Monday, March 04, 2013

Top Ten: Nyanya and Babu Visit Ecuador

As I mentioned in my last post, we were blessed to have my parents here in Ecuador over the Christmas holidays. They were here for nearly 3 weeks, so we were able to balance time spent in Christmas activities with showing them some of Ecuador.

When they first arrived, Mom and Dad took a couple of nights just for themselves at the Tandayapa Bird Lodge near Mindo. We were their taxi service to and from the lodge (about an hour and a half from Quito), so when we took them out, we got to see the lodge and lots of lovely hummingbirds and have lunch there. On the way home a couple of days later, Rusty stopped at a trout farm and the boys were able to catch several fish. They thought that was fun!

We also took Mom and Dad out to the Mitad del Mundo one day. While staying with the Marcums, they visited the Panecillo We also spent an evening all together in downtown Quito. We wanted to do a horse-drawn carriage ride around the Old Town, but the company that offers the rides had already closed down for the holidays.

A few pictures from our time together before Christmas:

Nyanya and the boys decorating the gingerbread house
Benjamin loved playing with Nyanya's hand therapy balls
And Talking Tom on the iPhone is one of the boys' favorite things to do with Babu!
At the Equator with Nyanya and Babu
An evening in downtown Quito
The day after Christmas, we packed up two cars with people and luggage and set off a little further afield. Our first stop was the lovely Paraiso Escondido near the mountain city of Ibarra. We spent 3 nights there and thoroughly enjoyed it! The highlight was ziplining across the river and then hiking through some old train tunnels. More details here in a post I wrote for my Writing Project 365. And a few pictures:

To get to Paraiso Escondido, we had to drive over this suspension bridge!
Nyanya and Babu are ready to zip-line!
Our family, ready to zip-line (Benjamin stayed back with his Aunt Julie)
Then, we headed out to Kumanii. Mom and Dad wanted to see the facility and get an idea of the work that is going on there, so we spent one night at the lodge, went to church in Loma Linda (a little village about a 5-minute canoe ride from Kumanii) the next morning, and then had brunch with the evangelists afterwards. It was a quick, but enjoyable visit:

Loaded up and ready to go to church!
Family pic at Kumanii
 After leaving Kumanii, we headed back to Quito, stopping for the night in Chachimbiro, which has some wonderful termas (hot springs). It was a good and relaxing way to end the trip. The next day (New Year's Eve), we drove the rest of the way back to Quito, stopping in Otavalo so Mom and Dad could do some souvenir shopping at the market there.

Mom and Dad flew home a couple of days later. We enjoyed having them here and introducing them to our life in Ecuador. And of course, the boys enjoyed all the grandparent time! We look forward to their next visit, whenever that may be!

For many more pictures, see my Facebook album, Christmas and My Parents' Visit.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Home for the Holidays: Christmas

I desperately need to do some catch-up work here on this blog. It is already the first of March, and I still have blog posts about Christmas and my parents' visit to Ecuador sitting in my draft folder.

This past Christmas was extra special... not only was it our first Christmas in Ecuador, but my parents were here for a 3-week visit. They spent some time with us before Christmas, and my mom brought a ton of special craft projects to do with the boys -- like ornaments to decorate and a gingerbread house to put together. Then, they headed over to the Marcums' for the last few days before Christmas. We had Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for just our family, but then the whole gang was here for most of Christmas Day. We opened presents all together (a study in organized chaos) and then had a fabulous lamb dinner, followed by pies and the cookie trays the Stephens family has become famous for!

It was definitely a memorable first Christmas in Ecuador!

Merry Christmas!
Family pic with Campbells, Marcums, and Stephens (a family picture in front of the tree on Christmas Day is a tradition in my family).
There are a lot more pictures in my album on Facebook, Christmas and My Parents' Visit. Click the link to view.