Feeling Lucky

Every day we wake up looking forward to our new routines. Staying mostly en casa is not so bad once you find interesting stuff to fill your days. Maybe our travel plans are on extended hold, but we still get around town and we haven’t explored most of it yet. We have extended our daily walks to include our neighbors to the south, across the river. There are some beautiful homes along that side of the river that are owned by some of the more prosperous Ecuadorians.

This is a quiet neighborhood and we might choose to live here if one of these houses was ever offered for rent.
I can’t wait to work with all of these tropical plants. It never freezes, but because it never gets too hot, we can also grow many of the plants that I know and love from the Olympic Peninsula.
This datura does a lot better here…..they become trees if not regularly pruned.
Notice the glass pieces on top of the wall? Perhaps only recently have they started installing alarm systems for home defense…this is the old method I guess.
This house has electric wire along the top of the fence. They seem to be quite worried about robbery here in Cuenca.

Just a block or two south of this neighborhood, the street is wider and the people have small plots of veggies and some fruit trees. Cows and horses graze in the open fields.

Someone’s abandoned homestead
I love it!
This cow had a long tether and we were hoping she was friendly as we walked by.
She was😊
What could be more charming?
There seemed to be miles of stone walls in this neighborhood
A stone mason must have been kept busy for a long time! There is a lot of this type of work throughout the city.
This is the morgue just down the street from the cows. There was a small crowd of women outside. I don’t know if this is the only morgue for the city, but I doubt it because Cuenca has six hundred thousand residents. Our friend told us about her visit there to identify the body of someone she knew who had been murdered.😬

We took a VERY long walk the other day to the south edge of the city to pay for a piece of furniture we saw advertised in the Gringo Press. The owners are a very nice couple who are moving back to the states after living ten years here. He wanted to stay but she wanted to go, so they hope to settle in Portland.

It will be perfect for our entrance wall. It is custom made from solid wood here in Cuenca.
We will have it delivered when they move sometime this month.
Another beautiful old house along a different river on our way home from paying for the console table.
I have to say that the south side of the city has a lot to offer too. It is quite upscale but it is also quite a distance from El Centro….more of a suburban feel.

We also walked into El Centro recently to take care of a few things. One of them was to deliver cinnamon rolls to our friends, Liliana and Stefen. You may remember that she was the agent who found us our apartment. She and her German husband live in a big house there and rent out rooms to students. Her neighbors were afraid to see extranjeros come to the house because of the virus so we met her on the corner.😏

She is so adorable….I just love her!
Liliana made two bracelets for me
This is my favorite because me encanta azul
(I love blue)
Just in case you thought all the houses in Cuenca were beautiful…….
We came upon a road vehicle check and a truck spraying disinfectant at the same time. They were spraying everything including the officers!!!
Then we stumbled upon this artwork on the side of a building

As you can see, it is three dimensional!

On our way home we stopped off at Coral to buy a few things. We usually shop at SuperMaxi because it is closer, but Coral is more of a department store so it has a lot more to offer.

Looks like the national guard……not sure why they are posting them at grocery stores now??
OOPS, caught on camera
This is how homes put out their garbage for pickup
A little impromptu market appeared on our corner.
This is how most people buy their produce.
All over the city there are large and small markets like this.
We are almost home. This is a building we pass by every day and I always wonder,
why an a frame where it never snows?
This is right across from our building entrance
And this is too
And we’re home!
This is the entrance to our building.

I realize this is getting to be a pretty long post, but we have a few more photos to show you.

This is Nasare, a Venezuelan refugee who sells limes on the street beneath our living room window. She is so friendly and always waves, but doesn’t know a word of English. I give her money and here I am giving her cinnamon rolls that I baked. I get to practice my Spanish on her and have started making lunches for her and her family. She has a husband and a two year old boy and her papa.
Eucalyptus trees along our river walk
This park along the river is used heavily during holidays. The rich folks go to their ocean villas while the rest camp here all day, cooking on open fires, playing soccer and just enjoying being together.
The grass is getting pretty shaggy during this sequester period which has been since March seventeenth. They usually keep it well groomed with string trimmers.
The river is raging today! It is ripping mature trees from the banks and sending them downstream. On our morning walk we kept hearing boom! boom! and realized it was the sound of big boulders under water crashing against each other. Magnificent!!
A beautiful blue sky
Our evening sky
And a fiery sunset from our living room window
This week’s bouquet.
Two dozen roses delivered to our door for six dollars.
We gave her ten and hope she continues her business!
And I will leave you with a screen shot of a volcano to the north of us that, if I remember correctly, has been active continuously for more than two hundred years.

Hasta la próxima vez, muchos abrazos y ten cuidado❤️

We’re still here!

It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve posted. How is it that I have so much free time but the days just slip by? We have been “busy” trying to adjust to this new reality and finding a routine that allows some novelty into each day along with the comfort of our usual morning, afternoon and evening rituals.
For instance, I still enjoy getting up before dawn to shower, make myself a cup of tea and settle back in bed with a book or my iPad. I can watch the light slowly illuminate the mountains while the golden streetlights fade. At the edge of the city the roosters crow and closer by, near the river, the exotic songbirds of Ecuador are greeting the start of a new day.
Bruce starts his day with a cup of coffee, a podcast while exercising in the living room and then an early morning walk along the river.
We enjoy shopping and cooking, reading newspapers online, long phone conversations, long emails and long walks. We watch Netflix at night😊

Early morning In Cuenca
Good Morning Sunshine!
Love in the Time of Pandemic
View from Bruce’s office
Usually one of the busiest streets in the city
To the south…view from our elevator
Plenty of produce from the surrounding countryside coming into the city
The grocery stores are well stocked
A member of the cleaning crew
Green signifies garbage detail which is essential
The crew that cuts the grass in the park (with string trimmers) are laid off
Washing the laundry in the river is an age old practice.
During this pandemic, the police sometimes discourage it, but I would think that clean laundry is very important, and if they don’t have washing machines??

We have a friend here who has been featured in this journal before. She had hip surgery just before the virus hit and is still recuperating, so Bruce and I have walked to her house a couple of times to bring goodies, because she can’t cook for herself yet. She is always helping others so of course, she has more food prepared for her than she can eat! We are allowed to be out to help someone in her situation so we’re not breaking any rules. And besides, she told us about a bank in her neighborhood that doesn’t charge for withdrawals, so we also stop by the bank to get some cash.

Here she is just minutes before her surgery….so brave!
Bruce was put to good use on our last visit…what a guy.
We were “celebrating” both Regina and Bruce’s birthdays on the same day!!
This was taken on our way to Regina and the bank. The stairs lead to the old part of the city called El Centro. To the right is the river Tomebamba. We can walk along the river all the way from our apartment to the downtown area which takes us just under an hour.
On the way to the bank, we found some colorful street art
Cuenca is considered to be the cultural capital of Ecuador and has many galleries and art shows.
The symphony performs for free!!
More art on the same street

We are very happy with the supermarket in our neighborhood. They are scrupulous about distancing, masks, gloves and sanitizing. It feels like a very safe experience to shop there and they have everything we need.

A shopper waiting for a taxi after shopping at SuperMaxi
A closeup of the same shopper
Bruce said she didn’t seem to mind having her photo snapped
Many Cuencanos have large families to feed and carry their groceries home with a car or taxi.
Bruce and I need to use our backpacks🙂
This photo of our section of the city shows our apartment (the arrow on the left is pointing to our intersection of Ordóñez Lasso and Los Cedros) and the old city, or El Centro, which is shaded darker. The river is the green line just below, or South, of our apartment that meanders it’s way East and forms a boundary between the older and newer city.

In the middle of the night last night I heard voices in the street below my bedroom window. I opened the shade and saw a policeman had stopped an illegal vehicle and the owner of the vehicle was arguing and then he got physical. The officer threw him to the ground and must have sprayed him with something because he was in obvious distress, rubbing his eyes and rolling around on the wet pavement. Meanwhile, more police cars arrived. The strange thing to me was, no one took him into custody for attacking the officer. They ordered a tow truck, impounded his vehicle and left him and his passenger on the street. The whole incident took about an hour and I was thankful to crawl back into my nice snug bed. I don’t know how the man got home. He was sitting on the curb when I retired and he was gone this morning. Quite a contrast between how these enforcement officers handled the situation and what might have happened to that man if he had assaulted a police officer in Seattle!

On a MUCH lighter subject, I want to say how much Bruce and I love being here in Cuenca. We feel lucky to be weathering the virus pandemic in our nice little apartment near the river. We have great internet, Netflix, books to read, plenty of food to make delicious meals and we have each other.🙂The only thing I miss, besides my friends and family are the spring flowers! So my daughter Anna sent a photo of one of her lovely little bouquets.

Thanks Anna!!

We are in our rainy season here but it’s so pleasant! We get downpours but we also get sun every day. And it’s warm. The city was worried about a water shortage earlier because it had been dry and the reservoirs were getting low, but now the rivers are raging after a good downpour.

We love it!
We know it gets higher than this, but it’s hard to imagine

We have had some exciting and ground shaking thunder storms, but no high winds as of yet. We haven’t felt an earthquake either, but we know that tremors are not unusual. However, Cuenca has never had a damaging quake unlike the coast and the northern regions. I would not live on the coast, but love to visit!

Next time, if I don’t have anything more interesting to report, I will give you a tour of our apartment, room by room. I could also show scenes from our daily walks along our part of the river. Until next time, please be careful, stay well and know that this too shall pass😊

Our new reality

As of last Tuesday, the 17th of March, we are asked to stay in our homes as much as possible. Schools and restaurants are closed and all businesses except for grocery stores, pharmacies and banks. There is a night time curfew from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. Vehicles are allowed every other day depending on license plate number, however there are few cars on the road. No buses and only taxis allowed. The bright side is much cleaner air along the main streets and hardly any traffic noise! We are allowed to walk to the grocery store or pharmacy, which we do, and Bruce and I also walk along the river, just a half block away, a couple of times a day. The weather has been absolutely beautiful!

Early morning
almost every day has been sunny
And gorgeous cloud formations in the evening
Just before the virus the rivers were running high and fast
Almost to the top
But still, laundry must be done

Just before the quarantine, I was able to attend a cooking class with a French chef. He entertained us for a few hours while demonstrating his cooking skills and preparing a very fine lunch for all of the attendees. We ate corvina and shrimp in a pastry puff with pink peppercorn butter sauce and puréed butternut squash. For desert he made shortbread topped with mixed fruit ( mora berry, raspberry, strawberry and blueberry ) and a dollop of whipped cream. All this for fifteen dollars!

Cooking classes offered here twice a month

Bruce and I also attended a luncheon honoring St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, the 15th. This was at a beautiful private home with some of Cuenca’s prominent citizens as fellow guests. The hostess offers these themed dinners once a month and I’m so glad we decided to try one. We had a lovely time meeting some very kind, interesting and entertaining people and enjoying an Irish meal prepared by a talented chef. She also offers cooking classes and I signed up for one at the end of the month. It is almost certain to be cancelled🙁

Enjoying an evening at Jodoco before the lockdown
They prepare the best steak in Cuenca, according to Bruce

Like most people everywhere we are saddened by our new reality, but trying to make the most of each day with as much positivity as we can muster. We consider ourselves to be very lucky that we are still healthy and able to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and commune with friends via the internet. Thank goodness for the internet!!! We also have lots of time to read and have long phone conversations. Our travel plans will have to wait.

Empty streets
This used to be one of the busiest areas

Masks everywhere and allowing only thirty shoppers at a time
Hand sanitizer a requirement on entry

Life is like this now. Be kind to each other. Help when you can and remember we are all in this together. Find the good things to enjoy every day and stay safe.

This is our communal terrace. Yesterday I took my chaise lounge down on the elevator and Bruce and I enjoyed an hour in the sun. It was heavenly!
View from the other direction
Find your peaceful place and be thankful
We’ll check in again in a couple of weeks and see where we are
Hasta entonces estar bien!

Making progress on residency🙂

We spent several hours in a small town near Cuenca where our applications for residency are being processed. So glad we hired a lawyer because I can imagine the stress of dealing with all the paperwork in Spanish would be much more than we want to deal with. I received an email yesterday saying that Bruce’s paperwork was accepted, but nothing so far about mine. Hopefully we will hear more today.

View from the government building

Inside the building was clean and shiny and the time went by pretty quickly because we had interesting conversations with others processing their visas. The magic jack that we ordered from the states did the trick. We now have a U.S. number and can call anywhere in the states for free. Our bank needed a U.S. number in order to send us a code so we could access our bank statement online and show the Ecuadorian government that our social security checks were deposited last month. If the acceptance of my papers comes through today, Bruce and I will celebrate tonight at one of our favorite restaurants tonight!

This morning we walked to Nucallacta for lattes and breakfast. Sorry I can’t find a photo of their beautiful and delicious lattes!

Sharon’s breakfast
Bruce’s huevos rancheros

We went to the grocery store yesterday to buy a few things and were surprised to find every cart in use and overflowing! Apparently the president had given a speech the night before about the virus and people finally took notice. Bruce and I have been buying a few extra items for the last week or so to stock our pantry, so we’re all set. I think the latest here in Ecuador is nineteen cases with one fatality, none of them in our city of Cuenca. We are all trying to be extra cautious and following hand washing suggestions, but we don’t feel nervous about it…..yet.

Toilet paper seems to be very important !!

Since I have few photos about the subject of this post, I will add a few of Bruce’s photos taken at random around the city.

Around El Centro
I may use this as inspiration for a painting
This is not an unusual scene
Downtown color
Mostly older women who once a week go through the recycle bins to make a little money
Work on a new condo building a block away
This city has a lot of new construction and no abandoned buildings.
Full employment too
A friend’s birthday celebration
And lastly
Our new bar chairs!

An Interesting Week

Fat Tuesday was Mardi Gras and we celebrated! This was a first for us, but down here, Carnival is huge. So a group of us joined the revelers at Common Grounds and got in the spirit of Mardi Gras!

Jenny and Tom
Sharon and Regina
Bruce with face paint (and Regina’s wig)
Sharon, Regina and Jenny

On Friday we visited the thermal hot springs in a small town on the outskirts of Cuenca. There are a few resorts that offer massages, mud treatments, steam baths etc. We went for the fifteen dollar package at Novaqua which gave us access to the swimming pool, steam room and hot and cold plunge pools. They gave us a bag with a robe, towel, bathing cap and soap and the restaurant offered a variety of food and drinks, tho we decided to wait and eat in town afterwards. It was very relaxing!! What a great way to spend a day.

Lots of natural rock work
The town of Baños
Walking into town for lunch afterwards

The next night, Saturday, we had our first party at our new apartment with six people, including ourselves. We served assemble your own tacos and Regina made margaritas and home made brownies. So good! The chocolate down here is exceptional. Earlier in the week we had a few things delivered to make our place more homey instead of feeling like a motel. Marks consignment brought a nice chair, a wall hanging, an ottoman (called a pouf down here) and two chaise lounges for our communal terrace. From Regina we bought a coffee table, a chair for Bruce’s office, two lamps and some kitchen items. We still have more to buy but are kind of waiting to see if we get residency. More on that later.

Flowers on the new coffee table
Three dollars for a dozen roses and one fifty for a bunch of alstroemeria
view from one of the bedrooms
And from Bruce’s office
from our living room
those are Eucalyptus trees along the river
Our new living room chair from Mark’s
one of our new lamps from Regina
I love this ceramic dish that Bruce chose from Regina’s sale of items from her other apartment

Next time I will have photos of our new chaise lounges on our communal terrace

That’s all that I have from last week. I think our rainy season is arriving. We had a terrific thunder and lightening storm. It was awesome!!! But the sun usually comes out every day.
So, hasta luego! Que tengas un gran día!🙂

A river walk after a rain

Okay, I know I just posted yesterday, but last night we had a lovely cleansing rain, and it was double pleasure to walk along the river this morning. The smell of the eucalyptus trees was strong and the river rushing! I realize for a lot of you in the Northwest, rain might not be cause for joy right now, but it is the dry season here. Because of Carnival, there were fewer people about. Seems like most of the city goes to the ocean to celebrate. There were the usual runners and dog walkers and amblers, such as myself, that you see in any city. The cleaning crew were out early too. This is a clean city because they employ color coded groups of workers, each with a designated job.
Yesterday, being Sunday, the park along the river had families enjoying campfires and cooking, playing games and cards, soccer, swimming and fishing all day long. About five o’clock they packed it all up and headed for home.

We LOVE the clean streets. This is a bike lane.

Today is a laid back day. I made pancakes this morning. Now that doesn’t seem worth mentioning, but grocery supplies down here are not what we are accustomed to and simple ingredients are often hard to find. I took a chance on a whole wheat pancake mix and some syrup. My expectations were kind of low.

No real maple syrup here but I thought this looked promising.
I was not at all sure of the pancake mix, but the photo looks appetizing.

Surprise!!! They were delicious! They have a brand here called Los Andes that makes good mayonnaise and ketchup so I thought I’d try their spaghetti sauce. Yuk. It was slimy. I see they have an American brand for an inflated price, but worth it. The hamburger meat is very lean and grass fed, so not as tender and juicy, but adding sautéed mushrooms and onion along with the sauce, makes pretty good spaghetti. We can’t eat out all the time!

La gente enjoying the river
Beautiful eucalyptus bark
This is the level in the dry season….can’t wait for the big storms!

Okay, that’s it for now. This coming week will be packed with events, so I will report again next week. Until then, un gran abrazo to each and every one of you!

Almost time for a trip to the coast!

As soon as this amazing weather turns into the rainy season, we will head back to the beautiful coast of Ecuador. When we visited last year for five weeks, we started out in two seaside towns….Olon and Puerto Lopez. Olon has a gorgeous beach and Puerto Lopez is more of a fishing village. The sun is hot and the water very warm. The vibe is very laid back….too much so for more than a month or two.

The photographer….Bruce takes all the photos for our website (except this one, obviously)
These photos of the coast were taken on our trip last year
Fishing boats in Puerto Lopez
The sunsets are always amazing!
Love watching the boats
every morning they come in with their catch
Bruce wants to get back to this!
Our hotel in Puerto Lopez
Great restaurant too.
We loved seeing what came in each day
This is how we got around town
Miles of unspoiled beaches

It is the perfect antidote to city life. And when the beach gets boring, there is always Cuenca again!

Last night we joined friends at a restaurant on a hill above the city
We had hoped to see the sunset but it was too cloudy😕
It was beautiful anyway
We stayed well past sunset
And were rewarded with gorgeous views!!

We are in the middle of CARNIVAL now which is a BIG deal down here. It will all wind up with FAT TUESDAY and MARTI GRAS. Photos of that next time……it should be fun!

Valentine’s Celebration and a bump on the road (to Ecuador)

We stayed the weekend in El Centro (old town) at an ancient and very elegant hotel to celebrate each other. ❤️ We had a nice sized terrace overlooking the city that made us realize….we NEED a terrace!! The weather here is so wonderful (so far) and we want to live outdoors when we can. We had total privacy, so I laid out in my underwear and got a lovely mild sunburn. It felt soooo good. The restaurant, El Jardín, is one of the best in the city. They had a special menu for Valentines and the place was fully booked, but we arrived early along with a few other gringos. The Ecuadorians tend to eat dinner quite late. I have to say that we witnessed some pretty bad manners on the part of a couple of our fellow Americans. Just rude and entitled behavior. Restaurant dining sometimes brings out the worst in some people. But the waiters handled it with equanimity. I wonder what they were saying back in the kitchen!

Two chaise lounges are outside the photo
doesn’t look like it, but there was plenty of sun throughout the day
View from our balcony
More view
and another…..

We walked the streets of El Centro and discovered lots of little shops that were new to us. We also witnessed a gathering of caballeros in a small park. They were getting ready for a parade. They take great pride in their horses here and they were beautiful and spirited!

Tightening the shoe
Love the coat!!!
A very spirited horse!
One more caballero

Now for the bumpy part……We are having trouble accessing our account with Capital One. Our lawyer needs our bank statement that shows both of our social security checks deposited. We are unable to get the statement because Capital One requires a code sent to our phone to verify that we are who we say we are. But….they do not recognize an Ecuadorian number. We have been trying to resolve this for the past couple of weeks with no success. But we’re not giving up! We have two months to resolve this issue before we run out of time. We have ordered a magic jack and phone from the U.S. to be delivered here by a company for a price. We should have it by the first week of March. That device will allow us to have a U.S. phone number and that should solve the problem. But we are also ordering a paper statement delivered to our old address in Washington and our dear friend and former neighbor, Karen, will mail it Federal Express to our Ecuadorian lawyer’s Florida address. Whew! What would we do without you Karen?? And also our new friend Regina who’s phone has been a lifeline for us. We are sooo lucky to have such wonderful friends.

Now I will leave you with just a couple other images from Cuenca.

A very sweet gentleman we met on the street
Street art…it’s all over Cuenca
A different style
Until next time….hasta luego❤️

A Fun Evening With New Friends

We wanted to take our friend Liliana and her husband Stefen out for a special dinner to show our gratitude for her cheerful and determined efforts to find us a suitable apartment. Besides, we just love her! She is such a sweetheart, as is her German husband who has also become our friend. They are in their thirties, but don’t seem to mind hanging around with old folks 😊 She speaks pretty good English but his is even better. So we suggested a few restaurants and they selected El Mercado. Good choice! The food was superb and the service excellent.

Waiting in our hotel lobby for the taxi
In El Centro on Calle Larga
Nice view and great conversation
This sea bass, or Corvina, was soooooo delicious!

Bruce ordered a very special bottle of Malbec for us to share with dinner and we continued our conversation over dessert. I told them I was considering taking a painting class called Vino and Van Gogh. Turns out they had taken a couple of the classes together, one class involved painting the Blue Footed Booby. I can’t wait to try!

Stefen’s masterpiece…I love it!!
(sorry, this was a screen shot and I don’t know how to get rid of the excess on top😐)

This is a very short post because not much is going on this week. I picked up a virus or flu or some malaise that has kept me grounded for a few days. I am just now starting to feel better. This weekend is Valentine’s and we will spend it at a very special hotel in El Centro, so more on that next time. And next week we may visit the thermal baths which are only a ten minute taxi ride from here. Mmmmmm…..that sounds so good!

Moving Into Our Apartment

It feels like a long time since I last posted. We were busy moving and buying stuff we need for our new apartment. Also, I had a problem accessing the website, but my angel Mary Anne, who set up the website for us, figured it out! Hooray!

This is a painting we are considering.
I think it would look great in my bedroom

So, the first thing to say is we love our new apartment. The view is amazing from all of the windows (we have twice as many as the last place) And it is more spacious. It is lightly furnished so we are able to buy some of the furnishings and kitchen stuff that we prefer. It is only one block from the river with parks and walking and biking trails. We like our landlord🙂 and can’t hear our neighbors. But can we EVER hear the traffic noise!! We are on a major street with single pane windows. I knew before moving down here that noise would be an issue. We have lived in the country at the end of a dead end street for decades, so this city living is very different. But people say you get used to it and soon it is just background sound. We have also found that if we play music, like guitar or piano, we hardly notice the traffic sounds.

This is Regina who has been a good friend to us! Isn’t she pretty? She has helped us in so many ways and we were even able to buy some furniture from her previous apartment.
We can take delivery at the end of the month
Regina lives in El Centro
And we live near the Rio Tomebamba
looks like someone lost their laundry basket!

Beautiful river

The move to the new apartment was exhausting without a car. We took many trips on foot with backpacks….only a fifteen minute walk. Then we hired a pickup truck to move all our suitcases for twenty dollars. Javier was supposed to help us but he sent his mom instead and she was great!!
Bruce gave her a big tip because she was just so capable! A couple days later, Javier delivered my bike. More on that later. Bruce and I both bought bicicletas.

We have been buying all the kitchen stuff we need mostly at SuperMaxi, very much like a U.S.supermarket, with a few added quirks 🙂 and another huge store that is more like Walmart. We like walking, so if we are able carry our purchases back home by backpack and bags we will.

Part of our walk to “Walmart”
It’s really called Coral and it’s in a big shopping center
Fun purchases from an artisanal market
wonderful bread with chia, cheese with peppercorns, Chinese dumplings, sweets, chocolate and ginger liquor for a special occasion
And finally, Regina and the gang working their way through a few beers

I will end this post with a couple of photos from my bedroom window. Next time we will have photos from the other rooms and some of the furniture we bought.

This morning
Lucky me!