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.
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.
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.
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.😏
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.
I realize this is getting to be a pretty long post, but we have a few more photos to show you.
Hasta la próxima vez, muchos abrazos y ten cuidado❤️
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😊
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.
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.
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.
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 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😊
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!
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!
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🙁
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!🙂
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
It is the perfect antidote to city life. And when the beach gets boring, there is always Cuenca again!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.