We moved to San Clemente, Ecuador in December of 2011. That year we barely knew any of the Ecuadorians and spent Christmas quietly celebrating with some of the other expats. But, by 2012 we were thoroughly immersed in the local culture and we were invited to several homes and participated in the large fiestas downtown. We have posted accounts of each year’s Christmas activities.
One thing that became obvious after nearly passing out from heat exhaustion last year was that we would probably be wise to scale back a bit in the activities this year. We determined to do that, but only partially succeeded.
Still we were able to spread some smiles and thank the community that has adopted us as their own.
This is how we spent our Christmas!
Mary tries each year to find ways to raise money for the Children’s festival and gifts here in San Clemente. Early in the year we purchased a computer program to make calendars and we printed up scores of full sheet calendars to sell during carnival last March. That was a limited success because of the fact that it rained every day during carnival and tourists were not in the mood to buy paper products. Still we did sell a few to local businesses and got several orders for calendars from expats looking for personalized Christmas gifts. All of the profits from those calendar sales went directly into the San Clemente Children’s Christmas fund.
Last year Mary took orders for home-made chocolate candy plates – again with the idea that profits from the sales would be contributed to the children’s fund. Our kitchen seemed like a production line for weeks and we thought that we would just make a few cookie platters with some candies for sale this year. Hah! Mary ended up making more than seventy dozen cookies and three hundred pieces of candy! We have a bigger area to work in this year, but still it seemed like we had no clear counter-tops or tables as cookie/candy production took over every square inch of space for several weeks.
Mary also made a few wreaths which she sold contributing the money from those sales to the children’s fund as well.
Last year we really took on a huge task trying to play Santa for the whole community of Santa Teresa. Our friends, Kevin and Bonnie jumped right in with several other ex-pats and helped with money and work to make that a success last year. This year Kevin and Bonnie suggested that we scale back a bit and simply prepare bags of candy and cookies for the kids in Santa Teresa and bring those bags to the schools to distribute before Christmas break. A few weeks ago we met up with Kevin and Bonnie and their sisters to prepare one hundred and seventy bags full of candies and cookies. Then last Thursday our friend Ramon (aka Rudolph) loaded us up in his truck and we went to the schools to distribute the candy.
Here are some of the happy faces of children at the schools accepting their bags of treats! First the younger kids in San Clemente.
And the older kids in Santa Teresa.
The pictures really do not convey the excitement and joy of these niños! We had a great time seeing their joy and gratitude for the simple gifts. We will surely plan to do this again next year and it was immeasurably easier than the big fiesta we tried last year!
Thanks to the many people who ordered treats and calendars over the year, on the way back home Mary was able to drop off a contribution of $500 to Pinoche for the “Amigos de Navidad.” They say that “God works in mysterious ways” and I guess that is so because Pinoche almost tearfully told us that the group had been short $500 dollars this year and were not sure how they would make it up!
Christmas Eve we were invited to dinner at Ramon and Nura’s house. We had a great dinner with the Garcias and many of their friends and family.
Luna and Sol opened their gifts from us.
Sol was almost more excited watching Luna open her gift than she was opening her own!
Ramon (no longer Rudolph, but now Papa Noel) distributed gifts to many of his nephews and nieces.
As the evening wound down one of Santa’s helpers took time to play with a few of the boys and sang with the boys. Their mother got this short video of me singing with the boys.
By the time Christmas day rolled around Mary and I were glad to spend a quiet day here at home where we had a new couple from Canada, Dale and Willow join us for dinner where we feasted on our home cured and smoked ham. The Pittsburgh Steelers come from behind last minute victory capped off the day while we ate fresh apple crisps a la mode!
Life is so very good in Ecuador!