Tuesday, December 21, 2010

21 Decimbre, 2010

OK...I’m back. 

This…being an absence of about one month.
I guess one can say I got lazy and they’d probably be right. 
In either case...are you ready to absorb my observations 
once again? 

Here it goes…..

Ecuador can be strange at times!

The reason I just made that statement is...do to the 
language situation. It is well known that most 
Ecuadorians (and South Americans in general)“do not” 
speak English…and if they do…they are usually quite 
shy about it and would rather…once quarried…just shake 
their head “no”.

The reason I pointed out this apparent shyness is not 
because they…as a people are inherently shy. Just the 
opposite as…they are not! What they are fearful of...is 
that (and I’m considering many can speak and 
understand the English language) they may make a 
mistake! In doing so and…in their mind this would make 
him/her look and feel uneducated. So…when asked if 
they Hablar English?…they’re reply is usually No…
lo siento (I’m sorry)…No Hablar English!

So…[where was I going with this]…oh yes…

I picked myself this morning to get out and go have 
breakfast instead of me cooking for “me” once again! 
Now…just because it’s close and easy to get to and…
the food is always good and the price very reasonable…
I found myself at Raymipampa’s Restaurante.

While I was sitting there reading my Kindle and having 
breakfast…my hearing “finally” deduced…that something 
wasn’t quite right in “Kansas” (Cuenca).

HARK!!!!!! What pray tell is that sound?

Why…it’s Christmas Music playing over the sound system 
but…IT’S IN… YES…IT’S IN ENGLISH!!!! ...
and I’m in Ecuador. Will wonders never cease?

OK...OK…I know…it was a looong way of getting to the 
point of “making my point”…but I had fun getting there.

And the ‘Beat Goes On” 
(now what’s he talking about?)…

OK…most…if not all of you know…I recently (like 
almost 2 months ago) moved to another (my present) 
location. Welllll…….
Call me crazy but…the race is “on again”!

I’m talking about looking once again for new digs…as in 
apartment! Again…most of you know that my so-called 
Internet has been well…like a thorn in my side. This along 
with my “RIDICULOUSLY” Tiny Kitchen…well…
I feel the need for change…”for a change”! (hey…it’s been 
two (2) months ye know.) 

So…anyway within the next half hour I should get a call 
from my ''dapartemente" finder (Martha… about a place 
(in town) to look at. This time however…I am “not” 
giving her an answer re: talking the apartment (or not) so fast..
as I want to be as sure as possible…and also to compare 
other offerings. That said…one needs to understand that 
one can “never” be sure until one lives in the “new” dwelling. 

The reason for this is the “noise level” and “times” of these 
possible …loud noises  (fireworks “the BOOM kind”…
car alarms [a BIGGY] etc etc). Now one can NEVER be 
sure but...this is where Due Diligence can pay off!

Guess what…I met Martha at the corner of the “possible” 
new digs. Yes…it had a balcony (narrow but…still a 
balcony) and yes it is situated above a farmacia (pharmacy)…
and yes…it’s all of 2 blocks from Parke Calderone. 
So you ask…what’s the problem?

Well to tell you the truth we never even made into the 
apartment. It seems that since the last time Martha was 
there…the owner rented out the…better sit down for this one
entryway/foyer area to a "CD Shop". Yes...one needs to go 
through the “business” in order to get to the main locked 
doorway…which…I suppose gets one into the apartment(?). 
I never found out…as the furthest I got was the sidewalk in 
front of the CD shop and...“not a step further”!

So…I’m still entrenched in my current apartment and happy 
to be here!

BTW…while talking with Martha (after the aborted 
apartment appointment)…I mentioned that I might be open 
to looking at either furnished or unfurnished in what is 
considered “New Town” and which is on the south side of 
the Rio Tomebamba (Tomebamba River).

Anyway she mentioned a nice furnished apartment is 
available and…by the way she described it…is in a stand 
alone small house with 2 levels in a secured area. 

To tell you the truth I am torn between El Centro and 
the possibility of being near but...outside of Old Town.

Here’s the kicker…the rent ($250.00) includes utilities 
(not sure of the internet yet). Sounds like I’m interested hmmm?
Truthfully I’m not sure yet but I may just call and set an 
appointment with Martha real soon.

Anyway…enough of the apartment stuff for now.

Right around the corner as most of you are aware…
are the Christmas and New Year holidays. 

For all my Jewish friends I wish you all a post 
Happy Hanaukah! To “all”...
I wish you have a Very Happy Holiday Season!!

Myself ?...Monday (12/27) yours truly is off to an 
“All Holiday” party at a Gringo couples home in town.

So mi amigo’s y me amiga’s …

Feliz Navidad…Chanukah Feliz y 
Feliz Ano Neuvo 
(Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and 
Happy New Year) :)  :)  :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just Everyday Stuff in Ecuador


OK…you just may have noticed that I’ve arbitrarily 
changed the look (once again) of my Blog. One other 
thing you may (or may not) have noticed is that I’ve 
restructured the the Blog "type lay-out" as…I’ve gotten 
wind of a couple of remarks stating that it was more 
“like a report” vs. a“story”...so I hope this is an easier 
and more enjoyable read. 

Also…I hope you all like…what you see!


Etapa just called and informed me in broken English…
that they could not connect my Internet for me and 
[for me] to come and pick-up my deposit. When asked 
why…they could not nor would not…explain. This is 
when I called Jose and I am now going to meet him at 
Etapa and try to get to the bottom of this!

Well the result of my (too late for Etapa) meeting with 
Jose re: this debacle was this…Being that he [Jose] will 
be out of town…until sometime in the middle of next 
week…I just need to cool my heels a bit longer. This said 
my next step would be getting my refund from Etapa and 
then meeting with an hombre from something called 
“Punta-net”…which according to Jose is “in all likely-
hood” better and less expensive than Etapa…and also 
with better speed.

This mi amigo’s remains to be seen. 

Anyway…realistically I’m probably looking at an 
Internet connection hopefully in the “very” beginning 
of Deciembre (December).

Today [Saturday] is (and I can only call it this) “prep-
day”as in getting ready for manana where everyone in 
Ecuador are “shut-ins”…as this is do to the forthcoming
Census taking exercise! 


I’m in pretty good shape as I went food shopping 
yesterday… went to the ATM this morning and just got 
back from the DVD store where I stocked up on three (3) 
movies at a buck apiece. That along with my Kindle and 
some planned cooking…I guessing I’ll make it through 
the next 12 hours A-OK!. Now if I had Internet…
well one can always dream…can’t one?

As for the rest of today…
at 2 p.m. there is a live performance by an American 
guitarist…at Kookaburra CafĂ© here in town that many 
expats are supposedly going too. Unfortunately… as it 
turned out…not many people came and they were lucky…
as the performance wasn’t very entertaining.  I did 
however get to meet a couple that are “soon-to-be” 
Expat Cuencano’s. So…the hour wasn’t a complete loss!

Anyway…after the debacle of Kookaburra (and keeping 
in mind the “shut-in” stuff for manana)…I stopped off at 
Raymipampa Restaurant for an early dinner and also took 
half home in a doggy-bag…for tomorrows “adventure” 
in mi apartemente! 

Well Sunday as in the day of the Census has arrived and 
my day of “State Imposed Shut-in”…has started. I look 
at this semi-imprisonment as a way to do some house-
keeping and just chillin’. Realistically…that’s all anyone 
can do. BTW…whether the Census taker comes early…
late…or not at all…is of no consequence…as the official 
ruling stands firm…i.e. one cannot leave their homes 
until 5 or 5:30 p.m. (nobody seems exactly sure as to...
the end time).

Before I forget…and this has nothing what-so-ever to 
do with all this official stuff…I feel I must answer my 
friend Don’s e-mail.

Under normal circumstance I would never address a 
personal e-mail in this Blog. However…the content 
may be of interest to others also. This is do to the fact 
that…I feel this response should be “timely” and also 
that (as you \now know) my wi-fi connection is hit ‘n 
miss! But first I need to back up a bit.

After…getting up early[ish] this Sunday morning…as 
usual I went to check my Internet (i.e. E-mail). Well I 
almost could not believe what I was seeing. This was…I 
not only had some mail (which is nothing unusual) but…
that I had [working] Internet (wi-fi)…which (not only 
active) was a lot stronger than normal).

Anyway…getting back to Don.
Don had commented in his last e-mail to me…about my 
latest Blog and how he couldn’t understand how…
accomplish this [blog] with so very infrequent Internet 
connections. Well Don (and anyone else who might be 
wondering)…it’s really quite simple. You see…all my 
“raw” Blogging is done off-line in “Microsoft Word”
Once complete and corrections made…I then “cut & paste” 
the “almost” finished Blog to my Blog website.

You’ll notice that I mentioned “almost” a moment ago. 
The reason for this…is simple. Even though I proofread 
the content…I still have to re-align my “new” Blog entry 
to fit the base parameters and…also too make some “last 
minute” corrections during my final read.

So…as you can see…not so simple after all. 

I hope that this answered your question!

Getting back to the Census...

They (the Census takers) were in-fact a…No Show. This 
at least (as far as I was concerned) was what I experienced. 
As for anyone else that I spoke to…they all had a Census 
taker at their door.

Do I care? Not really and this "not showing" of course does 
“not” surprise me in the least!

So…that’s it for now mi aqmigos y amigas. 

Once again I hope you like the new look and the new blog 
commentary structure :)

Ciao for Now 

Friday, November 26, 2010


Friday (Viernes)…19 Noviembre 2010

Filling in the “blanks”……..

Over the past “many” days I’ve been busy with [as I’m 
sure you can guess]…the Internet conundrum.

The Ecuadorian Bank account (necessary for the Internet
is now done! This being said…I just returned from the 
bank albeit…empty handed.

You see (and remember…this is Ecuador) today was the 
day that I was to pick-up my “debit” card…in which case 
I would then have ATM access. I would have also been 
sure my account was “live”. Well-l-l-l...it wasn’t!

Lo Siento (I’m Sorry) Senor…No “active” account…
No Debit card and…yes…yours truly has to return this 
coming Monday for said Debit Card and whatever else…
kind of papers await me.

Ahhh the joys of South American Customer Service (?)

So…now it’s about 11 a.m. and I am obliged to wait…
for the Etapa “installation hombre” who…hopefully will 
(a) Come…and (b) [keeping my fingers XX’d]…be 
successful at installing said internet.

Somehow...I have a feeling that…”IF” Etapa comes…
It’ll be late or…I’ll need to do a “do-over” on Monday 
(at the very least)!!!!!! Soooo…..now I wait!!!

Quick Note: Etapa…a “No Show”!

It’s now early Sunday (Domingo) a.m.

Luckily I picked-up another errant wi-fi signal which…
gave me about a half hours worth of connection and 
allowed me to send a couple of e-mails along with deleting 
a lot of crap.

Monday (Lunes)22 Noviembre 2010…a.m..


My Bank Acocount with Pichincha bank is now…after 
another 2 or so hours…”activated”…as are the Debit Card 
and Transfer card. These cards are necessary in order to 
make any intra-account transfers…don’t ask… 
’cause I have no use for it...but it’s something that 
one has to have” [????]. As for my Etapa (Internet
Installation…”manana”…we’ll see!!!! More later ….

If you’re keeping track of this idiocy
it’s now Wednesday (Miercoles)  and (believe it or not)…
Etapa (BTW that’s pronounces EEETAAPA) came about 
noon and left about 12:15.

Results…NADA!!!  ARGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It seems that the phone number on the Etapa “Proof of 
Telephone Service” that I received from the owner…was 
“her” phone number. Thus No Installation! Anyway…
after I talked to not…“Un”…but “Dos” Amigo Cuencanos 
and…I guess after some behind the scenes negotiations… 
bottom line…el Dos Hombres from Etapa are due to come 
back manana…Thursday (Jueves)…A.K.A.…
(Si...Thanksgiving Day).

Now…Etapa “promised” to arrive at my door early a.m. 
I mentioned to mi amigo who had set-up this upcoming 
visit that…I had an early Turkey Dinner appointment and 
will have to leave by 1 p.m. His response (and in typical 
Sud (South) Americano style) told me to…just (marchar

I guess that means…if they don’t show by then…”they’ll” 
just have to reschedule me [perfecto] !!!!

Anyway…with luck…my Internet woes…will be a thing 
of the past come manana. Incidentally…I’ve had “some” 
luck in picking up some stray wi-fi signals over the past 
couple of days. This of course has enabled me to check 
some sites and do some e-mails. Unfortunately and 
because the stray signals are…shall we say…weakish…
this translated to a high incidence of “extremely low” 
Internet speeds…too low in fact to let me get SKYPE 
to actually work.  Isn’t “high tech” wonderful ???

BTW and before I forget…this coming Sunday is the day 
that the Republic of Ecuador does it’s Census. This occurs 
every ten (10) years. Now…the Census rules are thus:

Talk about “shutting down a country”…

One cannot leave their home from 8 am. until 5:30 p.m. 
This is supposed to ensure that “everyone” will be 
available to the Census taker (visitors included). The 
penalty...(as I understand it) is that a person ignoring this 
rule…will be apprehended and end up in jail for the next 
24 hours (I’m being quite serious here).  Furthermore 
(again as I understand it)…ALL streets will be CLOSED 
and enforced by the Police Force.

BTW…I got lucky as…my Cuencano friend gave me a 
“copy” of the six (6) page Census. Being that the Census is 
only in Espanol...he was nice enough to fill in the blanks 
for me. This way when the Census taker arrives…I just 
need to hand over the copy and he/she will just transpose 
the information…[I Hope] !!

Getting back to my previous police statement.

One should understand that the police force in Ecuador is a
“National Police Force”…one in which… police totting 
Automatic Weapons are not uncommon. No…it’s not a 
“police state”...but they Do Not fool around either! I’m just 
glad that this is a “once in a decade” exercise!

OK…enough of that!

Thursday (Jueves)…25 Noviembre, 2010

Another day…and more waiting for the Etapa Technicians. 
The big question…will they come before my self-imposed 
1 p.m. deadline or not. Actually will they come at all! 
It’s now just a bit past 9 a.m. and all I can do is wait it out!

OK…another day came and another day went. By 
1:30p.m. I called my friendly interpreter Jose and…to make 
a long story short…he called Etapa…cancelled the rest of 
the day and rescheduled per my instructions for next...
Monday (Lunes).

The reasoning behind this…is that I refuse to sit in my 
apartment for another L-O-N-G day...manana Friday 

So…si…still no Internet! Do you think I might be getting 
just a teeny bit crazy over this? Actually…I’m not…just a 
bit annoyed. But..hey…this is Ecuador! 

On a brighter note…I just returned from Thanksgiving 
Dinner at my newish friend Julia’s place. Nice folks all 
(we totaled 9 personas) and… wayyy too much food!

One needs to understand that this was somewhat special 
to me as I haven’t been to a “family-sized” Thanksgiving 
Dinner for…well…quite a number of years. In addition 
to the food was of course…was the other Expats present 
for said dinner and of also the good natured jabbering 
that went along with it (hey that’s a big part of this type 
dinner…right?And speaking of Turkey Day…

By the time you will read this…Thanksgiving will be a 
thing of the past. Sooo…this being the case…let me wish 
you all…a belated Happy Thanksgiving.

(OK folks…time to get out there and “walk it off”

Until next time…

Buenas Noches y Sonreir 
Good Night and Smile 

Monday, November 8, 2010


Wednesday (Miercoles)…3 Noviembre

Fiesta (Festival) is “finally” over and things are back to 
normal…well normal for Cuenca. Getting back to Fiesta 
one more time (uno mas tiempo)… on the last day and…
solely by accident…I met my friend Charlie in Carolina’s 
bookstore and…being that neither one of us had any 
plans and…being that we were a half block from the 
upper end of the “Escalante” (stairs)…we decided 
(especially since I haven’t absorbed the experience) to 
take in the last day of the “Fiesta Flea Market”. This 
market incidentally… had been going on for the 
duration of the holiday.

Now I really had no thought what-so-ever of buying 
anything…but as luck (?) would have it…I happened 
upon a stall that was selling…and I’m at a loss for the 
Ecuadorian word…”western” (sombrero?) type hats. 
One caught my eye and well…you can guess the 

If by some ridiculous chance you have not guessed…
well I did end up acquiring un sombrero. The hat in 
particular is all leather with very good workmanship 
and fits just right. The cost…asking price was $35.00…
agreed price after some friendly bantering ended at 
25.00 bucks!

Now for a little bit…the final price was bugging me a 
somewhat…as I remember seeing a decent hat in Corral 
Hypermarcado (large market akin to Target). However…
as I needed to do a bit of shopping in this store…
I expressly took a close look at the hat in question. 
The price…$2.95 [two dollars and ninety-five cents]. 
Yes…you read that right however…although it looked 
good…it was in deed of very poor quality and…made 
entirely of the "V" word...as in vinyl. 
This knowledge…definitely took the “sting” out of my
previous uncertainty.

Friday (Viernes)…5 Noviembre

As for mi nuevo departemento (my new apartment)…the 
“dust has just about settled”. Everything is working but 
with one exception and that unfortunately is the Internet. 
Apparently…the building has wi-fi but… this is all 
private. So mi amigos…I’m left with one option…
that being…to get “my own” Internet directly into my 

Now getting this service in EC is “not” the same as 
you’d expect in the states (what a surprise...huh?). 
If I understand correctly…I first need to open a bank 
account as Etapa (the provider)…takes their monthly 
payment (around $28.00…for decent speed) directly 
from my new bank account (this by the way…is a 
good thing as it’s much easier this way). 
Unfortunately...I’ve been told that this process takes 
a “few” days (keep in mind that "a few days" here in 
Ecuador...well can mean just about "when-ever"!

Once this is done…I need to physically go to Etapa 
with the above bank information...my proof of 
residency...[Cedula & Censo]…the deposit 
(see above) and a copy of utility bill from the 
“apartment owner”. Once “all” this is complete I 
will once again be joining the ranks of the 
“connected populace”. 

You can be certain that…an E-mail will be 
forthcoming regarding this little “new” adventures’ 

Sunday (Domingo)…7 Noviembre

”Greetings and Salutations”….

Buenos Dias…as it’s early Sunday morning and as I 
just finished a nice home-made…all-American breakfast…
thought I’d fill in some blanks concerning life in 
general…specifically in Cuenca. What brought me to 
this point…was the act of having breakfast with my 
friend “R” yesterday.The reasoning behind this…was 
due to happenstance within the place that we had said 
Desayano (Breakfast). The meal in of itself…
(excluding “R”s company) was nothing earth shattering 
or for that matter…. memorable. In fact…before 
started this “blog” entry…hard as I tried…and to no 
avail…could I remember what the meal consisted of.

No…what prompted this tale…happened post-meal.

You see…as we were leaving this little Colombian 
restaurante…both myself and ”R” (she speaks Espanol 
quite well)…struck up a conversation with the new 
owner (apparently he bought out the old owner…
due to said owners health situation…as he returned 
to Colombia for treatment). Anyway… this is when 
“it” actually sunk into my dense brain [after all this time 
in country]...that the “it”...I’m alluding to is…the subtle 
yet important differences between this country…and 
most likely all of South America…and the North 
American way of life.

At it’s most basic level…I’m talking about the simple 
(and polite) way of greeting…well “anyone”.

Getting back to my breakfast! After having a brief 
conversation with the new owner and while making 
some small talk…it was finally time to take leave.

Now…think about this...

In North America (especially the U.S.)one would 
pay the bill and…leave the premises. Actually (and 
I’m guilty of this too)…one may pay the bill and 
before leaving…(remember you already left a 
[probably too generous] tip)…proclaiming a sincere 
“thank you” to the wait-person etc…rather than the 
other way around. Weird…huh?

Here in Cuenca...just the opposite (and “zero” tip 
expected).But…I’ve sidestepped the real purpose of 
today’s “rant”. That is simply this…

“Day to Day Living and Then Some”

Here in the midst of South America…one expects 
propriety! What I’m referring to is the act of…either 
meeting someone on the street or entering a business 
etc. A friendly “Buenos Dias”…”Buenas Tardes” or 
“Buenas Noches” greeting would be exchanged…
depending on the time of day. This versus (if any at 
all) in the U.S. where “slang is king”…a greeting 
may sound something akin to this...
Hey…how are ye doin?…Nice to see ye!...Yo!... 
What’s happinin?...See ya!…Take Care!…or just a 
plain “nod” (with or without a smile). The list...
as one can imagine…can go on…and on...and on!

I just mentioned “on the street”! These “personal” 
greetings also extend too a “physical greeting” where 
hugs and…a sort of “cheek-to-cheek faux kiss” is 
exhibited. Incidentally…this greeting is “not” 
relegated to specific sexual rules. The greeting…is 
quite common between men and woman… 
woman and woman and “not so common but is in 
evidence” within two men greeting each other.

It should also be noted that a “hug” type greeting is…
while not a highly common occurrence…is 
acceptable. A hearty handshake between the male 
population is also common.

Now please keep in mind that all of the above are my 
own personal observations…i.e …
a fairly Nuevo (new) Gringo.

Earlier I mentioned “tipping”…or should I say the lack 
of it. Although things are changing a bit…leaving a tip 
in an Ecuadorian restaurant is “not” expected. 
However…leaving “small” loose change is appreciated. 
Unfortunately…and this I can only point to our [U.S.] 
upbringing… brain-washing…extravagance…
what-ever…as we not only tip “everywhere”…but over-
tipping is not uncommon in the states.

One thing that was drummed into my head by Expat 
articles as well as other Expats here in EC is that one 
does not “tip”!

That said...I can understand that there will be those of 
you who may come for a vacation and/or look-see”…
and bearing in mind your habitual tipping…
If you feel you must tip…then the “rule of thumb” 
is 10%...but keep in mind these few paragraphs…please!

One other item to keep in mind is the use of Half Dollar 
coins and/or One Dollar Coins are in “daily” use and 
are “very” commonplace…so be careful.

(a) tipping was and is “not” expected (especially 
Taxi Drivers). NOTE: …my own observation…
when it comes to cabs [and I don’t take them often]…
over the past year or so (I’m told)…quoted rates have 
increased somewhat do in large part to the drivers…
having had a taste of tips and …not getting said tips 
as a rule…have caused this mini-fare hike! It should 
also be noted that even though most cabs are licensed 
and metered…one would be hard-pressed to see 
evidence of “any” meter in “any” cab. I have actually 
seen a meter (in plain site)…one time and one time 
only and…obviously…not used!

One more item regarding “tipping”...

As many of you are aware…before my moving to 
Ecuador…yours truly…for three (3) years lived in 
Thailand where there is a saying which is…
“Same Same”. Personally…I have expanded on this 
saying to: “Same Same But Different”…which as 
you may have ascertained…refers to this countries 
“way of life”. That said...here’s the rest of my...
“tipping” commentary. 

There are numerous Norte Americanos…who 
because of their “lack” of International travel…along 
with (in most casesa life’s worth of day to day 
living in their “familiar hometown environment”…
are so accustomed to tipping…well they can’t help 
themselves…as it’s almost second nature to them. 
The problem then (and again because of the 
Gringo’s general good nature) can become one of 
open resentment by "some" of the “host” countries 
population…”if” in fact the...now expected tip 
does not materialize.

I’ve always tried to remember the tried and true..
 “Same Same but Different” adage…as it helps 
one remember that we’re...
“not in Kansas anymore”. 

Smile and the World is Brighter
Hasta Pronto