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Monday, May 31, 2021

Observing Personal Memorial Day

Aloha Everyone,

Since losing my Mother in August 10, 2020, observation of Memorial Day has taken a different personal meaning for me. My Mother loved flowers. She grew them in her yard all around her house. When roses bloomed, she would cut them to place in vases around the house. She also gave away her flowers to whoever admired them. 

So this morning’s breakfast table was beautifully decorated with a small bouquet of roses, I was touched.

I noticed a white canvas tent with Red Cross blood drive. I stopped by to offer a small monetary donation. One of the men who was manning the booth said that they cannot accept any monetary donations but they would gladly accept my blood donation. I had to twist my brain to come up with a phrase, “I would love to give but because I am a cancer survivor, my blood would not be acceptable. To that, he replied, “I am sorry. Please accept a candy.” You find kind and compassionate people everywhere.

I conclude this Memorial Day blog with a few of my favorite photos of my Mother and me.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Gourmet Lunch at Plaza Grande

Aloha Everyone,

Plaza Grande & park is located in the heart of old Quito. There are churches, monuments, government buildings and museums in the area that one can easily spent a day walking around. For us, we beeline for the nearest restaurant with a perfect view of the Plaza Grande & park.

La Vid Restaurante (the Wine Restaurant) had an elegant, old world atmosphere. Service was impeccable and the dishes we selected were delicious. J.J.’s soup, Bisque langostino followed by Camarón con aceito oliva y ajillo were beautifully presented and perfectly prepared.

I was very happy with my House Salad and Portabello mushrooms with asparagus. 

Four tables each with perfect views and open balcony are the preferred seating areas and by the time J.J. and I finished our leisurely lunch (90 minutes), they were all occupied by American visitors.

The only downside to this dining out was since cars are not permitted into Plaza Grande, we had to walk 4 blocks downhill to where there was a taxi stand.

By the time we returned to our hotel room, J.J. was exhausted and ready for a long afternoon nap.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Weekend Activities at Parque El Ejido

Aloha Everyone,

Sidewalks are appropriated by art vendors. One can easily tell that they are not “locals” by the way they dress, the way they act and speak. There is something foreign about them. None of the individuals who set up easels to display artwork are artists. Carelessly they dump canvases onto the ground then blow off particles of grass from canvas surfaces. It makes me cringe. If that was my artwork, I would handle them with loving care.

Uncomfortable to approach vendors and ask questions, I just walked passed them quickly and took photos surreptitiously. Repeated images of the famous Japanese sacred mountain, Mount Fuji, appears in several of these paintings but the rest of the subjects are borrowed from other places. If J.J. is with me, I would like to know where they were painted and how much they are asking.

The park attracts other weekend vendors including native handicrafts with colorful woven sweaters. Rentals of self-peddling cars, bicycles and tricycles are also popular with families.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, May 28, 2021

Wrapping Up a Good Week

Aloha Everyone,

This was a good week for J.J. Lately he has not be satisfied with the taste of the food he is eating. We thought of two possible reasons: 1) due to the multiple post surgery medications he continues to take, 2) his drastically reduced colon length might be affecting his taste buds. Our focus now is for J.J. to regain his strength and some of the weight he lost.

Noe Sushi Bar located in El Jardin Mall had Japanese-style Ramen (noodle soup dish) which was appealing to J.J. He selected one with beef. I asked mine with pork but asked to place them on the side so it was really a vegetarian meal. I only ate about 1/3 of my ramen and J.J. helped finishing the rest. It’s wonderful to see him gaining back an appetite.

At SuperMaxi, I was able to purchase a familiar brand of protein bars and almond milk which will supplement my mainly fruits and veggie with 2 boiled eggs for breakfast diet.

Marcel is a neighborhood florist. Today being my 3rd time to purchase roses, he greeted me warmly and offered to add greens to the bunch and made it into a bouquet for me. I paid him $5 which made Marcel happy.

Flower greenhouses in Ecuador are mostly located at altitudes of 8,000 to 9,000 feet. Fresh flowers, particularly roses, are a major export. The USA receives about 44% with the remaining going to Europe and Russia.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, May 27, 2021

People & Statues Around the Alameda Park

Aloha Everyone,

Business men attired in dark suits, carrying their briefcases, walked briskly pass vendors who were setting up their small semi-permanent kiosk or push carts. The latter opened up large, bright colored umbrellas, lit propane fires beneath grills, pulled out stools from inside their carts and were now open for business.

They sell wonderful aroma of freshly brewed drinks mixed with the sweet smell of sizzling pancake-like breakfast food. These stands are constantly surrounded by customers who stop long enough to exchange greetings are endearing slice-of-life.

COVID-19 preventive masks are mandatory in Ecuador. In supermarkets and pharmacies, they are available in packages of 5 or boxes of 25, 50 and 100. These products are labeled as Product of Ecuador. On the other hand, decorative & colorful single cellophane packaged masks are being sold by vendors. Street hawkers are also approaching passerby's calling out “un dólar” ($1) each.

Previously on my walks with Jeff, the two of us saw as an odd shaped playground tree stump. Today on a closer look, it turned out to be a carving of a dragon’s head. 

Statues and busts are placed all around the park including that of Jorge Carrera Andrade, an Ecuadorian poet, Cesar Dávila Andrade, also an Ecuadorian poet and Fedora Dostoevsky, Russian novelist. The walk around the park is both entertaining and educational.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Happiness is Finding Kaki & Other Fruits

Aloha Everyone,

Literally I will easily walk a couple of miles in search of fresh fruits. There was a small delivery truck parked in front of a neighborhood fruit store. The proprietor was busy going over individual produce baskets. When they were finished negotiating or more like haggling prices, I entered the store. Kaki, persimmon, are probably still early in season. Sizes are comparable to a tennis ball, but the meat of the fruit are sweet and perfect for scooping with a teaspoon. (I like to eat the peel but only if I know where they are grown). When I selected 3 small bananas and 5 small Kaki, the proprietor advices me to pick bigger ones as they charge by the piece rather than by the weight. I thanked her but told her that I simply cannot finish large size fruits so I prefer smaller ones.

As you can see from my portraits of fruits, I am content!

Ecuadorians like to munch on snacks. Jeff likes their light, crisp Chifles (banana chips). Popcorn is another popular snack item in addition to being served as a meal side dish.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Dining In & Out

Aloha Everyone,

Ecuadorian food are mainly meat and fish cooked with rice, in soups or stews. Often dishes are accompanied by French fries and popcorn. Yes, popcorn is a side dish. They are hearty meals but not necessarily healthy for me. 

Our daily breakfast taken in our hotel’s dining room therefore are perhaps our most balanced meals. Fortunately UberEats offer a sufficient selection of international cuisines.

Today we went to a large outlet of Medicity, a pharmacy similar to CVS where there are multiple outlets in and around Quito. My goal was to look for protein shakes that would provide sufficient daily protein intake without adding carbohydrates. 

The two brands recommended by the pharmacist are, to be blunt, disgusting. However, convincing myself that if these taste awful, they must be beneficial to my body :-). Of the two products, MAXIMUM protein drink provides 40% of my daily protein requirements. I will try them for a couple of weeks and hope for good results.

Aloha -- Cathi