Guaranda

Just back from a short trek through Guaranda, which is about 4 hours southeast of Quito.  I love this quaint little city. I took lots of pics of the colorful buildings, walked up to the monument (that was a 2 1/2 hour escapade up a “short cut” hillside but I arrived), and enjoyed their mercado.  Much in Guaranda is uphill.  No worries as taxi’s are cheap ($1.25 minimum) and I was fortunate that one of these came along just as I started the trek back downhill from the monument.

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I stayed at the Hotel Marquis.  It’s $15 bucks a nite, wifi and hot water – so win/win.  (Though the first afternoon there was no hot water but it’s South America, after all.)

There’s not a lot to do – visit the epic church downtown, sit on the plaza a bit, look for food.  I am always a bit more careful in the small towns about where I eat.  There was a restaurant right off the square, diagonal to the church that wasn’t too bad, and then I located the Food Park.  Worth a visit.  Eight small food vendors and a homemade ice cream cart.  Prices were super reasonable and the food was good.  Definitely a great choice.

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Not much in the way of shopping in Guaranda, though you’ll want to grab the Salinerito cheese sold in multiple little shops, as it’s known throughout Ecuador.

All in all is was a peaceful couple of days and worth a stop as you are trekking through to somewhere else.

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Epic!  “To speak with God, your cell phone is not necessary.  Turn it off please!”

 

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Ecuador – Otra Vez

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So good to be back in beautiful Ecuador for a while.  For those who have never been in South America, it’s like a refreshing breeze of reality and what’s important compared to everyday life in the U.S.  No daily news bites here of what’s the latest that’s irritating the media — just a life of daily work to put bread on the table.  I suppose it’s easy for me to enjoy, not needing to work daily to put bread on my table.  (Shout out to my hard-working hubby.). Traveling also frees me from my daily home routine, which is always nice to have a break from.

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I am living in an apartment in a wonderful neighborhood called La Floresta in Quito.  Supermarket across the street, chicken shops down the way, close to bus lines, both pick up and drop off.  We popped my 14-year old young man into a school where he is getting daily Spanish tutoring and a math teacher is doing some much needed one-on-one.  That gives this momma an added break as it’s the first time in almost 30 years I have not been on kiddo duty.  (Did I mention he’s living there?!).  It allows him to spread his wings a bit too.  It’s very common here in Ecuador to see children as young as 10 or 12 navigating the buses alone, walking to school in pairs, enjoying time in the mall with peers — something you just cannot do much anymore in the U.S.  Such a pity!  I see a healthy pattern of self-responsibility in the teens here that seems to be lacking in our culture.  I am excited for my young man that he gets to choose to grow a bit more, learn from this culture while we are here, and come home with the gift of a second language brewing in his belly.

I am feeling blessed to be called here for such a time as this and enjoying seeing what the days will bring!

 

Doors in Loja

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Of all the places we saw last year on our trip to Ecuador, Loja was perhaps my favorite.  I thought it had the most “old-style” authentic feel to it.  Didn’t hurt that we arrived at the time as their Fiesta por el Virgen de el Cisne.  It’s the biggest festival of the year and we happened in and scored a hotel down the block and around the corner.  So fun!

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The Virgen herself in the main cathedral.

I caught these beautiful doors as we walked around this beautiful city.  Everything about Loja was delightful, festival time or not, and I’d highly recommend a stop.  They had a huge market filled with all sorts of goods that was worth a morning.  Great places to eat.

Dreds Day 25 ~~ Reboot #1

So it’s day 25 with the dreds, and time for a “reboot”, which is another trip to the dred-dresser to clean up the messy look.  Here’s day 23:IMG_6224

 

Lots of messy — going every which way.  Some of the dreds had fallen out completely and I was twisting them and anchoring with a small rubber band.  Lots of fly-aways too.  Oh my!

Here’s what happened today:

 

Properly retwisting my hair and weaving pieces throughout.  It took 3 hours to do these twists, thanks to the ultra-patient Corrine.  Some with a soft head may think this hurts, but I really didn’t think it was too bad.  I think I just like having my hair played with, for whatever reason.  It’s now up in a ponytail where it will stay a day or two.  I also bought a du-rag to keep it covered all night, rather than the half the night the bandana was lasting, which will mean less jostling of my hair through the night.

Young man and I are off to Ecuador in 5 days and I am hoping my hair really begins to lock. If not, I am armed with a crochet hook and just enough knowledge to be trouble, I think.  I may be rebooting my dreds a bit on the road.

Do you have dreds?  How long did it take before yours really locked in?  Any tips for me?

Did I really just book a flight to Ecuador?!?

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The beautiful Ecuadorian countryside on the way from Guaranda to Chillanes.

I’ve spent the entire day in disbelief that this is really, finally happening. Have you ever been double-minded like that? On the one hand saying, “Yes, God” but maybe at some deep level giving yourself an out so if it doesn’t come to be you can deal with it? So the day has been spent saying, “OH MY GOSH, WE ARE GOING TO ECUADOR!!” And wondering how God is going to show up to pull the rest of it together. Because He’s got to show up.  We’ve booked the flight and the rest is our faith journey.

The young man (man child has become a teen and so the old moniker doesn’t quite work, hence the new one) is going with me and is VERY EXCITED.  I am VERY EXCITED to share his first out of the U.S. of A. experience with him.  (Well, except for Canada, but that’s U.S. of A. North, or at least it seems that way.)

I remember my first few weeks after arriving to spend a few months in Mexico City.  (That was over 30 years ago but feels just like yesterday.)  The adjustment was tough.  I had had three years in university-level Spanish and had a piece of paper showing I was qualified to speak it, but as that first actual question came as I arrived, “De parte de quien?”  I had zero idea what was being asked so I kind of clued in that this transition wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it might be.

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Lunch is served!  Thank goodness the young man now eats rice.

Then there was the food.  So different that anything I had ever experienced.  I had a list of everything I wasn’t supposed to eat (lettuce, watermelon, etc.) and really didn’t eat a lot of anything.  I lost a lot of weight.  Then I discovered Sugus, a chewy candy, and food kind of stabilized, filled-in with a lot of candy.

So that’s where my head is today — trying to think through and troubleshoot some of the issues you might have with a 13 year old who has only become a more adventurous eater in the last couple of years and has zero clue about the whole new reality he is about to enter in to.   I think this is going to be a life-changer for him; I know it was for me.

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Grazing next year’s food by the side of the road.

We leave in about a month.  We have no set plans other than some initial time in Quito and then striking out from there.  I have NO IDEA how one navigates hotels and hostels when you don’t EVEN HAVE ACCESS TO WIFI as you move through life.  GPS Navigation?  Forget about it.  I mean, I have visited Ecuador so I somewhat know what we’ll be facing, especially outside of the cities.  But very quickly here I have grown accustomed to face life’s uncertainties armed with a smartphone and a Google app and now that crutch will be entirely taken away.

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The beautiful city of Guaranda, Ecuador.

Follow our journey on Instagram.  We’ll crosspost to Facebook.  I’ll get on the blog if I can (but won’t be taking my computer and it’s a lot of weight in our backpack and a worry in my head).  Instagram is @thisepicjourney.  Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/This-Epic-Journey-1517863695115729/?fref=ts.  I’ve also got a page about the journey with a little of the story at https://www.facebook.com/groups/616039435213645/.  The posts will happen as we trip across wifi.

Say a prayer for us if you are the praying sort.  I’ll need direction in a country still torn, in many ways, from the large earthquake this spring and the many temblors that have since followed.  We’ll be okay, I know, as I am so confidant we are following a larger plan in all of this.  We’ll come back changed, and confidant, and more faith-filled and my young man will soar in so many ways.

Ya know, one month can’t come soon enough for all that promise.

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A homestead in the highlands.