Many of you have expressed concern that there would be some festivities for me to enjoy on my first Christmas in Ecuador – well, rest assured, it has been awesome!
It started out Monday evening (Christmas Eve eve) with a fun time learning and playing a new card game (31) with my friends Bill & Elaine and their friend who is visiting, Robert. We were upstairs on Bill & Elaine’s balcony enjoying the cool, evening breeze and some Christmas tunes (Michael Buble being the favorite) on my iPod. We didn’t even care that the power and internet were out! Elaine and Robert had a bet going (25 cents) as to whether the power would come on before or after midnight, and thankfully Robert won! It actually came on early enough for Bill to make us a spur of the moment dinner of hamburgers and fries (craving satisfied) – what an awesome way to kick off the festivities!
Then Tuesday I did something that I absolutely NEVER did or would do at home – go to the mall on Christmas Eve! And yes, it was pretty much as crazy as it would have been back home! But Mesfin was making a trip into Manta for some Christmas gatherings with friends, we wanted to show Manta to Robert and we each had several things we’d been needing to get, as well as a few last minute food staples for our meal, so we all piled in at 7:45 a.m. for the trek. Mesfin graciously went to the mall so I could buy my first supply of cat litter at the store where I have found it the cheapest – yes, there is actually a grocery store in the mall! Charcoal and I have been making it on what I brought with me, but that is about to come to an end and Mesfin was willing to take my new supply back with him in his car. He was going to be staying overnight in Manta, so after the mall excursion we broke away from him and did some more shopping and had lunch. Then we hauled the remainder of our purchases (including some additional groceries) in a cab to the bus station for the two hour bus ride home – whew!
However, it was my first time to go to the artisan market in Manta and I could not resist buying a beautiful, handmade “coat of many colors” for $20 – I don’t know when I’ll visit the weather to warrant wearing it, but I will certainly enjoy it when I do! In addition, I purchased some handmade pants to go with my previously purchased top. I also bought a long awaited beach umbrella and chair. So here I am with all of my Christmas purchases for opposite seasons – do you detect a color theme? Merry Christmas to me!
Christmas day started out with a walk on the beach singing Christmas carols with my iPod – because I can! Other things I did to make the day special – burning a Christmas candle & putting cinnamon in my coffee – yum! And believe it or not, Santa found Charcoal in Ecuador! Just like all other children, she ate her treats and then played with her toy – for about 2 minutes – then she was bored and ready to get on to the next thing.
In the afternoon, Elaine and I got “dolled up” and she and Bill cooked a lovely meal of chicken (we mistook it for a turkey at purchase, but she cooked it like a turkey and you wouldn’t know it wasn’t), mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, veggies and two desserts and my contributions were deviled eggs, fruit salad and my famous artichoke dip – it was all muy yum! The gathering included myself, Bill, Elaine, Robert and Mesfin. After dinner we ended the evening with more fun card games.
Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families…” and He has certainly been faithful to do that for me here in Ecuador. Although I have many wonderful Christmas memories from childhood on, many of the people I shared them with are no longer in my life, so I am very grateful for the new life God has given me and the opportunity to make new traditions and Christmas memories in Ecuador – I’m definitely off to a great start!