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Earthquake-damaged Manabi Province ahead.

Earthquake-damaged Manabi Province ahead.

“We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.”    Paulo Coelho- The Alchemist

Manabi Province/Jama Ecuador

Friends Cynthia, Luis and Pedro agreed to make a very-fast trip with me to the coast on Tuesday to check on Casa Loca, to visit with friends who are enduring difficult times in the Jama area, and to listen to what’s in their minds and hearts.  We hoped to return to Mindo with a better idea of what was needed and share that information with others who might be able to help.    Leaving before sunrise, I reached my first road block only a few minutes after leaving the property!

(Pardon me, but who has the right-of-way when cattle are still sleeping?)

(Pardon me, but who has the right-of-way when cattle are still sleeping?)

Five or six cows were sleeping in the road; several reluctantly moved out of the way after I rolled closer and closer while blowing the horn.  Others played ‘possum and remained in place.   After five or more minutes, I got out of the truck and found a remnant of a tree limb. I whacked several of the stubborn cows on their rumps and demanded, ‘Get up!’

Some were compliant and eventually ambled to the side.

Some were compliant and eventually ambled to the side.

They obeyed!

My friends were ready when I reached Mindo, and our first stop was about an hour later near the town of San Vicente Maldonado.   Peter had recently attended a 2-week appreticeship at Cenba, a bamboo processing center that produces an alternative to using lumber from trees. The stop was an eye-opener for Cynthia and me!

Cemba - What's behind the gate?

Cemba – What’s behind the gate?

We admired a very-solid model under construction... Estimated price after finishing the top floor should be around $20,000.

We admired a very-solid model under construction… Estimated price after finishing the top floor should be around $20,000.

Peter proudly gave us a tour of the facility!

Peter proudly gave us a tour of the facility!

That pressure-treated block of 'Guadua' bamboo is extremely heavy!

That pressure-treated block of ‘Guadua’ bamboo is extremely heavy!

The press!

The press!

Close inspection reveals a beautiful section of 'lumber' - and look - no trees are destroyed!

Close inspection reveals a beautiful section of ‘lumber’ – and look – no trees are destroyed!

Concrete-filled sections of bamboo are bolted in place.

Concrete-filled sections of bamboo are bolted in place.

We drove about another hour, stopped for breakfast (and coffee!) then resumed our pilgrimage to the west.

 

A few tents began to appear about thirty minutes east of Pedernales, and our moods turned a bit more somber as we reached the outskirts of the city.

Earthquake Zone

Earthquake Zone

I took few photos, as I don’t like to photograph mankind’s misery.  What struck me most were the wide-open views through the coastal hub city, where before the buildings obstructed those views.

Beautiful view, but there should be buildings to the left of the traffic light.

Beautiful view, but there should be buildings to the left of the traffic light.

Too bare, but it's hard to remember what was there.

Too bare, but it’s hard to remember what was there.

A pretty hotel once anchored the middle of the final block - on the right.

A pretty hotel once anchored the middle of the final block – on the right.

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Heading down the coast from Pedernales…

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After checking on Cynthia’s interests near Don Juan, we stopped at La Division to see friends Nely and Ramon.   Nely was in Manta, but Ramon share details about others in the area.    After a light lunch, we rolled on to see Casa Loca.   While I was visually inspecting the integrity of the roofline from afar, Cynthia quickly spotted the obtuse angle of the palm-thatched ramada on the side.     Friends had warned me that more of the yard had sloughed into Rio Jama.

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The side with the mature mangroves appears basically the same as it has been for years, but the rock-protected side continues to fall.

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The channel is now very far from the house – on the inside curve and far side of the river.  Perhaps the rainy season and fast currents played a role in altering the channel.

Inside, the house appeared sound and intact, yet I later said, “It appeared that anything breakable in the house had participated in a cumbia-merengue competition!”

We gathered a few items to take back to Mindo and quickly moved on to more important tasks, like seeing people in the area and listening to their stories.

My friends in the little community of Verdum were not at home, but the neighbor said that she’d let them know that I stopped by to see them.   On the outskirts of Jama, the local clinic/hospital appeared to be in fair shape.   (Last year a rotating shift of doctors and nurses treated a large majority of locals in the dengue/chikungunya epidemic.)

Several friends’ homes were marked to be torn down;  how does a family relocate when there are few options for new housing?     We stopped to speak to several people who lived near Hostal Ciragan, and then we parked with hopes to see my friend Gloria, who owns the hostal.

This light-switch panel was painted in 2014 to go between rooms 7 and 8 at Hostal Ciragan.

This light-switch panel was painted in 2014 to go between rooms 7 and 8 at Hostal Ciragan.

Gloria looked as lovely as ever, and the pristine and inviting hostal offered visual and emotional comfort.  After sharing her stories of the earthquake, she pointed to one of the room-number signs that I had painted for the hostal. She said that made her think of me most every day — and added, “That was the grade of the earthquake, a seven point eight.”

My friends at Hostal Palo Santo were not so lucky.   Luchi was away from the hostal when we stopped by to see him, and Fernando was working in Cuenca to make money for repairs to the hostal.   Their mother (and my friend) Nieve greeted us and explained that she and her mother were living in one of the hostal rooms that did not receive much damage.    Most of the hostal, however, needs more than a few tweaks.

#6 at Palo Santo was 'My Room,' and the last time I stayed there, I painted the green around the hard-to-see number.

#6 at Palo Santo was ‘My Room’ at the back of the grounds.  The last time I stayed there, I painted the green area around the hard-to-see number.

#6 is presently unavailable...

#6 is presently unavailable…

Nieve showed my friends Peter and Luis a few of the damaged buildings, and we discussed different possibilities for helping with repairs.    I asked Nieve what might help most, and she said, “Men.  They need people to help with the repairs.”  She also agreed that money played a huge role in repairing the damage and moving forward.

Would Superman please come help them realign this tweaked building?

Would Superman please help realign this tweaked building?

How does one begin the process of fixing something like this without more than a 'little' help from friends?

How does one begin the process of fixing something like this without more than a ‘little’ help from friends?

Pondering options... Twinkle twinkle little star; would you please send a dozen strong men for a few months?

Pondering options… Twinkle twinkle little star; would you please send a dozen strong men for a few months?

Nearby there are make-shift ‘tents’ that looked quite cozy tucked into the temporary settlement.   The covered outdoor kitchen area served their needs, although there was little space for prepping or serving.   Cynthia and I agreed that it’s amazing how many Ecuadorians master the art of cooking in very basic areas, but they do it well and with grace!

Two generations - "Abuelita" Sabando and her daughter Nieve.

Two generations – “Abuelita” Sabando and her daughter Nieve.  To see them in more-festive moments, go here to see their Christmas Tradition on the corner by Jama’s central park:  Through Foreign Eyes

Needing to return to the property, I will close for now and return this weekend with the next chapter.

Thank you for listening, and for caring.

Lisa

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