Friends in High Places

We had been talking about having dinner with the Governor and First Lady Boatmaster for some time; a date was finally made.  When the day of our dinner had finally come, we had to face the inevitable.  Personal hygiene…

Please allow me explain…

Me and Captain are both outdoor adventurers.  It is nothing to go at least 3 days without showering.  On a week-long camping excursion, a ‘shower’ may be swimming in the lake or rinsing off in a waterfall.  In Ecuador where the ocean is steps away and cold showers are the norm, let me say, we tend to get pretty ripe before demanding the other must shower!

“No, Captain!  Jumping in the ocean is not a real shower…”

In our hygienic defense, salt has cleansing properties-Captain and I get in the ocean daily so we do not totally disregard our cleanliness!  Secondly, the coast has a wonderfully dry heat that doesn’t increase oil production of the scalp.  So washing my hair ‘traditionally’ might happen once a week.  Shaving…this was even more rare.

Captain hadn’t shaved in weeks so we headed to town to visit the barber.  Beauty shops frequent the streets of most Ecuadorian towns so I knew this quick trip would be painless…

The first saloon we came to Captain walked right past.  “What’s wrong with this place?” I asked.

Is that Beiber?

I guess Captain wasn’t impressed with Justin Beiber’s endorsement…

The next shop Captain came to he stopped and said, “This one is perfect.  A shave for a dollar and they are watching the Simpsons.”  That’s right, my friends.  The Simpsons….in Spanish.  The shop was crowded with people and EVERYONE’S eyes were glued to the television; laughing as Bart was hitting Homer over his head with a skateboard.

“D’oh!” is still “d’oh!” in Espanol…

The barber didn’t take his eyes off the television; he just pointed to the chair.  The second Captain’s ass hit the seat, the barber stomped on the bar and the chair flew back.  The barber slathered on some shaving cream and whipped out his straight razor.  Without taking his eyes off Homer, the barber began slicing away at the hairs on Captain’s neck.

I couldn’t bear to watch as the man with the blade looked on…it all was happening so fast.  Captain laid there throughout the traumatic experience; it seemed as though his mind had left his body.

The next thing I know, the barber is clapping his hands together and I recognize the strong scent of aftershave.  Captain’s torture must be over.  No…not yet.

With his alcohol doused hands, the barber smacks Captain’s blood-tinged cheeks, bringing Captain quickly back to his physical body.  The barber kicks the bar and the chair flew upright nearly launching Captain to a standing position.  Captain handed the barber a buck and began fanning his face with his hands.  I am not sure if it was the razor burn from the dull blade or the alcohol splashed into open wounds…probably a combination of the two.

With teary eyes he claimed, “I may have third degree burns.”  Captain was stunned the whole walk home.  Post traumatic stress perhaps…

Like we always say, “what do ya expect for a dollar?!?”

I also had plans to shave but I was sure my experience was going to be much less dramatic.  After absorbing the sun on our walk  home from the barber shop, I was hot enough to take my very cold shower.

There are two choices: ease into the coldness and prolong this discomfort.  Or argue with my mind for 5 minutes as it tells me there is no way I will be jumping in head first.  Hmm…

I choose the latter and finally dive in.  When the cold water poured over my head, my whole system was shocked.  The hairs on my legs grew another centimeter as a chill ran from my head to my toes.  My appreciation for water is strong and I respect it healing properties.  But I have yet to fall in love with cold showers so quickly I began throughly cleaning every inch of my body…it would probably be a while before I was again this dedicated to a cold shower.

When it came time to shave I was thankful for the brand new Venus Breeze razors I had brought from the United States.  With a lubricating strip around the blades, this shave was going to be a ‘breeze’.

A really cold breeze maybe!

My goosebumps had not retracted so with every swipe of the blade, it felt as though tiny pieces of flesh were being shaved right off.  The stinging of the salty shower water in these tiny wounds confirmed my suspicions.  My mind keeps telling me “just get out already.”  But I had committed this far and wasn’t going to stop after only shaving one leg!

Instead of sharing with Captain my experience, I decided to keep this one to myself.  Telling my shaving debacle may have triggered flashbacks…

Our inflamed skin eventually faded and we made our way to Tonsupa to have the honorary dinner with The Governor and First Lady.  This was our first visit to their condo and we were looking forward to touring their Ecuadorian home.

The Governor said the guard would be expecting us and would surely recognize Old Yeller.  Our Spanglish is still improving but in situations like this there is often confusion.  Captain tried to explain we were here to visit our friends but the guard didn’t comprehend.  “Tight security around here!”  Minutes later, we heard “Hola.  Es mi amigos!”  The gate opened and there with open arms stood the Governor welcoming us to his humble abode.

The moment we arrived, Captain and I were poured drinks!  “Margaritas? Beer? Wine?” Pick your poison! First Lady was very hospitable and Governor poured his drinks strong! I sipped on my margarita and had the grand tour of their place.  The community was like nothing I had seen up here in the North; high-rise buildings, gated community, modern amenities and first class service.

“We are treated like royalty here!  There are hundreds of these condos and only a few of them are occupied full-time. All the employees know us by name. They have doorside service and come right away if we need anything!”  They practically have the whole place to themselves…

The progress of Playa Almendra continues as amenities are added.  From the 3rd floor view, overlooking the center of the community, Governor and First Lady have a bird’s-eye view of the place.  There are several large pools all of varying depths. Three tennis courts are tucked away behind the pools. The Putt-Putt course is still in the works and will surely be a hit.  The grocery, restaurant and department store are almost complete.  When they are finished, people who live here won’t ever have to leave.  I see why retirees would be drawn to this lifestyle.

Playa Almendro

The hospitality of Playa Almendro was grand; its modern amenities resolved a bit of the discomfort of transitioning from first to third world living.

Before dinner, we went for a ocean side stroll.  Tonsupa’s white sand beach is clean and virtually void of beach goers. It is lined with high rises and the quiet village lies behind those. “I love it here,” Governor stated as he walked with his head held high, obviously pleased with their unconventional choice of retirement destination.

An Ecuadorian High Rise

Our feet kicked up fluffy white sand as we combed the beach with drinks in hand. Weeks earlier Governor and First Lady had witnessed a sea turtle laying eggs on their beach. We hoped to cross paths with the hatching eggs but had no such luck.  If there are turtles hatching on the beaches of Tonsupa, surely these sea creatures will also be frequenting our beach…

Most retirees venture to the Southern coast cities or Cuenca where English and expat communities are common.  The expat community here in the North is VERY small and it is rare to find locals who speak English.  When I first met the Boatmasters, I wondered what brought two folks from the Southern States to this nontraditional part of Ecuador to retire. His reply, “If I wanted to live with a bunch of ‘Americans’, I would have stayed in the United States!”

The cultural diversity is beautiful but with ongoing immersion in a foreign language, simple social interaction can be taxing.  How grateful one becomes of language when they can speak again without having to translate their thoughts.  Dinner with others who speak your first language becomes a treasured event.

First Lady cooked a delightful dish of shrimp scampi and we enjoyed a colorful salad on the side.  We sipped on our drinks and shared with one another how happy we are to be residing along the Northern coast of Ecuador.  Governor’s drinks kept getting stronger as the night went on so we called it a night before we had to sleep over!  Its challenging enough to drive in Ecuador sober…

The sun fell and the white clouds turned to beautiful shades of pinks and purples.  I was hypnotized…

Shining Thru

Visions of our future shine through…

…I can see clearly now our comfortable inn.  It is a beautiful creation with epic 360 degree views of ocean and jungle.  Each room has a picturesque scene as floor to ceiling windows expose every angle. Large sliding glass doors open to the outdoors and bring nature within.    The roof top terrace is covered with greenery and vegetation.  With an unobstructed view of the heavens, the rooftop also has a breathtaking view of the surrounding gardens.  Butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies flutter amongst the aromatic flowers and healing herbs. Toucans sit high in the fruit trees with swinging monkeys playing nearby. My mind is calmed by the sounds of crashing waves, flowing streams and falling water…

I could hear the stream flowing strong but Captain’s voice brought me back to the present moment.  “Whew!  It’s been a long time since I drank so much booze.  We are lightweights compared to our friends!”

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