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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Settling In in our Newest New Home

It's been noted that we move a lot.  We can't really argue the point.  When we were touring around Vancouver we saw several locations that held "old stomping grounds" and had a similar experience in Victoria.  Since 2000, we've moved seven times.  Yup, that works out to every two years. All that being considered the title of this installment might make more sense.  Here are some photos of our new place (sorry FB friends who have seen this already, but there are people out there that aren't on FaceBook.)
The Master Suite...okay it's a one bedroom condo

Our sitting area out front

Living room and kitchen (see we really are here!)

I'm here, too, and here's the proof!
It's been interesting try to restock an entire kitchen with food stuffs.  You forget how much you build up over time, so the fridge seemed shockingly empty even after we put away a fairly decent amount of groceries.  We can't find Dijon mustard here (at least without honey), so that's a bit disappointing.  I'm sure that there are other things we'll miss that we don't even remember about right now.

We've been getting the lay of the land and have returned to a few favourite places, one being the Cafe do Brasil which hosts Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 3 to 10.  You can get two for one caiparinha's (that's Brazil's national beverage.)

How does it taste??? Yummy...after the initial alcoholic shock.

How does Ron look, after you drink one? Just like that.

What I look like (working on my second one.)
We've also indulged in some of the local fare and "foreign" food like tapas, here's an idea of what's on offer:
Requisite "salsa" that comes with every meal.

Beautiful little brioche bread

Smoked salmon on "tostadas"

Papas Bravas...I've never had them not cooked in the tomato sauce before

Camarones al Ajo (shrimp in garlic sauce)

Brochettes of ham, beef and prawns with red & green peppers

Bruschetta, but with Serrano ham on top
I thought the night was going to be a bust, as the restaurant had completely run out of cheese (all kinds) but it turned out to be fine...delicious, really.  Here's one of our almuerzos (lunches) from a restaurant right up the street (keep in mind that the whole meal below cost us US$3 per person):
White bean soup...the oddly shaped thing is a baby fingerling potato.

Fresh juice, we don't know what kind, but very refreshing.

Stewed meat, rice and vegetable salad - with pasta.

Deep fried was ridiculously tasty.
 We've also been braving the local farmers' markets, as it's more cost effective to buy many things there.  The selection is very good, especially for fruits and vegetables and they are very patient with our terrible Spanish.
Full side of beef, aging/curing.

Fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see.

Ecuadorian fast food, comes with potatoes and a small salad (usually)

Carnes (meats) in all sorts of cuts and types

One of the rows of meat vendors.  There's a full floor of them.
 We haven't braved the butchers' counters yet, but we did go the the fish monger and snagged a piece of albacore tuna for $4.50. PS: that's a dinner plate.
Then there is the city, itself.  The weather has been fairly good.  It's usually a bit overcast in the morning, with the cloud breaking up around 10 and the sun shining for a good part of the afternoon and then clouding over again around supper time.  The evenings usually entail some form of rain - frequently accompanied by thunder and occasionally torrential down pours.  
Not sure what it is, but it's pretty

Views of the mountains

Interesting sculpture...the children are trying to climb a pole and get to the household goods on top.

One of the many beautiful churches

Pretty buildings on the street

Some sort of school pep went for blocks and blocks

The Cathedral - artsy like
The Tombebamba River

Views across the river and over to the mountains.

Close up of one of the mountains surrounding the city.
You may or may not know that Cuenca is a variation on the Spanish word for bowl, as the city is nestled within a crown of Andean mountains.  It's really quite stunning, and despite being a fairly good sized city, population wise, it retains a small city charm and feel.

We have some things that we still need to take care of, like registering our Visa (who knew...but apparently you have to do that) and refreshing some "stale" documents.  (Who knew that a marriage certificate could get stale?)  We're hoping to have all the paperwork taken care of in the next couple of months and that we have redo some of the documents we already took care of is causing us some stress, but we have 5 months to get everything in order, so hopefully it will all fall in to place.  That's all for now, from the beautiful city of Cuenca.  Drop us a line every once in a while, so we know what you're up to and how you're doing!  Lots of love!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Adios Guayaquil y Bienvenido en Cuenca

We have finally arrived at our primary destination of Cuenca Ecuador.  I have concerns that the post title should actually read Bienvenida en Cuenca, but I'm not entirely certain...I guess it's something that I'll eventually figure out.  This is our third full day in our new home and we're slowly starting to settle in.  I'm suffering from a bit of "what-do-I-do-now-that-I'm-not-working" ennui.  Ron asked me what I wanted to do today, and I thought to myself "what does he mean?  There isn't anything TO do."  Honestly, it freaked me out a little bit.  Ahhh, but before I really delve in to the joys and pains of being settled back in a house and out of suitcases, I will reflect a bit more on our journey to Guayaquil...or at least provide some photos:

The Moroccan Tower

El Gato Negro - he's hiding in conduit that is meant for electronic services (phone, internet etc.)

The City of the Dead.  This is a large cemetery in the heart of the city...this is only a small part.

One of the main avenues in the's huge probably @ a 1/4 of a million people rest here.
A lovely little finch that we found as we hiked up one of the hills in the cemetery.

A very large statue of Jesus, benevolently guarding the dearly departed and all of Guayaquil.
 Okay, so the cat...he was hiding in a part of the sidewalk that had been opened up, presumably to install services to one of the shops along the street.  Either Quayaquilines are very cavalier about waste or the work is taking a long's an over view shot of el gato pobre:

We got tired of roaming around the same area of the city so we grabbed a cab (recommended by our hotel...apparently you don't just flag down a cab on the street or all sorts of horrendous things could occur) and headed out to a place called Plaza Lagos (Plaza of lakes.)  It was a "Stepford" like place, which was very lovely, but had little charm, as it was completely man made and precisely designed..

Various stores along the promenade.

Entry way to the Plaza
We did, however, cough over for a really nice lunch at "Don Frances":

Langostinas in a remarkable orange sauce...delicious.

Risotto with Calamari in a sauce with it's ink (Actually very delicate in flavour and quite tasty.)

Passion of Lemon...not sure what it was exactly, but was quite refreshing.

Rice pudding, how can you go wrong?
We did make a couple of little friends at the Plaza...

I'm not sure whether they're cranes, ibises, egrets or herons, but they were lovely.  They frequently hid under the bridge to keep out of sight of the large eagles or possibly condors. What you can't see in these photos is the Guayaquilites passion for honking car horns.  Upset? Honk your horn. Cut off? Honk your horn. Happy? Honk your horn. Recognize someone? Honk your horn. Don't recognize someone? Honk your horn. Someone else is honking their horn? Honk your horn.  I think you get the idea. (You might feel I've over done the repetitiveness of this, but I assure you, I've held back. They must find North America very strange, as our car horn usage is reserved for only the most dire situations (for the most part).

A random photo of my ridiculous tan lines...this never happened with my ballet flats!

Our flight to Cuenca was delayed by two hours, so we didn't arrive in the city until 5pm and then had to find our apartment.  By they time we found the place, dumped our bags and got the grand tour from Bev, our "handler" we barely had time to go grab some groceries and scurry back home before dark.  (We dined on roasted chicken and sparkling wine.)  Here's the view from our roof top, where we've had lunch twice and enjoyed a lovely morning coffee, just this morning:

The final photo is the real "money shot", as it's the iconic Cathedral in's equivalent to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  (Don't hate us, it was a truly glorious day today, but we did have some rain over the last couple of afternoons and one real down pour.)  I haven't taken any pictures of the interior of our condo yet, but it's much like it showed on the website.

Like all things, some things are fantastic, some things are okay and other things you think to yourself "Seriously?".  We think it will work out quite well for us in the end.  I've even cooked two suppers here already, and it's weird to say, but I'm relieved not to always be searching for gets quite exhausting.  That's all from beautiful Cuenca, at least for now.  Be well, travel safely (for those of you on the road) and know that we love you!