Houses of Visually Impaired

A girl sits in front of her damaged house in Manabi.

Last monday I got a phone call from the lady who runs Fundcion Oswaldo Loor asking me if I could go and help document the state of repair of the houses of visually impaired people in Manabi.

I had my own issues I was dealing with, but, I try to never say no to this lady. She is always doing so much for others.

Over the course of 3 days we visited 20+ houses and took a look at the damage they had sustained.

As well as viewing the houses, we were also delivering food and water.

Very few houses where un-damaged.

Some Houses are no longer habitable.


The X on the wall means it is unsafe and will be pulled down.

The X on the wall means it is unsafe and will be pulled down.

Notice saying the building is unsafe.

Notice saying the building is unsafe.

Other Houses need walls repaired or replaced


Wall repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.

Wall repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.



Some  houses need to be reset onto their supports or foundations

House has shifted off of its supports during April 16 earthquake in Ecuador.

House has shifted off of its supports during April 16 earthquake in Ecuador.

Support post shifted in April 16th earthquake in Ecuador

Support post shifted in April 16th earthquake in Ecuador

There is damage to floors and ceilings

Ceiling repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.

Ceiling repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.

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A new Induction cooker damaged by the earthquake. The government had a program to help people to buy these to save gas, but many of them are now broken.

A new Induction cooker damaged by the earthquake. The government had a program to help people to buy these to save gas, but many of them are now broken.


The triangle means the house is repairable, if the family can afford it.

The part that made this assignment the most difficult one for me was the people.  Most of these people do not have much, and then to lose what little they have is heartbreaking.


A worker from FOLM visits the house of a visually impaired person in Manabi


A worker delivers aid and visits a visually impaired person in Manabi.

Wall repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.

Wall repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.

Father carries his blind daughter away from their damaged house in Manabi.

Father carries his blind daughter away from their damaged house in Manabi.

Blind girl lives in a camp in a park, because her house is not safe.

Blind girl lives in a camp in a park, because her house is not safe.

Wall repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.

Wall repairs needed after the April 16 Earthquake in Manabi Ecuador.


Food supply for a family in a house in Manabi


People can not afford to replace things when they break, so they reuse and do what they can.




I am not sure where or how Yolanda will find the money help these people, but they are some of the many people who do need help.

Two places at once.

I am waiting to find out if and how I can get Internet at my house.  I need this to teach, and to reach a level of normalcy.  It is very important to me.

I was contacted by Yolanada from the foundation I photograph for, this morning.  She would like me to help them inventory the state of disrepair of the houses of blind people they help.

As always I am willing to help her however I can.

My main concern is getting Internet installed in my house.  I can’t be both places at once.  I have to prouritize…

I will be taking photographs…

Depression sucks

Depression sucks.

During the past couple of weeks I have surprised myself with my ability to keep going. Through it all there were the “dark clouds” of depression just on the horizon. (Some people describe depression as big black dogs, but I like big black dogs.)

It was a constant fear for me, I know that one of my triggers is the lack of sleep, and sleep has been in short supply.

One day ( Tuesday, Wednesday, not sure) I felt myself slipping, being enveloped by the darkness, and none of the tricks that I knew were working to keep it at bay…..

And then my phone rang.

It was my friend David calling to say he may have found a house for me. This one phone call forced me to get my act together and get back on track. He was calling just to help me out, and he likely doesn’t know how much it really did help me out.

I ended up moving into another house that suits my long term goals a little better but getting up and getting going is what I needed.

Thank you David.

What to do? Monday April 25

Andes Moutains

Andes Mountains

I don’t know what to do.

I know that I am sleep deprived which makes making a decision even more difficult.

Here is my dilemma ( this might turn into a winefest)

I can’t teach right now ( the internet is too slow and unreliable).  I can’t get a full night’s sleep, the trees are dropping things on the roof of my cabana which wake me, or worse causes nightmares.  I have been looking for other places to stay within the community but seem to be striking out on all counts.

Realistically I should get out of town.  I have people who would be happy to see me in Southern Ecuador.  So why I haven’t I left?

My head tells me I need to go, to get my teaching business back up and running, my heart tells me I need to stay and be here.

About 2 weeks ago I was looking at a similar question and I came to the conclusion that this is where I wanted to be.  After searching for a place to be, a place where I was happy I think I have found it.  I decided this is where I wanted to stay, to stop traveling and to be. After coming to such an decision, it is difficult for me to uproot and go.

I have usually followed my heart for most of my life, maybe this is the time to follow my head?

If I stay I could document the ongoing rebuilding, but I am a little short on camera equipment for that.  I am using my “studio” camera, but it really isn’t ideal for taking into the field alone.  It is a little too conspicuous.

Another factor that keeps me here is fear. I am safe here, but travel right now is a little suspect.  There are a lot of people who have lost a lot, and traveling with what I need would make me a bit of a target.

So with dilema I am slowing organizing  my stuff so that I can go quickly if that is what I decide.

Any thoughts?

Sunday… 7 days after

Busy beach

Busy beach

The last couple of days have been frustrating.

I dropped my flashlight.  It now doesn’t charge.  I opened it up and I can fix it with a blob of solder and a dash of 5 minute epoxy….it sits unusable

i dropped my iPad… It works but the screen is now cracked.

I was planning on moving, either this weekend or next.  The house was a nice little place tucked away near downtown San Jacinto.  Now it is occupied by the owners, since their house is likely to be torn down.

I had heard about, saw and talked to the owners of a nice house in San Clemente.  We had every thing covered until it came to getting payment to him.  He ( rightly so) doesn’t want me to move in until he gets first and last…. I have no way of doing that. ( actually I could but it would take several trips to neighboring towns to deal with pulling cash and then traveling to other banks to deposit cash. The house is nice but nor worth that level of risk)

There is a house across the street from were I am staying, that might work.  I am still trying to find details.

One of my goals is to try and get back on line for teaching by Thursday…. Not sure if I will make it.

i am still having some trouble sleeping through the night.  The cabana I am in is nice and quiet, but the tree above drops these little nuts that resonate and bounce off the tin roof.

As much as I complain, I know I am really lucky, I am surrounded by great people and I am far better off than some.


Friday April 22

I am located in a small cluster of villages that are tucked between a large hill on the North, the mouth of the Portoviejo river to the south, large open salt flats to the east and the pacific to the west

From la boca ( mouth) in the south to Punta Charapato ( or Punta Bikini if you are selling real estate ) in the north i is 15 klm?  From the pacific to the salt flats might be 2 kilometers.  

Within this space there are 3 villages that flow into each other. From the north San Clemente, then San Alejo and San jacinto

The population might be 5,000?  

Within this area there are maybe 100 full time expats. There are also a similar number of short term and long term visitors. The rest of the population is made up of fishermen, builders or merchants.  There are a large number of vacation homes.

We are in large bay so at night we can see the lights of Manta in the distance to the south, and some nights we can see the lights of Canoa to the north….

The local population is made up of 6 or 8 very extended families.

The feeling I get while I am here is like no other place I have ever lived.   I think that is  why I am so reluctant to leave.

Thursday afternoon I rode my bike North to San Clemente. I wanted to see how my friends there were doing.

I came across 2 large dump trucks from a town further inland.  They were handing out water and plantains ( a banana variant that is a staple here) people were orderly.

After visiting and seeing the work being done on houses, I rode back south.  

In el centro of San Jacinto there where 2  40 foot trucks.   As I got closer I could see they were unloading…with crowds of people around.

There were police and army watching and organizing as a line of locals were moving bottles of water from one truck into a warehouse.

When that truck was empty, they got prepared for the second 40 foot trailer.   

The organizers had people form 4 lines…. 2 lines of men on the inside….2 lines of women and children on the outside.   The women and children held hand….basically making a fence, as the truck was opened and the men passed the packages from one to the other until the goods were added to the warehouse.  

Once, someone tried to make off with a package, and the roar of the crowd brought him back….. Another time a lady tried to hide a package of toilet paper…. Again the noise from the crowd was too much peer pressure and she gave it back.

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Thursday April 21

I got online for a serious amount of time this morning.

I cried

Ecuador and the Province  of Manabi are such special places…struggling with poverty, but making headway.  Last months there were floods, and now this.

The president of Ecuador has been spending massive amount of funds to try and improve schools, roads, healthcare, the electrical grid… and then the price of oil collapsed.  The currency in Ecuador is the US$, which means that an internal monetary policy is difficult… So Ecuador was financially in trouble before, but now…

My heart breaks.

Things will get better here, but I am heartbroken for Portoveijo  it was a hot, busy, bustling city.  It was vibrant, and exciting and now….

Wednesday April 20th

041916-216I had a full nights sleep last night!

Last night I was able to send out a couple of Facebook messages using someone’s android setup as a hot spot.  I was also able to charge my phone, tablet, etc by using a generator..  There is now power to the local transformer station so maybe today?

The night of.

I had just finished eating dinner, and was watching some YouTube… It was just getting dark outside, everything was good for a nice Saturday evening…I had my sandals on (rare I usually take them off and go barefoot) because I was going to go for a walk and get a Popsicle in a little while.

The building started to move.. Just another quake…and then “holy shit” the intensity. Could not stand or walk..
Got to my knees in the door frame of my room
Power goes out
Light from laptop
Large grinding sound (building)
Large smashing and crashing mirror dishes and plates
Crash of gas tank and stove toppling, and my blue water jug

It lasted for 45 seconds I have been told…how long is that? Just think how long that 30 second commercial lasts on tv…

Then it was over.

The sound of the surf.  And darkness.  No lights anywhere around the bay.

My first thought get out of here, second thought, my downstairs neighbor.

Grabbed my windup flashlight, shut down my laptop( save the battery ) put my phones in my pocket, turned off my gas, righted my water jug, and left my apartment.

There was debris everywhere (glass brick concrete) as I moved downstairs.  Picked up my bike that had fallen over, and made my way to Rogers’ door… Pounded…listened, no answer, pounded listened no sound… I couldn’t break through the door with the tools at hand and I wasn’t sure he was in there. Went down the stairs which was littered with broken beer bottles.

Out in the street I went to the gathering of the neighbors, I asked in my bad Spanish about Roger.  They told me he had gone out earlier…ok now time to think…everyone here ok?  One man with a bad ankle , others were looking after him.

Ok time to think…. I need to go back inside… What do I want to get, tablet, laptop, documents, wallet, Chargers for electronics, water… Camera, no it is too bulky and heavy and not important.

Back inside I go, kicking the larger pieces of beer bottles out of the way ( we used to keep a couple of empty bottles at the top of the stairs…that way if you wanted a beer you had an empty to take, when you bought your cold one.)   Past my bike, over the bricks and concrete into my apartment

Looking around ( I never did take pictures) I saw broken glass from the big mirror, water from my water jug, mixing with tea that had been in a glass jar.  I went into my room, and started picking up and unplugging wires and chargers and stuffing them in my backpack.  I put in my documents, laptop and a few other odds and ends, and quickly got out.  I kept glancing at the ocean, and there where no signs of a tsunami ( the water rushes way out before it rushes in)

Back on the street I walk around a bit, saw some buildings that had been damaged.  People were piling into the back of trucks and leaving town… Concern about Tsunami.

A friend had told me that the gathering place in San Clemente was the Cemetery… It is high flat ground.  I had checked it out in the past, and I didn’t want to get in a truck full of strangers, so how to get there?  

Back into the building to get my bike.

I went up to the third floor to get a broom that I used to clean the glass off of the stairs so I could take my bike from the second floor to the ground without destroying my tires.

About this time after getting my bike out, my phone rang.  My friend Gerri was calling to check on me, she was fine, her house was fine, her dog was ok.  She was with some other people and they were heading out.  I don’t know where and she didn’t say.

By this point I didn’t expect a tsunami….. If it was going to come it would have been there by then.  My concern was aftershocks.  

Bike ride in the dark…. Stopping to recharge ( hand crank) my flashlight.. Flashlight is a wind up one bought years ago at Canadian tire.  I have used it many times and I am very glad it still works.

No one was at the cemetery, and it was starting to rain… Where to go… I had thought about this in the past…. Gerri’s house, built strong by a builder I knew and trusted, open third floor if the water came, covered front porch out of the rain. So that is where I spent the night. Out of the rain, in the moonlight listening closely to the ocean.

 Waking and moving quickly into the yard and the rain after the aftershocks.

 I slept a few hours.

Now on Wednesday I am starting to make longer term plans.

I have very limited funds.  I usually keep a small reserve of cash, but I had used it to pay first and last on a new place to live.  The person who was arranging this is out of town so I have no idea as to what is happening. When I go past the house, it and the yard are full of people sleeping on mattresses on the ground, under sheets of plastic. I don’t think I will be moving in there.

I have money in several accounts, just no way to access the funds. Once the ATM is back online I will be happier.

Decision tree.

Can I stay where I am.  Short term yes ( safe and sound). Long term no ( mosquitos , my thinking methods do not correspond with the owners)

Move into “new” casa… Assuming it is still ok, this is my desired goal but it requires power and net.  This is still a big ? ( update: the owners now do not want to rent it. They and several other families are now living in it)

Go to Loja.  Need cash, this seems to be the best short/ medium term plan, but there are problems with logistics.

Plan for today… Reorganize my stuff, what to take to Loja (or Zamora) and what to leave here on the coast.     

I may go and take some photos as well….

Tuesday April 19

041916-254Not much sleep last night.  At around 11:45 I woke up to the sound of many vehicles and horns sounding. I was just thinking about getting up when my name was being shouted…. I said wait a minute, and the response was ” NO TEMPO, RAPEEDO TSUNAMIS  “.  I sleep with phones, shoes, and clothes close in case I have to bug out….grabbed some things and ran out the door into the darkness.

We went to the gathering place in front of the local store, the car was loaded, I jumped into the back of a old pickup ( which I suspected would not go up any hill). I expected to leave immediately, but we sat there while some people talked on their phones.

Then the truck moved, we backed into the compound where I am staying.  I still did not understand, why we were not going as many others were.  I was guided back to my room to get a backpack with documents and important things.. I grabbed a few things and stumbled through the moonlit night back to the truck, where I was given a long sharp knife.

It seems like the tsunami warning was a false alarm and the people around me suspected that it was caused by robbers who wanted the town empty so they could pillage it… Stood guard for a while… It was a beautiful full moon. At about 3 the women and children went off to bed,and about 5 minutes later I did as well.  As I write this I have no idea about what happened.

The sun is up and it looks,like another hot day….