2012 Captain's Log

Michael Edwards, Cheri Edwards, Believe, Sailing, Cuenca Ecuador, Marathon Community Theater, Travel

Remember, we're a small leaf on a really, really big pond.

Date Log Entry Pictures
12/31/2012 Still in Marathon - Coco Plum Terraces
Monthly summary:
  • Finances: We spent $3,307 for the month. It’s very different paying US prices for rent, insurance, utilities and food.
  • Events: While Cheri continued her 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress rehearsals, Michael start music rehearsals for The Sound of Music. Instead of buying full orchestra tracks for $2,000, we bought MIDI music for $500. MIDI music sounds terrible, so Michael imported the MIDI files into the Notion orchestration program to create better sounding music. So a normal day was: get up at 7:30 am and have breakfast, work on orchestration until 1:00 pm, break for lunch and shower, at 2:00 pm prepare for that night's rehearsals, at 3:40 pm leave for the theater, at 4:00 pm rehearse with 7 kids until 5:30 pm, at 6:30 pm rehearsals with adults unril 8:30 pm. This was the schedule until December 20th. Cheri went to Annapolis for several days to close our Bank of America safety deposit box, see old friends and do some shopping. For our Ecuadorian Residence Visa, we need several documents notarized and then apostilled; birth certificates, marriage certificates and Background check. It's a 2-step process, we get birth and marriage notarized documents from Department of Public health in Washington and California, then send them off again to the Secretary of State for the apostille. We went to the Sheriff's office for our Background Checks, got them notarized, then sent them to Florida's Secretary of State.

    We built the 5 Women Wearing the Same dress set on the 16th. It was officially the longest set build on record, 8 and 1/2 hours. The director wanted to paint the set with final coats so we spent time watching the paint dry inbetween coats - yes we watched paint dry.

    We had a quiet Christmas alone and joined Rita on New Year's and a Dexter marathon. Cheri shopped for two years and got a new camera that she loves.

11/30/2012 Still in Marathon - Coco Plum Terraces
Monthly summary:
  • Finances: Very high expenses. Condo monthly rent, plus deposit, plus first and last, computer and electronics for Ecuador on a brutal Black Friday, Cheri Annapolis trip and food stocking up.
  • Events: Cheri started rehearsals for 5 Women Wearing the Same Dress at Marathon Community Theater. We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner alone together and Cheri cook a very traditional meal for us since making such a traditional meal is difficult in Ecuador.
  • Weather: I'm dropping weather from this log since it's not a big factor when living on land. We still have the habit during bad weather of evaluating if we need to bail out the dinghy or how the stong East winds will affect our dinghy ride to the mooring ball - but we're getting over it :-).
11/17/2012 Left Coco Plum Terraces Dock at 6:30 AM Arrived Davis Dock, Tavernier, Florida at 4:00 PM 54 Miles

We met David and Theresa at the slip at 6:00 AM and got Believe ready to leave. Winds were 10 knots blowing from the northeast, hitting us broadside in the slip. Sunrise was at 6:42 AM and by 6:30 AM it was light enough to head out. Cheri pushed off the starboard stern from the dock and David pushed us off the starboard bow from Believe to clear Believe to move out. Michael expected constant fending off but we had no problem clearing the slip pilings. We watched the final beautiful sunrise from Believe as we headed out the Coco Plum canals. Due to a tight schedule, Dave decided that he and Michael would drive the boat and Cheri and Theresa would meet us at their rental at Indian Waterways, 147 Tequesta in Tavernier.

From 7-9:30 AM seas were 2'-3' with winds 10-15 on our nose. By 9:30 AM the winds were 20 knots and stayed that way the rest of our journey. We crossed to the Bay side under the Channel Five bridge. Winds were the same but seas were 1'-2' feet. We followed the Intercoatal Waterway until we passed Islamorada and then had to follow channels through the shallows until we could get to the canel system. One channel is called "the Toilet Bowl". David told Michael about it beforehand, but one must see it to understand - a path through the channel bordered by all shapes, sizes and colors of toilet seats. The depth through the Toilet Bowl was our biggest worry and presented no problem. David took us through the canels to his dock and we tied off and preped Believe for a 2 month wait before they would return for play.

11/16/2012 Still in Marathon - Coco Plum Terraces Dock

We started the day signing the Bill of Sale and receiving the checks. Because they were personal checks, Michael explained that keys and paperwork would not be handed over until the checks cleared the bank.

Technology has changed. We bought the biggest solar panel we could 7 years ago and got 5 amps at peak solar times. David put two panels on for a total of 20 amps - apparently these panels can even convert energy from moon light.

Michael popped in and out during the day to answer questions and prep Believe for her delivery the next day.

11/15/2012 Left Mooring Ball F1, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon at 10:30 AM Arrived Coco Plum Terraces Dock at 3:00 PM 15 miles

We could only stay a week on the City mooring ball F1 before we had to move to a State ball, so we combined the move with a sailing demo for our buyers, David and Theresa.

We went out through Sister Creek and took our time motoring and sailing to the Coco Plum basin (Driftwood Marina is in the basin) and backed into a slip by our apartment. After more demos and instructions, we arranged to meet the next day when David would have S.A.L.T. come out and evaluate the electrical systems and upgrade the solar panel.

11/14/2012 Still in Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball

David and Theresa treated us to breakfast at IHOP, then we went to City Marina and Believe. Michael had printed out a 3 page document of Gemini systems, procedures and tips which we went through. It was a full day, but we still had a couple of hours before Cheri went to rehearsal.

11/13/2012 Still in Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball

We met our buyers, David and Theresa, after Cheri's rehearsal at The Hurricane. We chatted and planned the next day's activities.

11/12/2012 Still in Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball

We called on several apartments Cheri found in the paper and online and had a problem getting callbacks from real estate agents who posted ads. On Monday Cheri looked on Craig's List and found a apartment and got a quick call back from Paulette at Marathon Vacations - finally a professional! We looked at the place at 11:00 AM and had the key by 3:00 PM. Its better than we thought we'd get, two rooms, a good kitchen, balcony, a pool AND a dock for Believe if we need to move.

11/7/2012 Left Marathon Boat Yard, Marathon, Florida at 10:00 AM Arrived at Mooring Ball F1, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida at 10:30 AM

We got up early and emptied the water tanks, then refilled and added vinegar to neutralize the heavy chlorine then continued prepping Believe.

Let's talk about Marathon Boat Yard. They are highly unethical. I sent an email on 11/1 with the same instructions I gave them last year - to check and remove screens from all thru-hulls, check the bilges after splash and crack the cockpit windows for ventilation. This was all included in the splash per Tammy last year. Natalie acknowledged the instructions. On 11/5 a couple hours before my flight I got an email with an invoice attached for $110 demanding that I approve so they can put the boat in the water. It was mere hours before we had to leave for the airport and we were given no previous warning about a change in policy and charges, no time for me to get a friend to take 10 minutes and do the activity. They had me held hostage so I had to say "ok but with protests".

Okay, back to prep. We called Ann at City Marina and got a ball assignment and advised Marathon Boat Yard that we were leaving and to finalize the bills and motored out to mooring ball F1. We continued prep until we had to head to shore for Cheri's rehearsal of Five Women Wearing the Same Dress at Marathon Community Theater.

11/6/2012 Left Quito, Ecuador at 9:50 AM Arrived Marathon Boat Yard, Marathon, Florida at 5:30 PM 1796 Miles

Left the hotel early for the airport. American Airlines tried to create a path so that travelers self-checked in, then waited in another line at the counter to check their bags. So picture this, the common traveler left to fend for themselves checking themselves in. So we bypassed that mess and went straight to the counter and 4 minutes later had our tickets and bags checked. Unlike flying to Ecuador we didn't have to check any extra bags, so no baggage fees.

We grabbed a bite at Duncan Donuts and then waited for our flight. We boarded on time and actually arrived early, had no problems in customs nor with our baggage and were able to make the early shuttle back to Marathon (saving 2 hours). We arrived at Marathon Boat Yard at 5:30 pm, a bit before sunset and started work on getting Believe ready for sleeping and the first step of cleaning the water tanks, filling the tanks with a heavy dose of Clorox.

It was good to be back on Believe.

11/5/2012 Left Cuenca, Ecuador at 8:30 PM Arrived Quito, Ecuador at 9:25 PM 191 Miles

Friends Roger and Ricardo helped call a cab to pick us up since the building location was hard to describe. No problems with the flight or baggage. Our hotel in Quito, the Alston Inn Hotel was fine and had wireless in the room.

10/31/2012 Still in Cuenca
  • La Finanzas (finances): We spent $2,633 for the month. Includes 1st half of lawyer payment, down payment on our future apartment and Cheri's trip to Annapolis in December.
  • La Comida (food): Clarke and Brenda introduced us to the Pizza Hut in town and their Tuesday-Two-For-One specials - sadly we hit a couple of those on Tuesday nights. Cheri went to “Bagel Camp” at Casa Verde and learned how to make sourdough bagels with friends Brenda and Cody.
  • El Acontecimiento (events): Michael played Texas Hold'em every other Monday and had his first four-of-a-kind in Jacks. Took friends Cody and Michael to a wonderful gardening place we were introduced to in September. We can hardly wait to buy plants of our own next year. The owner has an incredible artistic eye and passion for plants. She took us on a tour of her home and gave us a delicious drink made from the chamburro, a relative of the Babaco. On October 6 and 7 Michael used the Magic Jack to listen to the vocal auditions for The Sound of Music in Marathon, Florida. On October 6th we had a wonderful dinner with Edd and Cynthia, friends we met on our Whale Tour. On October 9th friends David and Janet (from our home town Marathon) graciously had us housesit for them until we leave in November. Our main task was to keep their cat, Julio, well fed. On October 18 Cheri's weaving studio asked to borrow some of her projects to display at a Free Trade exhibit. We went to a showing at the Museum of Fine Arts (just around the corner from our future home) called Exhibition of the Post Human Era - by Daniel Idrovo, combining humanity and technology. Went to a Cuenca Modeling club event at Escina de las Artes and saw wonderful models from kits as well as original, handmade models. Went to an art exhibit called "Art From Trash" from classes at Otorongo Art Gallery. Joined friends Cody and Michael to watch each other's theater productions. We helped cook with Clarke and Brenda for a donut fundraiser on 10/20. Had a wonderful dinner at Tiesto's for Michael's birthday. On October 31 we went to an open house by Juan Heredia, our previous landlord, of his new project. Juan had taken us on a tour several months ago of his two current projects. Michael went on another Terra Diversa Tour to create a video, this time it was El Cajas National Park. Here is a link to the video.
  • Nuestra Nueva Futuro (our new future): Had a final meeting with our future landlords Bernarda and Fernando to discuss the current plans. It's very different here in that a builder will discuss and change their plans to accommodate a future renter. I'm talking about moving walls and doors, what kind of brick, color of kitchen counter and cabinets, location of electrical outlets and such. We started the process with lawyers Grace and Nelson for our residency visa. We'll send them documents from the states and be able to get our residency visa in Miami before arriving in Ecuador next year. Our critical documents are still in a safety deposit box in Annapolis, Maryland, so we made travel plans for Cheri to gather the documents and close the box the beginning of December. We received a down payment for Believe and have scheduled a demo for November 13-17. If all goes well we'll be looking for a land-based apartment a little more than a week after we arrive back to the States.
  • Nuestro Dia (our day): Tuesday Cheri goes to a women’s Bible study and Thursday goes to the weaving shop and knits Teddy Bears and Chemo Hats in the morning. Wednesday is fresh fish day at Fiera Libre and our weekly purchase of albacore tuna. Every day is walking and exercise.
  • El Tiempo (weather): Cuenca weather is warmer with afternoon rains most days. Like the rest of the country, we watched Sandy turn away from the Keys and hit the U.S. East Coast.

9/30/2012 Still in Cuenca
    La Finanzas (finances): We spent $2,486 for the month. Includes expenses for replacing the drive leg boot on Believe.
  • La Comida (food): While visiting nearby San Bartolome, we were served authentic horchata tea (made with a mix of herbs) and delicados (slightly sweet, crunchy cookies). We had a successful donut-making experience with Clarke and Brenda and enjoyed an Ecuadorian potato-based soup at a potluck hosted by friends Cody and Michael.
  • El Acontecimiento (events): After seeing the Whale Video Michael made after the tour, the owners of the tour agency, TerraDiversa, invited Michael to go on three local Cuenca tours for free and create videos of the trips. We went to Ingapirca (9/5), the oldest Inca ruins in Ecuador; the Cuenca City Tour (9/6); and a Craft-Making Tour (9/9), visiting local towns around Cuenca: Chordeleg (ceramics and jewelry), San Bartolome (Guitars) and an ikat weaving studio. Michael completed the Ingapirca Video and is working on the others. On 9/11 we went with Marathon friends David and Janet to Loja. Besides visiting an interesting city, we learned about travel buses at Terminal Terrestre. We visited a fair, saw Loja's city sites and decided against seeing the Russian Circus that was in town. Fortunately the circus came to Cuenca, so on 9/18 we went to the circus with Clarke and Brenda at the Jefferson Perez Coliseo. Cheri completed several new weaving projects and Michael played Texas Holdem' Poker a couple of times and did Bunco for the first time. Janet took us to an incredible nursery which we’ll visit many times next year. We enjoyed watching the Emmys broadcast.
  • Nuestro Dia (our day): Wednesday Julia comes and cleans our apartment so we shop and go to Fiera Libre Mercado. Thursday Cheri goes to the weaving studio and knits Teddy Bears and Chemo Hats in the morning and goes to a woman’s group in the afternoon. Every day is walking and exercise.
  • Nuestra Nueva Futuro (our new future): We made an appointment with Grace and Nelson of Cuenca Law Offices on 10/5 to discuss our move and Resident Visa. Clarke and Brenda introduced us to their landlords, Bernarda and Fernando who took us on a tour of remodeling projects they're working on to eventually rent. We fell in love with one place that will have a large, covered courtyard (Believe could fit in it) with 2 bedrooms, kitchen and living rooms off of the courtyard. Michael created some concept artwork based on the plans. We've started looking at furniture (which involved a second visit to Chordeleg), pottery (at an incredible local studio – the seconds room is open every Friday morning) and plants that would work in the space. It'll be interesting to convert back to a land-based lifestyle after so many years as liveaboards.
  • El Tiempo (weather): In Ecuador August is the coolest but driest month. September is warmer but wetter. The habit of always having an umbrella in one's pocket is wise.

8/30/2012 Still in Cuenca
  • La Finanzas (finances): We spent $1,612 for the month. Yay! Finally no huge one-off expenses.
  • La Comida (food): Cheri’s cooking classes started up again after a month-long hiatus (it felt much longer!). She happily learned how to make patacones (savory fried pieces of very green plantain), breaded shrimp (with corn flour instead of all-purpose flour. And, yes, that’s corn FLOUR, not corn MEAL), and encebollado salad (comes with most almuerzos here – a refreshing blend of onions, tomato, and cilantro that seems from the ingredients that it would be a salsa, but is not).
  • El Acontecimiento (events): Like the Cows on Parade in Chicago, Ecuador has a Hummingbird (or quindes as they are known in Quechua) display at Otorongo Plaza. So we went and looked at the 65 giant sculptures. In the Gringo Tree newsletter a visiting photographer offered to lead a photo tour of Cuenca, so we met the group and made new friends and learned a bit more about photography. We were a bit intimidated as people introduced themselves and their equipment ("Oh yeah? How big is YOUR lens?"). We meekly introduced ourselves, Cheri's iPOD and Michael's Canon Video camera that takes photos - nevertheless we were graciously accepted. Michael attended the bi-monthly Texas Hold'em Poker nights at Clarkes' and came out ahead (keep in mind that losing in this friendly games means one gets snacks and is out $4). We had lunch with Janet and David from our home town Marathon, they're here for a year to test the waters. Had a farewell lunch with Jamie and Matt, neighbors in our building who have been here for 3 months. They took a long vacation after leaving the military and now return to the USA for college and careers. There weren't many concerts this month.

    Since we decided to sell Believe and move to Ecuador, we started gathering information about housing, shipping and furnishings. For Michael that means tabs with lists in Excel. We've started going to shops and malls to see what we can buy in Cuenca versus shipping from the USA. Juan, the owner of our building took us to two of his projects to give us an idea of size and cost downtown. We started out with 3 criteria - view of the domes, El Centro location and a balcony. After seeing what one can pay for that criteria versus the square footage, we've changed our criteria. We do plan to rent before buying.

    We had a scare about our return trip. When we return in November, we'll travel from Cuenca to Quito to Miami. They're building a new airport in Quito and announced it would be done mid-October. The airport is north of the city and the roads haven't been updated for the traffic, so a taxi ride from the new airport to a downtown hotel (like we stayed in for our arrival) would mean a 2-hour ride and $60. Michael searched sites and called Expedia to reserve a closer hotel but there weren't many. Fortunately, later in the month they announced the airport opening would be delayed until February 2013. If we sell Believe next year we'll fly back through Guayaquil and rent a van for our luggage.

  • Observaciones de Ecuador (Ecuador Observations):
    • Television: A TV series could appear on multiple channels multiple times a day without any consideration for series or season order. The Direct TV channel guide is maybe 80% correct in terms of the show and time. September 3rd update: Watched Lost last year, not sure what season and then again this year. I've watched it everyday at 11:30am and today I turn it on and it's halfway through. The Guide still says 11:30am - and - today was the end of the series!!!
    • Spanish: Just because a Cuencano asks if you understand Spanish doesn't mean they will slow down, have short phrases or speak with simplified verbs. Keep in mind in the USA there's a tendency to speak louder if someone doesn't understand English.
    • Robberies: Last fall, Book Exchange Richard was walking his dog at 6:15am and was robbed by two men at knife point. It was downtown but the street was deserted. In July, Cheri's weaving friend Marcella was walking home from work at night and was robbed by two girls jumping out of a car with knives. So there is robbery if one is unlucky and unwise. Before you make comments about 3rd world countries, keep in mind that during August in the USA multiple people were killed during a Batman movie, in Chicago and by the Empire State Building. So let's just make a comment that we live in a different world that kinda sucks.
  • Nuestro Dia (our day): Nuestro Dia (our day): Tuesday is the English Book Exchange. Wednesday Julia comes and cleans our apartment so we shop and go to Fiera Libre Mercado. Thursday Cheri goes to the weaving shop and knits Teddy Bears and Chemo Hats. Every day is walking and exercise. Cheri moved her loom from the weaving shop to the apartment, so now she isn't limited to weaving during store hours.
  • El Tiempo (weather): Watched the Atlantic Ocean mid-August as Isaac built from a depression to a Tropical Storm with Marathon in the cone. Part of our preparation of Believe was stripping the sails and loose items on deck and storing them below, so we were confident about Believe's health. On August 26th, the day Tropical Storm Isaac hit Marathon, Michael watched weather sites on the web and Facebook. Harbor friend Charles on Ship O' Fools did short video postings from his boat on a mooring ball in the harbor. Let's talk about the "news". Based on weather sites Saturday night and Sunday morning, Isaac would hit the Keys as a Tropical Storm and maybe change to a Cat 1 hurricane north of the Keys. Per "news" program postings all day Sunday, Isaac might be a Cat 2 when it hit the Keys. Church friend Karen posted, "SO.....woke up, turned on TV. Saw guy from the weather channel appearing to be getting blown to bits while reporting from Marathon, FL. Heard rain, rain stopped. Went for a 30 minute walk, wind 20-25 with the sun peeking through the clouds." So don't trust the news when it comes to such things. Per Charles, winds in the harbor were 30-40 knots with gusts in the high 40s, so no big deal at all.

8/8/2012 Still in Cuenca
Today, after some serious consideration, we decided to move to Ecuador. So we put Believe up for sale. We'll start with and up the marketing to other sites in October as it gets closer to our return. To explain our situation, I added a new page to the Believe site.
7/31/2012 Left Montanita, Ecuador at 9:00 AM Arrived Cuenca, Ecuador at 10:30 PM - 156 Miles

We had breakfast in Montanita then drove a short distance to the beach at Olon. The itinerary called for us to spend 4 hours at the beach before heading back. But one of the "three" pushed to just visit the beach and then go shopping. So we stopped the ProPueblo Fair Trade store in Santa Elena where they made and sold tagua nut items. Several people had to stop at an ATM afterwards to get cash for lunch.

Juan took us to a restaurant shaped like a pirate ship but we looked at the prices on the menu and walked down to another less formal place. As we walked by the owner’s family was sitting around a table. As soon as they saw us they waved us in and we enjoyed a cheap, delicious meal. Edd and Cynthia had the same problem at the pirate ship, so we waved them in as they walked by. After lunch, we returned home.

Here is the video Michael created of our whale trip.

7/30/2012 Left Montanita, Ecuador at 7:00 AM Arrived Puerto Lopez, Ecuador at 8:00 AM - 90 Miles

We left our hotel and drove to Puerto Lopez. After breakfast we walked to the tour shop on the beach. While waiting for the paperwork to be completed we looked around. Today happened to be a Festival de Pescadores (Fishermen's Festival) so there was a small parade escorting Jesus on a cross. With the paperwork ready, we walked to the beach and watched as the fishermen unloaded their overnight catch and loaded their families. They were all going to a small local island to celebrate for the day.

Since there are no docks or piers at this time, we did a wet (knee height) entry, wading out through the surf to get into our boat. It took about 2 hours to get to Isla de la Plata. Once in sight of the island, we ran into whales. First in the distance and then up close, like 6' away close. Then we went to the island. We wet exited the boat, changed shoes and listened to an orientation speech before our tour. We walked up 182 steps to a rest hut and then took the 1 mile trail. We saw many Blue-Footed Boobies and other birds.

We returned to the boat and went a short distance to a Park-approved snorkeling spot. Only 2 people went snorkeling, so one of the "three" complained about the whole group having to wait while only a few swam. Note, snorkeling was clearly explained to be part of the tour package. The boat ride felt very long going back. There were some whale sightings, but we just looked out of the corner of our eyes, didn't point. It was the end of a long day and we were ready to get back to the hotel.

7/29/2012 Left Cuenca, Ecuador at 7:00 AM Arrived Montanita, Ecuador at 6:00 PM - 156 Miles

We met Juan, our guide and Marco, our driver and the rest of our tour group in front of Terra Diversa. We loaded our bags in the van and were on our way. Went through El Parque Nacional Cajas as Juan kept a running commentary about the history, plants, animals and terrain. Along the way we stopped and looked down at the "sea of clouds" that we'd soon be passing through.

We stopped in Guayaquil to see the Historic Park. Its purpose is to preserve the culture, customs, and history of Guayaquil and the Ecuadorian coast. The Park is separated into three distinct sections, each tailor-made to educate visitors on an important part of Ecuadorian history. The Wildlife Zone is home to plants and animals, the Urban Architecture Zone preserves historical turn-of-the-century buildings, and the Traditions Zone celebrates the cocoa-producing culture of the Ecuadorian coast.

After the park, we had 45 minutes for lunch and of course had to wait for 3 members of our tour who didn't feel limited by the time given. We arrived in Montanita at the Swiss Hotel. The rooms were clean, WIFI was free but we couldn't drink the water. We asked for water bottles from the owner and got them for free. The next day the "three" tour group said they asked but he wanted to charge them - we're sure it was how they asked. We unpacked and walked through town (the hotel was a very short distance from town), got something to eat and rested for the next day.

7/27/2012 Still in Cuenca

  • La Finanzas (finances): We spent $4,211 for the month. Includes expenses for Michael's dentist and our whale tour.
  • La Comida (food): We are so pleased to have locked in "Fruit Ladies" at the 10 de Augusto Market. They greet us with pleasure, personally select the best fruit and veggies, ask when we'll eat it so they can select maduro (mature) fruit and give us yapa (a thank you gift). Of course, the yapa tends to be something we haven't tried and we end up liking it so we buy it next time. But life could be worse than having more delicious Ecuadorian fruits and veggies. New foods tried this month: Mora/Fresa/Uvilla/Pepa de Zambo/Bunuelos/Pan de Pascua.
  • El Acontecimiento (events):
    • 7/2 Texas Hold'em Poker Night
    • 7/3 Went with Gringo Book Exchange friend Richard to offer help at Fundacion El Arenal, an after-school program for kids with families working at Fiera Libre.
    • 7/5 Michael went with Cheri to her Hilando Ternura (Mama Bear) workshop at the weaving studio to get final photo shots and information to complete and post his Video.
    • 7/6 Went to the First Friday Art Show at DiBaccos Restaurant. The featured artists were Francisco Delgado Suarez (paintings), Pablo Cordero (ceramics) and guest artist Tomas Galindo (paintings).
    • 7/7 Cheri had a book copied at a local Kinkos-type shop - 190 pages, black/white, wire-o binding with a clear protective cover for $3.22. Went to a FUPEC (Familias Unidas por los Enfermos de Cancer) meeting where they gave and styled human hair wigs for cancer patients.
    • 7/11 Cheri went to a cooking class where she made Mayonesa de Pepa de Zambo (pumpkin seed mayonnaise) -- a surprisingly peanutbutter-like sauce you can put on vegetables or use as a marinade for meats; and Bunuelos, a fried pastry served with a honey-like sauce simmered with lime and cinnamon.
    • 7/13 Met with Diego from F.U.P.E.C. at Cheri's weaving shop to see what we could do to help their organization. That evening we went to the Youth Symphony Orchestra concert at the Teatro Sucre. Conducted by Maestro William Vergara, the orchestra performed Obertura del la Opera el Barbero de Sevilla by Gioachino Rossini, Pieza Concertante para dos Violines y Orquesta by Pablo de Sarasate, Concierto para dos Cornos (French Horns) y Orquesta by Franz Joseph Haydn, Huapango by Jose Pablo Moncayo and Conga del Fuego Nuevo by Arturo Marquez.
    • 7/14 Evening of cards with Clarke and Brenda.
    • 7/15 We went to a celebration of the 330th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of Carmen de la Asunción at the Flower Market and Iglesia Virgen del Carmen Celebration with music, dancing, globos, fireworks and castles.
    • 7/20 Went to an art exhibit featuring works by Czechoslovakian children who were part of a Jewish ghetto art project (1939-1943) in Terezín, a town 40 miles northeast of Prague. They later died in Nazi concentration camps. Too many emotions going on to talk about.
    • 7/21 Cheri helped design and then attended a 6-hour high-altitude breadmaking class taught by culinary students from a local cooking school. She and her friends made four kinds of bread (and brought home bags of leftovers!): Pan de Pascua (a traditional Christmas bread with dried fruit), Croissants, Pan de Huevo, and Pan Integral.

      Had a problem with Mike, the owner of Inca Lounge. After his bar closed he had friends come up from the bar and had a LOUD party on his deck at 2:30 AM. Michael walked out the door to make sure it was the deck and not Inca Lounge. Mike happened to be walking by and asked, "Are we too loud?". Michael factually answered "yes". Mike said "sorry" and walked back to the party and lowered the volume. Michael thought it was over and went back to bed. At 3:15 AM Mike escorted a party friend by our door and loudly called us motherF#%&@#s. Cheri convinced Michael to stay in bed, explaining that Mike was drunk. The next morning Mike knocked on our door and apologized for the loudness. Michael stormed to the door and asked if he called Michael a motherF#%&@# last night. Mike sheepishly apologized and used the excuse that he was drunk and blowing off steam etc. For the sake of living next to the guy for 3 more months we accepted the apology and moved on. So Michael still has "get in a fist fight" on his bucket list.

    • 7/22 Went to the 8th Annual Latin Festival at Parque El Paraiso.
    • 7/23 Michael went to Texas Hold'em Poker Night.
    • 7/25 We went to the Museum of Modern Art to see painting and exhibits produced by graduate art students at the University of Cuenca.
    • 7/26 Cards with Clarke and Brenda.
    • 7/27 Through the weaving studio, Cheri met some students at San Isidro cooking school. They invited us to attend a cooking competition.
  • Nuestro Dia (our day): Nuestro Dia (our day): Tuesday is the English Book Exchange. Wednesday Julia comes and cleans our apartment so we shop and go to Fiera Libre Mercado. Every day is walking and exercise. Cheri went to her weaving class every morning and afternoon whenever possible until her second free month is up.
  • El Tiempo (weather): A bit more rainy days and cooler.

6/30/2012 Still in Cuenca

  • La Finanzas (finances): We spent $2,330 for the month. Includes Cheri's loom, weaving classes and Ecuador Visa Registration.
  • La Comida (food): New foods tried this month: Choco (starchy, big-kerneled corn), Sapote, Camote (similar to a sweet potato but with purple and white striped flesh), Uvilla (Cape Gooseberry). Naranjilla (citrus flavor, sometimes described as a combination of rhubarb and lime), Mandarina, and a favorite from last year: Pitahaya (Kiwi on Steroids). One thing we're getting used to is the freshness. In USA if a avocado is black on the outside, it's spoiled and ruined on the inside. In Ecuador, it could be black on the outside yet perfect on the inside. The difference is that in Ecuador it could have been picked from the vendor's tree that morning.
  • El Acontecimiento (events):
    • 6/1 Went to an art show sponsored by friends Susannah and Richard, featuring local artists Christian Leon Tomas and Galindo Pazan.
    • 6/3 Had friends Clarke and Brenda over for Ten Pennies card game,
    • 6/4 Cheri bought a loom and went to the first day of her month-long weaving class.
    • 6/5 Cheri went to her weaving class while Michael went to the English Book Exchange and then Cheri went with several friends on a market tour searching for grains used to bake bread.
    • 6/6 Both of us went on a cooking market tour at the 12 de Abril Mercado. In the evening, went to day 1 of the Setenario (also called Corpus Christi ) celebration (a festival contrived by the Catholic Church following the Spanish conquest to replace the indigenous June Solstice observance). Besides fireworks there are hundreds of food stalls.
    • 6/7 Cheri went to weaving and finished her scarf (colors matching her raincoat) while Michael went to the Museum of Modern Art and saw the exhibit El Valor de la Palabra, a retrospective of the life of the late Ecuadorian Bishop Leonidas Proaño, known as Taita Leonidas or the "Bishop of the Poor." Proaño devoted much of his life to assisting the poor of Ecuador and Latin America, especially the indigenous population. In the evening we went to day 2 of Setenario. It was a bonus night with music, fireworks, flaming towers with spin wheels and floating (globos) lanterns.
    • 6/8 Cheri went to weaving in the morning. Even though the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra was doing a Night of Tchaikovsky, we went to day 3 of Setenario - Tchaikovsky versus flaming towers - come on.
    • 6/10 Cuenca Direct TV had The Tony Awards, so we enjoyed an evening of theater.
    • 6/11 Cheri went to weaving in the morning. Michael went to Texas Hold'Em Poker Night at Clarke and Brenda's. Both Cheri and Michael got the flu and were down for a week.
    • 6/16 We attended the Mother Earth Festival at the 9 de Octobre Mercado. It started with a Indigenous Ceremony to the four directions and continued with music, food and merchant stalls. One interesting booth arrangement was a medical booth with information and simple tests like blood pressure right next to a Bruja Booth where they did cleansing ceremonies with herbs, eggs and spitting. Cheri went to her weaving class in the afternoon.
    • 6/17 We used our Magic Jack hardware to phone Gary (Cheri's dad) for Father's Day. We've used Magic Jack several times and are very pleased with the technology.
    • 6/18 Cheri went to her weaving class in the morning. Went to a Modern Dance Show at the Teatro Carlos Cueva Tamariz at Cuenca University. We enjoyed the Korean Dance troupe and the Hip-Hop crew, but some of the "modern" dance didn't touch us. Picture a 100-pound kid in a sumo stance doing slow motion calethenics and you'll get the picture.
    • 6/20 Cheri went to an Empanadas cooking class.
    • 6/23 Toasted our dear friend Dan Gallagher, his cleverness and humor will never be forgotten.
    • 6/26 Cheri went to her weaving class in the morning. In the evening we went to the Fiesta de la Musica at Teatro Carlos Cueva Tamariz for a night of Flamenco Guitar (Serge Lopez) accompanied by the Quito String Orchestra (Directora: Nathalie Marin). They performed works by Jean Baptiste Lully, Jean Philippe Rameau, Gavriel Faure, Jules Massenet, Claude Debussy and several original works by Serge Lopez, the guitarist.
    • 6/27 Michael video-taped a Hilando Ternura (Mama Bear) workshop at Cheri's weaving studio. Bella, a gringa, shared the idea about an organization that takes leftover yarn and makes Teddy Bears for underpriviledged kids with Patrica, the shop owner. So Patricia gave a class for her weavers to create these bears and will distribute them in Cuenca and Ecuador. Michael will post the video on YouTube in July.
    • 6/27 Cheri went to a jewelry-making class.
    • 6/28 Ten Penny Night with Clarke and Brenda.

    Michael went to the dentist to get his permanent bridge. Michael does not like going to the dentist.

  • Nuestro Dia (our day): Tuesday is the English Book Exchange. Wednesday is Fiera Libre Mercado, normally to get fresh tuna. Every day is walking and exercise. Cheri went to her weaving class every morning and afternoon whenever possible until her free month is up. We shop at a supermarket (SuperMaxi), a small store down the street (Tiendas Industrailes Asociadas) and several local food markets (10 de Augusto, 9 de Octobre). The fruits and vegetables in the picture were bought for $10.
  • El Tiempo (weather): A bit more rain and cooler. Toward the end of the month heavy rains caused the Rio Tomebamba to almost overflow upstream from our apartment. With that said, we're relieved we're not back home in Marathon for the weeks of heavy rain, though we'd have great exercise pumping out the dingy every hour or two.

5/31/2012 Still in Cuenca, Ecuador

  • La Finanzas (finances): We spent $6,002 for the month. Includes annual boat insurance, semi-annual car insurance and Cuenca setup expenses.
  • La Comida (food): Michael bought goat at the Mercado 10 de Augusto and cooked it in a crockpot. Cheri actually had seconds. We bought atun (Albacore Tuna) on Wednesday at the Mercado 9 de Octobre. Last year we paid $2.50/pound, this year he charged $3.50/pound - so we'll check the marketplace and see if prices have gone up all over. A week later we checked at the Mercado Fiera Libre and got atun for $2.50/pound, so that's where we'll be shopping.
  • El Acontecimiento (events):
    • 5/15 - Our first day back at our apartment, we went to Supermaxi (Cuenca's version of a supermarket). Last year we walked through the Parque de la Madre to get there. This year they're building an underground parking garage with a park on top so the site is all blocked by a plywood fence. Cuenca made lemonade out of lemons and invited Ecuadorian graffiti artists to paint the fences so we were treated to a fantastic, organic art display.
    • 5/18 - Attended a concert by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Cuenca at the Teatro Carlos Cueva Tamariz at Cuenca University. They performed The Nutcracker Ballet by Peter Tchaikovski, Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 in D Minor by Franz Liszt, 4:33 by John Cage in 1952 (4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, consisting of 3 movements. Thirty seconds for the first, two minutes and twenty-three seconds for the second, and one minute and forty seconds for the third. The piece purports to consist of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed), Bacchanal from the Opera Sampson and Delilah by Camille Saint Saens, Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky and the waltz from the ballet Masquerade by Aram Khachaturian.
    • 5/19 - Attended a jazz concert by the Jazz Studies Combo, a sextet from the University of Louisville, Kentucky at the Sucre Theatre.
    • 5/24 - Attended a concert by the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra recognizing the 190th anniversary of the victory of the Battle of Pichincha (start of the Ecuadorian battle for independence from Spain) at the Banco Central Auditorium. They performed The Dance of Death Opus 40 by Camille Saint-Saens, Concerto for Two Flutes and Orchestra by Domenico Cimarrosa, Fire Dance by Manuel de Falla. El Moldava by Bedrich Smetana and Fragmentos de "Boletin y Elegia de las Mitas" by Ecuadorian Composer Edgar Palacios.
    • 5/24 - Dinner and cards with Clarke and Brenda, friends we met toward the end of last year's stay. They happened to be going to Spain at the same time we were, so we hung out with them for several days in Madrid last year.
    • 5/30 - Went to a Resource Fair at DiBacco's Italian, mainly for Cheri to check out weaving lessons. She was successful and she signed up for classes next week.
  • Nuestro Dia (our day): We spent the first few days getting the apartment set up with groceries and toiletries, while still taking it easy to avoid altitude sickness. In addition to special events, we go to the market for fresh fruits and vegitables. We try to walk at least 2 miles every day, although the 50 steps we use to get up to the street from the river should count for more. We're plugging into some gringo events like the Book Exchange and Writing Workshops, but not the evening gringo cliquish ones.
  • El Tiempo (weather): Is similar to last year. Cloudy most days, rainy many days. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid-forties.
5/15/2012 Left Quito, Ecuador at 12:00:00 PM Arrived Cuenca, Ecuador at 12:45:00 PM 191 Miles

Got up early to check out the Dirección General de Extranjería where we need to register our visa within 30 days (this step is required for the 6-month visa we're using this year. Last year's 3-month visa didn't require this extra step.). It's a 3-day process, so we hoped to do the first step and return. We got there early, but there was still a very long line waiting outside and we had to catch our noon flight. There was a later flight (6pm), but then we'd have to haul around all our luggage. So we just checked it out and will return to Quito later in the month.

Got to the airport (Nacional for Domestic) early. The flight was on time and no problems. Took a taxi to our apartment and went to lunch, then got settled in.

After cleaning out our backpacks, we walked to Supermaxi to stock up for living in the apartment for 6 months. We got back and unpacked and then crashed.

To avoid altitude sickness, we took it easy and drank lots of liquids.

5/14/2012 Left Marathon, Florida, USA at 7:55:00 PM Arrived Quito, Ecuador at 11:00:00 PM 1787 Miles

We took the Keys Shuttle van from Marathon to Miami airport. We had 3 checked bags, so we had to pay the American Airlines extra bag fee of $30 (they tried to have me pay $70, but I reminded them that I booked in January before they raised their rates in February -- ya gotta stay on these people). The flight was on time and without problems.

Got to the Alston Inn Hotel at midnight. Check-in was no problem, staff was friendly, room was clean.

5/10/2012 Left Boot Key Harbor at 9:15:00 AM Arrived Marathon Boat Yard at 9:45:00 AM 1 Miles

5/3/2012 The moon, Saturn and the bright star Spica were visible in a unique configuration in the SE sky, was very nice.

5/5/2012 For the second year in a row, we volunteered for the Colors of the Rainbow Dance competition for 5th graders, with 5 schools competing. That evening, we saw the Supermoon, the alignment of the sun and moon which coincided with the Moon's closest approach to Earth, resulting in the biggest full moon of the year.

5/10/2012 Moved from Boot Key Harbor ball E3 to Marathon Boat Yard to be pulled out and blocked on the hard. Did the engine check and found the rubber boot between the engine and the drive leg was leaking. We could have run the engine and leg the short distance but didn't want to risk environmental damage, so we got a tow from Tow Boat USA (Hot Shot of the Florida Keys). The tow went fine and we got to Marathon Boat Yard on time, but had to wait until 1pm to be pulled out due to their screwed up schedule and normal finger-pointing excuses. Our friend Rita graciously invited us to stay at her place until we leave on the 14th, so we ended the day hauling our packing items to her condo and doing basic prep. Friends Tom and Jackie are watching our car. We're glad we got out of the harbor early since there were 4 water spouts in the harbor and surrounding area.

5/11/2012, Thursday. Worked on prepping Believe for 6 months of storage.

We debated how much time to allow prepping Believe and settled on 4 days. Last year we did 5 days and worked 'til the last minute. We did a lot more prework this time and had everything done by Saturday except for the formaldehyde packets which we placed on Sunday. In our spare time we packed. From this experience we wouldn't do any less than 4 days.

4/30/2012 Still In Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball
Mooring monthly summary:
  • Finances: We spent $4,990 for the month. Includes medical payment for Michael's emergency room visit.
  • Projects: Examined and replaced dinghy lines. Regular Maintenance.
  • Events: Submitted paperwork and received our Ecuador Visas from Washington DC. We've researched the next steps once we reach Quito and we're hoping nothing changes in the meantime. House-sat for theater friends Joyce and Fred. Spent time with boater friends Jim and Kathy, formerly of the Gemini Total Care, now owners of the Lagoon 38, Moondance. Michael checked off his bucket list item of being on a jury, only a one-day trial on 4/19. Michael had tests done by Life Line screening and got back good results. Michael had several meetings for his theater commitments next year, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (Producer), Sound of Music (Music Director) and Moon Over Buffalo. Cheri continues to work at Hammer's Café at DRC every weekend and Michael joined her on several weekends. Our friend Dan Gallagher died on 4/20/2012. We met he and his wife Rita at the theater. He was a modern day Renaissance man, a teacher, historian, engineer, technical director, musician with a ready wit and a wonderfully dry sense of humor - we will miss him.
  • Weather: Several multi-day rain and wind storms hit us this month. Some we could lay low on Believe, others we had to get wet. That said, Believe and dinghy are fine.
3/31/2012 Still In Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball
Mooring monthly summary:
  • Finances: We spent $2,587 for the month. Includes medical payments for Michael's emergency room visit (more coming) and Ecuador Visa paperwork.
  • Projects: Regular Maintenance
  • Events: Went to see MCT theater friend Annie in Gods of Carnage at the Red Barn Theater in Key West with theater friend Rita. Michael ran the spotlight at the theater for the MCT musical, Once Upon a Mattress. We joined theater friends Valerie and Bill at the Marathon Yacht Club for a stone crab dinner. We met with the theater’s VP of Production, Ann, and Michael committed to being the Producer in next year's 2nd show (Five Women Wearing the Same Dress), being Musical Director for the 3rd show musical, (Sound of Music) and directing the 4th show, Moon Over Buffalo. Michael volunteered to help at the annual Seafood Festival. Cheri attended a quilt workshop in Big Pine and went shopping with quilting friend Dawn in Miami. Michael started joining Cheri at work at Hammer's Café at the Dolphin Research Center on weekends. Michael participated in the annual Relay for Life event. Michael got the specs to create a MCT (community theater) Volunteer database and started working on it.
  • Weather: Like the rest of the country, we're had an unusually warm winter.
2/29/2012 Still In Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball
Mooring monthly summary:
  • Finances: We spent $1,768 for the month. Includes Michael Cousins Reunion trip.
  • Projects: Replaced zinc and checked belts and hoses.
  • Events: Cheri helped with costumes for the theater musical, Once Upon a Mattress, specifically the ladies' hats. Lots of last-minute changes, updates and drama. Had a wonderful Valentine's Dinner with theater friends Jeff and Laura. Michael went to San Luis Obispo for a Cousins Reunion. Celebrated Cheri's birthday with Saltimbocca and her special birthday pie. Cheri attended a party for the Quilt Challenge and enjoyed viewing all the creative pieces all tied together by blue-striped fabric. Her piece, Blue Like Jazz will be displayed with the rest of the pieces at a gallery in Key West.
  • Weather: Weather has been great, some spikes of cooler weather for a couple of days but back up in the 70s and even 80s.
1/31/2012 Still In Marathon - Boot Key Harbor Mooring Ball
Mooring monthly summary:
  • Finances: We spent $3,918 for the month. Includes airline tickets for May Ecuador trip and Michael's Cousins Reunion in February.
  • Projects: Regular Maintenance.
  • Events: We volunteered to help at the 100-year Flagler celebration at Pigeon Key. It was our first time there, very nice. We house-sat for theater friends Joyce and Fred. Cheri turned in Blue Like Jazz, her entry for the local Quilt Challenge. It's a project she's been working on for months, buying materials on three continents. We were graciously invited to do a second dolphin swim at Dolphin Research Center with theater friends Kris and Marty. Our dolphin trainers were theater friends Sarah and Sam and this time we swam with dolphins Santini, Merina and Flagler. Michael completed the DVD for The Dixie Swim Club, the 2nd show at Marathon Community Theater. Michael had a slight medical issue and spent some time in the emergency room.
  • Weather: The Marathon winter continues to be a great one, spikes of cool weather between days of shorts weather. The end of January had some continued cloudy, cool days.
2011 Year 2011 Log
2010 Year 2010 Log
2009 Year 2009 Log
2008 Year 2008 Log
2007 Year 2007 Log
2006 Year 2005 through year 2006 Log

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