Eric and I are still packing presents at 1:15 in the morning, and losing energy and enthusiasm. It is the usual rush before Christmas; no matter how prepared I am, I always feel there is a increase in intensity before the celebration. This year in particular, I was unable to prepare much. We arrived early Tuesday morning, to a home that had not been occupied, and not ready for us at all. The fridge and the pantry were bare, there were no Christmas decorations up; we had to start from scratch. Just rebuilding the pantry took several visits to the local grocery store. We were lucky to find a tree at all. The tree lots were bare, and Marc and Eric picked through the remains at Publix and paid ten dollars for a perfectly respectable one. Eric and Maya put the lights and decorations up today, so the house is looking more festive. It smells good too; I have been baking sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, thumbprint cookies, Mexican Wedding cookies, and a key lime pie ( I found key lime juice in the freezer, in fact there are dozens of containers of key lime juice filling up the freezer entirely, so it seemed that key lime pie was asking to be made).
Christmas Tree Getting Ready
My parents brought us maple syrup form Canada, so we ate waffles this morning, with strawberries and whipped cream and syrup. I have been craving maple syrup for months now, and it is not available in Ecuador, so I feel very lucky to have a big jug of it. I subjected the family (actually it was the extended family, including Eric's parents and grandparents, his brother and my parents and Eric and Maya) to locro de papa for dinner. I made two pots of soup, and put mozzarella in one and a Mexican 'queso fresco' in the other, since I did not find the usual 'queso fresco' that we use in Quito. It appeared that the mozzarella soup was the preferred one. I could not find achiote, so I used paprika instead, which did not appear to interfere with the taste of the soup. Eric bought wonderful avocados, and I added green onions and feta cheese along with the ubiquitous 'canguil'. It was interesting that the popcorn did not taste as good as it does in Quito. I was never a popcorn fan until we moved to Ecuador, but have enjoyed it more and more, since it appears to be added to almost every meal there, and is tasty and delicious. The popcorn we had today was plain and tasteless. The soup was well received. It is a heavy meal and did not require more than the soup and a salad and fruit for dessert. If I have energy later in the week, I will try llapingachos and chorizo, or even a ceviche!
Brunch is the Best Meal of the Day
I managed to get out shopping today and was able to cross more off my list. I got out to the beach as well, and wandered along the sand looking for shells and watching the pelicans swoop down to catch fish and the sandpipers digging their beaks in the sand and the gulls hanging around looking for scraps. There were a few other wanderers on the beach, but I felt uncrowded and free on the white sand. Maya did cartwheels and handstands and wanted desperately to go into the water, despite it being frigid. I could not help but put my feet in the water!
Drawing in the Sand
Sandpipers in the Sand
My daughter Tara flew in from Italy as a surprise for us all. Her flight was canceled from Milan so she was obliged to take a circuitous route through to London and spent the night in Gatwick before catching a plane to Tampa. She was ill on the plane and after a cursory greeting fell into bed to recover. It feels wonderful to have the family together for the next two weeks.
Seagull Waiting for Food
Quito feels very far away. I find myself relating all my experiences with crime in Ecuador, and that does not seem fair, because there is so much more to our lives there! I hope that I am able to remember our year for all the wonderful adventures we have had.