's the ongoing construction of my neighbor’s volunteer quarters (which share the wall against which rests the headboard of my bed). Her worker loves to bang. How many things are there that he could be banging? It's been going on for months and kicks into high gear at any time of day, but especially right about when I'm settling in for a rest! My uphill neighbor’s gardener cuts all the grass in her yard with a weed whacker; this last time he started before 7 am
Babs and NickBabs and NickBabs and Nick

Nick the Balsa Bird (so named because of a ding in his beak) is keeping company with Babs (for the time being). Don't they look pretty together?
and was still whacking at noon! Must escape to Shana's on those days of constant noise - the constant buzz of the whacker almost sounds like a drill at the dentist's office! Lucky I have somewhere to escape to!







A few weeks before lockdown began my bank's ATM did not spit out the $600, but screen reported it as a successful transaction. I was using a Bank of America debit card from the US in my local ATM, something I'd done dozens of times. Well, it didn't work this time and after several months of back and forth between the two banks the verdict was that since the Ecuador bank had informed BofA that the money had been dispensed, the case was closed. I tried to get my local branch to review the camera footage and the daily balance totals, but they refused to do so. I spoke with a lawyer and he indicated that I'd spend way more than those $600 if I tried to fight big banking. I had to just give up and if I'm honest, in some way the arrival of my unexpected stimulus check helps me let go
Love me some WALKIES!Love me some WALKIES!Love me some WALKIES!

CiCi's unbridled joy lifts my own spirits daily as we stroll in nature.
of the whole frustrating mess.







Reflections on what I have learned during this time: First and foremost (and ongoing) is PATIENCE -as hard as it is to accept Shana’s declining physical and mental faculties, I struggle each day with how to best help her in a calmly respectful way. That's not to say that I don't ever lose my patience-- it's a steep learning curve for me as patience has never been one of my salient virtues. Almost daily I need to explain to her again what's happening with the lockdown and why we can't go out to eat at her favorite restaurant (which IS scheduled to re-open but not until December). I have learned that if we make plans to do something or go somewhere, I need to call her an hour beforehand to remind her, and then again 15-30 minutes in advance so that she'll be ready. I have learned that caring for a person with dementia on a day-to-day basis is an exercise in love, compassion, acceptance, and above all patience.







I've discovered that although I enjoy and appreciate yoga and all of
Lemon Tree Very PrettyLemon Tree Very PrettyLemon Tree Very Pretty

Bursting with fruit, lemons amarillando (turning yellow) a bit more each day with the promise of lemonade soon to come!
its benefits, I have yet to develop the self-motivation and commitment needed to continue a regular practice on my own at home. I still seem to need the guidance and community of a regular class meeting. I have come to the realization that my life was already relatively simple and close to nature. Of course I DO drive a vehicle but, truth be told, the lockdown restrictions did not present all that much of an inconvenience to how I had already been living. I've played around with more of the camera functions on my Iphone (inherited from my niece several years ago) and have enjoyed playing with photography in my little space called home.







I've learned more about CiCi and how her dog brain functions (or how I interpret her thinking through my human lens). We are spending more time together than ever before and she has become much more affectionate and communicative. When I go over to Shana's she almost always comes along and though she and Shana's two little black dogs, the LuLus (Lupe and Lucy) are not best buddies, they tolerate one another and will even sometimes engage in play.
Afternoon CloudsAfternoon CloudsAfternoon Clouds

Looking down from my rooftop terrace across my wee courtyard I can glimpse the larger world beyond.
CiCi does not show jealousy when I love on the LuLus, which to me indicates that she is secure in my love for her. I am so blessed to have this sweet creature sharing my life so intimately and constantly.







What I hope: My most fervent hope, on a personal level, is that I will be able to travel to Baltimore in November to spend Thanksgiving with my whole family. I bought my plane ticket way back in February. Since I was planning so far in advance I even sprung for the travel insurance, which is unusual for me! You never know what might come up!!





And my idealistic hope for the planet is that this pandemic really does serve as the necessary jolt for humankind to re-evaluate what is truly important and necessary in life while finding ways to live more harmoniously with the natural world. Will this be enough of a ker-thunk to jar humankind's collective EGO in such a way as to step down from its perceived place of SUPERIORITY in the cosmos? My hope is that future generations will be able to undo, redo,
My Big ViewsMy Big ViewsMy Big Views

Although my land and my home are quite small, from my rooftop I can see limitless green as the hills open out towards the Amazon Basin
reconfigure and reimagine a sustainable planet and effectively emerge from this mess, this miasma of petroleum decay, that my generation has left them.







On that note, I shall close this edition of Jill's Travel Blog. Thank you to all of you who take the time to read what I write here. I would LOVE to hear from you either in the comments or messages sections below or via email: jillsare@gmail.com Sending out very best wishes for continued good health for you and your loved ones.


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31st May 2020

Thanks so much Jill for your well written blog. It takes me back in detail to a time in my life that I miss and enjoyed.
10th June 2020

No Photos!
Try as I might over the week I've not been able to pull up any photos on your blog entry. I even sign in on my site and then go to yours, but still nothing. I've done this at least 3 times. Kathy

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