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Travel On Dudes!

Sand Dollar Beaches in Ecuador

Treasures of the sea. A sand dollar. Some might value fancy cars, luxurious homes, glamorous

clothes and jewelry . But for me it felt like a I just won first prize.

We were riding our bikes today on the longest stretch of beach in Ecuador. 14 km of sandy

beach stretching from General Villimil Playas all the way to VIA DATA going towards Posorja.

This stretch of beach is wildly popular with Ecuadorians who view this area as the weekend

beach and surf getaway from the busy metropolis of Guayaquil. So when it gets hot in the city,

many city residences travel one and a half hours to Playas to cool down. Playas is well known

for its EL PASEO mall located on the beach with a cinema, the abundant amount of seafood

restaurants that stretches for miles, endless amount of sand dollars and the sun. Back in 1982,

UNESCO rated Playas the 2nd best climate in the world. No so much today, but Playas still

has the glitter and charm that Ecuadorians are looking for in a vacation or weekend getaway.

We stand out. Gary and I both wear brightly colored reflective vests, helmets and take bike

riding safety pretty seriously. Even if we are the only ones on the beach for miles. Never know

when a speeding fish truck will fly by. So as we rode our bikes through the soft sand, we can

see thousands of markings from sand dollars that are slightly below the surface of the sand.

I exclaimed to Gary. LOOK!! A sand dollar! It was so perfect, unbroken from the tumultuous

waves. Pure joy awash as I admired natures exquisite details.

As I carefully picked up this delicate shell, I could not help but smile, as the legend of the

sand dollar came to mind.

In the corner is a star and around it an Easter lily. The openings represent the wounds of Jesus.

When broken open, five doves of peace are found. On the reverse side is the design of the

poinsettia, the flower of Christmas.

This reminded me, as we go through life, we value so many different things in different

stages of life. I remember when I was a teen..it was the fast sporty car, my twenties, the

career job, my thirties, the nice home. As you see, there are no right or wrongs here, we

all deserve what brings us joy and happiness. So, do you value success? Wealth?

The lifestyles of the rich and famous? Or the simplicity of what treasures you find apart

of ones environment? Now that I am in my forties, it’s the latter.

So, as I preserve and cherish this precious treasure of the sea, the sand dollar, it will

forever remind me that life is about sharing, caring, and helping where you can, and

most importantly the promise of love.

Travel on Dudes!

By Janis Bokar

Salinas Naval Academy Providing Community Service

Janis and I have the upmost respect for the men and women in the armed forces in Ecuador and thank them for their service.
So, Janis and I made a quick stop on May 24th at the Naval Academy in Salinas to drop off a donation to honor and commemorate the Battle of Pichincha which was May 24th, 1822.
This donation was made to paint the 2 Naval Academy racing sailboats so that they can continue to provided community service for the residence of Salinas. The donation will provide maintenance on the sailboats so that the academy students can train the community on water safety, sailing, rescue, life guarding and swimming lessons.

We will write a full article once the boats are finished and presented in a ceremony on July 3rd. Ohh, look out for our “Travel On Dudes” logo on the boats.

“The most delicious fruit known to men”

So what is this mysterious and highly touted fruit that Mark Twain once said, “The most delicious fruit known to men

Why, the chirimoya of course!

When you look at the fruit you just say wtf?

Small little green things with bumps all over it.

Funny, I have even heard Ecuadorians say when they have hit their head that produces a little bump they say,”I have a chirimoya.”

No mistaken this fruit is incredibly strange to look at, yet it is one of the most delicious fruits Gary and I have ever eaten. Gary even ranks chirimoya as his top fruit of Ecuador.

The chirimoya is native to Ecuador and grown at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4,300 to 8,500 ft). The taste is light, sweet, and bursting with flavors from bananas, pineapples, strawberries, pears and apples. The texture that surrounds the little dark seeds is creamy and gives the fruit its secondary name as the custard apple.

Chirimoya fruit ripens fast and has a very short shelf life. When chirimoya is too ripe, it ferments and is no good; only takes a few days to turn bad. If you notice the fruit is brown, don’t eat it and do not chew the seeds or skin, it’s toxic. Do not let the short cycle keep you away from this fruit.

I can’t believe I have been living in Ecuador for 7 years and I am now just trying this oh so delicious fruit because the chirimoya is packed with nutritional value! It contains an impressive list of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A cup of cherimoya provides 20 milligrams of Vitamin C, almost 33% of the daily recommended value. It also provides 0.5 grams of Vitamin B6, and 0.2 grams of riboflavin. Cherimoya is a good source of potassium, fiber, folate, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and calcium.

So how do you eat chirimoya? When ripe it breaks right open so just pop the white pulp into your mouth and suck to remove the flesh from the seeds. And don’t forget to spit those seeds out!

I know we are adding it into our daily fruit intake, especially for me, being high in calcium, it’s terrific for those thinning bones! But you better hurry, it won’t be around for much more time, the chirimoya season is coming to a fast close for the season is from November thru May.

What better way to get to know a culture but through its gastronomy. Go out to the markets and try even the strangest looking fruits because they can turn out to be the most delicious. Remember the old adage you can’t always judge a book by its cover. How could you not love sweet, delicious, nutritional food ? What are you waiting for, go find chirimoya and try it.

Mark Twain could not be wrong and you will not be disappointed!

Travel on Dudes!

Article by: Janis Bokar

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Weekend Quickie in Baños – Always an adventure

Gary and I have been starving for an adventure…even just a weekend get away. Now, 6 months after I broke my kneecap, I knew i was ready to test the waters so to speak, and take the plunge. And where best to go? Baños De Agua Santa of course, it’s the candy store for adventure travelers offering a plethora of activities such as mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, zip lining, repelling and white water rafting, to name a few.

So off we go for a quick weekender. We decided to keep activity light and just hike around this trip. And what a great idea..we usually hit the pavement running as soon as we arrive in Baños. We decided to stroll through the town and really look at the wonderful artisanal shops, sample the many sugar cane candy makers, to getting a caffeine buzz on all the sidewalk coffee houses.

As the day was coming to a close, we walked past the patron church of Baños; known for being made from rock of mother volcano Tungurahua herself. The doors were open, beckoning all, to come in and honor a loved one by lighting an alter candle, or step in the sanctuary where an organ plays grandiose music. Stop for a quick Sign of the Cross and pay reverence to the spectacular design of the interior. From gold leaf trim to relief paintings of Mary, Jesus, and the Saints. But, what really catches the eye, are the massive wooden doors and intricate carvings . Only a master could have created such works of art. Truly, seeing is believing.

Heading away from the church towards the waterfall and family park, we passed by a quaint place and I said to Gary, “hey babe checkout those old leather luggage pieces,” with that we realized we walked through time. The place named Huillacuna turns out to be a hostel, museum and art gallery. How cool we thought. We were greeted by a most friendly attendant who gave a brief history and private tour. She explained that the whole place was pieces of artifacts found throughout Ecuador during different periods of time. Most noteworthy though, were the collections from the town of Baños itself. Items from the first hair salon, first carpenters workshop, and first photograph studio! The collector is private and had been establishing his museum and art gallery for the past 30 years!

Our private tour was most informative with an incredible amount and variety of inventory and it was all labeled! They request a donation of $2 for maintaining those incredible artifacts and antiques. Just when we thought this place couldn’t be any more incredible; when in walked an older local gentleman who we could tell frequented the place often just by the familiarity of his interactions with our hostess. Being polite our hostess introduced us to Pedro Villafuerte, and it turns out he is a direct descendant of the master art carvers from the church! He explained how proud he was that his grandfather and great uncles all hand carved the wood without formal education (literally not even high school) computers, laser cutters, only the rudimentary carpenter tools which his family had donated. The same carpenter tools we admired on display. What a small world. I enjoyed my few minutes of time with this lovely gentleman and his family history as he sneaked a kiss goodbye he made me promise to send the photo, but he says,”I don’t do technology, come see me again. I’ll be around waiting.”

Ahhh…they don’t teach any of this stuff in school…so get out and…Travel on Dudes!

Article By Janis Bokar

Beautiful “Circle of Life” murals in Guayaquil by artist Hugo Lara


Janis and I met Pablo and Rebecca Lara a few months ago while attending a friends party at Tom and Becky’s Restaurant located in Playas. Since then we have become good friends, attending parties and get togethers for social events.

Recently we have been following a story about Pablo’s father Hugo, who happens to be the artist working on the murals located under the highway underpasses in Guayaquil. I have seen them being worked on and was fascinated by the skill and talent of the artists who were putting tiny pieces of art together. To find out that Pablo’s father was the talent and artistic mind behind the beautiful creation was amazing. Just recently, we met the talented artist Hugo at a mothers day BBQ on a 10,000 square meter property owned by Hugo located in front of the Pacific ocean in the tiny Ecuadorian coastal city of Engabao.  A brilliant and humble man who loves his family, art and his country.

The Lara’s Property in beautiful Engabao.

“My father, Hugo Lara comes from a big family of 8 siblings. His parents and grandparents were known for being honorable entrepreneurs and hard workers. They are known musicians and artists, dreamers and creators in the Lara family history and for that, the entire family is very proud. No one in his family has ever reached as much fame as my father,” said Pablo.

Hugo started painting in 1965 when he was around 15 years old and by the early 70’s he won his first art competition that was sponsored by the biggest newspaper publication in Ecuador, the El Universo.

The theme was Guayaquil and with his winnings, he was able to afford to go study art in Spain.

Studying in art in Spain changed his whole perspective about art.

Hugo studied all the great artists at the museum Del Prado and began creating what today is known as the “Circus of Life.”

Hugo’s work has developed over half a century and what once where dark paintings with naked fat people that used to represent a “fat state” due to the government of dictator Franco in the 70’s, it is now the colorful work of these harlequins that used to represent society as a whole.

The “Circus of Life” is a play we call life, in which everyone is an actor and performs a particular role within the society in that they live at different times in their life.

This is the reason many of the spectators of his work can relate to some of the characters being depicted

Some fall, some climb, some try to keep the balance while others help others out while making the particular piece as fun and alive as possible with not only color but special characters like the king of the circus or the queen or the harlequin of good luck.

The last thing to probably mention is that Hugo Lara has lived in General Villamil Playas now for over 20 years after living abroad in big cities across Europe and the United States. You can find some of his works at the local Catholic Church in Playas with the stain glass of the fisherman’s virgins and as of this week a mural for hotel Palmetto in Playas.

With the recent completion of the big mural under his belt in Guayaquil, the Laras’ are hoping to build a monument at the entrance of Playas depicting Hugo’s style but also representing the local culture.

Proyecto Puente a Desnivel de El Circo de La vida

Dedication of the Circle of Life
Hugo Lara with the Mayor of Guayaquil – May 17th 2017


The Mayor of Guayaquil Jaime Nebot
May 17th, 2017 in Guayaquil
Artist Hugo Lara


See more pictures of Hugo Laras’ work on the Circle of Life: Click link below


Be ALERT during the holidays. NEW YEARS CELEBRATIONS bring in thousands of people…

I know, I have put this message out a few times. But, if a robbery, sexual assault or another serious crime can be prevented because 1 person read the message. Then, it was well worth being reminded of personal safety again.

Be ALERT during this NEW YEARS CELEBRATIONS. New Years celebrations will bring in tens of thousands of people from all over Ecuador hitting the coast and other popular tourists destinations.  Some will come just with the intent to commit crime.

Please take some time to read this.  



Robberies increase BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the holidays.

SOME PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS – Most are common sense, but sometimes we just need to refresh and keep focused so that we don’t become the victim.

*** Be aware of robberies involving people on motorcycles staking out locations like restaurants, ATM’s, shopping centers, etc. When the time is right, they will approach and demand personal items, money, jewelry, your shopping bags, etc. They will usually brandish handguns or knives. Many of these crimes are quick. Give them what they want.

*** Home invasions / burglaries will be on the rise.
DON’T TRUST ANY ONE ! I hate to say this but, even your guardians, house cleaners and caretakers. When you are going out to a party or any other function, the people you count on and trust also know when you will be out. Only a few are bad, but those are the ones that will hurt you and rob you blind.

So limit what they know about your day-to-day movements and habits.

*** Be careful with the uniformed officers – Police and Transito.
Corruption from officials demanding money during the holidays could happen more often. When confronted. Call “911” immediately to report this. The government wants you to report this conduct immediately. The officials asking for a bribe will back down, so call 911 and ask for a supervisor to respond. Make sure to have witnesses available or drive to the nearest police station or transit office. BE VERY CAREFUL! BE tactful and think before you do anything first.

*** Be careful with fireworks. Many stuffed dolls (monigotes) will be thrown into fires at the stroke of midnight. Some have fireworks inside of them.

*** Watch out for pick pockets, people who bump into you.

*** Carry (NOTARIZED) copies of your Passport or Cedulas in your purse or wallet. Leave the originals at home. You can even carry a dummy wallet, purse or phone.

*** Limit the amount of money you carry. (Leave your credit cards and ATM cards at home.)

*** Limit the amount of jewelry or flashy items on your person.

*** Always give the robbers what they demand. They will take and go.

*** Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Criminals often target people who are distracted.

*** Whether driving, walking or taking public transportation, plan the trip in advance. Know how to get to your destination by the most direct and safest route.

*** Watch your personal stuff, backpacks etc. when on busses. Do not put any bags on the floor or overhead storage, hold them on your lap. Sneaky criminals will drag them from under your seat and steal your personal items.

*** Make it a habit to always look back at your seat when getting out of a taxi or bus. Don’t leave your holiday gifts or other personal stuff behind.

*** Travel on populated, well lit streets. If possible, travel with a friend.

*** Many of you will be celebrating and drinking, please be careful, taxis and other criminals will target you if you had too much to drink.

*** Take Yellow, marked taxis or any other reputable taxi company. Sit behind the driver, don’t take out your phone, know the fare amount, try to have the exact fare amount on hand. Don’t flash any merchandise or money. If you get a bad vibe, act and get out.

*** If you suspect or know that the taxi driver is going the wrong way, be polite and ask the driver to stop so you can pee on the side of the street or that you have to throw up. GET THE F*** OUT OF THE TAXI ! (In a well populated location if possible)

*** If you see that the driver is making a phone call once you get in the taxi and looking back at you, changes directions or tells you he needs he needs to make a stop. GET THE F*** OUT !!! (In a well populated location if possible)

*** Never let the taxi driver pick up other passengers period.

*** Avoid leaving valuables in your car. Whenever possible, place items out of sight in the trunk of your vehicle prior to reaching your destination. Never leave packages in the passenger compartment unattended.

*** Plan your purchases in advance and carry only the amount of cash or (try to avoid carrying your credit cards or ATM cards) or credit cards necessary to make the purchase. If you must carry a large sum of money, divide the cash between your purse, pockets and wallet.

*** Carry your purse close to your body. Place one end of the purse in the palm of your hand and the other in the bend of the elbow. Never wrap the strap around your body.

*** If you are carrying a wallet, carry it in the breast pocket of your jacket or in your side pants pocket. The rear pants pocket is the easiest to pick.

*** When in a restaurant, don’t leave your handbag over the back of your chair or on the floor. Don’t leave belongings unattended.

*** Keep an eye out for dishonest servers in restaurants. You put valuables on the table like your I-phones, cameras etc.

*** Don’t wait until you have reached your front door to look for your keys. Have them ready in your hand. If a stranger is standing near your door, it may be a good idea not to go in until the situation feels safer.

*** Lock your front door immediately upon entering your home.

*** If you live in an apartment building, don’t buzz in someone who rings your bell until you have verified who they are. This will help protect both you and your neighbors.

*** Be wary of con artists. Con artists use a number of ploys to trick you and steal your property. Some divert your attention while another picks your pocket, some pose as utility workers or as a trades person to gain access to the inside of your home, while others conduct scams that are more elaborate involving several con artists.

*** As a consumer you should avoid illegal vendors selling goods on the street. Purchase merchandise only from licensed vendors or reputable stores. Follow your instincts. Remember, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.

Install the app – ECU911 on your android or Iphone.

These are just some but very important tips for day-to-day personal safety and security.


***********I have been asked a few times why sitting behind the taxi driver is the safest.************

Sitting behind the taxi driver is the safest from my personal experiences as a detective in the New York City Police Department and working as a decoy with over 100 times being robbed while targeting criminals that rob passengers on taxis, trains and busses. I have also worked directly with the NYC taxi and Limo commission (TLC) in enforcement, targeting cab drivers. I was also deployed as a decoy cab driver picking up passengers in high crime areas known for robbing taxi drivers all over Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

In Ecuador, taxis with a safety partition that separates the driver and the passenger are very rare. So this is related for cabs that do not have any kind of partitions.

  1. Sitting behind the driver you have more control of your safety and can do more to effectively take action if something serious happens.
  2. Seeing the cab drivers hands is great, but most of the time, the seat in front of you is blocking your view of their hands. Their right hand is shifting and the left is on the wheel. So you will almost always see their left hand on the wheel.
  3.  You have quicker reaction to grab the driver from behind if your safety is jeopardized. Choke hold with your arms. You can also use their chest seat belt to wrap around their neck. (for Self DEFENSE only) In Ecuador it is a law that the driver wears a seatbelt.
  4. Most people are right-handed. If the driver pulls out a gun with their right hand they will have to switch to the left hand and point the gun across their chest and turn around to face you. Even if they stop the cab to grab their gun or knife with the right hand they then will have to completely turn their body to face you while displaying the weapon with their right hand.
  5. You might also be able to kick the back of their seat with both legs and push it forward so that it limits the space they have and keeps distance between you and them.
  6. When you are sitting behind the driver, you can see the driver side door compartment. Some might stash weapons there. You might be able to see a weapon. Another place to stash weapons is under the driver side seat. When you notice them bending down to reach under their seat a red flag should go off. If you are sitting behind the driver, you can see the glove compartment. If they stash a weapon in there you will be able to see it and react faster.
  7. When you get inside the cab and sit behind the driver, you might notice the driver adjusting their rear view mirror to see you. That is normal. But if you see them being very uncomfortable and adjusting to SEE you a lot more, a red flag must go up. If the taxi driver tells you to sit behind the front passenger seat, refuse and get out.
  8. Another safety issue is that the taxi driver will avoid turning into the driver side during an accident. They will turn to the right side where it is exposed more to an impact in a collision.
  9. If you sit behind the front passenger seat here are the cons. Your reaction time is greater to get out of the line of sight if a weapon is pointed at you.
  10. When you sit inside a taxi you put your backpacks, bags etc.. on the seat next to you, which is behind the driver. This will make it very hard for you to get behind the driver if they lock your doors.
  11. If you understand their language, it’s easier to hear their conversation if they get on their cell phone to tell other criminals where to meet to rob you.
  12. If you have to look at you phone or take out money from you purse or wallet to pay for the fare, they can’t see what you are doing if behind the driver.
  13. Most of the cab placards or ID tags are hung behind the driver. Hard to see it if you are on the other side. If in trouble, yank the placard off the taxi and run.
This is just a few safety tips and the reason why you should sit behind the driver.
Lastly and most important. Avoid violent confrontations. Give them what they want and get out of the taxi safely. Most injuries happen when one resists.

Stay ALERT and stay safe always.



mail boxes

The post boxes are installed receptacles in public and private places for citizens and tourists deposit their shipments 24 hours a day.


  • Correspondence admitted until 1000 Gr.
  • There are small and large mailboxes.
  • It has a rate shipping specifications, weight, and rate the final destination.


  • Postal service 24 hours a day.
  • Shipments cheap rates
  • Users can ship to local, national and international levels.

Dimensions of mailboxes postales.-

Mailbox Small : 50cm x 40cm x 20cm letterbox Large : 72cm x 40cm x 20cm




Physical section that allows our users to have a unique and specific leased home mailing address, which can receive local, national, international correspondence. Post office boxes are classified as:

– Sections Postcards Domiciliarios

– Sections Postcards Military

– Sections Postcards Air Force

– Sections Postcards Naval Force

– Police PO Boxes

– Sections Postcards for Agencies and Branches

– Paragraphs Post for Franchise


There Sections Great Post and Standard:

Large: 13 cm. wide x 28 cm. high x 32 cm. depth

Standard: 13 cm. wide x 13 cm. high x 25 cm. depth


  • Exclusive access to our user (key).
  • His correspondence remain in the PO until the customer pick it up.
  • ongoing advice to ensure the proper use of post office boxes.
  • Correspondence consolidates our users from any destination (statements, magazines, catalogs, letters, packages, reports, resumes, etc.).
  • It allows total privacy to identify our users with a code as your home address.

Sections rates Postales.-

Standard box: US $ 25, annual oo includes VAT.

Big box: US $ 30, annual oo includes VAT.

Section military and police postcard: US $ 7.84 per year including VAT.

It is important to note that in the case of new hires, the amount payable will be prorated according to the month in which the contract is made.


If the payment is made between the months of January to March, the discount is applied according to the following table:

If the client has not renewed his locker during the first 3 months of the year, in addition to the annual payment shall pay a fine of 10% of the total price of the lease.


apartado-domiciliario 2


Allows citizens to have a specific place for delivering correspondence that incorporates the same numbering assigned a specific, exclusive and for receiving national and international correspondence in the sectors of housing, offices, industry or commerce.


  • Installation is done through municipal ordinance issued by each canton nationwide.
  • Sections Post Domiciliarios be installed in number equal to premises and homes.
  • The doors of each PO Domiciliary carry a numbering assigned by Post of Ecuador CDE EP that will be unique for each PO Domiciliaria.
  • Users will have complete freedom to build or acquire the best Domiciliarios PO Boxes suits their interests, provided they observe safety measures and necessary dimension.


  • Safety receiving correspondence (correspondence will no longer be dumped in your yard or given to others).
  • Correspondence may remain stored in the PO Domiciliary until its owner retires.
  • Creating culture on the use and benefit of the media.


Sections installed nationwide under ordinance issued by each canton, there is now the following cities in operation:

Loja, Quero, Guaranda and implementation: Pasaje, Cotacachi and Archidona.



Envelopes with pictures of tourist attractions issued in coordination with public or private entities each canton or town, which are delivered free of charge to customers of Ecuador Post CDE EP.


  • A3 and A4 envelope size.
  • Full Color Printed envelopes with different designs.
  • Envelopes with plastic inner.


  • Free delivery envelopes for sending documents to local, national and international users of the postal service.
  • Dissemination of the major tourist attractions in each county at local, national and international levels.

Dimensions sobres.-

Envelopes A3: measures 47cm x 30 cm
envelopes A4: measures 37cm x 23 cm

envelopes distributed nationwide to all agencies and branches of Ecuador Post CDE EP




Packing boxes designed to facilitate transportation of shipments safely at local, national and international levels.


  • resistant boxes designed in pressboard.
  • Suitable for shipping products that are exported from our country.


  • cheap rates.
  • Provide the user boxes postal packaging to transport their shipments, which allow their shipments arrive safely to your destination.
  • Available in all agencies and branches of Correos del Ecuador nationwide.

Dimensions of packing boxes postal.-

small box: 25 cm x 25 cm x 15 cm

medium box: 40 cm x 30 cm x 20 cm

Large box: 52cm x 45cm x 70cm


Nationally distributed boxes of all agencies and branches.




Shipping local, national and international level with an economic rate.


  • No priority delivery times.
  • You do not have code for tracking.


very cheap rates.

Coverage and times delivery.-

National 24 provinces.

International: 193 UPU member countries.

máximos.- weights

National: No weight limit (restrictions apply package).

International: Up to 2 Kg


Ecuadorians are always there when you need help

On a beautiful and sunny day off the coast of Ecuador lies a quite and tony fishing town of San Antonio. Janis and I met Ecuadorians that just open their hearts and home to total strangers that needed help. It was actually me that needed the help.

Yes, we had tourist look written all over our faces and even though Janis is Ecuadorian they sill consider her as an outsider because of her looks. And for me, I’m just another chino passing trough. The friendliness, the natural and genuine smile of Ecuadorians living on the coast shows. This is one of the many reasons why I adore, admire and embraced the Ecuadorian culture and people.

Janis and I started our slow bike ride through the back streets of Cadeate. A small town that is bustling with small bakeries. The aroma of the sweetest smelling breads for miles around replaced the smell of the salt from the near by sea. Even the back dirt roads had the aroma of bakeries with its doors left wide open pumping out the freshest and tastiest breads 24 hours a day. It reminds me of Walt Disney World, in the Magic Kingdom where they would purposely pump and fill the air with the smell of freshly popped popcorn corn, cotton candy and other tasty sweets. The delightful aroma in the air attracted and hypnotized you as you followed your nose to the source. In that moment it felt like you went to heaven and was floating in mid air.

As we always do, we explored off the beaten path, meaning that we go where most gringos or tourist do not. We blaze our own trails by venturing into the back streets and alleys. When I see something unique or interesting we veer off and check it out. We believe that if you live in a neighborhood, then one must get out and learn about it. I ask myself, what makes this town tick? Where do everyone live and socialize. I agree this is not for most people, especially gringos to go and venture into no mans land, but its their land, and we love their openness and transparency.

Janis and I are not the typical gringos, we love to explore. It would be unwise not to know your surroundings. As a former cop, I am always aware of my surroundings. I use my so called spidey senses from years of experience as a Detective from New York City Police Department to warn me of potential trouble. Its the survival instincts that I have mastered after working the streets of some of the most violent and drug infested parts of NYC. I do not have that feelings of insecurity or safety and security issues while living on the coast of Ecuador. If I did I would correct it. I am very mindful and apply common sense all the time. We speak to the locals very frequently and their genuine friendless is evident. They told us that when we walk the street they watch our backs. That my friends is a community that looks after EACH OTHER.

Even though we are living in paradise, never let your guard down. Be very vigilant and think security all the time. Guess this would be another blog post I can talk about later.  

Big city cops take on personal security and safety in Ecuador? 

While we explored off the beaten path, I happened to venture into a dried out water inlet that channeled into the ocean.  The dried and cracked up dirt looked hard enough to ride over but nope, my bike started sinking into the thick tar like mud substance. As you can guess, my bicycle wheels got stuck and I was forced to slowly get off and walk my bike out. Janis who rode behind me saw me getting stuck so she never even tried to follow me. Smart move Janis! Soon after, I gingerly got off my bike and lifted my sneakers out of the mud and pushed my bike out. The thick black and heavy mud adhered to the tires and chain. Well, it wasn’t long after riding with all that goo and nastiness that the chain broke in half in the middle of the off the beaten path.

Luckily, Janis speaks fluent Spanish. We saw some locals sitting near the road and asked if there was a bicycle repair shop. No such place in town, however the locals huddled like a football team and talked amongst themselves, looked at the chain and before we knew we were following a stranger that had a solution. His name was Santos, a local handy man. A jack of all trades and knew exactly what to do. He invited us to follow him to his house just a few blocks away. So without further ado, we walked, pushing my bike to his house. A simple removing of a chain link and reattaching a new link is what was needed. Santos went into his house and came back out with another bicycle chain and removed one of his own bike links. For someone to do such a thing was an act of true kindness, friendship and of giving. While he was repairing my chain,  Janis and I talked about how humble and simple the Ecuadorians live. Not 10 feet away was a house with a few windows without screens and cracks on the walls. Inside was dark so the mother and 2 of her girls were sitting on a wooden table doing homework in front the doorway where there was light. The Ecuadorians do so much with so little. I am deeply humbled for what I have.

The repair was completed in no time after assisting Santos with the complex gears. Never once did Santos hint at asking for money for helping us. We thanked Santos for his help and gave him a tip. Santos did what he did to help a stranded person without hesitation. I am so proud that I live in a country thats so welcoming and helpful. I can say that Ecuadorians are always there when you need help. All you have to do is ask.

To give when one has so little to offer is kindness that comes from the heart. I will return and this time to give back big time.