We left Cuenca Friday and finally arrived at la playa, where we hope to find a permanent place. The drive was interesting because a landslide closed the road we usually take through Cajas National Park. We took the alternate route which was a bit longer but interesting nonetheless. We went through farming country and the juxtaposition of old with new was evident everywhere. In the countryside, one farmer was plowing his field with oxen. The next farmer had a tractor pulling whatever is used to plow a field. (I’m a city girl — don’t know those farming tools!) We went through several indigenous towns where the differences were just as obvious. The school kids were walking through town in their uniforms and backpacks. Most of the adults were dressed in the indigenous clothing, but there was also the occasional person in a suit coat and dressed for work probably in an office somewhere.
We passed many dairy farms, also. The cows were munching on grass in the fields and none of the farms had a barn because the animals just stayed in the fields year-round. The weather never got cold enough to bring them in to a shelter. I didn’t get any pictures, though, since cows are cows no matter where you see them.
And we spent our first night at our new temporary digs in Ballenita — a small village on the Pacific. I slept all night without any problem — a relief since I’ve been waking up every few hours for the last three months. I liked Cuenca, but I don’t miss the altitude at all. I did get some shots of the pool and three gorgeous trees in front of the compound. Ed and Jan Wilcox are from New Jersey and bought this place about six years ago from a former Ecuadorean Supreme Court justice. It’s very nice, but it’s about five blocks from the ocean. Here’s some shots from our new temporary residence.
Grill area in corner
And speaking of the ocean, we walked into town yesterday afternoon and had lunch (almuerzo) at a small restaurant on the malecon. (Ballenita has a very small malecon, but it is still nice to watch the ships coming and going.) For those of you weak in Spanish, malecon is Spanish for a sort of boardwalk — I think. (I’m pretty weak in Spanish, myself.)
Needs a little upgrading — but still a nice view.
We passed this church that was completely covered in sea shells — I mean completely, the bell tower, the walls, the designs were done in different color shells. It was something and I did get a pix.
After lunch, we hopped on a bus (entirely different than the Cuenca busses but still a jolting trip) and went to Mi Comiseriato, the local grocery/home store. While there, Bob was looking for peanut butter. He found something in a jar that looked to be the same color as peanut butter, but the label was all in Spanish and we weren’t sure what it was. We saw a woman who looked like a possible “gringo” and asked her. It turns out it wasn’t peanut butter at all, but caramel sauce! At any rate, we started chatting with the woman and it turns out that she’s been in Ecuador for 17 years. She started as a missionary in the Andes and ended up here on the coast. She was very nice and offered her help to us in finding a place to live. She knew an Ecuadorean realtor who had some possibilities in Ballenita.
To make a long story short (maybe not so short), we met her and her realtor friend Saturday night and looked at four places in Ballenita. One of them was quite promising — an apartment in a gated complex with a plaza and a fountain, with a lot of Spanish influence. It was built on a rock promontory sticking out over the Pacific. From the balcony you could see the beach in one direction and the rock outcropping in the other. It was a little rough, but had a lot of charming character. There were only about five apartments in the complex and the caretaker lived onsite with his family. Bob enjoyed the balcony overlooking the Pacific, even though it was dark.
But, we don’t want to jump at the first thing we see, so we are meeting the realtor on Tuesday to look at some places in other areas. She only speaks Spanish and we took Illyne (Eileen in Gaelic?) the woman we met with us to translate. On Tuesday, Illyne won’t be with us so it should be an another interesting experience. We’ll keep you posted on our ongoing search for a place to live.