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Published: December 27th 2014
ATM Sighting"Ecuador –> It is here, the hemispheres meet. It is here, the earth’s circle is complete and the entire planet is embraced."
Even angels need cash sometimes! She ducked out of the Xmas procession and I let her cut in front of me in line at the money machine.
(from a blog by Sarah - her last name wasn't posted)
I was really glad to get back home after my three week visit it California, but as I walked off the plane I really
felt the altitude, suffering an alarming shortness of breath (Quito lies at 10,000 ft). I was starting to feel faint when I saw an airport employee and struggled to form the words to ask if there was a doctor on duty. As he got on his radio, he took my arm and led me to the nearest chair where I slumped down with my head lowered. It's normal to feel out of breath while climbing stairs during the first few days in Quito, but I became light-headed to the degree that I felt dizzy and couldn't think clearly. A medic came almost immediately and took my blood pressure and my pulse (both o.k.) and guided me in some deep breathing exercises. I felt much better almost as soon as I sat down.
There's a pleasant walk leading out from where I live and this what I see just five minutes after leaving my house. I need to start doing this gorgeous walk daily!!
doc commented to the other guy that he had eaten too much supper and was suffering heartburn so I reached into my backpack and offered him a Tums. We both chuckled at the role reversal that had just occurred - me giving medication to the doctor! On the whole, I was highly impressed with the immediacy and kindness with which I was treated during this little scare. I see the incident as a kick in the butt, a reminder that I need to shed some weight and get in shape!!
Feeling better I ambled over to the immigration line; not too long since by then most of the folks from my flight had already passed through. Alas my visa woes continue - since switching my resident visa to my new passport, I've had 'issues' each time I've left or returned to Ecuador (every year for the past three years). I was hoping that I'd resolved the problem after having spent a half a day at Quito's central immigration office trying to sort it out; believing them when they assured me that I'd have no more problems.
Arriving at the immigration
My Dream House (?)
Down in the valley below where I live there's this tumbledown house that keeps calling my name (and it's for sale!)
counter at midnight after a 20 hour day of travel was not the ideal time to be told that according to their system my visa had been cancelled. As my eyes teared up and my breathing grew ragged again, I explained to the guy about the problems I'd had and recounted my efforts to fix it. He agreed to let me through, insisting I go back to the immigration office and solve the issue. Now there's a task I'm looking forward to!
SO grateful that Alex & Miguel came to pick me up at the airport at the middle of the night. My truck was parked in their yard, so after they left for work I slept in on their sofa before heading out to run errands. I criss-crossed the city, dropping off the special purchases I'd made in the U.S. That day of driving was like baptism by fire - the traffic was crazier than usual since it was the last workday before the Fiestas de Quito - the roads were sheer madness and I was reminded again why I don't live in the city and why I usually leave my truck parked when
'She shows sea shells on the window sill' -a heavenly afternoon unpacking and revisiting the fruits of years of beachcombing.
I'm in Quito!
I also made the rounds to collect donations for our next fundraising garage sale to benefit the volunteer children's library in Banos. My truck was already pretty full, still packed with my stuff from two months of work and travel before heading to the states. In addition I had the big suitcase & wooden trunk I'd brought from the US. I squeezed in a dozen boxes and bags full of friends' give-aways. It wasn't until after I'd dropped off the donations at the library in Banos that I realized I was missing some of my own clothes. Oops! A plastic bag full of my dirty clothes had been unloaded with the donated bags!
During my visit in the US, I did my best not to spend too much energy worrying about the potential health issues facing me. Since my insurance company's clinic only schedules appointments 3 days in advance, I had my friend Lupe schedule a gyn appt for me for the day after my return to Ecuador. The gyn sent me for a CAT Scan (Tomografia). Since I'm highly allergic to iodine contrast dye (I ended
Fun to unpack my treasures from Asia & Africa and assemble them in my Ecuador home!
up in the ER during tests in Atlanta for my Crohn's diagnosis) they ran the scan with no contrast medium, only water. I carefully reviewed my bill ($23 for the CAT scan + $9 for the contrast dye). I was shuffled from clerk to clerk before I finally found one reasonable enough to refund the $9 which I refused to pay for the litre of water they gave me! Since the 'water only' scan was inconclusive, they did a complementary 4D intrauterine EcoSonagram at no charge (complimentary). This sonagram tech downgraded my previously diagnosed ovarian teratoma to a uterine myoma (basically a 2 inch square fibroid) which would not require surgery. In January I will have an MRI with Gadolinium contrast dye and see what that reveals.
I picked up Shana before heading back down to Banos. About a half hour past her house I was pulled over for speeding. They had set up a radar trap (first one I've seen in Ecuador) and stopped me around the next curve, saying they had clocked me at 102 km/hr in a 100 km zone. The policeman explained that the fine for driving 101-120 km/hr was $110
Orang Asli Wood Carvings
Packed away for almost 10 years, memories of a Malaysian adventure - these guys now grace the shelf between my entryway and my living room.
and six points off my license. I politely asked him about the new laws (instituted nationally 3 months earlier) and explained to him that I'd been out of the country, visiting my 88 yr old father. He asked if I'd ever had a driving infraction before; I assured him I hadn't so he said he'd let me off this time. At that, Shana heaved a huge sigh of relief, as did I! Could have been an expensive morning!
It was nice to get back to my house. In the six months that I've been renting it, I've only actually lived here at total of 6 weeks! While I was unpacking, a bird flew into my house (oops, I'd left the screen door open). She kept bashing into windows, trying to get out. Maybe since she was stunned she allowed me grab her and take her out the front door, but the whole experience had clearly scared her shitless -- I was cleaning up bird poops in every room! Time to unpack the box that Bob & Kate had put together for me - wood carvings & baskets & linens that had been stored in their
Drying in the Sun
Hanging out clothes is a great way to spend some time in the garden. On a cloudless, breezy day they're dry in 2-3 hours!
attic. I had a great time rediscovering treasures I hadn't seen for almost a decade, finding a place for each object, once again nesting in my home.
The weather in Banos has been gorgeous - perfect laundry weather! There's just a washing machine at the house, and when it's not rainy or gray I actually enjoy hanging out my clothes to dry. There's nothing like the breezy fresh smell of sheets that have dried on the line. Pegging clothes on the line is good exercise for the arms and also a nice way to enjoy the garden. I've been going to the hot springs as often as possible; in addition to swimming I have an exercise routine that I do in the warm pools. I'm trying to get out walking in my neighborhood more - there's a lovely hillside road that winds up and around with gorgeous views.
I'd been gathering some picture frames to decorate and I brought back six tubes of glue, so I recently spent several pleasant days renewing my love for baubling. After sorting through my collection of baubles (beads, keys, shells, coins, pearls, broken bits
This cute round window is right over my bauble workspace. I've gussied it up with favorite objects.
of jewelry, etc) & setting up my art space, I felt my creative juices flow. A friend is selling my artwork in her bookstore; hopefully I can at least recoup what I've spent on frames & glue!
The weeks and days leading up to Christmas were filled with decorations and special events in Banos. Some friends of mine sing in the choir, so I went to two of their concerts. Ecuadorians love to dress up! All of the schoolchildren participate in holiday processions, blocking the streets of entire neighborhoods for hours on end. Some of the parades are quite elaborate - with horses & donkeys, angels & wisemen, gypsies (??) and a row of Santa Clauses bringing up the rear. Heck, if they have the costumes, why not make full use of them, right?
This past year was a busy one for me work-wise. I continue to enjoy my "patchwork career" --work of all kinds comes my way just as I need it. This past year I worked again as driver/interpreter with Engineers Without Borders; assessed TESOL certificate training programs for SIT (School for Int'l Training); coordinated fund-raising
Baubled Picture Frame
Great fun to get my bauble bits all organized and take up frame decorating again.
garage sales to benefit the volunteer children's library in Banos; acted as driver & guide for several families - sharing with them my favorite places in Ecuador; and filled in as substitute manager at Hosteria Mandala on the coast.
In 2015 I hope to stay put in Banos most of the year. I have some work through January (driving for a friend then assessing a teacher training course) but as of Feb I plan to be mostly at home. My goal is to lose 20 lbs by June - bring only healthy foods into my house and exercise more regularly. I have convinced myself that I can and will do it, once I have a bit more of a routine to my life and am cooking for myself. My home is large - I love to have visitors - that means you!!
Please scroll to the bottom for some photos of gorgeous textiles. Although I posted a few of these on facebook, I realized after publishing my last blog that I'd forgotten to write about the amazing afternoon I spent at the Great Masters Hispanic Handicraft
The map in the frame shows the beaches where I collected these shells...delicious organic shapes.
exhibit at the L.A. Natural History Museum (thanks Joyce & Philip for suggesting it!). Since I've spent time in over a dozen Latin American countries, it was great fun for me to see how many of the works I could identify by nation or region (especially baskets and textiles, which I adore!). The exhibit had touch screen tablets in front of each display and by tapping the photo of an artifacts you could read more information about it. Had to chuckle as I heard a Dad scolding his two young sons for playing with the tablets. "Don't just look at the screens," he pleaded. "The actual object is right in front of you!"
Thanks for reading -- wishing much health and happiness in the new year for you and your families!
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