Saturday, May 29, 2010


29 de Mayo

OK so it’s been what...five days since my last Blog? 

Well the reason for that was because …nothing of any reportable consequence had happened.

OK...almost as the other day yours truly “finally” purchased the “three-in-one” printer that I was planning on buying for sooo long. This by the way…was due to Gustavo (landlord) driving me to his friends store and getting me a very good price. To give you an idea…I probably saved ”minimum” twenty bucks” and probably less than buying in the states. This by the way is highly unusual as... electronics and other such items tend to cost more here in Ecuador do to shipping and importation taxes.

Then came the start of the weekend…as in last night…Friday.

Now...”NO”…I don’t want to send any false images. It was nothing earth shaking…but I did get out for awhile.

Once again…I ended up going to Zoe’s Bar for the Expat “gathering”. At least I had another chance of interacting with mostly Americano Norte’s along with a few Cuencanos. It was nothing special but…hey I was inter-mingling with like-minded people and got a chance to be out of the house…even if it was for just a few hours.

Of course…once I left Zoe’s it was…”hello”…once again “raining”!
It seems that it never rains except when I go to Zoe’s and then I need to find a taxi home.

Cuenca…like any other city when it rains…becomes an adventure unto itself when it means finding a cab. The “flip-side” of this…is when one “does indeed” find a cab it  usually includes “inflated prices” [because of the weather]. Anyway...after about five or so minutes luckily I found “El Taxi” and…yes...once again I got lucky as the fare was the same as usual…Un  Dolar Cincuenta ($1.50).

So...that was my Friday night (exciting yes?). However…the other day Gustavo [my landlord and fast become a true friend] asked me if I wanted to join him and…go with him to his Tennis practice.

Now for those of you who know me…you know how big a sports fan I truly am (LOL).
Anyway I decided to take Gustavo up on his offer (as in…it’s better than having “nothing” to do). Come today (Saturday) and at 9:30 am …we were on our way to “who knows where”!  
Well…”who knows where” turned out to be a Real First Class Sports center someplace (but still considered the city) west of Cuenca City proper and…took us about 20 minutes by car to get there. The unexpected residual of this trip was that I was able to experience some beautiful mountainous scenery along with crisp fresh air.

OK…back to the “sports and/or escapade” report…

Now originally Gustavo said we would most likely be back at 1 pm.
However...I sort of forgot about the typical Ecuadorian sense of time…
as like it’s a “very vague kind of suggestion”. J

Now please be aware of the time frame here! It’s morning!
With this in mind…like many sports type camaraderie…after the game it’s time for the losers to buy beer. Gustavo and his partner were “not” the losers. So off we all went to “collect”! Now this wasn’t bad as it was (I’m guessing here) sort of near or around noontime. Anyway… after a suitable time Gustavo was off to yet another game…this time with a paraplegic. FYI…I later found out this gentleman is considered a Professional Handicapped Tennis Star.

As this whole mornings’ events were new too me…it was to say the least…entertaining and enjoyable. But…guess what…it wasn’t over just yet. You guessed it…time for more beer! Anyway...I’m making it sound worse than it was. It was just unexpected. Actually I had a really nice time and got to meet many of Gustavos’ friends…along with one…Javier…who as it turned out spoke English very well. Apparently… Javier lived in and around Miami for twenty years. And get this…in the town he lives in (about a half hours drive from Cuenca)…the town’s folk call him “Gringo” J

So… now I’m back home and doing laundry. 
Can you stand the excitement? J

Now I had planned on going out later this afternoon (like for dinner) to the new previously mentioned restaurant "California Kitchen"…as they are having a Memorial Day Dinner special.

However…as of now that plan is entangled in a mental “quagmire”…
that is all mine. 
This is do to the fact that at this point in time (it’s just about 4:45pm) and…
[a] I have ZERO appetite….[b] don’t know if I want to make the trek into town plus… 
I’m being lazy in general (perhaps it’s all the beers I forced to drink ) ;)

What happens next? 
Time will tell and I will keep you all abreast of this headline breaking news :)

So for now Me Amigo's...Hasta Luego ;)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 22, 2010

See…this is what happens when one listens to the “expert” weather reports!

And yes...I did it “again”…I listened to the “experts”! I am really mad…and you better believe it !!!

So what am I upset about…well in short the “very pleasant weather” that we were “not” going to have! What the geniuses that report our weather forecasts said was that…
Cuenca has a 90 percent probability of rain all day
So Senor Barry…like a fool listened to “El Hombre Tiempo” (the weather man) and planned to stay indoors for what turned out to be…you guessed it…no reason what-so-ever! As in…no rain!

OK…now that’s off my chest! At least I feel a bit better in sharing that tid-bit of information.

So…this being Saturday and as I had no plans anyway (see above)…at least I did some computer stuff that needed tending too. Being indoors also gave me the opportunity to…well…just doing stuff like housework (yuck) and a bit of reading. Anyway at this hour (it’s about 3 pm) and it is cloudy so…
maybe it will rain after all (sort of cheer me up).J

I guess I will just chill once again. I know…not exciting or for that matter not even worth mentioning. However…life isn’t always that exciting…wherever one may call home.

Tomorrow…even though it’ll be Sunday (as in Cuenca being a “ghost” town day)…I will make my almost daily sojourn into town for a nice desayuno sabroso (tasty breakfast).

Manana Me Amigos…

May 23, 2010

I’m ba-ack J …and after Saturday’s debacle re: listening to “The Weatherman” it is now Sunday (imagine that).

Anyway…once again our illustrious weather forecasters are…you guessed it…
calling for another day of heavy rain (you know the kind we had yesterday LOL). 
This time however…I did what the weather forecasters deem as” unacceptable behavior” and actually looked out yon’ window. You’ll never in a million years guess what I saw. 
Yep…Can you say “SUNSHINE” J J

Now…with this knowledge and the steadfast decision of not spending another day cooped up in my apartment I got ready to venture outdoors. There was only one tiny…tiny problem. That being this is Sunday…as in Cuenca’s…yeah you kmow J… Ghost-town!

BUT!!! Ye’ know what? I could care less!

One thing I had loosely planned on was another trip by taxi to Mall de Rio.
Why…you may ask? Well…first of all it gave me an opportunity to be around people and also being around people…well it lends an opportunity to meet someone. Maybe someone of the opposite sex.

As luck would have it…eh eh…no such luck! L

Anyway the other reason for my shopping jaunt was to procure an electric griddle…as in making pancakes etc…and also to pick up a toaster-oven. These are two sorely needed items in my kitchen. Well I did get the griddle but decided to wait on the toaster-oven… as what I liked was “wayyy over the top” cost-wise. Sometime this week Gustavo (my landlord) is taking me to look and hopefully by a ”three-in-one printer”. While at that store maybe I can find…my illusive toaster-oven. Now isn’t this “hold on to your seat” news-worthiness? J  J

Upon returning to my abode…I got myself ready for a stroll into town. And being that it was already after 1 pm I decided on having a coffee and oh…I don’t know…maybe with something that I really shouldn’t have…on the side. 
Ahhh…but first I had to figure out where I might brighten J someone’s restaurante!

Keeping in mind my “limited” choices (it’s SUNDAY)…and also wanting to feel a bit of “Ameriacana”…I chose The Kookaburra Café. Yeah I know they’re from “down under” but hey…almost like the U.S.of A.

Anyway after trekking from the northern end of town all the way to the southern end...I finally arrived. In perusing the menu and not really being hungry…I decided to stick with my original plan on getting a large cuppa java and…yep now the hard part.

Kookaburra has some really good things on their menu and then they “unveiled” the “specials of the day” board. Sure…make it a “harder choice” J

To make this a shorter story…I chose the Chicken Tamale. Now I’ve been in Cuenca a bit over a month and have not had a Tamale…so I wasn’t quite sure as to what to expect. But having no fear J…I was pleasantly surprised when the Tamale was presented to me.

El Tamale…was made up of small pieces of chicken over mashed potatoes and a few other items (veggies?) and all wrapped-up in a leaf. On the side of course was a spice mixture. A very simple…yet very nice presentation…and all for a buck and half…plus the coffee of course! All-in-all…a very nice afternoon snack and well worth the “hike”!

This…topped of with my walk (both ways of about 4 miles) and being home once again…I will continue my Ecuadorian adventure very soon.

Hasta Luego me amigos (see you soon my friends) ..ciao J

24 de Mayo, 2010

Originally…I was not going to commit the following to my blog as it was meant more of a “personal diary input” exercise. However after reading it many times I decided to share what I am presently mentally and physically experiencing.

FYI…We have had beautiful weather despite what the weatherman had forecast.
Even with that…I really haven’t done much the last coupler of days…but I did do some walking into town, Just the normal everyday kind of stuff.

Life howver…does get boring…especially around week-ends.

Even though my apartment is comfortable and a good size with good amenities all for an affordable monthly cost…and the landlords are really nice and friendly…in the back of my mind (well not really that far back) is the question...what if. Like “what if”… I lived closer and or nearer to the heart of Cuenca.????? Would it make that much of a difference in my everyday coming and goings, Would I interact more with locals and or expats? And of course the possibility of meeting more people than I do now…as I would be in town and just maybe do more things in the evening. Gotta wonder?

Considering that I arrived in Ecuador (Quito) on 19 Abril (April) 2010…well that makes it just about 5 weeks that I’m in country  Maybe I’m reading too much into what I’m guessing is somewhat of a slight depression period. Maybe this is normal. I don’t really know. On the other hand I’m not letting it get to me…just putting my inner feeling into written form!

Realizing that when you really look at ones own life…and let’s not forget being retired…well there’s a lot of time on ones hands. Yes…I go to Spanish language school two times per week…each time for 1 hour. That helps a lot…as I’m out and doing things even if it’s just walking around and exploring a bit. Unfortunately even that tends to get stale.

If only I could share at least some of my time with someone of the opposite sex! See I’m the type of guy that needs a woman to share and enjoy life with. I don’t know how much sense that makes…but that’s me !  However...meeting someone here in Ecuador of any consequence is appearing to be a real problem. I keep saying time will tell…maybe it will…’cause I’m at a loss as of this moment!

Also in the back of my mind is maybe…returning to Thailand??? 
But then on the other hand I think back to why I left Thailand in the first place. My divorce from Aor was the  catalyst that pushed me to decide to leave LOS (Land of Smiles)...while telling myself the change would be a good thing. Maybe it still is. Again...I don’t know! I do realize that if I returned to Thailand that the cost involved would be a major problem…as would the ability to show the required funds enabling me to stay in country. So I guess the overall saying “that you can’t go home again” is true after all!

The fact of the matter is that…I like Cuanca and it’s people. I just wish there were more single people who are more receptive to doing things in a group…as I have already suggested via The Expat-Forum on-line…with by the way…no response what-so-ever!

So…I’m glad I got all this off my chest. It didn’t solve anything but hopefully it’ll help my outlook in general.

…and manana is another day…and I get to interact with people at Carolinas Bookstore and my Espanol Class J

25 de Mayo,  2010

Up and out a bit earlier than the usual time…and also with a better outlook! This enabled me to not rush…but to enjoy my walk to Espanol Class.

After arriving at Carolinas Bookstore (Espanol lessons)…I was pleased to find out that my class had expanded to 3 personas. This happens to be a good thing as my class cost has now dropped to $2.66 per hora (much better than my original $8 per hora). Also a hird person ads to the overall enjoyment…not to mention “input”. All of this…of course… helps in the learning process. I mentioned in one of my earlier rants…I affectionately call the bookshop “Information Central” for obvious reasons. This morning however…while talking with Lee (owner) …well I put “Information Central” name to a test.

If you read yesterdays “RANT” (notice that was capitalized)…you probably realize as I do…that I need some stimulation and/or change. This brings me back to talking with Lee. I figure one way to ease my  dilemma is to take at the very least…what is commonly called a “Day Tour”…as in leaving Cuenca and absorbing some of the country-side.

Being the co-captain of the good ship Carolina Bookstore…Lee came to my rescue. Without even thinking…he came up with not only the name of a Tour Agency in Cuenca…but also the name of a woman in the agencies employ that speaks English very well.

Now being armed with the name and location of the I went!
Un (one) problemo. It was now about 12:45 and Lee had warned me that they close for lunch until about 3 pm (remember…South America). With this in mind I decided to kill “two birds with one stone” and headed towards the same restaurant as last week (the Almuerzo (lunch) for $1.75).  Of course they had a different menu for today…but the quality…taste and service was just as good. 
This…me amigo’s can become a habit J

Now…please understand I’ve never been one to dawdle when it comes to eating. Oh…I’ve tried and tried…many many times in my life…to take my time and enjoy the moment and the food. However…some unknown force takes over and before I know it…I’ve finished the meal. Now please don’t get the wrong impression. No…I don’t “wolf down” the food…but nor do I take the time that I should to enjoy the food.

Anyway…got of the track a bit. Sorry about that.

After that satisfying Almuerzo…I was off to El Parque Calderone to enjoy the beautiful day…do some people watching and then finally to go talk with the tour people. Now by this time it was all of a little past one o’clock. Still way to early to even think about going to the “Tour Agency. At this point…and looking at sitting around for two more hours…I decided yon’ tour agency could wait another day. Next time…probably Thursday (my next class day)…I will attempt to meet the tour person prior to going to class. In other words… in the morning. J

Anyway after this astonishing decision…I decided that being tn town was lending nothing more to my day…and as the afternoon clouds were doing a bit of threatening…it was once again time to head on home. As had happened in the recent past…again (and I have to reign these temptations) I was lulled into a Panaderia (bakery)…where I obtained two small rolls (OK…OK…average size rolls…I swear) J

So me amigo’s that…by the way…was my day.  Incidentally it is now late afternoon.

So…what to do now? 
I know…time for me to do a bit of proof reading of these last few pages and then commit them to my Blog…for your perusing and hopefully....
your enjoyment!

Cioa for Now J

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Discovering more...

MAY 18, 2010

This was one of those days that (HA HA you thought I was going to say I should have stayed in bed) started out simple and then became a pleasant day in town…which included discovering a few new things. This by the way…most of the time…a good thing!

When I left for my Espanol Class this morning…the weather was just turning really nice. Incidentally…Cuenca (from what I’ve been told) has been experiencing a warmer than usual mes de Mayo (month of May).  Anyway…today in class I had a new classmate… which was nice in that I feel we learned more and…it was more fun with someone else sharing the load so to speak.

Once the class ended we went to the lower and main level to the bookstore. As I needed a new novel to read…this was perfect. The bookshop as I may have mentioned before is also a gathering place for Gringos who just may want to hang out…meet other Gringos etc. Well…today was no different as I met an hombre de la Estado Unidos (a man from the United States) who now owns a farm outside Cuenca. To make a long story shorter…I am now on the list for whenever he has an overage of fruit and/or vegetables and will be able to become a proud owner of fresh “organic” edibles…at by the way…very reasonable prices.

Well…after hobnobbing with the owner and other Expats…I finally found a book in which to keep my brain busy J.

Continuing on with my day and following the advice of Carol (one half of Lee & Carol…the owners of Carolyn’s Bookshop) I went in search of Almuerzo (Lunch).

Carol had suggested two shops across from each other and just around the corner. 
The first one was open but looked empty. With that knowledge I decided to take a look-see at the competition across the street. 
This was a “no brainer” as it was almost full of happy diners. In keeping my prior promise…I won’t get into the whole meal. I will however say that for a buck seventy-five…hey who’s gonna’ complain. However I must say that there was “zilch” to complain about. In fact I will be returning!

Now with “El estomago” Happy Happy J…I continued on with my next quest.

During my time in the bookstore (Information Central) I was made aware of a DVD shop where DVD’s are sold for Uno Dolar (One Dollar) and that Fernando speaks very good English. As the DVD shop was in the general direction of my trek home…off I went.

Finally after getting just a little confused with the calles (streets) I found the shop. 
Unfortunately…Fernando was not to be found and the Hombre who was minding the store eventually persuaded me to not wait for Fernando but to take my time...look around and pick what I liked. I ended up with three “newly released” DVD’s as in “Alice in Wonderland” with Johnny Depp…the latest Star Trek…and Avatar. All for three bucks total.

Ye can’t beat that hombre! J 

Of course these are all pirated (that’s all that’s available in Ecuador)…but they checked everything out on a DVD player and I will take it back if there is any problemo!

Now I thought that my shopping was over and done with for the day. However on my trip up “the hill”…”WHAT’S THAT SAID MY NOSE ????

Well…It’s the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread...that’s what!!!! OK…I weakened…didn’t need it but…into the Pan Panaderia (bread bakery) I went! However I was a “bueno muchacho” (good boy) and only bought two rolls and something I’ll call a Danish pastry.

Y asi mi amigos (and so my friends)…until the next report…

May 19, 2010 

Well…this was one of my “hibernation” days…as I didn’t even venture outdoors. No it wasn’t due to inclement weather…it was due to laziness  J.  Hey I’m allowed!

Anyway nothing to report as I did nothing with the exception of  reading…writing (e-mails) and …
well that’s about all!

So Manana….Senors y Senoras y Senoritas

MAY 20, 2010

Before I forget again!...I’ve been meaning to comment on the calles (streets) inside Cuenca. 
Yes…I know I mentioned the cobblestone streets. What I failed to mention was the fact that “every single street” in town is “una via” (one way). This in itself is very nice…as you need not bother looking both ways before crossing the street.

Now that would be true for any normal person. Well I’ve often been told that I’m not “exactly” normal…and in this case I tend to agree with that observation. Remember that I spent three adventurous years in the “Land of Smiles” a.k.a. Thailand. One should also keep in mind that the Thais (like the English) drive on the [left side of the road] and just opposite most the world’s drivers. That being the case I learned very quickly to look both ways…on a “continual basis”.

Flash forward to my now being a new resident in Cuenca, Ecuador and looking closely…you will see a “rare swivel-head Gringo” (me) crossing the “one-way” street. This being true...even though everyone in Ecuador drives on the right...just like in the U.S.

OK...enough of the silly stuff!

Today being Thursday marks another day of educating myself in the language of Esapnol...
i.e. Espanol Class. S-L-O-WL-Y…I am getting a grasp (notice I didn’t say learning) on the language.

Now comes my personal treat that I gave myself. And that treat came in the guise of a Full-body Massage. Now please understand…I was a Licensed Massage Therapist for Ten Years in Florida. Being in that Industry enabled me to get a massage fairly often. When I moved to Thailand once again I had a Thai massage every single week...until I met Aor (my now Ex-wife). So basically until today…it’s been almost three years since my last massage.

To say that I enjoyed it would be like saying a huge Ice Cream Sundae was OK. 
WOW…would be more like it. The cost …20 bucks for the hour. This is about 4 times more than Thailand (about $5U.S. per hour) but probably a good 80 bucks less than the U.S.  Guess what?...I am not complaining…not one bit!

Moving on…up two streets and over by three...I arrived once again at the BATA shoe store (remember… Sneakers). And…"YES"…new styles in stock. Forty-Six bucks later and yours truly walked out with new “sneaks”! J    And it’s about time!

Upon leaving the store I noticed that the old watch was around 3 pm and that’s when Mr. Stomach got into action as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Well the Mr. Stomach and Mr. Brain ganged up on the rest of me and off we all went in search of something “different” in the way of satiation. The ‘different” food came in a guise of…ready for this one…”Chicago Pizza”. Yes!…the real deal! However...even the real thing is different in here in Cuenca. Not so much in the product…but…well for 4 bucks I had a personal size Pepperoni Pizza (which was big enough for “dos personas” i.e. 2 people) and this included Garlic Rolls and a large glass of Coke. Can’t beat it!

Well after "way to much to eat" (yes Sr. Piggo finished it all)…it was time for my uphill hike once again. However…”A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home”...dum-de-dum-dm :)

As I was starting my walk...I passed a tiny…what could only be called a Mom & Pop…grocery /candy store and I swear…as I passed I heard…”pssst” from the “Ice Cream Freezer”. “NO KIDDING” ;) 

Anyway…yes I broke down…as after pizza you have to have…a cooling desert (that’s a universal law I’ll have you know). Anyway I bought an ice cream pop that looked in the picture...way bigger than what I received…but for 30 cents…it was good …it was refreshing…
and it satisfied the beast within me J.

So once again…I have triumphed over the uphill trek (it is getting a bit easier) and am now safely ensconced in my apartemento J

Ciao for now…

Saturday, May 15, 2010


For a change today I started the day with a “late breakfast” however…this was not a cooked at home meal. In fact I [once again] treated myself to a higher than average “Gringo” breakfast.

This time however breakfast…took place at my previously visited “California Kitchen”. Once again I allowed my presence to be recognized there (LOL) by the family who owns the business. George & Carol (the owners) along with their daughter Susan and son Jim …possibly either Jim/Susan may or may not be a daughter or son-in-law…not sure as to the family ties at this point in time. In either case…the four of them do it all and do it well. I will be going back…but do to the higher than average cost unfortunately…my visits will need to be infrequent.

Once breakfast and small talk with the owners and other customers were done…I headed out to complete my next task. This is something that has been gnawing at me for a few days. No it isn’t earth shattering but it does involve a purchase. And there lies the problem.

I realized a few days ago that I have been running around in my “uno” pair of sneakers…and that is not good.  Of course most of us know that changing ones sneakers/shoes on a daily basis is needed for a couple of reasons. Things like personal foot care and also…extending the life of the shoe come to mind. Well…I have been guilty of running on overtime with my lone pair of sneaks!

The much dreaded shopping has started!

The only pair that I liked was in a store named "Bata". Now I’ve bought Bata’s products since being in Thailand. They are stylish…made well…and are decently priced. So…when I first saw the store here in Cuenca….then and there I vowed to return as at the time didn’t have enough cash in my pocket.

Easier said than done as I am just now just starting to feel …that my built-in human directional finder has been reset to accommodate my new home. I still can’t believe that I never wrote Bata’s address in my little notebook. Anyway after many unfruitful trips on various streets in town…I finally re-located “THE BATA STORE” (OK I cheated and conferred with my little...trusty city map).
Now after a delicious and filling breakfast…I finally arrived at my Bata destination.
You may at this point guess the outcome. The sneaker I wanted was no longer available nor was it on the display wall.

Fortunately…I found the Hombre who I think is either the owner or manager and who incidentally…speaks fluent English. He told me a new shipment is due to arrive the middle of next week so…I am officially on a purchasing “hold”. Of course while I was there I made some small talk with the owner/manager (?)  and found out that he lived for a few years in Long Island, NY (USA)…small world isn’t it?

After my little shopping expedition…and as it was a beautiful morning I decided to do some more people watching in Parque  Calderon. The nice thing about this city in general is that of its...overall quiet and peacefulness. Hence sitting on a park bench… people watching in Parque Calderon is a very relaxing and pleasant experience. But like all things…life moves on and it was time to me to get up 'n go and...also start my “uphill” trek back to my apartemento.

So…”me compadres”…until next time…


Before I forget and before I proceed with today’s rantings…I’ve been meaning to comment on the condition of the streets in Cuenca.

The first thing that I feel I should bring to light is that all the streets in “Cuenca proper”… are constructed of “cobblestone”. However this is not the cobblestone that you might remember from years gone by...and from whichever city you may have hailed from. If your memory is anything like mine then you will recall stones about two or three times the size of normal bricks…that incidentally includes all dimensions. Here in Cuenca the cobblestone…sans actually measuring them…are about twice the size of those I recall from many years ago.

However the “cobblestones”…although they lend an aire of a different time and more intimate lifestyle…the real observation is of an almost unbelievable cleanliness of these same streets (calles). No…huge mechanical street sweepers do not invade the streets in the pre-dawn hours. There is however…an almost unseen army of human “street cleaners” that seem to be on perpetual duty. And I must say doing their job quietly and efficiently. The “clean” results are on continuous display and appreciated by all.

Now..back to the normal stuff…

Over the past few days...I’ve done a little of everything which was virtually the basics of day-to-day living here in Cuenca. I did however start a bit of a quest in search of a 3-in-1 printer for my computer.

Now this may sound trivial to those who live in "first" world countries. This being Ecuador however…well some things are not so easy. The truth is that this falls under the category of a variety of items that one may or not really need. But being from the states…I’ll admit it…I’m spoiled!

Anyway…I did find a couple of printers that seemed to be all right until I started reading various online reviews. Big Mistake…as that’s when the “HOLD IT’ sign came on in my brain! 
"Why buy now when I can pick a printer up in the states when I visit. Not only that…but it’ll be cheaper in the U.S. as most electronic items are." Needless to say I’m at a decisional "flux". 
Do I wait…or do I buy now and not have to lug the 3-in-1 printer hundreds of miles from the U.S. to Ecuador. And that by the not even taking into consideration the Migration (Immigration) folks here in Ecuador..hmmmm.

Well enough of that!

Today being Saturday and of course the day before “someone pulled the plug in Cuenca day” i.e. Sunday…I took myself out for breakfast and a discovery walk.

It seems that Café Austria is fast becoming one of my haunts…as I’ve been there enough times now that I’m starting to be known as a steady customer (well almost).
Hey and why not…it’s near the heart of town…the food’s very good along with decent (but expensive for Ecuador) prices…very good service and a great ambiance.

Anyway…after a very satisfying and relaxing meal (accompanied my relaxing Spanish music)…I started out on my own little sightseeing tour. As I wasn’t too far from Rio Tomebamba…I hiked the few blocks and was rewarded with a very nice view looking down towards the river and the newer part of Cuenca. Incidentally…this newer part of town is just North and across the water.

From there it was time to meander around the streets back in Old Cuenca…and do a bit of window-shopping along with strolling through one of the open-air markets. The market I walked through takes place in and around Plaza de San Francisco. This is where many of the Indigenousness Tribes sell all sorts of items. Well...not really needing anything at the moment I just perused the merchandise and after a bit…moved on.

There are many smaller parks throughout various areas in Cuenca. I’ve only been to a handful so I’m far from an expert…but I will tell you that of the parks I’ve experienced… are all clean…most with and some without grass. As far as I have experienced “all” have trees…benches and usually there is a vendor of some kind there to help satisfy any possible “munchie” attack one might have.

And as usual I continued my roamings until…there in front of me was one of the ever present “ascending” roadways…which I must hike to get to my apartemento!

So…once again I sit here scribing the past few days events to you and as always…hope you enjoyed this segment of my ongoing journal. 

Until next time…Ciao J

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Cuenca Insights 5/8/10 thru 5/11/10


I decided this morning that I need to make my camera a required addition to my everyday wardrobe. It seems that I always come across something of interest when walking around Cuenca… even if I’m just walking aimlessly as I sometimes you do.

Now that I shared the above…vitally important information with you…here’s the rest of the story J

This being Saturday and also the day before “Dia de la Madre” (Mother’s Day)…which by the way I was informed…Mom’s Day is “The Biggest Holiday” in Cuenca if not all of Ecuador!

That being the case then…tomorrow I will hole’ up in my apartment as…from what I’ve been told…”everybody” takes Mom out to a resturante! I think I’ll take a pass this time as my mom is in the states.

To envision the above…multiply the restaurant crowds in the states during Mother’s Day and multiply that by a factor of 2 or 3 fold. No Gracias! Like I said before…I think I’ll “vegetate”!

With-in the same thought pattern as above. This being Saturday and I have no plans what-so-ever…I think I will pre-start “Dia de la Madre” by one day early. Now I know this may sound real exciting to you all…but (now hold on to your seats) I plan on studying my Espanol…doing a wash…reading (for a change)…watching a DVD and playing around on the ol’ computer…Oh and the BIGGY…learning the ins ‘n outs of my new GOOGLE BLOG…which will allow me to present a (I hope) more professional BLOG to you all. Now if that isn’t enough…I don’t know what is LOL!

5/9/10 (Mother’s Day)

True to my word I was a “hermit” today and with exception of literally poking my head outside to “sniff the air”….well that was the extent of my leaving my home. I did basically what I mentioned in yesterdays enlightening information…which was except for cooking a nice breakfast for myself…doing the laundry…studying some espanol…of course checking and writing e-mails and perusing the computer…well that was about it. Oh yes...can’t forget about preparing dinner out of a box LOL . And with that…my exciting weekend comes to a close.

Manana I will do something but…as yet unsure. I do plan on treating myself to a nice breakfast at one of the "Geared to Gringo" type restaurants. Yes…it’ll cost abit more but worth it. I’m just not sure as to which one I’ll go to. The problem is that many of the restaurants that are normally closed on Sunday were open today for Dia de la Madre. So that may cause them to be closed manana (Monday). Well…I’m sure I will find something of consequence that will satisfy my culinary urges J.

To be sure I will keep you informed. Oh that reminds me…I need to takee my camera with me.

Until then amigos…

5/11/10 I missed a few days…and for good reason as there was nothing really interesting to tell you.

However…today was the start of my Espanol lessons. Surprisingly…at least as far as I was concerned was the fact that even though I was the lone student…my teacher who is a native Cuencano was really good and made the lessons quite enjoyable and stress-free. Her name by the way is (pardon my anglo(ese) Nancy (pronounced…naancee) and thankfully fully bi-lingual.

Anyway we had an hour together...which actually flew by. Now at this point I need to make you aware that…I am “anything” but an “A” student. In fact I could not wait to get out of the school system…a lifetime ago! I do not know if it’s the “need” to know the Spanish language or maybe it’s the maturity thing. Then again it could be a combination. Whatever “It” is…I think it’s working!

My lessons are for “un0 hora” (one hour) per day…and [my choice] of two days per week. Who knows maybe I’ll increase that to three days but as the saying goes…time will tell! By the way…that also depends on if I continue to be the lone student or if I will be joined my another “hombre” who was supposedly waiting for me to start. No one has seen him in the immediate vicinity.

In either case I’m glad I’ve gotten started and…ready for this one…even don’t mind the homework…well so far. ;)

The above by the way…was the high point of my day.

I did do a bit of exploring around town… along with some shopping for a notebook (for school) and finding a farmacia i.e. pharmacy…in which to renew a prescription drug which does not need a prescription for in Ecuador…gotta’ love it!

And with that Me Amigos…the only thing else I did was mucho walking. Incidentally…I’m probably logging about three miles a day just going into "centro" Cuenco. After my class...well basically...did a bit of window shopping etc. and then returning (up the hill) to my apartemento.

The rest of the day was "playing house maid"...LOL!!!

Oh and remember that I was taking my camera with me...well you guessed it...two (2) days in a row I've forgotten it. The camera is now waiting for me along with the rest of my daily items that I take with photos will be appearing shortly :)

Hasta Luego…

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 14 thru May 8

Note: Previous (Pre-Blog) Daily Updates will be E-mailed upon request!

Day 14

I had a slow start of the day. That’s because I have zero plans until mid-day when I’m meaning a guy for coffee in town. More on that later!

I did however utilize some of the groceries I bought yesterday and made a complete… good ‘ol U.S.of A breakfast…YEAH J

How’s this for s start of the day…fresh coffee (new coffee maker)…Mango Juice…Pancakes…and bacon. I do however need to make some adjustments due to…

(I’m pretty sure) the altitude…as Aunt Jemima’s Pancakes did not have the same consistency as they normally would. This…(as always) following the normal directions).

Anyway it felt good to actually make my own breakfast again while sitting in my own kitchen…and just chillin’ J

Now I’ve spent a couple of hours on the old laptop and it’s in need of re-charging. Being that I have about three hours to kill before my “coffee meet”…I guess I’ll read a bit and I will report back later as to my latest observations and updates.

OK…Times Up J

Well…had a pleasant time meeting my new acquaintance Gerard. He’s been living here on and off for about twenty years and…for the last few years he’s been a steady resident. In fact he’s married to a Cuencano.

Anyway…after coffee and some talk…and due to the hour…we decided to have dinner.

I of course (being that it was on the menu)…had a burger and fries. Not the best…but it was pretty good and filed the my stomachs yearning for Americano Norte fare ;)

As always happens…it was soon time to head home. Of course it was raining (pretty heavy too)…and I couldn’t wait to see how long it would take to get a taxi…if ever.

Did you ever have a “jaw-dropping” moment. Well that’s what I had. As I exited the restaurant…right there in front of me was a cab…with the riders exiting. WOW…not only did I get the cab (without even getting wet)…but I was “not” ripped off. The cab fare was the standard buck and a half.

The downside of all this (and you knew it was coming) was when I got into my apartment I discovered I had lost my new cell phone. This of course meant that the next day I would be…getting a replacement phone day….HOORAY L

BTW…this makes three phones in about three weeks…wonder if that’s a record…hmm.

Well friends we draw the curtain on an other day in EC.

Manana J

Day 15

You know…feeling that one is compelled to write is one thing. However when there is nothing to really write about…that’s entirely “a horse of a different color”.

That my dear friends and family…is exactly what happened!

Of course…that is with the exception of replacing my cell phone…(again).

So I will leave you with that…and tomorrow is another day…”way” south of the border.

Day 16

I’m trying to decide if living away from cuidad (city) centro is good or bad. On the one hand…living on the perimeter of town is definitely healthier as the air is cleaner and of course it is quieter…probably a lot quieter. On the other hand it’s a good hike into cuidad centro (and beyond). Know don’t get me wrong…my place is very nice…the area is quiet…the rent is really good. Also the inexpensive cab fares offset the almost daily hike(s)…as does the knowledge that the walking is damn good exercise.

I guess what I’m experiencing is what the “experts” call “the separation process”. The big downside to living here…as opposed to my living in Thailand (personally speaking)is the “opposite sex” factor. My feelings are…if your not a “bar person” (which I’m not)…and being part of the “older generation” (which I am) well…it can and is proving to be a rough transition. It’s also not an easy thing to accept. Hopefully…I won’t need to accept the above…but will triumph in the long run. I guess time will tell.

OK…enough of that!

Just came back from another grocery shopping foray to Supermaxi. This time…on the West side of town…which by the way is a lot closer to my habitat. It was also…maybe a bit smaller than the first store I visited…but it was much less crowded and more to my liking.’s now about 2 p.m. and I have zero plans for the rest of the day. I may just relax and putter around the house…I’ll see. Tomorrow however…I’ll be out and about… followed by Friday’s weekly Expat meeting at Zoe’s…which is always enjoyable with the real possibility of meeting somebody new.

Later Guys J

May 8, 2010

The first thing that you might have noticed…is that I am no longer starting my “daily happenings” with “Day # so + so. This is two-fold…as it makes everything easily identifiable to you. In addition…it gives me a solid hint as to…well…what today is!

I’m sure you’d agree that this can be a handy thing especially if one has an appointment…or dare I say it…a date ;)

As for my days roamings so far…yours truly had a relaxing breakfast (home made) and then meandered into El Parke Centro. As I was sitting in the park people watching…a gent sat down next to me and said something in Espanol. I politely said…no habla espanol. He smiled and slowly started speaking in broken English. Well …I now have a new acquaintance…who goes by the name of Marcello (not sure of spelling). I would imagine we’re in the same age group…but I’m very bad when it comes to guessing peoples ages although I’ll take a guess and say somewhere around 70ish. In talking I discovered he has a son in…of al places…Ft. Lauderdale, FL. This by the way…for those who do not know is where …I lived for 10 years before my move to Thailand. Anyway we had a nice conversation (albeit…in broken English & Espanol).

Now…this where my antennas started to “twitch…as he was telling me where he lived and that there were many Gringo’s in the area of his Casa Apartemento. He went on telling me (remember…broken English) about the view from his apartment…and if I’m not mistaken…he was asking me to go with him in his car…see his apartemento and have a drink.


Now…I could be way off base here…as the Cuencanos are extremely friendly and open…but my years and experiences of living in New York City most of my life…then followed by South Florida and Thailand…well let’s just say I put a lot of faith into those antennae. In…as I go to the park (or at least walk through it) a few times a week well...we’ll see what happens if and when…I meet Marcello again.

My next stop was at Carolinas Bookshop. The reason for going was 2…maybe 3 fold.

I had tried calling to make sure of the schedule for my Spanish Classes that start next week... upstairs from the bookstore and for some reason…I could not get through. It turns out that I had one too many digits in their phone number…DUH!

The other reason for stopping there was that I was in the mood for another cup of coffee and…they always have some fresh brewed Java at no cost for their clientele.

Reason numero tres for going was…there is always a good chance that you’ll meet other Gringo’s there (sort of like a Gringo hang-out). Well there were a few Gringo’s there…one whom I’ve been introduced to already. I’m glad I ran into Bob again because during the conversation I asked if he was going to the Expat get-together tonight.

Interestingly he said he was but..leaving early so he could go to the “pre-opening dinner” at the new California Kitchen {“no” not the same as the chain restaurant in the states}.

I had forgotten about the pre-opening for the restaurant…and am now going to go with Bob and the rest of the crowd for the festivities. So…that should be fun and maybe I’ll meet some new people…and maybe meet someone of the female persuasion ;)

So until later compadre…

OK…back from dinner and some friendly talk. No luck...nor any opportunity of meeting any women…but I ended up with enjoying some really good food. My dinner companion ended up being Bob…as we walked together to the California Kitchen from Zoe’s (Expat meeting place). Everyone else that I knew…were already seated in a group. Actually this was a good thing as it gave me an opportunity to strengthen a budding friendship with Bob. I won’t go into a lot of the dinner fare and talk etc. However I will say that the food was excellent (I brought half home) yet...I felt it was a bit pricey for Cuenca. In addition to the food…I also had a glass of wine and coffee. So I guess the cost wasn’t too bad if I didn’t have the extra goodies. The conversation however…was very pleasant and I was glad that I went.

By the way...remember the story I told about Marcello? Sometime during or maybe after dinner with Bob he mentioned...hello...almost the same story as I told you earlier. seems Bob had nan almost identical run-in with Senor Marcello. antennae were "right on the money". So...dinner had a positive result for yours truly and...probably saved me a lot of anguish and/or embarrassment.

And with that…as I am once again ensconced in my apartemento…I will say good-night or as the case may be…Buenas Noches Senor y Senora y Senoritas.

Hasta Manana (until tomorrow)…