Friday, Jan 15, 2016

I like being able to wake up, drink my coffee on our balcony while listening and watching the ocean waves break along the beach. This is one of the reasons I made this journey. Today we have to find working internet and take care of business and check in with relatives and friends. There has been a certain amount of freedom being disconnected. I can’t remember the last time I was off the web for this period of time. I am happy to report it is not all bad.

We went to the market this morning on our own. We purchased a pound of Mahi Mahi (called Dorado) which came as 3 good size fillets, 1.5 pds of fresh butter, and a large Avocado all for $6.50. I am liking the market a lot!

We met our Spanish teachers this morning. A nice young couple. She is Ecuadorian and he is Dutch. We start our lessons Monday. Their names are Gabriella and Tjaard (his name pronounced CH-art). Super nice. He went with us late this afternoon to Claro, the local cell provider, to help us get our data working on our phones. Our internet is still not working and we aren’t able to use data apps, like Whatsapp, over our cell line.  Tjaard told the rep in the store what was happening and the rep took each of our phones and changed something in our settings, then we had to buy data. Yesterday we bought minutes, remember it is pay as you go, but we didn’t buy data.

After a lengthy conversation between Tjaard and the service rep we found out that you cannot have a monthly data plan unless you have a bank account in Ecuador that has been opened for 5 months. In order to get a bank account we need to have our residency visas. We also need a letter of recommendation from someone who is already a customer of the bank. Long story short, we wont be getting a monthly data plan any time soon.

We are able to buy megabytes as we need them for data. $10 gets us 500 MB for 2 weeks. If you aren’t on a plan all data purchased expires if not used. The 500 MB data for $10 expires in 15 days if we haven’t used it all. We will see what our usage runs. When we get internet in our place this wont be an issue, until then we need the MB pay as you go method.

After we were done at the Claro cell store we stopped in the supermarket because Heidi wanted baking soda, small waste paper baskets, and ice cube trays. We found the waste baskets. There were no ice cube trays and the clerk said the store stopped carrying them. They sell bags of ice…go figure. They also do not carry baking soda. We were told that baking soda, or bicarbonato, is sold in the farmacia. There is a farmacia in the shopping center so we stopped in to get some. The pharmacist said this farmacia doesn’t sell it but the farmacia in the center of town may have it. Where is Costco and that big orange bag of baking soda?! We decided to save the hunt for bicarbonato for another day.

Interestingly, Tjaard said he and his wife had been looking for some to make pancake batter. They had looked in all the markets in Bahia and no one carried it. He did not know that the farmacia may have it. We all learn new things everyday.

After the taxi dropped us off, we said good bye to Tjaard and thanked him for his help. I offered him $10 for his time and I think I insulted him. My wife, being the one with consummate good taste,  stepped in and rescued me from my faux pas and asked if we could take him and his wife out to dinner for his help. He agreed and we are doing that tonight.

We had a very good dinner and great conversation with Tjarrd and Gabriella. He is a well traveled man and for only 26 it is a very impressive list. She is quiet and very bright. From our conversation it is apparent they are both very generous and kind with their time and activities helping others.

We walked the streets home, lit by corner street lights and the glow from the windows of the shops along the way. We decided to check the farmacias along the way for bicarbonate. The first one did not have it. The second one was the farmacia recommended by the pharmacist in the shopping center.

This farmacia was the front room of the pharmacist’s house. It was opened to the street but secured behind a locked gate.

20160206_175450We asked the man if he had bicarbonato, to which he nodded Si. He pulled a couple of 2 x 2 plastic baggies filled with about 1 teaspoon full of baking soda. This was obviously packaged for people with indigestion to add to a glass of water. When asked how much, he said one dollar. It was actually shocking.

It is very strange that baking soda is not readily available in the grocery stores, but then to have the cost of it so high, I just shook my head and said No, gracias. Heidi wanted baking soda to add to the hard water when washing our clothes. If we had bought it, we would have been literally throwing money down the drain. I am finding that the cost of consumer goods in Ecuador is incredibly high compared to the United States. In order to afford to live here we are going to have to find different ways of doing things.