Sunday, February 28, 2010

28 February 2010

We finally felt like we had some free time today! After our morning run to town, we finished unpacking what we felt we would need for the next couple of months and organized a few things. Doug washed the truck and I went searching through boxes for some good towels, pots and pans and other odds and ends. Good towels, yes, but no pots or pans. I'll do with what I have here and wait until we can move into our own kitchen to use my own pans.
We sat out in the hammocks for a while, enjoying what breeze there was.
This afternoon, we went to a local hotel and watched the men's ice hockey gold medal game between Canada and the US. We watched with a bunch of Canadians, so were in the minority but were so glad both teams put on a great show. It was a very close game which Canada won in overtime 3-2.
Afterwards, we went into Los Organos and had Pollo a la Brasa for dinner. Very good meal.
Then home for a good nights sleep.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

27 February 2010

Today was day 2 of moving. We brought a small load out last night; enough for us to stay overnight. We moved everything else out of the room we rented from Jay. Everything is here with us; either in storage on our property, and in the vacation home we will live in until our home is ready.
As you know, we had our issues out here before. We still don't have hot water, which in this weather is just fine. The electricity is turned on after sunset as dark settles in. So far it has lasted into the night and into the wee hours of the morning. However, we do not have any refrigeration. The refrigerator we used when we were here last, finally quit working so they brought in another. The replacement hasn't worked since we hooked it up on Thursday. Doug and I decided that we would buy a refrigerator for our home, but put it temporarily up here. This was going to happen at some point anyway, so we might as well go ahead and make the purchase now since we need it now. We'll travel to Piura or Paita on Monday and see what we can find.
The workers on the property have been working on the mechanical room for the swimming pool. This will be an underground vault that will house the generator and all the pumps for the pool. They have also begun finishing the outside walls of the service zone. This finishing will provide waterproof protection for our stuff stored there. We haven't had much rain... in fact the biggest rainfall was on Sunday when we were in the Galapagos. It was enough to soak the roads and create havok as the soil has a lot of clay. I don't really expect much rain even though it is the "rainy season."
We've been educating ourselves about solar energy and the wattage usage of common household appliances. We still haven't seen the plan from the solar engineer, but at this point we will have some knowledge to discuss our options intelligently.

Friday, February 26, 2010

26 February 2010

We did our usual run out to the property to deliver food and water for the workers. They were also going to complete the concrete pour for the swimming pool which has been at least a week's worth of pouring. Traditionally, after a large pour in the air, meaning a roof, our second story, the worker's are given a portion of Chicha (fermented corn mash). We decided that the pouring of the pool was equally worthy of Chicha, so arranged for them to get their portions this afternoon.
We also spent about three hours at Jim and Daniella's at noon into the afternoon. Daniella fixed us a great eggplant casserole for lunch. We spent most of the three hours picking Jim's brain about solar energy and implementing it for our house. He has used solar panels for years running his mining camp in the Yukon and has the knowledge we need to make sure our system fits our needs. We will now have to do some research as to the wattage usage of our various appliances and come up with a daily need. We do have a solar engineer working on this in Lima, but we wanted to be able to have a handle on it ourselves. Hopefully now we will be able to discuss the system more intelligently.
This afternoon we moved some of our stuff back out to Georg's vacation home, next door to our property. This will give us much more living space and will allow us to be on top of the construction as it happens. We weren't up here for more than 15 minutes and Doug was sitting on the patio just looking out over the ocean. We were able to watch the sunset and felt so relaxed.

I bought a squeaky toy for our dog, Stormy, in December in anticipation of her arrival in January. When first introduced, she loved the toy and spent the better part of an afternoon making it squeak. She absolutely adored it. However, it quit squeaking within a few days. She still seemed to enjoy it, but....darn, the squeak was gone. That was in January. At the end of February, that toy started to squeak again. And that toy has become magical! It will occupy her for hours. We have taught her to fetch with it, although she is sometimes reluctant to give it up. Doug plays with her in the truck by making it squeak, making her crazy, and then tossing it into the back seat. But, the best thing of all, we can let her loose on the property and when we need her to come...all we have to do is squeak the toy and she is at our feet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 4, Isabela Island, Tortoise breeding center

Isabela Island is by far the largest island of the archipelago and yet it is the least populated.

We walked out to the tortoise breeding center. There are four types of tortoises brought here to breed. The babies are kept in a protective area as when they are first born they have soft shells. Predators, such as the cat, have been introduced so the young are protected.

The eggs hatch in about four months. Tortoises reach sexual maturity at about 20 years. Once of age, it takes about 7 hours to complete the act of breeding.

The apples on the trees in this area are poisonous and there are numerous signs of warning.

The tortoises are fed some kind of palm 4" in diameter. The tortoises chewed through these stalks easily.

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Day 4; Isabela Island,

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Day 4, Isabela Island, Iguana breeding center

Last night we were harbor so had a restful night's sleep.

After breakfast this morning we walked to the iguana breeding center. It appeared to be a home where these animals could take refuge. In this area, iguanas abounded. I enjoyed the sign for "Iguana Crossing" and actually saw the local police stop for an iguana making his way across the road. At the breeding center, you could see the iguanas in the windowsills. in the patio, on top of the BBQ; everywhere.
The walkway out to the tortoise breeding center was covered with iguanas and as we began our walk out, they scattered. I was hesitant to take a step for fear I would step on one!

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Our final day in the Galapagos Islands

We left the hotel at 5:30 am this morning and were transfered to the dock. Once there, our luggage was searched. The authorities are very strict about people taking samples of the rocks, corral, shells, etc. from the island. It is strictly forbidden as it is in most National Parks.The "fast" boat was a launch with twin four stroke outboard motors which sat about 15 people. It made the crossing between Isla Isabela and Santa Cruz in just over two hours. We passed the Sulidae about three quarters of the way. The Sulidae estimated their travel time at 12 hours. The current in this crossing moves at 50 cm. per second westward while we were traveling eastward. I think the fast boat was able to get higher in the water so the current effected it much less.

Once in Puerta Ayora, we went to a hotel to check in and had a quick breakfast in town. Doug and I then went back to the hotel for some rest time. As you can see, this was a quality hotel. The sink here is supported by cardboard and masking tape. The flusher on the toilet was dangling out of its socket. We did however have hot water, as long as you waited for it. There were also some bugs that gave off a gastly smell if you bothered them. We pretty much just shooed them away and weren't bothered by them throughout the day or night.
In the morning we got dressed and headed into the lobby for breakfast. I was wearing a new pair of shorts and as I walked down to the lobby, I felt this prick inside. I thought, darn, I didn't take the tag off. But in a very short time, I realized this prick was moving (pun intented?)! I dashed back to our room and stripped. Sure enough one of those lovely beetles had taken up residence in my shorts sometime during the night!

Doug was able to watch the latter part of the Super Bowl while I slept. Later we watched some of the US Figure Skating Championships.

Later we met Georg and his family for lunch. Georg was anxious to try the Ecuadorian ceviche. It was quite different in Ecuador. It was served as a cold soup with cooked fish and seafood and the usual onions, but also tomatoes. The Peruvian ceviche cures raw seafood in lime juice and is served with onions and kernels of corn.

After lunch, Georg and
Doug went back to the Sulidae to retrieve the snorkeling equipment we had rented and the case of beer we had brought on board. While they were there, I went window shopping by myself. I enjoyed having the time and freedom to look at souvenirs and artwork at my leisure. When I am with Doug, I know he hates shopping and so feel pressured to move right along.

The next morning we took a flight from Baltra to Guayaquil. As soon as we got into the airport, we called the shipping company in Lima to find out the status of our container. She told us it had arrived and we should meet her in Paita on Monday morning to begin the process of taking it through customs. This gave us a bit of breathing room time-wise, so we hopped on a bus and arrived in Mancora early the next morning.
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25 February 2010

When we arrived out at the property this morning, the workers were eating ceviche this woman had brought out to them. We are unsure whether she is a wife of one of the workers or a woman from the village, but she has been there a couple of times now.

The workers have started removing the forms from the third section of the pool and will get set up for the last pour for the pool. Hopefully, this will be done this week.

This afternoon has been quiet. I've tried to catch up on blogging and getting some little things done.

The women's Canadian ice hockey team play tonight for the gold. I'm not sure whether we will go watch or not; it might be fun.
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24 February 2010

After coming back from Paita, we stopped at the property to pick up the water jugs for tomorrow's water run and to pick up the grocery list.

The progress on the pool continues. They have now poured three of the four sections and have poured cement floor for the mechanical room. They should finish the pour for the pool this week.

We have requested that the crew concentrate on the kitchen/living room and the master suite. Getting these two buildings finished will allow us to move our furniture and things inside and to live there while the rest is being finished.

The solar panels to generate the electricity for the house are in the works. There has been a lot of discussion between us and the architect over how this system should be configured. He has a solar engineer advising him, but we haven't received a plan we are comfortable with. Our neighbor, Jim from the Yukon Territory in Canada, agreed to sit down with Doug and me and educate us bit about how to configure a plan. He runs his mining camp off of solar panels.

The brick layer in the orange shirt began on the exterior finishing of the walls to the two areas we have put our furniture in. This exterior layer will prevent the moisture from any rain from seeping in through the relatively pourous bricks. I think the mixture is similar to cement and he is literally throwing this stuff onto the wall. Apparantly, they let this layer dry before adding a second. The third layer will be the smooth outer surface that will be painted.

This section of cement of the floor in the laundry room was taken out as it had some cracks in it and was a bit uneven. It's nice to know these workers are perfectionists, and will do the job right.
Later tonight, we went down to a local hostel where they allowed a group of us to watch the Canadianmen's ice hockey game with Russia. The general concensis amongst our Canadian friends here is that Russia would be the toughest competition for the Canadians. It turned out the Canadian team dominated, winning 7 to 3. They now move on to the quarter finals. Our friends are very confident their team will get the gold. I hope the US makes it to the finals with Canada; that would be fun to have two sides cheering.Posted by Picasa

We went back to Paita today to make the final payments for storage and movement of the container, and to get our deposit back.

We showed up at the Mediteranean Shipping and Storage Office a little before noon. They were very helpful, but needed on piece of inforamation. Where was the container now? Fortunately, I had the driver's phone number and called to find out; Ransa.

The Ransa office confirmed that the container had been returned but had not yet inspected it for damage. We were told to return at 2:oo in the afternoon when the gentleman that coordinated with Ransa would be in.

So we decided to walk around to find a restaurant where we could sit with the dog and relax over lunch. There was one restaurant at the end of the beach where I check and they were not open. I asked them to recommend another restaurant. Off we went in search of El Grifo which we found a few blocks down along the waterfront. There seating was mostly outdoors and had a great view of the harbor of Paita. The food was excellent!

We went back to the Mediteranean Shipping and Storage Office at two and waited for about half an hour. The secretary was very chatty and talked about how hard it was to learn English. She had taken some classes at a school in Piura (an hour away by car), but found it frustrating because it was not focused on conversational skills. She was very sweet and kept us entertained until the gentleman we had been waiting for returned.

This gentleman handed us a stack of papers, and $300 and told us we were done. The storage and moving fees came out of the $500 deposit. We were finally done with the moving of our stuff to El Nuro! We both felt like celebrating. It was a relief and we felt we had achieved another milestone.

These photos were all taken in Paita from the restaurant.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Piano move

In this picture, the movers and construction workers recruited to help, have pushed it out of the truck and down the ramp. Now they each take a position and lift.

They shuffle up the driveway.

Once up the driveway and around the corner, the piano goes back on edge. Two ropes are placed underneath the piano in two spots. Using theses ropes and one guy to balance it upright, they move it into its spot in the storage room.

Amazingly enough, there does not appear to be any damage to the piano. The case and case parts all look good and no worse for the trip. The tuning and regulation is another thing, but won't get done until the final move into the house.

I told the architect this afternoon, now that I had all my things from my home in Oregon, all I needed was a house to put them in; preferable tomorrow. He said very calmly and without missing a beat; don't worry, the workers will work extra hard today.
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Moving Day

The container arrived in El Nuro this morning about 7:45 am. The driver called us so we could meet him and take him up to the property. We had not expected them to arrive until 9:00; a Peruvian...early?

The truck and trailer had a bit of a problem coming through the gate, but after a couple of tries, they were in. They came up the road and then had to figure out how to get turned around and backed up a driveway to get as close as possible to the service area where it was going to be stored. This took much more than a couple of tries, but the driver didn't quit and finally made it up about halfway.

Everything would have to get carried from there. There were two movers from the company in Lima, the driver and a recruit they had picked up along the way. They soon hired Sanchez to help as well.

They opened the container and went to work unloading. They were supposed to unload, and unpack everything but since we were only storing stuff, they didn't do this. After a few loads, I insisted they open packages up so we could inspect it. They still weren't too interested in doing so, so I borrowed a box knife from Sanchez and started opening things myself. Any package or box that had any damage on the outside, we unwrapped completely and checked. When all was said and done, we had one table joint break, some gouges on the corners of the dining room table, a split in one of the legs to the table and another crack in one of the chairs. I also think the heat of the container as it sat in storage yards, was too much for the finish on the table and chairs as there was some bubbling and peeling of the finish.

Everything should be relatively easy to fix structurally. The table and chairs may need refinishing...time will tell.

This eventually will be the maid's quarters. For now, it is storage. All of our household goods went in here except for a couple of mattresses. The room just to the left will be the battery storage room for the solar panels. Right now it houses all the cabinets for the house and guest bungalows.

My mother's kitchen clock which was made in about 1890 was unpacked during the custom inspection. Doug was there for the inspection and felt the workers weren't very gentle in inspecting and repacking it. It came through without problems thanks to the original packers who did a great job. We check it out, all was well so we returned it to its box and stacked it on top. A few minutes later, I heard the chime go off on the clock. It chimed 12 times, and it was quite close to that time.

How many Peruvians does it take to move a piano? The original four movers spent some time inside the container trying to figure out how they were going to accomplish this feat. The piano had been strapped to the side of the container on its side, which is the usual position for moving a grand piano. The decided they would take to long poles, lay them on the floor of the container and lay the piano on the poles horizontally. They were careful to be sure there was enough cardboard and wrapping to protect it. But when they started piling cardboard and packing material at the bottom of an 8 foot ramp and talked about pushing the piano out the door, I started to get a bit antsy! It was at this point Doug asked some of the construction workers to help. No problem, four of them came at our request. As it turned out, they did push it out the door and down the ramp, but five of them were there to ensure a gentle landing.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

21 February 2010

We spent the entire day in Paita, arranging for the release of our container. After 7 hours running between banks and offices, we watched the container leave the yard. It will arrive at our property tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. They will unload and unpack everything. We will then need to repack everything for storage in the service building. Everything has to be inspected at the time of delivery for insurance purposes. Both of us are exhausted after so many days in Paita, and tomorrow will be a long day too.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We spent most of the day in Talara trying to get some banking done. I apparently have lost my card and Doug couldn't remember his PIN for his card. At the bank today, they issued a new card to Doug, but forgot to give it to us. So, at this point, we have no way of accessing our account. We will go back to the bank Monday and see if we can sort things out. Then we will go to Paita to pay the duties on the container. Hopefullly once those duties are paid, they will transport the the container to our property and unload it. That will be such a milestone in this process of moving! Given hindsight, I don't think I would have done the move this way.

This afternoon when we visited the property, they had poured the walls for the second section of the pool. The forms are already up for the near wall, and they will have two more sections to go.

The workers have also poured the floor for the laundry room area. The service building is close to being finished. It is here where we will store our things from the container.

According to the architect, the kitchen/dining room/living room, and the
master suite will be finished by the end of April. We will see......
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Day 3; Galapagos

This is the hatch down to our cabin. We had to climb down the hatch ladder and then enter our cabin. It was only a bit awkward when the ship was out of the harbor and we were riding the swells.

This morning we gathered our things from the hotel and went into town to rent snorkle equipment. The complete gear; facemask, breathing tube, flippers cost us $15 for 5 days. We then went down to the dock for transport out to the Sulidae which was to be our vessel for the cruise of three islands.

The Sulidae is a pirate style boat, but probably was never used by pirates. Originally it used to run between Denmark and England trading commercial goods. At some point it came to South America and eventually ended up as a tourist boat in the Galapagos Islands.

Our tour was to take us to three islands; Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela. Most of the traveling happened at night so the days were spent in port at one of the islands. The worst night was from Floreana to Isabela. We traveled all night and the seas were quite rough. Most of the bunks aboard were oriented from bow to stern so these bunks were constantly rolling from side to side. My bunk was the only one oriented from side to side so my head dived, and then my feet dived. It was a rhythmic motion to some degree, but even so, we didn't get much sleep that night.

This is a picture of the dining area of the yacht. You can see the cook working in the left of the picture in the galley. For the most part, the dining area was quite warm with minimal circulation, but the food was excellent. We never lacked for good food and we had brought enough beer and wine on board so we never lacked for spirit.
Floreo, the cook's mate, was so sweet and made sure all of us had enough to eat. He took special care to make sure all of us were happy.

This is a view of our cabin. In the pirate ship configuration, we must have had the captain's quarters. It was considerably larger than the others and we had windows on all three sides. We were quite comfortable compared to the others.

The other cabins were quite small, and most didn't have the ventilation we had. They had a port hole which opened to the outside. No problem until it rained.
These portholes leaked and beds got soaked.

To compound things, the electricity would cut out so at times, there was no circulation in the smaller cabins. The crew of the Sulidae were having problems with their generator, so electricity was iffy. We actually sailed from Floreana Island to Isabela island without electricity; meaning without running lights. Fortunately, our captain was competent and got us there without incident.
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