What’s Up?

I doubt any of you that follow my blog have realized that it has been over 3 weeks since I’ve published anything, but this is definitely the longest I’ve gone without writing since I’ve been here.  It’s not that I have not had anything to write about, it’s just that I’ve been too busy to write!  It hasn’t been nearly as exciting as what was happening in my “Silence Is Golden” post, when I was reconnecting with Robert and making plans to meet up with him for a cruise.  But I realized not long ago that I really haven’t written much about the routine happenings of my life here that take up the bulk of my time and have kept me especially busy lately, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to chronicle them for you.

First and foremost is my ongoing three day a week “bee call” job (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) that everything else gets planned around.  The bees busted out about a month early with a premature Dallas spring, and many of my work days have ended up being 12 hour nonstop marathons of talking with customers and putting jobs into the system.  I literally don’t budge from my couch or hammock at all during those kinds of days.  They are grueling and exhausting, but also where I make a significant amount of the money that helps see me through the “lean” winter months, so I just have to endure the insanity, knowing it is short lived.  What that also means is that I don’t have the usual luxury of accomplishing various household tasks during work days (laundry, food prep, dishes, emails, etc.), so I have to catch up on those things during non-working time.

In addition to those three days a week, I have various other regularly scheduled activities.  Monday mornings I’ve been having a Bible study at my house with two other friends here.  Our first study was on prayer and our latest one has been the book of Philippians.  We’ve taken some breaks and had to miss days if anyone had something special going on, but other than that it is a fairly steady commitment and often times we go for lunch afterwards.

Wednesday is always my “Manta shopping” day, which is generally an all day affair.  I ride in on the early bus (or occasionally with someone) and I frequently have a companion along for the day.  Even if I’m on my own, I almost always meet up with my friends Jim and Jane for lunch.  In the morning, I usually do various shopping errands or just explore, and after lunch I do my weekly grocery shopping before heading home (usually on the 3:00 bus).

The second Friday of every month is our “Puerto Cayo Ex-Pat Ladies Lunch.”  This is something that started over a year ago with a few of us ladies getting together for lunch on the beach.  We had such a good time, they asked me to plan another one (even though I wasn’t really the planner of the first one) and after inviting a few more ladies the second time, by the third time I just sent an email out to everyone I knew here and it has grown from there.  My friend Elaine helped spread the word out at her development, and now we regularly have 15-25 people every month!  I am the one who chooses the location (and now organizes it ahead with the proprietor – we used to just show up, but now our group has gotten too large to surprise a local restaurant).  I also send out the reminder emails and take the RSVP head count (and sometimes food order) ahead.  The day often turns into an all day affair (like yesterday) with several of us choosing to hang out together longer and usually managing to work in our favorite card game somewhere afterwards.

The last Friday of the month is a trip to Puerto Lopez to pay my internet and electric bills.  I usually try to make a shopping/outing day of that as well and am often accompanied by friends (last month four!) to enjoy exploring and hanging out in that fun little town.

This was the view from my bedroom window of what we had in our development last year after not much rain. This was actually taken a few days after the rain, so it is somewhat receded but lasted for weeks. This year we have had much more rain and yet our roads dry almost as soon as it has ended. I would hate to think of where we'd be if we hadn't gotten it done!

This was the view from my bedroom window of what we had in our development last year after not much rain. This was actually taken a few days after the rain, so it is somewhat receded but lasted for weeks. This year we have had much more rain and yet our roads dry almost as soon as it has ended. I would hate to think of where we’d be if we hadn’t gotten it done!

One of the other things that takes up sometimes more/sometimes less, but a fairly significant amount of my time here is involvement in our Home Owners Association.  I mentioned some time ago that I live in a small housing development and there are very few of us who are currently full-time here.  That, coupled with the fact that we were long ago abandoned by our developer with several things unfinished, has left those of us here in a delicate balancing act of keeping things at least status quo, if not progressing.  We all pitch in to do what has to be done and in essence are acting as an unofficial board of directors, while the rest of the people who own property but live elsewhere pay their dues (hopefully) and leave it up to us to keep everything running until they decide to build.  My biggest project to date was spearheading getting our road completed, lest we end up with even worse of a lake than what we had for six weeks last year, after even less rain than what was anticipated (and received) during this El Nino year.  It was no small task to get the quotes and push through our own internal bureaucracy to get it done, but the road was started the Monday after Christmas and finished approximately two weeks later, just in advance of the beginning of rains that have been coming (on and off) ever since.

The other major and ongoing thing I am in charge of is our volunteer workers (“Workaway”) program.  Over a year ago, we decided we did not have the income to maintain our guards and could better use the “casita” house they stayed in to house volunteer workers who would help us with many of the ongoing maintenance tasks and improvements we needed to complete.  My friend Ed started out managing the program, but ended up having too much on his plate trying to finish his own house to continue handling it.  So I took over in September of last year.  I maintain our Workaway ad (view it and our reviews here), screen and correspond with applicants, schedule them, and oversee their needs and work assignments.  I do have support help from some of the other residents in figuring out what maintenance jobs need to be done (not my forte), but ultimately I am the “go to” person that looks after the workers while they are here.

In addition to all of that, are just the normal HOA board type discussions and emails regarding various issues that come up, decisions we need to make or things we need to resolve.  As you can imagine, this is a continual (almost daily) part of my life here.

Social events are a big part of my life here. On Easter there was a potluck dinner for all the ex-pats. Last Sunday Bill & Elaine invited me and our former neighbors Mesfin, Sam & his wife Martha over for a day of lunch, cards and swimming. Last night we got to surprise Sam by crashing his family birthday party (at Martha's invitation). Here is the birthday boy with his beautiful bride.

Social events are a big part of my life here. On Easter there was a potluck dinner for all the ex-pats. Last Sunday, Bill & Elaine invited me and our former neighbors Mesfin, Sam & his wife Martha over for a day of lunch, cards and swimming.  Yesterday was our monthly ladies lunch and last night we got to surprise Sam by crashing his “family only” birthday party (at Martha’s invitation). He seemed pretty happy we showed up.  Here is the birthday boy with his beautiful bride.

On top of all of that, are various and numerous social gatherings, which frequently include my oldest and dearest friends here, Bill & Elaine.  Elaine and I are especially good at enjoying “girl time.”  We did pedicures in Manta together a few weeks ago, she was part of the Puerto Lopez outing group and other Manta shopping days, as well as ladies lunch and various other happenings.  They will be returning to Canada the first week of May for 3 months, so I’m trying to get in as much time with them as I can before they go.

So that, my dear friends, is what has been keeping me so busy lately and not blogging!  I’m thankful for a cloudy, rainy “bee day” in Dallas today, so I’d have a chance to update you on my life.

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