Archive for July, 2012

The other day Michael took his fishing pole and strolled over to the river to see about getting us some trout for lunch, and he came limping back!!  He slipped on a wet rock and came down on his heel, hard, really hard.  PAINFUL.  I went  to Mall Del Rio and got him some of those jobber crutches that have a cuff for your arm that you have to hold onto the handle.  He needed them to get around for about a week. 
It isn’t a surprise that crutches are easy to find here.  Anyone reading this blog that lives in Cuenca, and my Mom who was here for a month, can attest to the uneven cobblestone sidewalks, and the wierd funky pieces of metal and or pipes that simply jut out of the sidewalk for absolutely no reason.  We have seen people take nasty falls on the sidewalks.  The architecture in Cuenca is beautiful, but it can be kinda dangerous to walk around with your eyes pointed at the buildings instead of watching your footing.  LOL! 
Currently many, many of the sidewalks in El Centro are being repaired.  Everywhere you turn around an entire street is under construction.  I hope they keep the cobblestones, and just make them a little more even.
We are house sitting at the same place we did a few weeks ago.  Our friends were lucky enough to get tickets to the Olympics, how cool is that!!!!
  While we have been house sitting we have gone over to our house every couple of days to check on it.  We went there the other day and found a fountain of water spraying out from under the foundation behind the back gate.  There was no damage to our home, but we had no idea how long the water leak had been going on; an hour, a day, two days???  I am a little concerned about what our water bill next month will be, it is usually $5.00 or $6.00.  Wait a minute, I forgot, the water bill might not be available until October, or November, that is just the way it is with utilities here. 
Sometimes they are on time, sometimes, not. 
Anyway, we got a hold of the landlord and he promptly sent someone over to check out what was going on.  It turns out that the house next door had some repairs being done, and somehow, it created a problem with this pipe, and the guys doing the repairs next door just wrapped the pipe in plastic bags and apparently thought that was good enough.  Our landlord’s representative let them know he was VERY unhappy with what they had done, and told us the water leak would be repaired right away, but for the mean time our home wouldn’t have any water. 
It didn’t matter to us, we weren’t staying there anyway, what a benefit of house sitting!
School is out for the summer and these guys were updating a mural on a  local school near the home we are house sitting at.
Finished Product 
We really enjoy sitting on the third floor deck of our friends home.  The following is just a few overall pics of the city from their view.  We counted 8 church domes from here. 

 In the middle of this picture there is a large apartment building
 near the white building with stained glass cross.  We looked there for an apartment, but the “No Dog” policy made it a dead end. By the way, the apartment was 2 stories, three bedrooms, all ensuite for $400.00 per month

We also looked at apartments in these buildings, they are called “The Towers”.  The wanted WAY too much money.

Just a pretty view from the deck of our friends house.

We originally came to Ecuador in 2007, then again in 2009 with my Mom, both times we went to Galapagos, here it is called Galapagos, not “The Galapagos”.  We stayed at the Red Mangrove Hotel and took day trips on boats as opposed to the cruise ships.  We could not afford the really nice ships, and had heard horror stories about some of the others.  The Red Mangrove offered day trips to different islands and is located right next to the Darwin Center where Lonesome George was housed.  We got to visit him twice, and sadly, he died a few weeks ago, he was over 100 years old. 
A few pic’s of Lonsesome George:

His feet were huge.  What is it about me and animal feet????

So this is our update for the past few weeks in Cuenca, an injured foot, a water leak,  Poor Lonesome George, and hanging out at a friends house.

We really love this place.


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Some friends of ours went to the States for a few days, and we house sat for them.  It was really a tough gig – we had to hang out on a large, comfy leather sofa if we wanted to watch HDTV on a huge TV screen, what a horrible inconvenience!!!  To make matters worse, sometimes we even had to sit on their third floor balcony, read books in the sunshine, and suffer through the views.
A view of the New Cathedral from our friends home

Michael enjoying the view from the deck

It was really tough having to look at this all day.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!
Ok, it’s a plane, but OMG, so close to homes and mountains.
The Photogprahy Tour:
We had read about a “Night Photography Trip”. We LOVE taking pictures, and the idea of seeing the city at night sounded great. The focus of the tour was to take photographs of the churches, local monuments, and the Cojitambo Inca Ruins, at night.  We didn’t bring our tripods with us on our move to Cuenca, so we ran around trying to find two tripods for our night excursion. I went to the largest Mall in Cuenca, and Michael went to El Centro. We had our cell phones, and kept checking in with each other. Michael found the same tripod for $15.00 less than I did at the Mall, however the store Michael went to only had one, so, the store owner left, and went to another store to get a second one. Some people complain about customer service in Ecuador, but I truly believe, the service Michael recieved from this store owner would not have happened in Chicago. We would have been told ” I only have one, ya want it?

We set the tripods up on our balcony to practice time exposures, it had been a long time since we did night photography.
The road behind our home.
Same Road. Looks kinda creepy in this exposure. 
Anyone know Tim Burton?

The Photo tour was coordinated by “JD’s Private Transportation and Custom Outings”, his partner John Davila, who owns/ manages a company called Alarm Stop, and Al Bourassa.  We were not sure that this sounded like a “Photography Group”, but we signed up for the trip anyway.  We are so pleased that we did. We met at 4:00, and we were off for our adventure. We left on time, in clean, safe vehicles.  NICE.  It was a great trip for photographers, but we think it would be a fun and interesting tour for anyone that lives in Cuenca, or maybe people visiting our adopted hometown.
We were escorted around the city by night, for us, that was a luxury in in itself.  We had a great time, we got to see vistas of Cuenca that we never would have found on our own. 

Some pics on our way to Cojitambo Ruins:


This is the mountain that the ruins are on, there is a great view of the town of Azogues from there. 
A local farmer came out to see what the heck we were taking pic’s of, he was not happy, he thought we were photographing “his land”.  John explained to him that we were simply taking pictures of the mountain. 
Views from the ruins before sunset:

After we left the ruins we went to Fogo, a restaurant located on a hill that over looks Cuenca.  The view from Fogo is amazing. We had dinner and then headed up to the “The Antennas”.  They are on a hill over looking Cuenca.   If we had not gone on this tour, we would never have found this place on our own.  The trip up to the Antennas was on a steep, twisty road.  The view was spectacular. 
A few pics of Cuenca from the Antennas.

Michael took this pic of   “The Antennas”. 
I thought it could be an intro pic for a Science Fiction movie. It seemed like there were a million stars. 

We drove back down into the city center to photograph churches and monuments.  We ended our evening with a burst of Fireworks, going off at 11:30 p.m., on a Monday night.  It was a celebration for the 330th anniversary of – something.  I think it was for a convent.

The tour ended around 11:45.  It was supposed to culminate at Parque Calderon, but the last stop was near our end of the city, so we asked if we could be left off on a major street near our home, as opposed to going all the way back to the city center. It was a special request, but these guys had no problem with it, even though they had other clients in the Vans/Cars. 

I was a little concerned about standing on a dark corner, with fairly expensive camera equipment, trying to flag down a cab.  No worries, James and John jumped out of the two vehicles we were traveling in, and helped us hail a cab.  Their care and concern for everyone on the trip was great. 

A funny/nice sidenote; we were supposed to meet one of the guys that was coordinating the photo trip at California Kitchen to pay for the tour.  We had never met him before, so we didn’t know what he looked like. We entered the restaurant and saw a smiling “Gringo” couple, we strolled right up to them and asked if they received our e-mail and asked them a few other questions. 
Guess what – WRONG PEOPLE!!  We chatted for a few minutes and it was clear that they were nice, funny people.  We exchanged e-mail addresses, and then Michael and I went in search of the “right” people. 
We have kept in contact with Amy and Bill, the “wrong people” we met in California Kitchen. We met them for lunch yesterday, along with Wally and Hazel.   It was a really nice afternoon.
Amy is Packer Fan, but we like her anyway. 
She brought this chessehead gear with her to Cuenca, gotta love the devotion!! She gave it to Mike, the owner of Inca Lounge, and he was like a kid at Christmas. 

As usual, gotta love Cuenca.

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We cannot believe it has been a year since we moved to Cuenca. 
“What a long strange trip it’s been”.
Gotta love the Grateful Dead. 
We came here several times to explore the city, and we fell in love with it, and the people. We researched, ALOT, before we made the move.
Some pic’s of Cuenca.
We think these guys look so cool.
 Beautiful flowers in the street market.

 Oscar and Michael at the Corpus Christi Festival last month.

 It is so cool to see men and women wearing their traditional clothing.
We put our house up for sale on July 1, 2010.  We thought it would take a long time to sell our home due to the economy in the States, we expected it would take at least a year or more, but within two months, our home sold.  We were finally free of a mortgage, and had time to plan.  My Mom-in-Law helped us out by letting us live in a really nice house in a suburb south of Chicago during our transition.  Then it was time to sell our stuff.  When one of our Kayaks was going down the street, on some else’s car, I wanted to cry, but it was just part of the process. It was hard, but in another way, it was interesting to realize that stuff,
is just stuff.
Our first year in Cuenca has brought us new insights about life, what matters, and what does not. 
We have met wonderful people, we have seen incredible things, and made friendships that we know will last a lifetime. 

A few more Pic’s of life in Cuenca:

The Rotary Market in Cuenca

A young woman on Calle Larga.

Canari Women

The New Cathedral

Nice People we met on the road behind our home.

9 de Octubre Mercado  plaza
A church in a small town outside of Cuenca.

Michael’s has some thoughts about living in Cuenca after our first year here:

1.  We used to take numerous taxis daily, now we do almost all of our traveling on the bus.

2. I was embarrassed to try my limited Spanish, now I don’t hesitate, I just give it a shot and smile, if it is correct, great, if not, I ask for the correct word or phrase and hope I remember it. Most people are willing to help you if you make the effort to speak Spanish. 
(It is a goal of ours to learn more of the language.) 

3.  Apples, oranges, and bananas were my world when it came to fruits that I would consume in the States, but here, the list is endless.  My biggest dilemma when trying new things at the market is, what the heck is it?   It is great finding new things.

4.  I watched people fish on the rivers here in Cuenca, and said  to myself that I wanted to try that.  Now we have fly fishing rods, I tie my own flies.  We have fished in the Tomebamaba River, and lakes in the Cajas.  I have even night fished and camped in the Caja National Park. (I froze)

5. My haggling skills were fair, now after a few months, I’m honing them, in most situations it pays off, if not we try a different place or vendor, most are willing to accomadate.

6.  We always knew that Manana meant “tomorrow”, now we understand that Manana might mean, tomorrow, or next week, or next month.  But hey, that is the slow pace of life here. 

Wow, it has been a year.

We love it.

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