Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Food and worms (yes they served us maggots)

This guy has been drinking Chichaw all day. This is one of his two wives.

We always had a table cloth of banana leaves. Very handy and environmentally friendly.

Martin and Alfredo shown with our standard dinner of boiled plantains, potatoes and yucca. This meal was special because we received fruit.

Onto the food. I am sorry Chris, but you will have to skip this part. If any more of you do not want to hear about strange things to eat, you can skip this part also. We ate crazy stuff. Really it was better not to ask. The first thing you are given when you arrive is a drink called “Chichaw”. This drink is made from Yucca, a root that grows in many places in Central and South America. The root is chewed by the wife and spit out, fermented for three days into a very strong alcohol and drunk by the men. I am sorry for all you ladies out there who take offense to this, but as far as I could tell, women do not have anywhere near equal rights in the jungle. Roles are very defined. Anyway…. This drink is really strong and it’s a considerable offense not to drink it. The lady of the home will pass it to you and you drink some, not much, just any amount will do. You hold the cup (usually a dried ghord) for a couple minutes while talking and then return it to her. She will take it back from you, refill it and give it to the next guest. You never pass it yourself to another person.

Maggots (cooked) - they love them. Very special treat.

For breakfast, lunch and dinner we had “Papa China”, a kind of potato that is always boiled that tastes good, boiled plantains (a kind of banana), yucca (a boiled root) and usually a small portion of meat. We know we ate the following meats: Chicken, wild pork, smoked guanta (a large rat looking thing) – it was really good, night monkey and one or two other things we could not identify. They did serve us cooked maggots and many of the guys ate them, but I did not. I was really full and they did not look appetizing. By the time we returned to Shell, I was ready to eat something else.

This one is food and fun.


Look up Guanta for a cool meal on Google Images. Smoked it is incredible. Best meat we had.

Co-pilot is better than walking

I cannot tell you how nice it was to start my first jungle trip (Jan 23rd to 27th ) in a Cessna 206 for half an hour. A Mission Aviation Pilot named Chad flew us to Iñyau near the Pastaza river in the jungle of Ecuador. I tried to find it on the map for a reference for all of you, but I could not find it. If you have Google Earth, the GPS points are “S 02-09.722”, “W 77-29.082”. As many of you know, just before I left for this trip I hurt my back playing Ultimate Frisbee with a group of missionaries. I almost did not make the trip, but I am really glad I went anyway. I have to admit that it took until Thursday before I could stand up straight. I really missed my brother the chiropractor at this moment (don’t tell him I said so).

The people of Iñayu were very friendly and took great care of us. Part of the arrangement with HCJB Global is that the community provide food and water to the team while we are helping in the village. We ate well, but what we ate will be a mystery for years to come.

Typical living arrangements - wood houses or grass huts

First the people: about 20 families lived there and they were considered very progressive. They already had a captured spring, a water tower made of logs and a complete distribution system to each house. The solar pump brought water from the captured spring to the tower for distribution. Their trouble was the tower was rotting and falling down and they wanted a better design with more storage capacity. I was impressed by their willingness to work, the progress they had already made with water and their resolve to improve. I have little doubt that this community will complete the task at hand.

Failing water tower for water distribution system

I met a bunch of new friends, not the least of which was Herman. Herman is about 6 years old and very fun. His parents (Herman and Gabriella) were extremely nice and wonderful people. She was 24 years old, had five kids with the sixth on the way. Her oldest was 9 years old. You can do the math, but this is pretty typical in the jungle.

HCJB Global had invited three students from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan to come down and work on their senior design project. Bret, Travis and Josiah came with eyes wide open and a willing heart to gather information to make the project possible. They were fun to work with and adventurous.

We stayed three nights in the village of Iñayu in a wood sided school with a new tin roof. It was very nice and I would be glad to return there anytime.

Our sleeping arrangements - bug huts saved the day and night!

One of the most fun pastimes was taking pictures of the kids. Each kid wanted his picture taken and then rushed, I mean pushed shoved and clawed, to see his image captured on the back of the camera. They thought that was the most fun ever.

Water fall at Iñayu


Did you know the jungle rule of thumb? Every minute in a small airplane is equivalent to one hours walk on the ground.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A shortage of photos

I know that blogs are nearly as interesting if there are no pictures to support the stories - however do to some technical difficulties, we have not been able to post photos of our first 2 weeks here in Shell. We hope to have that remedied soon.

Currently Eric is with 3 co-workers and 3 college students in the Amazon. He is expected to visit 2 different villages to repair a water system and take inventory of the needs of another village. At this time we are not able to contact him as normal communication systems do not work out there. For emergencies he does have a satellite phone. He has not used it - PTL.

The kids are fully engrossed in school, homework and playing with the neighborhood kids, a new experience as we lived on acreage in the states without close neighbors. They are loving the freedom to run around and everyday we have kids knocking on the door for them to come out and play. The rule is: if the front door is open then we can be disturbed. If closed, please try again later.

As for me, I will begin using some of "rusty" pediatric occupational therapy skills at the local orphanage this week as well as getting involved in a women's Bible study.

Our house is currently in maintenance mode as we are planning on moving into a nearby house in 5 weeks, so we do not want to invest in paint or hang things on the walls when we will just have to remove them and cover the holes in 5 weeks. It is amazing what a few posters and tape will do to brighten a room however. Eric has already fixed 2 termite ridden doors and unfortunately (nature of the jungle) I have 3 more waiting for him when he returns. Adrianne is excited that she has a bed and stand for her room (night #2 here she awoke to a 3 inch centipede crawling on her face) and the boys received their comforters from home via the college students who came down. Soon we hope to have a stand made for our mattress as well as the boys rooms and then a kitchen table. As they say in Spanish, poco a poco (little by little).

Expect to see a few photos soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today marks a week

Today is the 7th day since arriving here in Shell. The time has flown by. We were and still are being warmly welcomed by the missionary community as well as the local people. It is interesting to note that as we have introduced ourselves to various shop owners, employees, etc.. around the community they do not immediately respond with their name. Their first question is, "How long will you be living here?"

Shell has a very transient missionary community, as it hosts medical students and residents and short term teams year round for a little as 2 weeks up to 6 months to a year. We are honest with them when we tell them, "at least 2 years, perhaps longer." At this point, they then respond with, "Bienvenidos, me llamo _______. (Welcome, my name is__________). If they know we aren't here for a vacation, or just passing through, then they are willing to honor us with their name and perhaps in the future their friendship.

So the first week has consisted of a lot of cleaning and repairing. The house that we moved into was freshly painted, but had not been lived in for 2-3 months, which with the jungle as your backyard is a long time for ants, spiders and termites to move in - as well as mold to grow.
As of today, we can begin creating our own dirt.

We have walked the 4 blocks to town frequently already, trying to figure out where and how to buy groceries. No Wal-marts here - but we have Cynthia, who runs the meat market and takes orders over the phone and we have Rosita who runs a convenience store that carries peanut butter because the missionaries like it and then we have the lady who drives 2.5 hours with a truck full of veggies to sell them in town. Not one stop shopping but it does provide more opportunity to get to know the local people.

The kids started school today - next Monday will be the official beginning of 2nd semester but this will allow them time to get used to the schedule. Nate Saint Memorial School is a four room school house with a library and office. Each room hosts a split class beginning in 1st grade and continuing through 8th grade. Adrianne is one of 4 kids, while Joshua is one of 5 kids. Kevin has the largest class with 6 kids. Do to the transient missionary community, Joshua will have to say good-bye to 2 classmates and Adrianne 1 classmate in 2 months.

Eric begins his official first day in the office tomorrow. He has been spending several hours each day in the maintenance department of the hospital for several reasons -0ne of which is the fact that they have tools! Of course he has needed to use the tools to repair doors, etc. He has also made fast friends with the men that work there.

As for me, I am working to make the house a home, helping the kids with transition (as well as myself!) and catching up on paperwork that we did not have time to complete in Costa Rica. Over the next few weeks as a schedule is established I will be starting to provide some Occupational Therapy services at the local orphanage and possibly the hospital as they have need.

Until the next time!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Well we knew it was inevitable, but it began. Our son Joshua is struggling with the very real “Yucks” of leaving behind friends from Costa Rica. Although everyone is excited to get a new home, it comes at a cost. This new home lacks a routine, new friends and we have not yet arrived in Shell. This part of the missionary life is impossible to get away from, but it does not make it any easier to deal with.

We are doing our best to meet the needs of the family with hugs, time, talking and more hugs. Arriving in our new location, settling in and meeting new friends will really help the process.

Can you say flexible?

We have been enjoying our time in Quito with our new friends the Weeks. We have had quite a busy schedule. We were suppose to go shopping Monday Jan 2, but the President at the last minute declared it a semi-holiday (you have to make up your vacation day), so we shopped where we could and bought some mattresses.

Tuesday was about the only day that went as planned. We had 6 hours of orientation and heard several seasoned missionaries tell what they “wished they knew when they arrived that they know now”. It was a good experience. That night Kevin was not feeling so good.

Wednesday is where things started to go off track. Kevin got sick with a high fever and I stayed home with him while Sunshine, Adrianne and Joshua spent all day with Shelly who graciously trucked the family around. The stores were crazy busy. Turns out the people get paid every 15 days and each Wednesday there is a discount at many stores. This Wednesday was the first Wednesday after a payday - after a holiday – it was REALLY busy!!! I sat at home and called many of my water ministry friends and checked in, got some prices on upcoming HCJB projects and attended to Kevin who steadily got worse all day.

Thursday was not in the schedule at all. We were supposed to go to our directors house for another day of orientation and in a way we did. The whole family went along (Kevin too) and by 10:00 am Kevin was very miserable. We called a doctor from HCJB and he made a house call when he went home for lunch. We had never had a house call by a doctor before – it was really nice. The doctor said it was not pneumonia, but it was not good. He made a appointment at the HCJB clinic for Kevin and 1 hour later Sunshine and Kevin were off. The three different doctors looked him over and started him on H1N1 flu virus medicine. They did not confirm the diagnosis, but gave it a very high chance that that was what is was. Thursday night, Sunshine and Kevin stayed in an upper guest room of our director in an effort to keep him away from the rest of the house. It was good, but it was a long night for all.

Friday was the day we were supposed the leave for Shell. That got moved to Monday. We ended up shopping for appliances and sofas. I should have taken pictures of the sofas available. The style is very modern and square – but the colors – WOW! The “in” colors are orange and lime green. Nearly every store had the same stuff with some variance. The prices were OK, but really nice stuff was outrageous. We even found a store that sold new furniture in the style of the 70’s. They had stuff you just had to smile at.

Most of the night Kevin’s cough was going strong and he could not sleep. We were told by the doctor that nearly all medicines are not effective with this cough. He said that in a study, straight honey was just as effective as nearly all medicines and he was right. Another plus was that it tastes good.

As of Saturday morning the schedule was altered again and we are now planning on leaving on Tuesday. I have left out the 25 other changes that have kept us on the move, but the family is handling them very very well. Our hosts have been amazing at adjusting and helping us to locate everything we need. What a blessing they have been.

I will keep you posted as life progresses – thank you for praying for our family through this time.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Papallacta (potato town) at 11,000 feet

Papallacta is a combination of words. Papa (it means potato in Spanish) and llacta (which means town in Quichua). It is a small village up in the mountains east of Quito.

It is famous for the hot springs and the HCJB Global hydroelectric plant that was built here 30 years ago. A year ago HCJB Global sold the plant to a German investment group but the missionaries can still use the guest houses. This is where we stayed. The place was very nice. Clean, large, with HOT WATER straight from the tap (not Potable – but hot)!!! (What a thrill after fighting cold water for a year).

On the way up here we stopped and bought a paper man. Ecuadorians have a tradition of making a full size paper person with clothes and making a mask of who it reminds you of. At the New Years Eve celebration the idea is to burn the person to signify the burning of all things old to start the New year. The mask on our “man” was the president of Ecuador- however we were told that it is not considered disrespectful to burn the paper man version of the president– just an ending of the old year and old things.

We spent a morning at the hot springs with the entire group of 17 people. Lots of fun. The place was very pretty and the water ranged from almost too hot to near frozen river water. After a peaceful afternoon in the town we again returned to the hot springs for an evening swim.

Dinner and games were the story of the night as everyone waited for the New Year. The boys started a small fire outside to prepare for burning the paper man and a spot was set up for fireworks. Fireworks here are not like the USA. You can buy near professional grade fireworks rather cheaply. We had bottle rockets 4 feet long and the rocket was larger than an aluminum soda can.

As the fireworks progressed we had a near accident as one of the smaller rockets tipped over and shot into the crowd. Praise the Lord no one was hurt. On New Years Day we cleaned up and headed back to Quito for a week of shopping for household items and orientation.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 1 in Quito

YES – you are never going to believe it – Repack!!!

10:00 am (10 hours after we arrived) we had a meeting with Human Resources at HCJB to go over paperwork and get oriented. We had lunch for $3.80 each (considered expensive) at a little restaurant and had a great meal (soup, lemonade and chicken with rice and veggies). We were able to recognize many places we had visited 2 ½ years ago and we met some familiar HCJB people.

Most of the afternoon was spent repacking. Due to “weight packing” as described in previous blogs, we had everything all mixed up and we could not find anything. The morning we woke up (8 hours after arriving) we had to unpack everything and repack for our trip to Papallacta in the mountains. We had been blessed to be invited to the hot springs with a group from HCJB to meet the team and spend New Years Eve with them. We were looking forward to this.

Already we have noticed many differences between Costa Rica and Ecuador. The houses have less bars and fences, the town smells a lot less of diesel smoke, the language of Ecuador has different terms for the local grocery store, the people act and dress differently, and the prices are CHEAPER!!! We are so thrilled to get away from the high prices of everything in Costa Rica. Gas is $ 1.50 per gallon!!! (subsidized). A bottle of water is 3o cents, bathing suits for kids are $5.00. The rest of the day one, we toured around the neighborhood and visited friends. Needless to say we went to bed early.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Not just any day

Saying good-bye to Lidia (our house helper) who became a member of our family! If only we could have her come with us to Ecuador!

Another good-bye to Uncle Jim and Aunt Melanie -fellow classmates.

Last time eating at Paulista's - our favorite pizza place and the first place we ate at when we arrived in CR.

Eric and the staff at the hardware store.

One last photo with the Richline family.

Wednesday Dec 28 did not start like any other day. Everything we owned was packed and ready to go. Last minute friends stopped by to say good bye and by 9:30 am we were off the airport. The drive was amazingly pleasant. Nearly all of Costa Rica is shut down between Christmas and New Years and the roads were clear without traffic. We arrived more than 2 hours ahead of time and the line to check in baggage was just over an hour long. For me the worst part of traveling is the constant waiting in line at every turn, but it passed. We were pleasantly surprised that not only did our luggage make weight, but the airlines for whatever reason said we did not have to pay the expected $150 luggage fee. We double checked, but they confirmed that it was waived – Praise the Lord!

Saying good-bye to the neighbors.

Our good friends, Maria (who taught me to make Costa Rica cuisine) and Raphael.

Security in Costa Rica gave us a little trouble about the weird assortment of stuff we had with us and they nearly confiscated some of the kids Magnetics game, but they let it go.

Now I know that many of you have reminded us that flying to Ecuador via Miami is not a straight line. In fact it is nearly 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Let me reassure you that we did not do this for fun, it was just plain cheaper this way. I then switched seats with a man who wanted to sit next to his girlfriend and ended up in first class! Nice – I did share some of my chicken lunch with my wife – back in row #29 though.

We were very much anticipating arriving at the International wing of Miami, eating well during 3 hours of layover all kinds of American junk food and a steak and leaving the International wing for Ecuador. This no longer happens! We were directed right into Immigration into a room with no less than 1,000 people all standing in 34 different lines. The lines were so long that each line touched the back of the room some 75 feet from the officers booths. After another hours wait in a much shorter “for citizens only” line we were passed onto baggage. Although our baggage was checked all the way through we still had to pick it all up, go through customs and recheck it back in on the other side of the customs. Fortunately, Renee saw a baggage carrier named Papi that had helped us out 2.5 years ago when we passed through the last time and she ran over to him and he walked us right through everything. What a blessing.

Back through security with the family and off to T.G.I Fridays for a burger – Man was it good!! We had not had real beef for a year and the french fries were hot, salty and fabulous.

The plane trip to Quito was uneventful (bummer) and despite being long, was nice. It still impresses me that you can travel 25% of the globe in one day and people still complain. This same trip would have taken months not 100 years ago.

After another hour or more wait in the Ecuadorians Immigration line we were graciously met by Martin (our boss) and Brent ,whose family we will be staying with over the next week. It was nearly 1:00 am by the time we left the airport. We were greeted by the rest of Brent’s family and soon after collapsed in bed around 2:00 am. Long, blessed day.

We are not home yet, but we are closer than we have been in over 2 years.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Packing, Repacking, Weighing, Start Over…

Let me tell you about how to pack 550 pounds of stuff in a 500 pound space. Miserable. We arrived with 12 travel totes, 5 carry on bags and 5 backpacks servicing as personal items. You would think it would be really easy to put it all back – well after a year of living in Costa Rica, the airlines changed the baggage rules. Turns out that if you travel between Dec 1 and Jan 15 and are heading south you can only take 10 large totes. We had to sell two totes worth of stuff, the totes themselves and get our lives down to 500 pounds (each bag could only be 50 pounds each – no more).

Sunshine started packing weeks in advance in preparation for this event. She made a general inventory of each tote she packed and made a large pile of everything we need to sell at the Student Garage Sale. She did great and we sold nearly everything we needed too. More packing.


On Monday before we left we borrowed a car and went to the beach to relax and get some time alone before the last push to the end. It was HOT, really sunny, dead quiet, beautiful and perfect. We really needed that. Made it home safe that night, without a car incident – even got a bit sun burned.

One last stop at crocodile bridge. It was quite a feast as passerby's were throwing in chicken bones.


As each tote was packed it became evident that it was going to be really, really, really close. It was. When everything was packed we had 10 totes, 5 carry on bags and 5 backpacks packed with about 30 pounds left in the pile. To make matters worse we were weighted out. Knowing that the totes would be weighed, but carry on bags and back packs are not we started the process of unpacking everything, removing the heavy stuff to put in carry on bags and back packs and repacking. 4 packing and unpacking times later, we got it. Then things got messy……

People started showing up at the last minute to give us departure gifts. It’s not possible culturally to say “No” to these gifts given with love and from the heart. Out with this shirt, this pair of socks can go, out with my hammer (bummer as it was the nearly the first tool I ever owned and I had it for nearly 30 years), Can we still make weight?????

About half the bags were over weight by half a pound or more (we figured we could push the envelope a bit), the carry on bags were really heavy and the backpacks were stuffed, but we made it.

Our last morning in Costa Rica had arrived.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Yeahs and Yucks of goodbyes

The kids saying good-bye to their pet hamster- another student family is now taking care of him.

We have been very blessed to meet and make wonderful friends in Costa Rica over the course of the year. The down side is you have to say goodbye to each and every one of them. The process was both pleasant and painful. Our first day was with our friends Alejandro and Lorena. They took us to San Mateo to her aunt's farm and we spent the day there. No smoke, no noise, no schedule, no plan, no nothing. It was just what we needed after our 7 days since graduation.

The next two weeks were filled with lunches and dinners nearly everyday. In between we prepared and packed, fighting every pound along the way. We said goodbyes to our neighbors across the street, Maria and Rafael our good friends, had an extremely fun night with the pastors family, fellow students like the Richlines, Wilsons, Elaine and more. Each one was filled with hope and tears.

Part of our church family.

Adrianne and her friend Lauren.

Our friends -the Wheaton family

The Friday before Christmas was a party at our house with the Wilsons and Elaine. We had a nice dinner and played games on a hot and sunny day. Our first “hot” Christmas – very strange. We incorporated some of our family Christmas traditions as well.

Play date on Christmas Eve day - it was hot and sunny!

Last trip to the feria (farmers mkt.)

Shaking the wrapped cereal boxes -trying to guess the contents - a Fogg family tradition.

We had Christmas via Skype with the relatives and watched them open their gifts from afar. Not the same as being there, but way better than the phone. Technology is a great thing.

On Christmas Eve the kids tore their paper stocking that Sunshine had made off the wall and followed the clues to their gifts. Sunshine did a great job making memories of the transitional Christmas. Lastly we opened “snow in a can”. Elaine bought this for us. It was a white hard granular product that you added water to, to make snow. It was very fascinating. The powder (about 1 gram) expanded hundreds of times to make a product that looked amazingly like snow. It was damp and slippery and fun to touch. It looked a lot like the material inside a baby diaper, but smaller granules. We had a great time putting it under the paper tree Sunshine had made from posterboard.

Adrianne opening her "paper" stocking!

Making instant snow!

Playing with "snow" underneath our "tree".

I would like to thank each and every one of you who sent us an e-mail, prayed for us and kept us part of your Christmas from so far away.

Blessing to you all.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Copyright 2008-2013 Eric and Renee Fogg.
All rights reserved.