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“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”  -Paulo Coelho

Manabi Province, Ecuador –   Years ago when making the commuter flight from Quito in the Andes to Portoviejo on the Pacific coast, I often studied the landscape below.  After marveling at the beauty of Chimborazo poking through the clouds, I wondered about the lower elevations as the plane prepared to land.   A large body of water always intrigued me, and I assumed it was ‘never-never land’ – perhaps like the Darien Gap swamp between Panama and Colombia.

Or like a cypress swamp in the Southern USA….

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Several months ago, my friend Xiomara helped rekindled that interest when she mentioned she’d be working upriver from Portoviejo.  Deciding to close the chapter of ‘Casa Loca,’  it was time to move forward, and many places held my interest.  I had been combing the Province via Google maps in search of a quiet area with a good source of pure water – away from pollution and surrounded by natural forests.   I did not want to make a temporary move, and I suspected that patience would be rewarded.

Scouting via Google Maps, I was disenchanted – and shocked – at the continued deforestation.  Out of curiosity, I zoomed to the little hamlets where Xio would be working and was delighted to see that large body of water!     We coordinated meeting when she traveled to the area, and while she was working, I scouted around, loved the extremely-peaceful vibe, and returned for a second day of exploring the area.    The locals pointed me to the ‘Swiss cabanas’ which turned out to be so much more than simple structures!

Where the blacktop ends – and where the locals were happy to point me across the lake, an easy ten-minute drive.

The Caretakers are so sweet, and yes, they’ll call ‘Don Jorge’ to come greet the guest.

Walk past the caretakers’ house, then the coffee-drying area to visit one of two casas.

A few weeks later, I stayed a few days/nights at ‘Casa Poza Honda’ – though after only an hour there, I did not want to leave!  The howler monkeys chimed in at dawn the next morning;  I was instantly awake.  “Howlers?  There are howler monkeys here?” I definitely felt at home.

Howler Monkeys watched over me when I lived in Costa Rica. They were like personal watchdogs – and even taught me their basic language!

So fast forward to the present, and I am now settling into that lovely area.   The waxing and full moon were polite and gave a proper welcome!

And yes, the howler monkeys announce the sun’s arrival each morning, followed by the very-early birds’ peaceful awakenings.  The roosters practice their own ‘Time-out-for-Breakfast’ tunes.

The mystery bird is/was in fact the Orange-fronted Barbet, and the male and female drop by for photo sessions.

In time, I should be able to get the USB internet connection, but for now, there are few options – and those are not very dependable.  Either the signal drops, or the computer declares an unsafe connection via free public Wi-fi in the park of Ayacucha.

Suffice to know that all’s really really well…

And between bird and monkey sightings,  I have been working on art…

Yes, there have been many timeouts for art…

Including a quick study of a wildly-colored gecko!

Thanks for your extremely-positive feedback on the last few posts.  I hope – internet permitting – to reply to the comments over Ecuador’s Independence-Holiday weekend.