Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016

I woke up lying on my mattress on the floor of the farm porch. I had dreams of a home invasion. Lots of chaos going on. I don’t know if I am feeling agitated or sad…maybe nervous. I have to keep my thoughts in check. I’m realizing that I’m headed to Cuenca today and it feels like I’m going to a foreign country. It is completely different from what I have experienced so far. I get a knot in my stomach thinking how I am going to have to learn a new area, how to get around in it, and find a new place to live.

I decided that the answers will present themselves. I don’t need to have them now. What I need right now is a hot cup of coffee…instant of course based on our circumstances, but what the hell.  I folded my sheets and picked up my mattress, and placed it in the living room of the house. I filled a big aluminum pot with water and heated it on the camp stove for coffee.

Easton and I loaded up all our suitcases and belongings from the storage containers into the back of Don’s truck and brought them up to the farm house. I’ve decided to leave them in the bed of his truck so we can just slide them over into the truck that will be arriving to take us to Cuenca. No sense straining my stiff back.

We have 9 full size suitcases, and 3 carryons. Same number as coming to Ecuador. We also have 4 plastic totes filled with food, staples, and some kitchen items we had bought to use in our condo. I also have a box with one printer in it. These are things we have purchased while living here. Nothing fancy or unnecessary, just stuff to help us cook food and eat. I admit the printer is a luxury but when we have to fill out documents and then scan them back to people it’s an appreciated convenience.

The front porch crew and Walter’s family

A great group of human beings!

A great group of human beings!

We said good bye to our friends that we had lived on the front porch with for almost two weeks. We said good bye to the family that lived in the house who made room for us, often cooked for us, and always shared what they had with us to help us in the aftermath of the earthquake.

There were 8 of us expats living on the porch and 8 of the family living in basically one room of the house since we arrived. It wasn’t perfect but it worked. We were considerate of each other and everyone pitched in where they could.

Dave and Miriam

Our friends Dave and Miriam

We said our goodbyes to a terrific couple, Dave and Miriam. They were the first people I contacted before even coming to Ecuador. Miriam and Dave sell and rent properties in Bahia de Caraquez and the surrounding area.

They were a big help to us before we even arrived, and made us feel welcome when we did show up. On the front porch, Dave was always good for a joke, maybe two…ok at least three to help lighten the load everyone was feeling after our long post quake days in Bahia. Miriam is a great cook by the way. She made some of the best chicken I have eaten and she made sure we all had a nice dinner each evening.

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Our buddy Jim

We said good bye to Jim. A kind soul of a man, grandfatherly in his approach sharing life lessons. He had a stabilizing energy which I believed calmed our group in the frenzy of days following the quake. His wife Bev is in the US right now and he has carried the responsibility of retrieving their belongings and making decisions post quake for them both. It is a big job and I know he misses having Bev with him right now. Still, no complaining, and with his steady calm energy he just got the job done.


Our friends and hosts, Don and Donna

Donna and Heidi, Bahia besties

Donna and Heidi, Bahia besties

And we said goodbye to Don and Donna, our hosts. They are the couple we had rented our condo from in Bahia. It is their farm. They so graciously shared the resources they had to help us sleep and eat as comfortably as we could post quake.

They brought mattresses and bedding from their rental units to the farm. They had extra cook stoves, cookware, and utensils so we could feed ourselves in a healthy and comfortable way. They had running water powered by their generator so we could clean the stink and sweat off of us at the end of very, very long days in the South American heat. Whether we were helping others with aid or working on our own things, a shower was a welcome respite after moving, carrying, toting, and lugging food, water, furniture, and belongings to where it needed to go.

We said goodbye to each of these special people, who over the 4 months since arriving in Bahia, had become our friends, and over the course of 2 weeks since the quake, became our family.

Sergio is our driver. A helpful Ecuadorian man who had lived in the US for 20 years before returning here when the economy tanked in the US. He owns a taxi cab and his truck, and between the two vehicles he has created a business. He is trustworthy, from his referrals, and by my account reliable and does what he says he will do.

We covered and tied everything down securely in the bed of Sergio’s truck. We got ourselves into the truck, including Keeper and Monte, and headed toward the long climb up the Andes and into Cuenca. It was a very tight fit. In the cab we really didn’t have room for our backpacks, us, and the dogs but we made it work. All of us developed muscle cramps and became sore from the the 10 hour trip, but are grateful we had a way to move us and our things to Cuenca.

20160427_165804The base of the Andes is beautiful, so green and lush. We stopped at a gas station at the base before we began the two hour climb. At it’s highest point in the mountains on the way to Cuenca we were at about 14000 feet. We then dropped down into Cuenca leveling at about 8200 feet. At a couple places there were landslides across the road, and we had to drive around them onto the narrow edge of the mountain side. This can be a dangerous drive in heavy rains, fortunately the rain was minimal.

We arrived at the Otorongo Apartments around 8 pm and it was pouring rain. The night manager of the apartments helped us unload and take our luggage into our place. Once we and all of our luggage were in, I let the weight and gravity of what we have experienced for the last 2 weeks begin to move through my body. Exhausted, spent, and grateful for a soft bed and a roof over my head, I went to sleep. Tomorrow begins the search for a permanent place to live.