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We finally arrived in Ecuador and boy were we excited to be here! It was great to see old friends and to meet some new ones. The first night we were pretty out of it, but we did manage to all take long, hot showers and to eat dinner out at the restaurant where we first moored. You can bet that we slept well that night! The next day we began the process of checking into the country with a visit to the Port Captain. It took three visits over the course of the whole day, but we finally got the boat checked in. The next stop would be the immigration office in a bigger city about 2 hours away. We got to know our new home town over the course of the next couple of days. Bahia de Caraquez o is a small town built on a peninsula between the Chone River and the Pacific Ocean. There are a couple of medium sized markets, many small stores, and a bunch of great restaurants. The food here is so inexpensive. What a nice thing after the prices in Costa Rica! An expensive lunch is $2. The smaller places are $1.25. The lunch will include a large bowl of soup and a glass of juice to go along with your ample plate of food. It usually consists of some kind of salad (green, or macaroni, or potato) some type of protein (fish, chicken or beef) and then a glass of lemonade or some other fruit drink. Pretty amazing. On Friday evenings, all of the cruisers get together and go out to one restaurant in particular for an incredible steak dinner o. A huge, delicious, big, thick, nice steak with a baked potato and veggies will set you back $6.80. We have really been enjoying this. There are other dinners available too if you do not want steak. They are huge plates of food for about $3.80, the kids usually go for one of these in the fish or chicken variety. On Saturdays there is a big mercado o where you can get great vegetables and fruits for great prices, also meats, chicken, fish, flowers, local yucca flour breads and all kinds of other items. We are having fun exploring new foods and flavors. Oh yea, speaking of prices, check out the gas prices in the picture below o... yes those are the real prices here! $1.48/gal for gasoline, and $1.03/gal for diesel. The prices are subsidized by the government. On Sunday afternoons, all the cruisers get together and have game day o. Kids play too, either with the adults or do their own thing. The main game is Mexican Train dominoes, the next favorite is cribbage. This is usually about four hours of fun and laughter.
After about a week of staying in town, we moved to our permanent mooring up the river a couple of miles from town. There are two places that you can stay here, one is right in town and is very convenient to everything, but it is right in town. The other is up river about a 15 minute and $ .18 bus ride from town. This is off of an amazing property run by the most gracious, warm, and hospitable man. It is a retreat center, animal refuge, peaceful, fun, beautiful property o. It is quite amazing. The kids and Hopper are in heaven! It is many acres large and the kids can safely run around unsupervised, playing hide and seek, feeding the animals, and just being kids. There are four other dogs for Hopper to play with and they all get along very well. There are many, many types of birds o, including many varieties of peacock, pigeons, chickens, macaws, and others; two pet sloths o; dogs; horses o; a donkey o; a cute little brown, prehensile tailed critter; an ostrich o; tropical fish; and frogs. We are so happy to be here! There are two large houses on the property that have guest rooms for when there are retreats here. We hang out on the porch of one of them for doing computer work o, game day, potlucks or just relaxing. The owner of the property is the most kind, gentle soul. Not only does he take in animals and birds (and stray cruisers), but he has started a school o for the local children that are too poor to even attend the public school. He has an amazing architect that has done a beautiful job of designing the property for the school. Not only does he provide them with an education, but gives out lots of hugs, kisses and love to all of the kids. It is quite a project. The kids are all so well behaved and sweet. Right now the school goes up to eighth grade, but he is trying to get approval to do high school too. I am sure that we will volunteer there in some way. On Saturdays, some of the kids from the school usually come to the property and play, help out, and hang out. They are very curious about Dana and Fletcher. Another boat came in that we knew from our last trip that has a daughter that Dana was good friends with before. She is in heaven, they play almost every day. We are still looking for a boy 'kid boat' for Fletcher to pal around with. In Bahia, we have already found a good vet, dentist, dermatologist and doctor. When we get back from Peru, we are looking forward to all having our teeth cleaned for $20. The vet visit for Hopper was $15 which included an injection and eye drops. It is so affordable here. Our travels in Peru will take quite a bit out of the kitty, as will our future trip to the Galapagos, so it is a good thing that the daily cost of living is so low!
We finished out another segment of school (twenty lessons plus a week of review/tests) so that we could leave for an extended trip to Peru. Dana's birthday will be spent on a bus to Lima, so we had a party for her before we left. Several folks from different boats and some local kids showed up for a few hours of games before an amazing vegetarian feast pot luck with ice cream and hot cookie cake for dessert o. Dana was a very gracious recipient of many gifts and good wishes. She was so pleased with all the guests and much to our surprise, all of the gifts too. What a wonderful group of people. Both sloths were hanging out in the kitchen as we cooked and cleaned up and we had fun feeding them and getting to know them better o. Yes, they have full run of the house and grounds, and are just hysterical to watch maneuvering around. Their movement is very different from other animals. Hopper was very curious and confused by these strange creatures. The next day was spent packing and getting ready for our big inland trip to Peru. Our plan is to take a five hour bus ride to Guayaquil, Ecuador, spend the night and explore the city and maybe see an IMAX movie. The following day we will board a bus for a 24 hour trip to Lima, Peru. We will probably spend at least a couple of days exploring there before heading up to Cusco and Machu Picchu in the Andes (a 25 hour bus ride). Another trip that we are looking forward to is to go to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. You can go stay with families in their homes out on floating reed islands in the lake, and we will try to do that. Stay tuned for the May update (should be out by mid June) for the details of our trip!
Please click to enlarge!
View of Bahia, Friday night dinner out, Saturday morning market scenes, Sunday game day, gas prices!
Our new home, Saiananda. The grounds, meditation room, and patio where we do computers, games and potlucks.
Some of the birds and animals at Saiananda, the kids are having a blast feeding animals, looking for frogs in the frog pond and just hanging out with the sloths.
Going for a hike on the other side of the property, Mike clearing a trail to the top of the hill.
The school that Alfredo started and runs for kids too poor to go to public school. Some fresh caught prawns from Alfredo's shrimp farm. Alfredo preparing pizza for all of us.
The birthday dessert and presents at the kid table. The sweet, pregnant female and the handsome, long haired male sloth.