Sunday, October 30, 2011

We're here!

This doesn't really show just how many people were at the
border crossing - it was the safest place I could find to pull
out my camera - it kind of gives you an
 idea though how crazy it was!
Ok heres what happened on our trip back from Peru. It started off a very leisurly morning because we had asked the Hotel reception to call our friend Washington to -pick us up, Had a nice breakfast, one final peek at the beach and then when we went outside to get into the car - what do we find but another guy waiting for us! Apparently they had tried to ring Washington but he didn't answer his phone - yeah right, whatever, I could tell they were making that one up and were using their own favorite! Ok well it was too late to do anything about it, so we explained to Jorge where we needed to go. First of all he tried to drop us off at a bus station - he must have been thinking that this was the easiest $40 he had made, but we insisted he take us to the immigration in Peru. When we got near to the border town, low and behold the streets we shut off for a parade to some saint or other, so we had to drag our baggage through the streets (and I meant literally drag one of our bags because the wheels had collapsed in protest by this stage). When we had covered quite a distance, we realized that we were nearly over the border and had not exited Peru as yet. Stop! Jorge had no idea and even argued with us that we were going the right way. Thankfully there was a bunch of taxi drivers standing there and they joined in and backed us up. One of them, although he looked really dodgy, suggested he take us and we dubiously said ok as there was really no other option. Well looks can be deceiving, its true, because, this young fellow turned out to be a gem. He looked after us a treat, even carrying the sad suitcase for me (which believe me was very heavy - remember we were moving house as well). So now we got across the border and had to go to the Ecuadorian Office to be let back in the country - no problems there and after another taxi ride back into town (because we had been told we could get a van service to Guayaquil, which was quicker, but it turned out there was only one seat available) we finally got on a bus. Not the end of the story because back at the border - the guards wanted to check through one of our suitcases - Mark had to open it up for him, while I sat in the bus a little worried because in that bag was a container of rice flour - I was sure they would think it was cocaine or something and we would be detained in a seedy prision until they tested it!
We arrived in Guayaquil at around 5.30pm - thankful that we had booked into the Bed and Breakfast for the night, I really couldn't have faced more bus travel without a good sleep under my belt - however that wasn't to  be as the neighbors decided to karaoke all night and one particular lady thought she was a great singer so hogged the microphone, but let me tell you she would have been booed off Ecuadors got talent in a heartbeat! Anyway we had no choice - we had to tackle the bus ride to Puerto Cayo and so to the Bus terminal we went - bought the tickets and made our way to where it was leaving from. The conductor of the bus said that our bus was the next one leaving, which we knew was not right and insisted he read our ticket and let us on. Then we had a fight with him because our seat numbers were 24,25 and he was trying to put us on 44,45 - we realized later that was why he didn't want us on the bus at all because he had let someone else have our seats. Well we finally sat down in 44 and 45 grumbling because it was at the back of the bus, and not very comfortable etc - when of course the person that was assigned to those seats comes along and wants us out. Time to play the - we don't speak spanish card - because by hook or by crook, I was not getting out of that seat and standing all the way to Jipijapa (2 1/2 hours) - so we let her fight it out with the conductor and it ended up with a young fellow standing (for just part of the way) - phew!

Gary met us at the bus stop and took us back to the house, but on the way showed us a property that we could buy. We met with the owner today and tomorrow we are going to the Municipilidad to see if it's value can be raised. It is just a little piece of land, not anything like the Paute property, but it is on the beachfront and so it could increase in value over time. Of course all we want it for at the moment is to get our residency so lets hope it works this time.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just to let everyone know - we were permitted back into the country and we are now in our new home in Puerto Cayo - I will post a detailed account of our trip (which was a bit crazy) when we have unpacked and settled in. Chao for now!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Well our forced vacation is nearly at an end - one that has been very tranquilo - nothing to do but walk on the beach, get to know the wild life and veg out by the pool. As it turns out we didn't need to have quite so much time here (our visa expired today as noted in our passports but our censo's or Ecuadorian ID cards, expired on the 25th) Everytime we have left from the airport, we have had to show our censo's or risk a fine, so we thought that would be the case at the Peru border, but no- they didn't ask for it at all. So we could have only spent 2 nights out of the country instead of 4! Oh well, thems the breaks. 
So it's back to Ecuador tomorrow, we stay the night in Guayaquil and then go directly to Puerto Cayo, our new home - well that is if we are let back into the country - vamos a ver!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Much ado about Peru!

Well here we are in Peru - Zorritos to be exact - the beach is gorgeous
The Hotel - Los Balcones de Zorritos - is real cute - little noisy at night from the waves crashing right outside our window but there could be a lot worse noises though aye?

Out the otherside of the hotel is miles and miles of barren looking land - I don't think they have seen rain in these parts for awhile!

Our taxi driver filling up his tank with the gas he brought from a little old lady on the side of the road - he told us it was contraband fuel
Coming down to Peru was a bit of an adventure and a little nerve wracking. I had imagined that we would go through the immigration, exiting Ecuador and entering Peru in the same location however what really happens is you exit Ecuador at one spot, grab a taxi (the one we got had me a little worried but it was alrgiht in the end) for a 10 minute ride; then a ten minute walk across the actual border (along with thousands of other people coming and going in both directions);find another taxi for about a 5 minute trip to the Peru immigration office. When we got dropped off by the bus at the exit point, there was a huge queue so it took us about an hour and half to get through. As I said before the taxi we got into first seemed a bit dodgy - another fellow was in the front and we didn't quite understand that we were sharing the ride with him so when we started going a little off the beaten track, I thought we might have been hijacked, however it turned out he was dropping front seat guy off first.
I really think we were being looked after though because a super nice guy approached us and told us he would take us through to the Peru immigration office - we were sitting targets for bad dudes and it was getting on to dark by this time, so Washington became our new BFF and took us over the border to his car, helped us with the immigration and then on to our hotel (about and hour away). I think it was a good deal for $40, so we are going to get him to come and get us on Friday for the return trip.
Its been a relaxing few days here at the hotel - nothing to do but walk on the beach, or fall asleep on the deck. Definately something Mark has needed after the huge month he has had.
Anyway I don't think I am as nerveos about crossing back into Ecuador, now that I know what to expect, oh and the fact that the guy at the immigration office in Ecuador said to us "when are you coming back" and he didn't seem too worried when we said Friday! Here's hoping!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Well we are just about to leave for Peru - a little scared but it's gotta be done! Hasta Pronto todos!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Para Paola

Paola, one of the girls in the group left us last week to serve in the Quevedo's Chinese group. She plans on being there at least for a year. I'm told its not the prettiest of places but there is a real need. So I made a farewell video for her but I'm not sure if it worked so now its on the blog she will have an opportunity to see it. Sorry about the bad quality, I had some trouble uploading it.

Paola si estás leyendo esto, gracias por todo el apoyo que me has dado,te extraño mucho - nos vemos en la playa!  

Posted by Amanda  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just had our last meeting with the Arenal Congragation - I had promised myself I wouldn't cry and I did good! Maybe that is something to do with we will still be living in Ecuador- if we were going home to New Zealand, I know I would be a blubbering mess! As I kept telling the brothers and sisters - we will be able to visit lots and they can even visit us! 
Mark has 2 more days of elders school and then we can seriously pack up - we leave for Peru on Monday morning, have 4 days there vegging out beachside then come back into Ecuador as tourists. 3 months to get our residency sorted - lets hope all goes to plan.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cute little clip to watch

I have had the privilege of studying with these three kids and the other day they acted out the story we had been reading - the parable of the unforgiving slave. I thought you might enjoy seeing it too.

I had to say goodbye to them today as we are on countdown for sure now - it's  sad and exciting (and nerve wracking) at the same time - well I guess it is time again to step out of our comfort zones!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pioneer Meeting

So I just went to my first pioneer meeting in Ecuador on Friday.

For some weird reason I had thought it was supposed to start at 1:30. I wondered why dad left the house early. It actually started at one.

But I was still rushing to get there on time (1.30???) as I had been helping Chad with some technical stuff at home to make sure he was all good for his work. When I finally got there - its like a 15 minute walk - I could hear the speaking from round the corner, and that when I realized I had the time wrong. How embarrassing. It was made more embarrassing by the amount of people there.

Now in my last circuit we had around 30 (from memory) attend the pioneer meeting, and in the one before that, it was about 80 or so. So imagine my surprise when I walked into an over full hall! There were an extra two rows of seats put in and the two back schools were full too - I was ushered into one of those. Later it was announced how many were in our circuit - 230! yes that's right two hundred and thirty regular pioneers! That is so many - and a privilege to be part of. I wish I had a photo - but I don't. So oh well how sad

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Persistence pays off!

I've been wanting to tell you about a study Mark has for awhile - but I was waiting till I got a photo to go along with the story. Sadly the day I did take my camera with me, the rest of the family weren't there so I just have to go with what I've got. Pictured from left to right is Antony, Mark, William, Darwin and Grandma (have no idea what she is called). Usually there are 4 more kids and Darwin's sister hanging around too. When Mark arrives at the door - all you can hear is "El señor, El señor! (The Mister, The Mister) - and all the kids come bowling out the door to hug him - so cute.
Now all in this family seem to have the same problem - a short attention span! Mark has persistently worked with them and now they take turns at reading instead of clamoring to read over each other. Darwin seems to be the biggest kid of them all, so Mark decided to have him sit in on the kids study in the Bible Stories Book, and only do a couple of paragraphs of the BT book each week with him. And the Grandma has been quite difficult (she looks fierce in the photo doesn't she) - coming and going during the study and often making distracting comments. Well for the last couple of studies (they study twice a week), all seems to have changed - Grandma sits quietly, listening, asking appropriate questions and generally behaving herself. Darwin is concentrating more and actually getting through more paragraphs in the book. William though is the greatest joy to see. He just loves what he is learning and sits in rapt attention through both studies. 
The two boys came to the meeting the other night for the first time - (Darwin came the week before and attended the memorial this year) and William asked if he could come again next week. So I take my hat off to Mark for the progress he has made with this lot, hopefully when we leave they will continue progressing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I made sugar cookies for the party and as evidenced by the next photo - they went like hotcakes!

So the congregation had a farewell for us last night and thankfully people showed up for it. It was actually lovely and I only cried once (when little Cinthia, 6 years old, gave me a card she had made saying I was the most important person in her life -adorable) - so I did pretty well.

I made a video for the occasion of some of the friends we've made and a few highlights. Some of you may  feel like watching it even though it is of people you don't know. Be warned though it is about 8 minutes long - maybe you want to grab a coffee and put you feet up while you watch it?

(By the way - I plagiarized Aaron's cool trumpet music from the video of Brendon going to his study - it really is the coolest music, so I just had to use it again)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Who would have thought it was possible?

Just a short clip to prove he really did it
Mark had his first assembly talk on the weekend and I was probably more nervous than him! It was a little strange that it wasn't at our assembly which is in 2 weeks but that's the way they do things here. He passed the test with flying colours and I was super relieved (and proud)!