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?

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….

Monday April 18

041916-020I am writing this as email to myself since I don’t have word process on my iPad.

These are notes that I may compile into something… or post on my blog

I was trying to help fix a generator today, and I was wondering what a part did….. Normally I would google it. Tough to do without net access.

I went to my old apartment to put everything together for the final move….it looks like everything is stable… Maybe a few more bricks had fallen.  I took my sandals off to climb up on the bed to cut down my mosquito net… Started walking around in my bare feet… Started screaming at myself about being stupid…the floor still has broken glass all over…   

There was an aftershock while I was there… Fuck,I don’t know which is worse, the quake or the aftershocks…one was unexpected the others fill me full of dread.   I have one more trip to make to the old place.   I am going to get a car and a few people and do it quickly and finally.

The stuff that if left there is things I would like to have, but don’t need.  If the building comes down between now and getting it than so be it….

I haven’t been taking picture cause I have been too busy taking care of me… I also think I have picked up a mild case of sunstroke… I have one more visit to the apartment to get stuff, and then I think I will calm down.  Knowing I have to go back into the building once more doesn’t make me happy…

I have succeeded in moving all of my stuff out of the old apartment. The guy who helped me move was amazed at the damage…. I am not sure why, because there are so many other building that are partially or completely damaged.

The day after the quake I saw some people “looting” a building that had been flattened.  This was a brand new building which, I have been told, had sold 3 days earlier for 140,000….. One of the highest prices in the area.  The house is now rubble.  It pancaked. There was no one living there at the time.    Anyway I saw some people going through the wreckage pulling out any useful bits.    Another building under construction also pancaked in el centro.  The municipality has come in and finished the demolition and is carting off all the rubble.  I guess that it is better for people to take bits and pieces instead of it turning into landfill.  

I am now staying in a small cottage up the road ( up being a very important word)  It is small, quaint and on the ground, not up in the air.

My new landlord has gotten a generator working, so now I can recharge all my devices… It also means we have water.  I am still being careful with my usage, but with the heat, 3 or 4 showers a day are the norm.  I miss the sea breeze of my old place.  I Tomorrow I am going to see about getting one of the fridges hooked up.

I also tried sending a few text messages, but I am not sure if they got through… There have been no responses.  A lot of time I don’t get a signal on my phone…I am not sure how the cell towers get power….

I am moving…. again

I haven’t written for awhile, so I thought I would bring people up to date.

I am moving again.  I think this is about the 20th time for me.

Busy beach

Busy beach

The place where I am staying is the bottom of the house of a good friend. This place is perfect. But I have to move. When I came to San Clemente I was thinking a 4 to 6 week stay. My friend let me rent her place, and extend my time once I decided to stay longer. The problem is, she has long term renters arriving in December so I have to leave.

I am moving about 5 or 6 kilometers up the road to the village of San Jacinto. It is to a smaller apartment on the third floor right on the ocean. The views are amazing..one of the main reasons I took this place. Another advantage of this apartment is it is in the centre of the village. No more 2 Kilometer walks or bike rides to go to a restaurant.

The big disadvantage is that the apartment is in the centre of the village, which means I get to listen to the disco on Saturday night. I am hoping that the location of my bed, the sound of the crashing waves, and the general wind direction, will keep the levels low enough that it isn’t a problem.

Once I get in, I will post images of the view…. I think, on a clear night, I should be able to see Manta on one side and Canoa on the other.

I bought a bike.

My bike...still a work in progress

My bike…still a work in progress

One of my goals in life is to own as little as possible. I find the more stuff you own, the more rooted you are in a location. Sometimes you just have to buy some things, but I try to keep it to things I need, not what I want.

I bought a bike.

The house I live in is about 2 kms from “el centro.” The walk on the beach is really nice, at low tide. At high tide the road is the only way to get there since the beach is impassable.  The road walk is ok, but it isn’t as nice as the beach, and in the heat of the day it doesn’t have the cooling ocean breeze.

So I thought a bike would be a good idea.

Bikes don’t last long in San Celemente.  The constant salt spray off the pacific is bad for any metal.  Add to that the sand and dirt and Bikes have a limited life expectancy.  As well I was just going to be here a short time so a new bike would be a waste.  The idea was to just buy a beater since I wasn’t going to stay here all that long…. (but that too has changed.)

So I bought a used bike.

The bike I picked up is from a gentleman who was leaving the country and was getting rid of his possessions. It is a little flashier than I really wanted but the price was right… $50.  It came with 2 flat tires. I could have had the local bike guy fix the tires but he is located in “el centro” and I am in “el norte” Getting the bike to him  requires getting a ride in the back of a truck,walking home, and then walking back to pick up the bike. I did this once and then promptly blew a tube. In order to finally fix the tires I had to buy a new tube, an air pump, a patch kit and tools.

So now I own a bike, an air pump, and tools.

It is a 18 gear machine that was put together out of spare parts.  I have been tinkering with it so that I can use about 10 of the 18 gears.  Since the road is flat I really don’t need all the gears. It isn’t important to get them all working, but i keep adjusting things anyway. To make things run smoother ( and to try and keep things from rusting too quickly) I needed a can of some type of lubricant.

And I now own some WD40.

After a bit of work, the going is now really good, but the stopping is a little rough.  I still need to do some work with the brakes.  I don’t really get up to any speed, because the potholes are many, and the sweat factor comes into play very quickly.  I usually amble along at a nice leisurely pace.

Being able to just to hop on the bike and bounce into “el centro” for a bite or just to see what is going on is a nice bit of freedom. The cost has to include the extras as well.

I have arrived

San Clemente Ecuador

San Clemente Ecuador

I have been so busy being here I realize I haven’t answered myself when will I arrived.

I am not sure when the exact date and time, but I am here now.

This place is so different than anyplace I have ever lived before.

Today I wanted to go to the store to buy some food and stuff for the week.  Easy to do in most other places I have lived… not so San Clemente.

It starts with a walk to the Y… goolemaps says this is 1.7 KM.  I can usually do this in 15 minutes… but I don’t.  The heat makes me slow down so it may take 25 or so minutes.

Then I wait for the bus….. and wait…and wait….  I could go two different directions, One way there were 3 or 4 buses, the way I wanted to go, today not so often.

The bus arrives and for the fee of $1.25 I get to ride 45 minutes or so to the city
(Bahía de Caráquez) I wanted to go to.   Once I am there I have to pay another .15 to ride the city bus downtown.  Basically 2+ hours just to get to the store, and do some transactions.

Then I get to do one of my (not) favourite things…food shopping.  I get enough staples and stuff to last me a week or so ( I have simple tastes)  for about $75.  This is way too much to carry on the bus, so I take a taxi to my apartment.  A 25 to 35 minute ride ( depending on the driver)… cost is $12.

So to go grocery shopping I left my place at 9:30ish and got back around 2:00.  And there are items I needed that I forgot to get.  I won’t be running back to the store soon.

But why am I here:

This picture might explain it.


So when do I arrive?

081013-579I have been in San Clemente for almost a week, and I have to ask myself “when do I arrive?”

The flight here was ok.  I had a decent cab ride to the airport, no unexpected problems at check in, security, etc…

I don’t know why but I always seem to fly out of the same gate at Pearson… the one right across from Tim Hortons…even though I have flown with different airlines to different parts of the world….  I have done a lot of serious thinking about life in that same area…though they have added those “free” ipads to use… I wonder if anyone has thought about the diseases that get passed through those things.

The flight here was the way I like to fly…boring.  I don’t want excitement on an airplane or at an airport.

Customs was fine, the overnight stay in the Quito airport was boring and uncomfortable, the short flight to Manta, was fine though I was extremely tired. I think I fell asleep while the plane was held up on the tarmac

The cab ride to San Clemente where no problem since I am used to cab drivers in Ecuador.  We only got off track once because of a bridge repair and he did what every other driver in Ecuador does..he asked for directions.He as do  most Ecuadorian drivers ( whole are mostly male) asked 3 or 4 times.  And this was all ok because I knew where we were and where we were going.

My problem is I am still not here.

I don’t feel comfortable yet.

The heat and humidity have been a challenge….35c with 70% humidity has been a standard day time temp.  There is a great ocean breeze… but it is draining.  Hydration is the orders of the day.

I  started working right away, which I think was a mistake.  I need to take more time to settle into what is here.  I need to get into the swing of life here.

Tomorrow will be Supermaxi day… and my first return to Portoviejo.