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.

Transitions

So. Many. Transitions.  How do we manage them all in our lives today?  Mine seem acute right at this moment – moving from a Rainbow Gathering back into what is termed “Babylon”.  So basically unplugged and in a different world for a couple of weeks back into a very plugged in, very tethered world.

This trip I have been on the road for 7 weeks…..each day much like the other, when traveling in the van.  I joke I am going to put a perpetual calendar in the Roadtrek to tell me what day it is and what the date is.  So different than life at home where the day it is determines the activity of the day.  But both awesome and enjoyed, in their own ways.  It’s just the transitions that take time for me and my brain.  The living in the moment of either world works well, I have found, but the brain needs time to segue in and out of modes.  At least mine does.

It’s a privilege to live in both these worlds.  I take none of it for granted.  Right now the van is parked outside of my son and his wife’s world and they have allowed the man child and I to step into their lives for a few days.  We’ll celebrate the man child’s golden birthday here (14 on the 14th) with a few surprises his older brother has planned.  Memories in the making.  And I’ll continue to process the transitions in my brain while living fully in the moment.  I don’t know how else to do it.

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Sweet new friend, Dario, and I at the evening gathering at Rainbow.  He spent much time teaching me photography and walked miles to his car to get me a replacement SD card when mine malfunctioned.  Enjoyed our time Dario!

You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need (The Rolling Stones)

This is a magical tale and all true…..

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The young man and I were on a trip to sunny Florida, headed down to serve.  I had had it in my spirit to pray a dog would drop into our laps, mainly as that’s about the only way we could bring a dog back to the family as the hubby and father of this family had shut the door on any more dogs.

Sonny boy, aka the young man, had pined for a puppy for 5 long years, after the passing of our sweet Skippy when he was about 8 (young man).  Pined, prayed, waited – patiently and impatiently – believing, I think, in the impossible as Daddy-O kept saying no way, no how.

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Never say never has become a philosophy of mine.  I truly believe in a God who delights, many times, in doing the impossible, as it seemed the dog situation at our house was.

As we headed home, dog-less still, the young man was looking at rescue dogs, pounds and all things dog online.

But there’s a big difference between dogs dropping in your lap and going and making it happen, and I really felt we’d have a better chance getting Dad’s blessing with a miracle dog.

And then Monday happened.  We travel in a class B RV, Roadtrek by name, and had pulled over Sunday night while still in the FL panhandle.  The only thing nearby, as this tired momma needed to sleep, was a WalMart, known for their friendliness to overnight stops.  So stop we did.  The next morning, we headed in to buy some supplies for the long trip home.  There sat a Rainbow Family member, Little Breeze by name, with one dog on a leash and one dog on a string.  As we asked after Little Breeze, he shared how he came about this string dog.

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Let me say one thing – the young man had shared with me his dream dog – down to the age, breed and look – and I knew the moment Breeze shared about this dog that we had just met “The Dog” and the “dropped in our lap” requirements.

Sure enough, Breeze was willing to share, as he had only gotten the dog to save it from being taken to the pound.  Even more willing, since we were Rainbow Family, leaving a gathering and heading home.

We hurried in to buy a leash, some food and a collar, young man all amazed at this turn of events.  I cannot say I was overly surprised though, after all it had been in my heart.  And I believe that God’s just good like that, caring about the dreams of 13 year old boys.

Pablo is now home.  Nails trimmed, tics gone, and adjusting to a family after being abandoned for a bit.  (That’s when Little Breeze came upon him.)  Hubby has been gracious and even hooked up the dog run in our back yard that Skippy used to use.  I’ve been taking daily walks with Pablo, which I never made a priority to do for myself, and I see how far this blessing was meant to extend.

Never say never.  Never believe you know the way it’s got to be.  Stay open to the miracle.  Say yes to the gift.  In the end I trust…

…We don’t always get what we want…but if we try sometime, we might just get what we need.

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The Magical Mystery Tour – Part II

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The Friends of the Cincinnati library book sale, where I could have stayed all day, is where I left off in my last Magical Mystery post. Talk about a book lover’s paradise! For this homeschooling momma, it was close to heaven. Many libraries today are dumping the classics folks and those are the books we use in our day-to-day schooling.  I was not disappointed in this stop. We only had about 45 minutes until closing, by the time we arrived, so I quickly ran around collecting what I could find with the binder I carry for just such occasions. I did knock two books off the list I needed for this year, and several others for successive years. The prices were GREAT, so great that it was no surprise at check out to hear the volunteer mention a used bookstore owner had bought over $800 worth of books the day prior. I bet, and marked them up besides. This gem of a stop is located at the Friends Warehouse, 8456 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45216. I am headed back alone some weekend to spend the entire day on the hunt. The gals with me found a couple of treasures each. But quickly we were off to the next mystery stop.

Ikea! Just the name conjures up happiness so it was no surprise this envelope was chosen. If you’ll recall, I had made 20 mystery envelopes and the choice of the envelope would determine the next stop. This envelope had a plate and a fork on the outside, but my daughter-in-law quickly narrowed it down to some kind of store with kitchen ware and, with the knowledge that we were headed to Cincinnati, figured this clue out. We decided not to stop first thing in the day, when the envelope was first picked, so quickly headed here after our adventure at the library sale. Ikea never disappoints and we found some treasures and loaded up the car. About this point we all needed a break from the heat, so out came the envelopes, and, no surprise, it was time for a brewery.

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Madtree Brewing, to be exact, east of Cincinnati and also one of the top 10 craft breweries in Ohio. We found a place to park, admired the tomato bushes growing out front and went it to taste the magic elixir. Well, they tasted the elixir, I had a water, still pinch-hitting as designated driver, aside from the fact I can’t stand beer, lol. This was a production-facility and tap room and it was hopping with people for a Saturday afternoon. So we enjoyed the atmosphere and contemplated more envelopes and where we would head the rest of the day.

At this point, the gals were ranking the envelopes from most likely to least likely and then opening to survey all the options. For this night that included dinner at a winery (we were running late on this option); an outdoor Shakespeare festival in a local park (out due to lack of chairs); an outdoor theatre featuring the Indian legend Tecumseh or the 4th Annual Milford Street Eats Festival, which turned out to be the winner-winner chicken dinner. So the tasting flights were finished and we were out the door.

It was a gorgeous drive to Milford through an area called Indian Hill, billed as an affluent suburb of the greater Cincinnati area. Worth the drive if you have the time.

We finally found our location following the GPS outside of Milford and around, to a big parking lot filled with 24 food trucks, several beer trucks, kid’s games and a center stage with entertainment. It was a beautiful evening and this was a perfect stop. The only disappointment came when the BBQ truck closed down early after running out of food, but there was still plenty to be had and the beer was plentiful. We finished our evening listening to the band play while we sampled the best the trucks had to offer.

 

Stayed tuned for Part 3, which involved a mixup on where exactly where we were staying and a whole other day of adventures.

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?

The Magical Mystery Tour

 

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I have this lovely daughter (well, two actually) but I am talking of my oldest here. She’s strong, like her momma, both in a good and bad way. All of you with strong kiddos know exactly what I mean. I have found that bribery, something I said I would NEVER resort to in my young and foolish days (pre-children), works just fine whether your kiddo is young or old, and so bribery it was and thus the Magical Mystery Tour was birthed.

 

Three days, three nights, no knowledge of where the heck we were going (other than knowing where we would end up and that was the reason for the bribe). I must say, for someone as strong-willed as she is, she did mystery just fine. For my end, I made darn sure it was an awesome trip filled with things she would love (i.e. breweries cuz any trip is made better with a brewery, or five, stop).

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Day 1/Night 1 – Surprise! – your sweet sister-in-law is coming and off we went to stay with them, just a hop, skip and a jump down the pike. Young man got dropped off here with his older brother so there were smiles all around.

 

Day 2 – Out the door as early as we could muster. Did I mention mystery?   You see this trip unfolded like the “Choose your own Adventure” books she remembered growing up – the girls chose the direction we would go based on any one of the envelopes available in the moment. So there were 3 to 4 possible directions we would head based on their envelope choice, all with sticker clues, some very obtuse, on the front.   And, just for fun, I had thrown in quite a few things I liked to do, so it wasn’t only things that floated their boat, making it even more mysterious. First stop, the Cincinnati Art Museum, free entry (parking $4) with an exhibit of Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt. This was a sure-fire pleaser as both gals are cat lovers. It was a fun stop, the exhibit excellent and it was a hoot to shop the gift store and see the $500 print for sale. I thoroughly enjoyed the Modern Cats exhibit too, in which prose was paired with cat pictures in a fun and whimsical way.  We could have spent a long time here as their museum’s collection looks quite extensive, but we had a mystery schedule, more or less, and mystery was calling.

The next envelope sent us over to Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine Brewery District. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon Findlay Market in the process and stopped here for lunch and to look around. This is a not-to-be-missed stop, filled with lots of food options and many market stalls plus some venders. Two of us opted for the choose your own salad combo while one of us went for the waffle sandwich with brie, ham, pesto and apple. All very yummy.

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Next stop: Rhinegeist Brewery, one block away. We kept our car at the Market and walked over. We delightfully discovered two bar areas: one rooftop and the other inside a 5-story building, coverted to brewery and pub. The view was great from the rooftop. Beer also good, according to the taste testers I had brought along. (Our crew voted this the best atmosphere of the 5 Ohio breweries we visited this trip). After a quick visit with an area friend, we were off again on our journey. Next stop – The Friends of the Cincinnati library sale where I could have stayed all day. More on this next post!

Inspiration from a random moment – Tales from the Trail Part II

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I am reminiscing tonight about all things Rainbow. It was a glorious time, truly, and an experience I will never forget, those days at Rainbow Gathering. Tonight C was in my heart and I thought of the sweet young man, not a kid really, but at least 3 decades younger than I. I had seen C hanging out at Jesus Kitchen for a couple of days in a row, this kid of a man, tall and straight with the nicest smile and the most liquid honey-filled eyes.

 

Finally, after the hustle of filtering water that some kind soul had carried up the hill in a 5 gallon jug, I went to the campfire to sit a spell and there C was, eating some breakfast and looking somewhat pensive.

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One always wonders if they should jump in when someone’s pensive, at least this one wonders: leave them to their thoughts or get sociable? Will they share? Will it make a difference? Are you interrupting? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Interrupting Cow. Mooooo – you know the joke.

 

But those decades have taught me something and he was a kind, young man and so we began to talk. Turns out we had a lot in common, mainly a guy named Jesus, whom we both knew by name, and that’s always a fun place to share from. I like to listen to my heart when someone is sharing theirs because sometimes, just sometimes, thoughts, feelings or words “pop” in and I have learned it’s kind of important to share these seemingly random things because they aren’t so random.

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So at an somewhat appropriate moment, I asked if I could share, wanting the okay of this dignified young man, and since it was going to be, kind of, you know, random. He gave the okay and I blurted out, “I see a purity in your eyes.” I watched as, like an arrow, the words went straight to his heart and tears sprang forth. This is how you know it’s not just you, it’s not just random and the words were given to accomplish a holy purpose.

 

Turns out his grandfather had quite the opinion about the Rainbow Festival, though grandpa had never been there, and it wasn’t really all that grand. C used the word, “evil”, which sounded really harsh to me, but who was I to judge? But it had hurt C’s heart, I think, to feel so pulled to a place, for whatever reason, and have the intent of his heart so misjudged by someone he obviously cared for. At least that was my take on it. So I guess purity was an affirmation to C that he needed to hear.

 

I ran into C a lot over the next few days as he came and went. I truly don’t know what his mission was or reason for his being at the Rainbow Gathering. That wasn’t mine to know. I hope he went home and had stories to share with his grandfather. Stories that blessed grandpa and showed him a little more than the judgment he had moved in that had wounded a precious grandson. Stories that clearly showed the motivation of C’s heart and helped grandfather see the purity in those liquid honey-filled eyes.

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