Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in Ecuador .................... makes me smile

This is my first Christmas in Ecuador.   I made a poor decision to go to Loja, town of 150,000 people just north of Vilcabamba by 40 kilometers, on Friday before the holiday on Sunday.   It is just as bad as in the states.  People, people, people were everywhere.   And I swear before I try and hail another taxi in Loja, I will wear a turtleneck, dark sunglasses and 5 inch heels.   It's worth it just to get a ride.  Oh, to be 25 years old again.  

I didn't quite get the reindeer on the left but check out the moose on the right!

It turns out Christmas shopping isn't much different than in the states.   Many toys to be had, many people to walk around.

There were a lot of vendors like this using baby carriages to sell gift wrap and bags
There was just as much "rushing home with their treasures" as I remember in the states.   I didn't notice anyone fighting anyone over any electronics, though.   Maybe because there is not a Wal-Mart here?

Nativity scene in a store window.
There were nativity scenes, snow men and Christmas trees.   It is a bit of a disconnect to hear "Let it Snow" and to see snowmen in a place on earth where a lot of people have never seen snow in their life.   There is snow in Ecuador but it is on the highest peaks of the country and a lot of them are actively volcanic.

Snowmen depicted in a store window display.
There were pre-Christmas sales.   I was able to get a sweet deal on a washing machine since I am moving where I have no access.   Yes, I'm a spoiled American.   I can't stand the thought of sending out my dirty underwear and I don't want to wash jeans by hand. 

I can never convey the sense of a crowd.   I guess I need a fish-eye lens.
There were Santa costumes in a lot of clothing stores.   I am certain that Santa won't look this clean by the time he gets all the way from the North Pole (which I had the opportunity to visit in September) to the Southern Hemisphere.   I wouldn't want to be Mrs. Santa with that laundry.

Shop girls were dressed in Santa costumes.
 There were few of the "name brand" toys I was accustomed to seeing in the United States.   Anything and everything imported to Ecuador is subject to a 40% customs.   This may be why we have "Nicoles" instead of "Barbies" here.   She is just as pretty and has the same ridiculously impossible figure to attain as Barbie.

I didn't find a Barbie but there were some "knock-offs" called Nicole.
This was a really cute tree using cartoon fairies and, of course, corporately sponsored.

This was a "fairy" tree perhaps combining "When you wish upon a star"
with Christmas.
 Even though I am not a religious person, I still believe in angels:

A real life angel dressed in a Santa suit.

Feliz Navidad y un próspero Año Nuevo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An ode to a bathroom.........makes me smile

I've had a lot of fun with the bathroom at my apartment in Vilcabamba.   If you recall, The walls go up about 7 feet and then the bougainvillea, which grows from the ground and through the floor, takes over for about 18 inches and then a plexiglass top above that.   I will be moving in less than two weeks and I'm getting a little misty eyed at the thought.

My beautiful bathroom.

I've grown quite fond of the little bathroom.  The experiences were crazy.  I've encountered a scorpion in the sink and had a bird strafe me from the ceiling.  I get a lot of needed exercise sweeping the leaves and washing the bird poo from the floor.  And did I ever mention the arachnoids who rapel in the shower at amazing speeds?  Again, a lot of exercise.  And that is as long as I don't knock myself out slamming myself against the walls to get out of the way.    No reading material needed.   I get plenty of entertainment watching red ants scouting out the next way to terrorize me.  Besides, a magazine would get soaked. 

Do I want this to end??

My new little buddy.  Until he went swimming.  In the toilet.   Forcefully.

WHY, YES!!!   YES, I DO!!!

I look FORWARD to not having to run through the rain in the middle of the night when nature calls and then having the insult on injury of finding rainsoaked toilet paper.

I look FORWARD to having a dry rug after a deluge.   Did I mention it is the rainy season here?

I HATE scorpions.   I'm not particularly fond of rapelling arachnoids, either.

I LOVE nature.   I HATE divebombing birds.   Especially when I'm naked.

Bird poo on my bathroom floor is absurd.

Looking straight up from the throne.

I am so happy I will have an overhang eave to shelter me to and from the new bathroom.  Oh, it is still Ecuadorian style since I will have to go outside to enter the bathroom, bedroom and the kitchen/living area but the chances of getting soaked in the process and having to change clothes in the middle of the night and dry my hair is slim.

Trees should be in yards.   Trees should be in parks.   Trees look very good on mountains. Trees can even grow in Brooklyn.   But I hope I never have a tree growing in my bathroom again.   That is the good news.   The bad news is my new bathroom has an electric showerhead.  Yes.  An electric showerhead.   It's always something.