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.
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 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!
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!!
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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🙂
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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! 😊😊😊
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Bruce walks along the river every morning and usually takes a couple photos.
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.
This is a screen shot of the whole building I found online. Pretty impressive but now used for other purposes.
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.
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😖
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.
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.
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.
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 😊.
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.
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❤️