RETURN FROM THE NORTH

We finally made our trip up to volcano country near the Columbian border. A change of scenery is just what we needed but still, it was good to return to Cuenca after ten days. We absolutely loved the half hour flight on Latam Airlines. Much preferable to an eight hour bus trip! Bruce booked us first class which wasn’t much more than standard, so we were in the front row seats as far away from potential covid contamination as possible. Everyone was required to wear a mask, but surprisingly, no mention of vaccinations or covid tests.
Our first stop was Quito, the capital city. We took a taxi from the airport which is quite a distance from the city. Excellent highway! Our hotel was located in a part of the city called NewTown. What a sight to look up and see skyscraper apartment buildings sitting right along the edge of the cliff. Bruce commented that it looked like the city of Oz. So sorry not to have a photo!! We stayed three nights at a boutique hotel which had a very nice restaurant. There were also some trendy places to eat in the immediate neighborhood and interesting neighborhoods to explore.

This is the view from our terrace. Quito is a city of close to two million people. As you can see, the terrain is very rugged. I think these folks must keep in terrific shape walking up and down these hills.
We spent most of our three days in this neighborhood. Soooooo many
tall apartment buildings.
Our terrace from my perch on the couch
And in the early morning
Again from our terrace…….a close up of the convent
Bruce bought a padlock and inscribed our initials to join all the others in a small park near our hotel.
We took a taxi to visit Old Town one afternoon and got caught in a thunderstorm.
A close up of one of the hundreds of churches which are ornately decorated inside. Quite a contrast to the many poor people living in the neighborhood just scraping by day to day.
One of the iconic images of Quito is an angel watching over the city from a distant mountaintop
As we say goodbye to Quito on the last day, the volcano Chimborazo came out from behind the clouds

Our hotel concierge helped us to arrange a taxi ride to the town of Cotacachi two hours north of Quito. I wanted to visit this town that has around five hundred expats living there who think it is a paradise. For this reason it was one of the places we considered as a possibility before moving to Ecuador. We spent six nights at a luxury resort so we had plenty of time to explore the town and surrounding areas. Unfortunately because of Covid, the hotel did not offer some of the activities that we expected from the brochure, such as bike riding, condor watching and horseback riding.

However, they had a first class restaurant where we ate two of the six nights. Otherwise we walked into town and sampled some of the less expensive restaurants and cafes.
The hotel/resort had twenty four apartments that were supposedly decorated in the style of Louis the Fourteenth……not my favorite, but a version of opulence I guess. Certainly our rooms were spacious and comfortable.


We never used the television😊
Not sure how this ceiling works with Louis Fourteenth but I like it
Nice big bathroom
And a big shower with ceiling view of flowering trees
They offered to start a fire for us each night but we arranged to start our own fire in the mornings.
Our terrace….watch out for that hot sun!
We reserved the pool for our exclusive use every day at three. After laps, I spent the rest of my time in the jaccuzi. Bruce was much more disciplined.
We fooled around a bit on the court. Neither one of us is a tennis player😬 but fun and good exercise.
We had a complementary breakfast every morning in the breakfast room. Coffee, tea, and cocoa…..a large plate of fresh fruit…..croissants and cheese……choice of eggs ……bacon or ham…..and cake! Same menu every morning for six days.
Bruce sent me this cartoon…..it wasn’t continental breakfast but six days in a row🥴 No really, it was lovely😊
Outside the breakfast building
The best one is looking into the pool room.
There were eight or nine peacocks on the property
Including this albino!
Some of you have been asking for an example of my artwork…….so……this is my acrylic painting of a peacock.
This was our dinner table both nights that we ate at the restaurant
A view of the dining area from the lawn
One day we visited a nearby lake called Cuicocha……so called because the two small islands are supposed to resemble cui, or Guinea pigs, which are a delicacy here. Yum…….We haven’t tried them😳

We took a small hike near the lake….this is a view of the country side.
Another volcano viewed from Cotacachi
Bruce took no photos of the indigenous people who make up most of the population of Cotacachi. It just seemed too intrusive. However, I grabbed a couple photos from the internet to show you how handsome they are!
And the children♥️
This is Andres, our wonderful driver who drove us safely to Cotacachi from Quito and then picked us up six days later and took us to our airport hotel near Quito. Andrés, you’re the best!!
The airport hotel was a very busy place! While we were there the Ecuadorian Olympic Champions were interviewed by television crews and the president of Ecuador came for a conference. So there was plenty of police presence as well.

We were ready to get back to our lovely life in Cuenca at the end of ten days. We will continue exploring other areas of the country until the time when international travel becomes a possibility again. We have two more trips lined up….Vilcabamba September 23 through 27. Another lovely resort near the Peruvian border, but this time, decorated in a style that we love. We spent a few days there two years ago. Photos will be forthcoming. And we go back to the ocean at the end of November, but this time we visit Salinas, a larger town that is the vacation spot for Cuencanos during their holidays…..of which there are MANY.

So until next time, take care and enjoy the rest of your summer!

A change of plans

I intended to write about our trip to Northern Ecuador and the land of the volcanoes…..but we postponed our trip because the vaccination process finally got rolling here and we didn’t want to miss our place in line. Last week I got my final shot and Bruce got his first, both Sinovac. The new plan is to keep our reservations for Cartagena in July and go north a couple months later. We are under orders to stay in our homes on the weekends for a month which isn’t much of a hardship because we have a terrace and a garden also.

This posting will be short with just a few recent photos. We are in the rainy season here but we still get plenty of sun and the temps are fifties at night and seventies during the day. I spend my time cooking, cleaning and painting. Bruce has various projects and explores the city and countryside on his bike. We are pretty much set up with doctors of all kinds and dentists, so those appointments take some time as well as trips to SuperMaxi and an occasional restaurant. It is very enjoyable, but we are feeling READY to travel!!

Meet Shaggy. He is a real mellow guy who loves Bruce because Bruce feeds him doggy treats and 🥓 and other tasty morsels.
Dinner tonight! I am sure Shaggy will get a taste.
It’s not a Webber but Bruce likes it just fine.
Our sky last evening……we are entranced with the ever changing and dramatic cloud formations here in Cuenca.
A couple of shots of our neighborhood….
Our neighbors across the street
This is the same street called Del Chirote looking toward the city.
One street over, Las Garzas borders the University of Azuay. These street signs are not on every street, unfortunately, so it is not always easy to find an address here!
Love this tree! This is right off our terrace because we are three floors up.
Also right off our terrace. Lots of hummingbird varieties here and we are looking for a hummingbird feeder.
I know we can find one….but where??
This little guy and his friends come everyday and we enjoy them while eating breakfast and lunch in the nook off the kitchen. Evening meals are a candlelight affair in the dining room😊
We see a few of these. I just measured him at four inches across. He is on our fireplace mantle still, after a couple of months.
See? I just snapped the photo.
Bruce had this grate made not far from here. There is a street nearby with several ironworks shops so he just chose one, showed him a photo of what he wanted and we are very pleased.
So pleased that he asked him to make this as well. The wood is mostly eucalyptus and cherry. There are lots of eucalyptus trees along the river. Bruce picks of arm loads of bark that has fallen on the ground. It makes great kindling.
These beauties are also found along the river.
This is our new river, the Yanuncay We used to live near the Tomebamba.
This is a park just East of us.
Same park
Ditto. We have a new botanical garden the just opened in our neighborhood. I will take photos and post them next time.
Our equestrian police on patrol along the river
I had this tray custom made for my pastels
I am slowly building up my supply😊 They all must be shipped from the states.
I also had him make a removable lid so I could switch between pastels and acrylics.
So much fun happens in this room, which I grandly call my studio😊😊😊
These are dried flowers from a tree a block from us. They call it a vanilla tree. We can’t resist collecting them. They are like little wooden sculptures.
Tuna! We can buy the most delicious seafood in a small gourmet market nearby.
Second shot day!!! Didn’t even hurt!
A pretty scene in a park downtown
Our neighbors having their windows washed!
And we will leave you with a few scenes of the sky.

Bruce and I wish all our family and friends health and happiness in 2021. We have collectively gone through a LOT in the last year but we know that the future will be brighter.
Love to you all and keep the faith….as we used to say in the sixties.

The coastal life

We went for a two week mini vacation to a little beach town on the coast last month. It was really good to get away if only to impress on us how great our life is in Cuenca. We were a little nervous about the long bus rides but we wore our N95 masks, the buses were not crowded and they fumigated them before each trip. We have been back two weeks now without getting sick so whew 😅!! The first bus took us from Cuenca to Guayaquil, a four hour ride out of the Andes mountains….always a thrill. The cost was eight dollars apiece 🙂. The bus from Guayaquil to our destination was three hours for six dollars each. Very comfortable buses with air conditioning and movies! The first thing we did after checking into our hotel was to head for the beach!!

We stayed until the sun set and it was time to find dinner in town.

Olon is a small, poor town with a very beautiful beach. There are a few pretty good restaurants tho that serve the locals and the beach visitors. Our hotel didn’t have a kitchen so we ate three meals a day either in town or in one of the fish and shrimp shacks that always line the beaches in small towns like this. We were happy with our accommodations one block from the beach with a partial view of the water.

The view from Bruce’s side of the balcony to mine, the site of our evening pre-dinner ritual of
gin and tonics and snacks. Also perfect for an early morning read before breakfast.
We had the top floor on this wing….two rooms and a bathroom.
sunset from our balcony
People usually stick around for the sunset
And the water is warm!
And then the night life starts…..usually only on the weekend
This is the entrance to the beach on our street

We were in this little beach town two years ago when we made our initial trip to Ecuador to see where we wanted to live. So this time we were able to reconnect with old friends and also meet new ones. Our landlord’s sister Anabel, owns a hacienda inland about a mile so we hiked out there one very hot day. Lovely but wouldn’t want to live there. Many of the city dwelling Ecuadorians own beautiful big houses right on the beach for their vacation homes.

Bruce was shy about invading their privacy so we only took a couple photos.

Our friend Darcy still runs his popular restaurant a couple blocks from the beach. We went there for breakfast most mornings. He just happened to be hosting a birthday party for a local fifteen year old on my birthday so we joined in. There was music and dancing and some of the local luminaries attended. It’s not a fancy place…just a little roadside cafe called The Roadhouse.

This is the view from our breakfast table
If we had a kitchen we could have prepared these. Several nights we ate at the Thai restaurant. They made a very delicious shrimp soup.
This is a home along one of the side streets. I like the flowering vines on the roof.
And along one of the side streets…..that’s a little mermaid in the bottle 😢
Aren’t they cute! The restaurant owner’s rescued dogs hanging out while we ate our “seniors breakfast” of pancakes, eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit and toast with coffee and juice….all for three dollars! Waaaay too much to eat. We should have shared, but we seem to never learn.
For sale on the beach…..very tempting
The tanker truck piggy bank is the one Bruce brought home in his luggage.

Two of the days we spent in the next town to the south to watch the surfers. Montañita is a party town because of the big waves and cool vibe. We found a nice cafe on the north end where we could sit and watch the show. It was pretty impressive! Bruce caught a few waves too and I’m sure he will be back!

View from our table
Walking back to the town of Montañita after an entertaining afternoon
Two little cuties along the way
And some big cuties too!

Meanwhile, back at our own beach there is a lot going on. Bruce had fun capturing some of the avian wildlife. These photos are especially for you Sheila🙂

Our friend Michel who lives a mile or so down the beach. He lives by himself so comes into town on his beach bike for breakfast and dinner. Skips lunch.
I haven’t tried this very popular treat, but it looks like shaved ice with flavored syrup.
it’s the weekend!
For rent…..five dollars a day. We spent many happy hours in these chairs. The Ecuadorian sun can be brutal so we need this umbrella and SPF 50 water resistant sunblock!
Heading out for fish. It’s fun watching them maneuver past the waves!
This is the only jelly fish we saw, unlike Queensland Australia where they had to put nets out to capture them.
No sharks, either!
A lovely sight.
And we say goodbye to Olon.
We stayed two nights in Guayaquil on the way home to break up the trip.
Guayaquil is also very hot and humid so we spent time by the pool or window shopping at the mall and eating at the food court. There was a nice selection of international food. The hotel had a wonderful buffet breakfast with ample spacing between tables and super high ceilings with lots of air circulation so we felt pretty safe. They gave the utmost attention to COVID protocol, for which we were thankful.
Next door to the hotel.
looks like a big barrel ….. very pretty when lit up at night. The Ecuadorians seem to be very adventurous and inventive in their architecture.
These flowers were near the pool. I believe they are some kind of orchid.
This is a ground cover plant…I have no idea. I often wish I had Dan Hinkley in my pocket🙂
Outside a seafood restaurant

As I said, we were very happy to return to Cuenca. While we love the ocean, the small beach town is only interesting for short amounts of time. The weather is hot and humid and there is not a lot of choice for rentals. Some people love it but I’m glad that Bruce and I agree that Cuenca is the place for us. We would visit the coast more often if we could fly. Our next trip will be a short one hour flight north to Quito and Cotacachi where the volcanoes reside. Photos from that trip will be posted in April or May. Bruce already has the tickets and accommodations booked.

These custom made cushions were delivered two days after our return.
View from our terrace
A close up Mountain View….no snow or craggy peaks but nice none the less.
Actually, to our surprise, we are most fascinated by the ever changing and dramatic clouds. We recently had a huge thunder and lightening storm that felt like it was right in the living room with us because of the floor to ceiling windows.
So awesome and exciting!!

So that’s it for now. We are back to the day to day routine of retired life in Cuenca, Ecuador. We are so happy for our friends and family in the states and elsewhere who are finally being vaccinated in the hope of a better future for the whole world. We will patiently wait our turn. We feel relatively safe here and are being reasonably cautious, so life is GOOD!

Love to all of you,

Sharon and Bruce

2021 The BegInning

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

This was the scene from our terrace as the calendar turned to 2021. There were no official fireworks but hundreds and hundreds were launched by private citizens all over the city.

This continued for half an hour….it was magical.

Christmas is a really big deal down here but because of the restrictions, the day long parade was cancelled and no large gatherings were allowed. However, there were three giant Christmas trees erected in different parts of the city and lots of lights to celebrate the holiday.

This is the giant tree in El Centro. We can see it from our terrace along with the iconic blue domes of the New Cathedral.
At the foot of the tree
So many beautiful displays all over the city.
There are scenes like this all along the Tomebamba river.
The tops of the blue domes of the New Cathedral from the square.
These are effigys for sale. It is the custom here to burn them at midnight on New Years Eve. You choose one to represent all the bad things you want to be rid of from the previous year. I would have liked to see a corona virus 🦠. Or maybe a certain unbalanced person put in a powerful position?

But we are leaving that all behind us now and concentrating on the good things that will surely come our way in this new year. Bruce and I are thankful for our newfound friends here in Cuenca and our recent move to a new apartment. And of course for our continued good health.

This is Tom cooking up a batch of local shrimp for a small gathering of friends on his terrace to celebrate his return to Cuenca from the states. (Sorry about the black mark….screen grab)
Bruce and Louis on Tom’s terrace
Jennie, Regina and Sharon…..same gathering
And this is Lisa (Jaffe) my newfound artist friend in her previous studio.

I promised a couple of shots of our new apartment now that we have most of our furnishings. We have been here on the corner of Las Palomas and Del Chirote for a month now and we like it very much. It is soooo much quieter and we have an awesome view and a TERRACE! 😊😊😊

Our entrance door
view from our entrance door to the building entrance
View of the upper half of our building from a street below.
Part of our terrace
View from the dining area towards the fireplace seating area
We like our new furniture. The leather couch is super comfy. The rocker is made from local wood and the recliner is for naps! Bruce said I should hang up some of my paintings wherever there were nails…so I did. We bought a tele that is next to the fireplace so we can watch an hour of Netflix most nights.
View toward the dining area and terrace. Our little tree is fake, of course. That’s all they have down here. But the lights at night are fun. Minimal decoration this year, but next year we’ll put more effort into it!
I like the wall treatment! The kitchen is through the door to the left.
We had to buy new appliances and are very happy with our gas six burner stove and roomy refrigerator.
The breakfast nook adjoining the kitchen.
The plants in this little sunroom were left for us because they were too heavy to move. I’ve only added an orchid so far!
Early morning with a strip of light over the city. Weather patterns move through the city VERY quickly so we get a variety of weather throughout the day.
The clouds are amazing.
A huge thunder/lightning storm from our terrace.
Continuing the tour…. Bruce’s office with his collection of cacti in the south facing window. His easy chair is out of the frame🙂
My ….ahem…..studio with tons of storage out of the frame.
View of a bedroom
View from my bed. So far the only photo of Cuenca at night. We’ll do better next time. The bathroom also has the same view.

Bruce has started a new hobby! He has a collection of succulents and bonsai that he purchased at local nurseries and brought home on his bike. The succulents all needed potting up which he did on the terrace with a special mix he concocted himself from nursery soil and scrounged gravel from building sites. The owner of the bonsai nursery has invited us to her farm where they grow the plants. We leave for the coast for two weeks on the fifteenth, but maybe when we return.

From his office window. They all have personalities.
The rest of the ever increasing gang.
Forgot these three on the terrace
His bonsais…….only three so far🙂
my personal favorite
And to finish…..Bruce’s practice shot for double exposure. The fun never stops! I am reading my Christmas present from Bruce……my friend and mentor’s latest book, Windcliff, the story of Dan Hinkley’s famous garden. Sooooo good!

So that’s it for now. We will post again after our trip to Olon which has one of the prettiest beaches anywhere and plenty of sunshine and warm water. For my friends in the grip of winter, worry not. Spring can not be far away and we have so very much to look forward to.
Love to you all!

MOVING DAY!!

We found our new home and I believe we will stay there for a while. Although we love our apartment that we have lived in for almost a year, we were looking for something with a terrace, a room for my painting and a quieter neighborhood. I think we got lucky! It is located near one of the Universities and a very large park where two of the rivers meet. It has a view of the city with lots of big windows. The building is familial with the parents in their eighties on the first floor, a daughter on the second floor, we have the third floor (rented from one of the daughters who married and moved elsewhere) and the son is on the top floor. The daughter speaks pretty good English which is handy since we are still in the learning stages. The apartment has four bedrooms and four bathrooms and a large kitchen. The family is lovely. There was a bouquet of red roses to greet us and Señora Cordero brought up a bottle of Baileys to toast the occasion! The rent is roughly the same as the apartment we are vacating….$650. And everything else like electricity, gas, 5G internet and phones will cost under $100 a month.

We will post more photos after we move in. This apartment is unfurnished so we had to buy everything, including stove and refrigerator. Which was fun😊. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and final packing day. The big truck comes at nine on Friday morning for the final move. We have ordered a traditional Thanksgiving day meal for our final dinner in this apartment. We wish all of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Next year will be better in so many ways!!

Spring has arrived!!

Hello everyone! It’s been a while, but with us mostly staying home and not a lot of new experiences, the photos from Bruce are in short supply. I have a few that I took with my iPad but those photos can’t compare. Nevertheless I will use them to prop up my text.

Very soon the weather here in Cuenca will be warming up again because it’s Spring!!! Not that it was very cold here. Just a matter of adding another layer. No need for a heater in the apartment. I was concerned about that before moving here to Cuenca after reading others accounts of hats and mittens in the house! Maybe because we are acustomed to cooler weather unlike folks from Arizona or Southern California. Spring here is barely an event as far as I can tell. The flowers have bloomed intermittently since we arrived and the birds did not migrate (I think) based on the continuity of their songs. I wonder if I will even miss snow at some point? Seems unlikely right now. Today the sun is shining and we are going grocery shopping. Tomorrow we meet some new friends at an outdoor restaurant for an early dinner. Other than that, my October calendar is bare. But the month is young. Who knows what might happen?

We voted! Washington state made it really easy since Bruce set it all up before we left. It was all done digitally. I keep up with all the news from the states but Bruce prefers to keep somewhat distanced from all the angst. He has been riding his bike a lot. I occasionally go with him but I am trying to learn to paint in a non cringe worthy way, so that keeps me occupied.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but we received our cédulas, which are roughly like a social security card and used for identification and to show that we are legal residents of Ecuador. Bruce has been working hard to set up all of our legal stuff like updated wills and end of life documents. He has also organized everything so if one of us dies, the other will have all the paperwork and information in one place. Peace of mind is worth a lot. Thanks Bruce!

One of the first countries we visit will be Australia. Raina and Luke could not wait that long to be married so the ceremony took place at the end of September. We are so happy for them!

Regina and I recently attended an open house tour of three hotels that were contemplating reinventing themselves after the pandemic. They were open to the idea of renting rooms to elderly who wanted independent assisted living with all meals provided and a butler on call. My favorite was Mansion Alcazar.

Bruce tells me that he is going to start taking his bigger camera on bike trips on the edges of town for the next time we post. Meanwhile, here are just a couple.

We are planning to move to a different neighborhood when our lease is up in January. We have been very happy here in this apartment, but it is lacking a couple of things. This building has a beautiful and generous terrace but we would like one of our own. I am painting in the living room so it would be nice to have a space for that. And…..we live on a very busy corner that is too noisy! We have been buying a piece of furniture here and there and all the kitchen stuff so we hope to find a place that has room for it all. We have quit buying.

One of the treats of living here is discovering new little markets and eateries. Our diet is not the same but we eat very well.

Another outing for us was a trip to visit an artists workshop. She lives about twenty minutes outside of the city and she was kind enough to pick us up and bring us back home.

That is about all I have to post. The holidays are coming up so it will be interesting to see how Christmas is celebrated here. I think it’s a really big deal, but this year will almost certainly be different. The decorations are out in the stores already! I saw a really cool Christmas tree in a store that had lights dripping from bare branches. It cost over five hundred dollars and was too big for our apartment, so we are making our own. That will be in the next post! Until then, stay safe and happy and enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Continued…….

I have one more painting of Anna’s to show you

This one is not quite finished….
This is the photo she was working from.

Regina and I recently visited a garden and nursery that was tucked away inside a little development just off of Las Americas, a very busy highway. The photo above is of the owner’s house. The property is very much in the cottage garden style with plants tucked in every corner and hanging from every perch.

A lovely lady who generously gave us some of her precious time
The nursery
Many plants were not in bloom but lots of interesting foliage.

Bruce and I have recently discovered a new place to shop for groceries right in our neighborhood. Regina had suggested it a couple of months ago but we didn’t find it right away. It kind of reminds us of Sunny Farms in Sequim!

Notice the very nice and healthy living wall planting on the left.
Bulk grains and flour ……so many it’s overwhelming! I have no idea what most of them are.
Bailey’s Irish Cream and espresso ….one of the fun items they offer. Really good shrimp and fish and wine too!
A recent bouquet from the supermarket
And another. They always have roses and alstroemerias and sometimes some mixed bouquets. They are so inexpensive that we can have them in every room.
This is a house I love on the way home from our Ecuadorian Sunny Farms.
It is smothered in plants.
Tuberoses 🙂
This guy earns his living juggling on the corner. He’s REALLY good! Bruce printed this picture and gave it to him. He sat on the sidewalk and stared at it for several minutes.

A visitor on our window. We’ve been waiting for the building to wash the outside windows and just recently discovered that it’s up to us to hire it done! It only shows when the sun shines through 😬
This is Marco, one of our security guys. He is extremely nice and friendly. He likes to practice his fledgling English on us.
And this is our wonderful, hardworking and cheerful maestra de limpieza. She keeps the whole building spotless!
A little girl playing by the river while her papa fished.
Every house seems to have one of these. Lots of barking!!
This was taken at a Fourth of July party with a few friends. Outside, as you can see.
This is nothing Ecuadorian. Just a cake I saw online. Made me 😊

So that’s it for the July edition of our website post. We send lots of love to all our friends and relatives out there. Hopefully, next year we can all get back to near normal. Until then, do what makes you happy.

it’s been a while

We are living in kind of a dream state here. Nothing changes very much, but it’s pleasant enough. Enjoyable, in fact. We have our routines and have started cautiously stepping out a bit. The weather is a little colder because we are in our “winter” here. HA! Call this winter? So we put on an extra layer but still have no need for heat in our apartment. It is a very rare day that we don’t see some sun and when it’s out it is very intense and streams in our big windows to warm every room. I believe being on the seventh floor helps too. Our floors are always warm. Bruce had a desk custom made for his office, which is one of the bedrooms, and he spends many happy hours there. Otherwise, you could find him riding one of his three bikes around town. Why three bikes?? The first one was supposed to be mine but it turned out to be too big for me. He bought the second one so we could ride together and then came upon a racing bike that stole his heart. So I am looking for a bike just the right size for me.

We finally received our cédulas, which is the final step in our residency process. The cédula is a card that would be similar to our social security card. To celebrate, we took our friend Regina to a French restaurant, La Petite Jardín, which is not too far from our apartment, but in more of a country setting.

Notice the table with hand sanitizer and instructions for distancingt
Regina and the chef, Giovanni Cambizaca……she had been there several times before
Very French country. Warm and cozy.
The restaurant is large enough for two fireplaces
My appetizer, potato leek soup. Bruce had frog legs
Regina’s sole
My rabbit…..yummy sauce!
Bruce chose beef roulade. He was happy with it……. beef can be disappointing down here.
créeme brûlée for the grand finale😊

You may remember that we are helping a Venezuelan family that sells limes on the street beneath our apartment. Times are really tough for the Venezuelan refugees that Ecuador agreed to take into their country two years ago.

This is Mathias. He just turned three last month.
With mom and dad, Carlos and Nazareth
Carlos with his limes and mandarines on Ordoñez Lasso. Nazareth’s papa Jorge also sells limes but wasn’t there when I took these photos.
I made this card for Mathias’s birthday. I forgot to take a picture of the cake…banana chocolate chip with chocolate frosting. And some toys too.

My daughter Anna has been very productive with her artwork. I included some of her paintings in the last post and here are a few more. I am just beginning to dabble a bit in acrylics, just collecting some supplies and practicing. Nothing to show yet, but it is so nice to have Anna to talk shop with!

Awesome!
love the colors and the en
Can you guess who this is?
Love this one
Love the slightly impressionistic quality

Okay, something happened and WordPress won’t let me add more photos to this one so I will start a new one and post it tomorrow!


A few photos

I am starting to miss designing with plants and am very anxious to see what my pallet will be down here. I have not visited a nursery yet and have only seen the usual plants used in the public spaces. Lots of agapanthus, which I love, so I’m happy for that. I want to check at the universities to see if they have some plant ID courses. After all, Latin is Latin wherever its spoken. My Spanish is coming along pretty well considering that we came here mid January, so I think I could make some sense of a course like that. All of the private gardens here are behind tall walls so I only occasionally get a peek at what’s inside. I saw some pretty bearded iris and lots of flowering vines and big leaved tropical plants. Should be fun! The following photos are a few of what we see along our walks.

I am taking a couple art courses on line but have no supplies yet. Tomorrow is the day! I have addresses for three possible stores to buy what I need to get started. I am looking for inspiration. These following sky photos would be fun.

My daughter Anna is interested in watercolor. The following photos are of some of her work. I love it!

Our plan when moving here was to use Cuenca as a base for further travel. Now that seems a long time in the future, but we can still plan and dream. I have been reading a few web site postings from people living in Portugal. Our mother’s family originally came from that beautiful country and my sister Catherine and I would both like to spend some time there. Bruce too!

I’m not sure which city this is, but it’s lovely.
Portugal has some gorgeous beaches and great surfing!
Maybe next year?

Bruce walks along the river every morning and usually takes a couple photos.

This man was happy to show Bruce his catch. Lots of very small trout.
We are going into the dry season now so the river is a little low.
Mounted police on patrol in front of our building
A little Venezuelan boy just hanging out on our street while his mom is asking passing motorists for money.
These are just some of the shoes we collected from the gringo community for a young man who had no shoes. Unfortunately for him, he wears a size eleven which is very hard to find here because the Ecuadorian people are not large, so we appealed to the much larger men from the states and they really came through! I hope he is able to find at least one pair that fits well out of a dozen that were donated.
The people LOVE their new light rail system! Rides are free for the next couple of months.
Bruce and I are slowly and carefully starting to enjoy outdoor seating at our favorite eateries. This is at Nucalacta café where they roast their own beans and make a delicious latte.
And their wonderful huevos rancheros! We were the only ones there and the weather is perfect here for outside dining.
And this is our favorite pizza from Fabianos. We bring half of it home with us.
The final photo is of my little painting corner in our living room. It’s not easy to find the supplies I want here….no Amazon deliveries! But I am slowly gathering what I need. So happy😊😊😊

Yellow Light!

We are now in the first phase of lightening up on restrictions here in Cuenca. After seventy five days of “quedarse en casa” it feels pretty darn good!😊 We still wear masks and keep our distance, but the restaurants and businesses are opening with precautions. Our weather is perfect for outside seating. We visited our first eatery yesterday on the way home from a VERY long walk….the longest yet. It was a warm and sunny day so a cold beer sounded like a VERY good idea. The proprietors were happy to see us back again and we were lucky enough to get the only outside table.

We headed South down Solano Avenue. This is a portion of the old high school built in 1869.

This is a screen shot of the whole building I found online. Pretty impressive but now used for other purposes.

statues of the founding fathers are spaced along the avenue
And grand houses of course.
Bruce and I were just wondering the other day why some young men don’t wash car windows for money at the stoplights like they used to do in Mexico when we drove through the cities. And here they are on Solano Avenue! It beats begging…at least they are providing a service.
A type of street art? Can’t let a blank wall go to waste.
South side street art

The south side of Cuenca is pretty upscale and seems rather suburban to me. We looked at a couple of really nice apartments there but it just didn’t feel like home. Of course, some people love it and plenty of expats live there.

The Yunancay River is just as pretty as our Tomebamba. We had a picnic on the riverbank before heading home.

Vehicle traffic is increasing again and motorcycles are super popular. They can weave in and out of traffic and are cheaper than cars. The restaurants have been using them for their home deliveries during the pandemic so there are hundreds of them on the streets and they can go faster because the streets have been less crowded. You wouldn’t believe how LOUD most of them are. No mufflers and the policía don’t care😖

This was taken before the virus invaded us and is a typical scene….
As is this!

Along our river walk the crews have been busy cutting the very long grass, pruning shrubs and weeding the garden beds. It is so good to see it cared for again.

They use string trimmers and rakes and a truck comes by to take the piles away.
These mounted police patrol the park and their horses had really good eating before the gardening crew came through.
There are tree huggers in Cuenca too!
A typical Ecuadorian family enjoying a walk along the river
These kids and their dog posed for a photo
Projects are starting up again with protocols in place. This is one of the many apartment buildings under construction in the city. Notice the clever use of barrels to make the chute.
This one is along the river in our neighborhood.
Bruce and I have been intrigued by this residence along the river and thought it would be fun to see what it’s like on the inside.
And this is another architecturally interesting house a couple blocks east of us.

I have been baking and cooking a lot lately and we have lots of little markets in the neighborhood to find fruits and veggies, and sometimes homemade bread made with chia and whole grains.

Here we are buying bananas, avocados, radishes, potatoes and tomatoes from these lovely ladies on our street corner.
I wish I had the before picture to show you what these little potatoes looked like before cooking. As you can see, one of them is pink. All the others were speckled pink before cooking and while cooking, smelled like beets. I made a salad with them and guess what? They had a slight beet flavor!
While we’re on the subject of cooking, I baked these brownies in muffin pans. What makes them special is black beans are used in place of flour. And they are delicious!

I do most of the cooking and baking here in the apartment for Bruce and myself and also for my adopted Venezuelan family, but occasionally we order in from a restaurant. Now that the restrictions are lifting, we may start to eat out again once in a while. I think we will start with restaurants that have outdoor seating, to be safer and also, its more pleasant I think.🤔 We are also able to have delivered things like frozen fish and shrimp, sourdough bread and dried fruit.

These people deliver quality products and in a professional manner, meaning they show up when they say they are going to which is not always the case😏

The long awaited light rail transit system is operational! Many people thought it was a big waste of money, but I have heard nothing but good reviews so far. Right now, they are letting the public ride for free because they are still running some tests and they want to educate the public. There are no city buses running yet so the ridership is high on the trains. They have blocked off some of the seats but are allowing passengers to stand??! Too close to each other! Bruce and I are choosing to walk everywhere. We are not even taking the very cheap taxis. The tranvía will only cost 35 cents and half that for seniors 😊.

There she is! Beautiful, shiny and brand spanking new!

When we first arrived in the city to live, in January, there was no one begging on the streets…no homeless. But that has changed since the pandemic. I think most Ecuadorians are okay because they have extended family to help each other, but the refugees that Ecuador took in from Venezuela are in big trouble. Whole families are seen begging along the major streets. At first we filled our pockets with dollar bills and handed them out, but there are just so many, day after day. So now we carry smaller change and also have decided to concentrate our giving on just one family. I will write about them later.

This man is always here on our way to SuperMaxi and he is so kind and gentle, so we always give him something.
We asked if we could take his picture and payed him extra for it.
This store is next to SuperMaxi, our local supermarket. It is pricey, but we have purchased a few things that we couldn’t find elsewhere. Quite a contrast, I know, from the previous photo.
In a recent post I mentioned buying this table for our entrance way and here it is in our apartment .
Now we need a painting above it. As soon as I can get the supplies I will make us one!
And here is our new little bench that sits right inside our entrance door. One piece at a time we are making this apartment our home.

Well, I seem to be experiencing a little technical problem trying to add more photos for this post so I will quit right here for now and write a shorter post in a few days. I hope you all are healthy and happy and enjoying a few more freedoms every day as we are here in Cuenca.
Love to all❤️