Sunday, January 25, 2009

Biblical Rain

More Spanish: A noun is the direct object of a sentence if it answers the question "whom?" or "what?". A direct object pronoun can be used in place of the object noun, so we don't sound too repetitive. Peter eats a taco. He eats it with meat. (Peter come un taco. Lo come con carne.) A noun is an indirect object of a sentence when it answers the questions "to whom?" or "for whom?". Laura to him gives food. (Laura le da comida.) The funny thing about Spanish is that you can use the indirect object pronouns not only when you want to replace a noun (so you don't repeat it), but also, and very frequently (about 99 percent of the time), together with it. So, in Spanish, you can say something like: Laura to him gives food, to Peter. (Laura le da comida a Peter :-)

On the boat we had to be careful what we plugged in because the dock had limited power. We could have 3 things going at the same time; more would break the circuit and then we'd have to get dock personnel down to unlock the power box and reset the circuit breakers. Every winter when we started to use the electric heaters again, we'd get caught. We had one electric heater going in the fo'c'sle and one going in the rear cabin. This left one more thing we could plug in, like for instance the hot plate, but if we'd just had a shower and the hot water was heating up this counted as one of our appliances. We'd go through a juggling act, turning heaters on and off between showers & making supper. When Shelley's youngest daughter was on board we had a heck of a time convincing her to think before she used her hair dryer. We kept appliances to a minimum. We had a toaster & of course an iron and these had to be juggled appropriately, but the lights for the boat ran on boat battery power not dock power. Thus, even when the marina was in a total power outage we still had lights.

Now, we have a blender & a slow cooker & an iron & a toaster & a microwave that we can run all at the same time if we so wish and we don't have to worry about heaters. However, on a pretty regular basis the power goes out on the entire block & we're without lights. We finally bought candles so we're not sitting in that dark telling each other stories when the power goes out. Now we chat & entertain each other the old fashioned way by the light of flickering candles. It's funny how we've gone from almost camping out on the boat to our glorious apartment but now we need candles. Don'cha think?

It doesn't happen very often but we woke up one morning and didn't have anything planned for the day. As Fredi always has to be walked, we set out on the paths near the river so Fredi could free walk. For such a polite little lady she sure enjoys tearing around when she's off the leash. We stopped at the plant place just across the street from SuperMaxi (Fredi of course back on the leash) on the Avenida de las Americas and bought a table plant and yet another planter for Shelley's growing collection of cactus & succulents. Brian wants to know when this purchasing of plants is going to stop and Shelley's pat reply is always "when we run out of room". Brian was reasonably sure we ran out of room several weeks ago but Shelley put one over on him by buying shelving. In the back of Shelley's mind is the fact that we've got another small balcony with as yet only 2 plants on it. It's a minor addiction with most of the cactuses & small plants costing $1 or $1.50.

Brian is coming up on his first year's anniversary of his retirement. Probably as a consequence he's been thinking about his working life quite a bit the last few days. We've discussed it thoroughly and have come to a consensus: Retirement is good!

There's been an awful lot of discussion on various forums and between the ExPats down here about what visa is appropriate and what to do when visas expire. There is still the 90 day visitors visa that is stamped into your passport when you first come to Ecuador and there doesn't seem to be any problem with that. Getting a 90 day extension seems to depend on where you go. We've hear stories about the extension being refused on one day and granted the next. We've heard stories about the extension being refused at one border crossing and granted at another. We've pretty much consistently been told that the 6 month tourist visa costs $200+ but heard a story the other day about someone getting this visa at a consulate in Peru for $60. If you're planning on staying for longer than 3 months it might be wise to get the 6 month tourist visa at a consulate before you come to Ecuador, unless of course you don't mind the no assurances aspect, then you can just take your chances. If you're planning on coming down to become a permanent resident, it really is best if you consult a lawyer here; the laws are changing almost daily!

One of our ExPat friends is ill with some sort of South American vengeance, no diarrhea but feeling totally exhausted thing. Jan, once he hit Holland came down with pretty much the same thing. It's been over 10 days and it's only now that Jan is starting to feel human again. Brian & Shelley had colds on our visit to Ecuador in February/March 2008 and got a cold when we returned in July 2008 but we haven't been ill since. We've been congratulating ourselves that it's mostly because we've quit smoking. Both Jan & our ExPat friend are smokers. We are, as we've mentioned before, now addicted to Trident Green gum, but our lungs are pristine & our costs are way down. Not getting sick as much is pure bonus!

And then around 3:30 Sunday afternoon we got hail...and thunder...and lightning...and biblical rain. We stood at the window of our patio and watched the hail coming down on our plants, willing our cactuses & succulents to survive their beating. We watched through our front room window while the river rose before our very eyes. Even Fredi wondered "what the hay!" at the thunder and clinking of hail & rain against our windows.

"Just look at it" Brian told Shelley. "Look outside!"

Our TV's satellite dish lost it's mind for awhile but came back within 10 minutes. Poor Fredi eventually took refuge in her crate, her usually forsaken soft ball pulled in after her to protect her from the awful cracking of the thunder. Eventually, off in the distance, we could hear sirens screaming too & wondered what was going on.

It didn't end as quickly as it started like they say in the books. It tapered off over over a period of about an hour and a half. First the hail stopped, then the rain eased back, then the cracking of the thunder came only intermittently and then not at all. Finally it settled into a fast drizzle. Fredi was dragged out of her box and cuddled on the couch and we watched a movie with Wesley Snipes and Robert DeNiro called the Fan, all of us cozied up on the couch happy we were inside.


  1. Just wait till you get to subjunctive!
    Have you thought of hurricane lamps? Little flicker. We use them up north, since we have no electric there. They're just sufficient to read by.

  2. The power never seems to go out for more than half an hour or so, so we're content to tell stories & self entertain. If it went out longer, of course we'd look into something more substantial than candles.

    As far as the Spanish goes, we keep plugging along. It's just that every once in awhile something comes up that just drives us crazy. Then we have to share.