Life health culture art...
Business in Loja
Read our articles
By Anita Evans
Please read the disclaimers
So let's talk about ants for a moment. Now, in NZ, most people will be familiar with
the common black ant. That little black ant. Owe ! how I miss that little black ant.
You know where they are coming from as they form a line, a trail, and you can follow
that trail and put down some bail if need be.
Ants here are another story all together! So we have an ant problem. Didn't
have one for the first month as the landlord I've been told 'sprayed' the
So I guess the spray is wearing off. They come out at night. Big buggers !!!! Big
red buggers. And they bite. There is no trail the just appear in some random order
over the living room\kitchen floor.
So I go around squashing them and get all of them that I can see say 6 then turn
around and there in the middle of the floor is another ant. It's like they just
appear out of thin air. You never see them coming, there is no ant trail. They hate
light when I shine the torch on them they run like mad in all directions.
So we can't leave anything out. They don't appear to go for meat more fruit. The
slightest piece of fruit scrap and I mean the slightest smaller then a pip will
bring them out!!
When you walk on them they go ‘crunch' under your feet. They have a very strong
external structure and it usually takes two goes to squash them under a piece of
So when you see your black ants be grateful they don't bite, you know where they
come from and they are small.
Wednesday the 1 April 2009 and happy April fools to you all.
Here the weather is set to get hotter! We are at the end of the rainy season now.
Sevn said today that we had had 160 inches of rain in the first 3 weeks of March
alone. There have been a lot of roads washed out here. Many people only have foot
access to their houses they cannot get a car to their house. It is the worse rainy
season they have had in years.
Emily is really taking to writing she loves writing. We do the alphabet nearly every
day and numbers up to 20 then say them in Spanish and English. Today we started
writing the days of the week in Spanish and English.
We are off to Peru next Thursday for 4 days with some Persian friends. I must say
I never thought I'd ever visit Peru so there you go you never know where you will
Pierre has been up the land today with Gusto fixing the road. He cycled there all
uphill for a 1 to the land then another 1 + walk to the top. Then home again after
working on the driveway.
They have cleared the driveway of the fallen trees and put trenches in to divert
the water all by hand just the two of them He is NACKERED to say the least.
That's how they do things here by hand. The council have been replacing all the
water pipes in V they are upgrading them from 1 inch to a 3 inch pipe. All of it
is done by hand.
Talking about water 200m of the main water pipe to V broke a week ago due to a land
slide so the town has had no water. Try living in a town with no water. The fire
truck comes every day and people put out lots of buckets and the fire truck fills
them with water. Now, remember it's been raining cats and dogs here you'd think
they would collect the rain water in their buckets and barrels. But no, Roland (another
friend) says the no water thing is a social event here. Everyone stops work waiting
for the fire truck they mix and talk and get together while waiting for the fire
We appear to be OK water wise we are on a tank that is filled from a private water
supply phew. But we have had days (3) where we had no water so we do keep bottles
of water for flushing the loo etc (not drinking) just in case we run out again.
We are now buying all our drinking water due to the number of stomach bugs here.
You can't avoid the local water all together but you can reduce your intake.
We have also had no replacement gas bottles in town now for nearly two weeks. So
if you run out of gas you are screwed. They do swap a bottle here. The bottles come
from Loja and there appears to be some kind of shortage. Hot water and all cooking
are on gas here. We are down to one bottle that must be only a 3rd fill now. Every
day the lady says the gas will be here tomorrow and so we wait.
Then the power went out last night but only for a short while. I can just see it
now no gas, no water and no power.
But it's all good and people are very happy. I am back on my feet nearly 100%. Rome
(another friend here) put us onto coco butter which you take in hot water and orange
juice. He said one dose and you will be fine and we are!
We have to do a de-worming routine this week. I have been told from a number of
people that worms are a big problem here. That's the ones in your stomach and small
intestine not the ones in the soil So I am going to use conventional medicine
this time around. There is a natural medicine which Rome has told me off and I need
to get him to write the details down in Spanish. I have to get this on my next trip
to Loja. We'll need to de-worm every 6 months.
I'm doing the dog too. She wasn't too well today so Natalie went with me to the
local vet. The vet confirmed that the dog has Guardia and probably worms. So since
the dog has them then we all have to be de-wormed.
It's not a big thing I remember as a kid mum giving us red tablets which were worming
tablets once a year. I also do a parasite cleanse every year in NZ using Vermexpel
by Malcolm Harker. Very effect if you take it as directed and all natural.
My only bee is that I have to use conventional medicine for this dose, I've checked
it out on the net and it doesn't appear too bad. There are side effects but let's
hope we don't see any of them.
Okay let's talk about having a bitch on heat. This is something I've never experienced
before and something I never want to experience again. At least not without a fully
fenced section and a top of the line dog kennel
So today when I went into V to drop Emily off and school and do my normal morning
rounds I took Tui as per usual on the lead. Now we've had the male dog follow us
around all over town. But usually one or two and you throw a rock their way or carry
and stick and shoe them off and they get the message. WELL, things changed today!
I had 6 dogs following us this morning. They were very aggressive fighting and I
mean fighting among themselves. Like real dog fighting. Scary stuff when it's happening
right next to you. I was not prepared for this. Then when I shoed them off they
started snarling at me!
So this time when I threw my rocks I hit them! And I started carrying a very big
stick. These are not nice dogs they are dirty mingy street dogs. Some of them are
really big too. I had the same problem on the way home. It's nerve racking to have
aggressive dogs following you. I had to get aggressive and make sure my stones hit
I got a bit concerned as I had Emily with me and I didn't want them going near here.
So we came home straight after the vet. The vet said she'd be on heat for about
21 days so we are half way through.
So I ain't taking the dog into V with me anymore. We have barricaded off the stairs
to our apartment and so far that seems to be working at keeping the dogs away. Yeah,
they come on the property and down to the front door! I've kept Tui inside this
afternoon and will put her out for the night. She's good she's got her spot by the
front door and just stays there.
I can't get her fixed to after she is off heat. So in 10 days she'll be at the vets.
If she is pregnant I'll get them to abort the babies as one dog is enough for now!
If I had known about bitches on heat I'd have had her fixed the minute we got her!
Okay let's talk about the school some more. Today is Thursday and we are home in
the afternoon. Emily has pulled out of her bag 16 A4 pages and given them to us.
They are Exams which she sat today!
The school asked for 50c for the exam papers but they didn't say the exams were
this week and I kind of thought I'd be one or two pages of exams. But it's 16 pages!!!!
And I mean pages they are full of questions for the kids to answer.
There are pages on writing and puzzles. Like a g\rid of mixed up letters which the
kid has to circle all the vowels among the letters. An exact copy of the grid below.
They had to find letters like ‘m' in magazines and cut them out and glue them.
They had lots of writing of letters like s and m and ma, pa, mi etc
There are pages of maths questions.
They had to do specific drawings and copy spiral shapes.
All up there was 36 questions that all had to be answered. Emily says they have
been doing this all day today - that's 4 hours of exams.
Please one of my friends out there who have had\or have kids in the first year of
school in NZ please answer this question:
Is it like this in NZ? Do they get 36 questions in primary 1 to answer in an exam
towards the end of the term??
Emily says she did most by herself. Some questions, but not many, she says the kids
or teacher helped with. But when I asked her about each question over 30 of them
she said she did on her own.
1) Emily has been in school for 1 month
2) Emily goes to a school where Spanish is spoken 98% of the time.
3) All the questions are in Spanish
4) She's only five
5) She's only been doing maths and writing for 1 month.
I find this phenomenal I am blown away that she can even read one question in Spanish
and answer it and get it right.
She got 30 questions right!!!
I can't even read one of the Spanish sentences in her exams. I'd be lucky if I got
one question right. Pierre can read the exam questions but he's been using Spanish
for 3 months now and has a basis in French which is similar in a lot of ways to
Pierre wants to talk to the teacher. But I believe Emily and regardless if someone
helped her she's only been doing this school\Spanish thing for a month.
I'm just totally amazed and speechless. That she would even attempt this and not
get frustrated and upset. She was very calm about it all and says she can read the
questions she just can't say them (yet).
Some of the questions:
Aram con figures geometricas un animal
Pintar con la yema de los dedos en la parte de debajo de al hoja.
Recorta una figura humana en línea vertical
Dibuja una escena en donde tu me demuestra que compartes con las persona lo que
Dibuja en el espacio en blanco el numero de elementos que te indica
And so the questions went on. All 36 of them.
Is this not excessive for 5 year olds? What do you all think out there? Feed back
and opinions on this one wanted please.
Friday and we have a new Fridge now. The other fridge was a old dunger. It leaked
water all over the floor so we had to keep a matt in front of it to soak up the
water. Everytime it switched itself on it made a big rattle and the lights would
dim down and nearly go out. We blew a few light bulbs with this fridge. When it
switched itself off it would rattle again and another power surge would occur. This
wouldn't have been too bad if it didn't have very often but some days it would switch
itself on and off every 10 to 15 minutes. So we used to turn it off at night.
Today the landlord arrived with a new fridge. Are, how wonderful to have a quite
fridge. He has bought a power surge board too so the lights don't go out now. Pierre
and me had a bit of a chuckle when we saw the brand of the fridge Durex. We have
a condom fridge! The movers couldn't understand why we were laughing and our Spanish
is not good enough to explain that the fridge is named after a condom.
He also bought Emily a little birthday present. Some magic cups. That light up different
colors. She though they were really cool and likes having her drink from them.
Saturday 4th April.
We woke this morning to now power. There has been really really bad slip in San
Pedro (10 minutes drive from V) that took out one of the major power lines.
All going well they say it will be back by Monday lunchtime. Well that was at lunchtime
today. It has just started raining cats and dogs with thunder and lightning so that's
not going to improve our chances of getting power back by Monday.
We have a motor bike now (a dirt bike) but can't get to the gas station as the nearest
station is in Malacartus which is after the slip.
There are no gas stations in V. It's a fairly big village of about 1,000 people
+ tourists (by Ecuador village standards) and there is no gas station.
So the candles are on the table with the torch. I've a few hours of power in my
laptop battery then that will go out. We still have cell coverage. There is no internet.
We can have a shower as we have water and the hot water gas runs on battery not
The bike is made in Ecuador with big suspension and off road tires. It's good for
getting up the land. There is room for all of us on it. Emily went for a ride on
it. Everyone here takes their kids on their motorbikes or at the front of their
horses. I've seen bikes with 4 up. Mum, Dad and two kids. In V it's okay. No one
drives fast here. Most often than not they don't do more than 1st gear. You can't
go fast as there are too many kids, dogs, horse, donkeys etc on the roads. As they
say ‘if you can't beat em join em'.
Okay I'm impressed. For a 3rd world country they did pretty bloody good considering
it has been raining cats and dogs too. 6pm and the power came back on!!! They may
not have all the latest technology all the latest machinery (diggers, trucks, bulldozer
etc) and the work is done by hand here but when they work they WORK.
These people the Ecuadorians are strong people. Physically strong and their constitutions
are strong. They make us westerns look like weak pathetic beings. I have a lot of
admiration for them; a lot of respect.
I was hoping that the power would stay off given it is Saturday night here. If we
had no power then the local town disco wouldn't be able to start up and we'd have
a quiet Saturday night for a change. They have one night club here and it is only
open on Saturday night. They pump out the music it can be heard for miles.
Emily is so hooked on this motor bike. She keeps asking when school is as Daddy
is going to drop her off at school on the motor bike. She's happy as Larry as she
can be like all the other kids. Isabel gets dropped off and picked up on a horse.
A number of other kids get dropped off on motor bikes or scooters or bicycles. Haven't
seen a kid being dropped off on a donkey – yet.
Today is Sunday again the days just seem to roll around so quick. Today we went
into V it took us 2 hours to walk from the top of the square to the bottom which
is about a 20 meter distance. We bumped into one person or persons after another
that we knew. One gave us some good advice on what to do with the land. One offered
to take our empty gas bottle to Malacatus as they still have gas there so hopefully
by tomorrow we will have some gas, in Malacatus we just have to get the bottle back
home. Others we just pasted the time of day with or caught up with as we hadn't
seen them for a while. We meet the local midwife her name is Tina. We went and had
lunch at the hidden garden we decided to avoid the square to avoid bumping into
more people. We were hungry and wanted some food. So we went around the back way
and bumped into our taxi driver friend Manual which was another 15 minute stop.
Don't get me wrong I really enjoy bumping into people and I always learn more each
time I meet someone. We meet new people too visitors to V. Just today was an exceptional
bump into people day.
I spent 8 years living in Nelson and meet and got to know about a dozen people.
I've spent 1 month in V and have meet and got to know about 25 people plus. These
are people whose names I know, whose houses we visit, who help us out. I wonder
if it is anything to do with the fact that the westerners we meet here in V have
all one thing in common they have left their country's and come to live in V. Therefore
they are a ‘different' kind of people. People you don't find in your home
country because these kinds of people have left, to come to places like V. They
have been new comers like us so know what it is like and help out us new comers
which I am very grateful for.
We had Tui with us. She is coming off heat so we weren't harassed by too many dogs.
We've kept her at home for 4 days. I will take here to Loja once we get back from
On the small achievement scale. Emily, I and Tui went to the little zoo here again
the other day and I could understand the signs for the animals. I could read scientific
name and common name in Spanish! Then yesterday I could read about 50% of a lost
person notice outside the bakery here that we frequent. It was a very sad notice
about a 68 year old lady with alzheimers who had wondered off from Loja. I pray
they find her alive. I can work out about 40% of menu's now. Today I have to give
some specific intrusions to the Rosa (the lovely lady that does our washing) as
I want her to wash the mats separate to the cloths.
There is a great website called Spanishdict. You can type in your English or Spanish
sentence and it will translate it for you into English or Spanish. So I have my
two new sentences for the day. Please wash separately from the cloths and I need
flee control for my dog.
Traveling to new country's where you don't speak the language is a lot easier in
many ways today. A lot is because of the internet and sites like Spanishdict that
translate for you. There is information on every country you want to go to. There
are people writing about their experiences, giving advice, describing the pit falls
they have encountered if you read a lot you can avoid a lot of hassles. If have
to balance what you read as you could be put off going anywhere due to the amount
of negative ‘data' that is out there.
Okay, I have so much more to cover but it will have to wait to my next journal as
we are off tomorrow morning at 5 AM to Peru.
We are taking a taxi to the coast we go from Loja Ecuador, across the border to
Piura, Peru then onto Paita on the coast. See the Google map link:
Because we are taking a taxi rather than the bus it will take us 5 hours as opposed
to 10 hours. Its costing $150 as opposed to $21. We will get to Paita around mid
afternoon. We'll spend Friday afternoon and night at the beach in a Hotel. And spend
Saturday day there to. Then on Saturday mid afternoon we head back to Piura where
we will pick up the overnight bus to Lima!
Unfortunately First Class was booked out so we have had to go business class. It
is a night bus which goes none-stop to Lima. The trip is about 12 hours we leave
at 6 pm and we arrive at 6 am. We are supposed to sleep on the bus. Will let you
know how well that goes in my next journal . The bus is completely full.
They serve dinner and breakfast on board. It's going to be an experience.
I'm pretty blown away we are going to Lima, Peru. We have no return booked we'll
just see how we go and how long we want to visit for. Tui is going to stay at Pedro's
and Agatha's while we are away. It is good to be going with friends who know Peru
and have family and friends in Lima.
While I am writing this Emily is outside playing with this enormous black and yellow
caterpillar and she had him\her (sorry I don't know how to sex a caterpillar) on
a piece of paper and was holding the paper at hip height and flotch. She titled
the paper and the caterpillar slide of and landed upside down on the concrete. It
immediately righted itself onto its legs and went off on its way. And Pierre says
“it's good that these animals don't need a chiropractor” (at the time
it was really funny).
To finish off I am very very pleased to announce that I am over this belt of bowel
bugs!! Everything is working ‘normally' again. We are all well again. And
today it is not raining for once.
P.S. we have a full gas bottle. Many thanks to Pierre and is resourcefulness in
getting it filled. He didn't give up and went via numerous avenues and people and
finally hooked up with Marco who got it filled in Malacatus and brought it back
to us. We still have a new bottle (we bought a 3rd one as a backup) in Malacatus
getting filled which Marco will bring to us.