Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BRIGHT SUN-SHINEY DAYS (and then some)

Monday thru Wednesday, 16 to 18 of August, 2010
( Lunes por Miercoles, 16 a 18 de Augusto, 2010 )

OK I’m I spent awhile absorbing some “sun” 

YES…you read right as we do indeed have that 
Very Large Bright Yellow Ball beaming it’s rays and 
smile down to us Cuencanos…while reading my 
book in Parque Calderone.

By the way…if it seems to you that I spend a lot of 
time in Parque Calderone…you are right and I do so 
with good reason. You see…El Parque is exactly 
one-half block from my apartemento. Being that the 
green grass and trees are so very close…I now 
consider this “hallowed ground” area to be my 
(almost) personal “back-yard” J

In either case…while taking in the “rays” and diligently 
reading my book…my friend Jim happened to appear 
while at the same...time casting a friendly shadow on 
guess who and 'yon  book.

As friends sometimes do…we just sat and caught up 
on the comings and goings on in our "retiring"lives.
Now...while in the middle of our ”very important 
jabbering” ...along comes my neighbor Pete who aptly 
joins into our exciting conversation. 

This highly productive give and take exercise...went 
on for quite awhile until the appetite “alarms” starting 
to increase in intensity.

Considering that we were literally across the street 
from Raymipampa Restaurante and/or Tuttta Freddo...
we had a choice. Well not really as…Raymipampa 
had no available seats. So off we went to Tutta 
Freddo for what Jim said was possibly the best 
(believe it or notPizza in Cuenca. 

At this point in time…and until further notice I am 
remaining an “open-minded” skeptic!
The resulting pizza (although nowhere compared 
to my Brooklyn Italian Pizza in N.Y.)…was indeed 
acceptably good. By the way…
I opted for the “personal” [like we had a size choice]…
Pepperoni Pizza.

Pizza aside…the best part of the meal was “the 
company” as we had quite a bit in common and 
pleasant un-rushed conversation.

Next stop...was later [6p.m.] at Carolinas Bookshop…
about which I mentioned in my previous “blog” for more 
food and yakking J

"Time Jump"…
and it’s about two days later and the story continues 
it’s flow (so to speak..for better or worse).

The Bookstore get together was pleasant with a 
chance to catch-up with a few acquaintances and 
where I also met a few new possible-friends-in-

OK now bare with me folks...
we're moving through time and it's now the next 
morning as in 5:30 a.m. Tuesday's travel-time!

The gathering of “Cedula seeking Expats” trip is now 
under-way…and once's up and across 
Cajas National Park and heading into Guayaquil for the 
express purpose of picking-up of our much sought after 
Certfied Cedulas!

Finally. after 3 ½ travel hours…we "once again" 
entered “The Registration Office” and well…I’ll spare 
you the ins 'n outs and give you the...short version!

We explained our reasons for the visit...gave our 
names…sat down for ten (10) minutes and…well...
we were now newly Registered Cedula holders…
Signed...Sealed and Delivered J J

After a relaxing (and for Ecuador and us…
an expensive ”hotel”) lunch…we were then “headin’ 
on back”...through Cajas and on to Cuenca!

With the above…now said and done…my next big 
(must do) thing is to finally make my reservations for 
my approximate…three (3) week visit to the states.

More on this as it develops. for now…
Adios Mi Amigos y Amigas

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday in Cuenca

Sunday (Domingo) 15 de Augusto, 2010

Before I start...

Being that we just had a hint of sun (first time this week)…
I put on my layers (only 3 today) of clothes...grabbed my
book and headed over to El Parque Calderone for a bit
of sun...fresh air...a bit of reading and be 
around the other denizens of Cuenca.

Now Sundays in El Parque is always busy catering to
the influx of family's and their various activities, (maybe 'cause of my late start)...I was
treated to a sight that I personally have never seen.

What did you ask? J
Well I saw first almost never-ending flood of
Cuencano's who were just exiting one of “The” focal
points of Cuenca.

The focal point in question...the awesome…marble clad…
“El Catedral de la Immaculada Concepcion” otherwise
known in English as…
The Church of the Immaculate Conception.

The church incidentally is also known as…
The “New Cathedral” in which construction was started
in 1885 (Yes…the “new” one) J.

Now once the streaming multitudes exited…they
headed across el calle (the street) into Parque 
Calderone and…in which I can only describe them 
(the multitudesas…descending like "a flock of 
seagulls"...intent on laying around a beach that was 
covered with scraps of food.

[ How's that for a visual? ] was nice being ensconced in everyday real
life for a change. I will say this...It was a kick to observe
and also to feel part of (albeit a tiny bit) in what was
going on within the throng of the various families’...
”park day”!

Also among the humanities were of course the "peddlers"...
selling everything from ice-cream cones...chips...
cotton candy (although I have zero idea of what the
Espanol name is)...street shows...children-sized [almost]
real life-like pony's (for photos) and for some reason....
lots and lots of cars around El Parque. These by the 
way…were being “herded” by police and their whistles 
in an attempt to "keep 'em moving". 

All-In-All...a circus atmosphere and in one where
everyone is enjoying themselves! J J

I have one other observation...the little kids are so very…
very cute...and well behaved! What a “pleasure” to be
able to be in the midst of all these simple pleasures.

So now back in El is now around 2 p.m.
and my "thigamajig" tells's all
of 54F and partly sunny (which of course it isn't...can
you say C-L-O-U-D-Y) ?   

Anyway this “so far”…
has been my mostly outdoorsy day. 

Now…Manana (Monday...i.e. Lunes)...
I have a "Bring a Dish of Something or Some Sort of 
Drink" get-together at Carolinas' Bookshop. So...
I'm "yes"... looking forward to that and seeing and 
carousing (hmmmm)...with a bunch of Expats and 
actually…not being home in my apartemeno in the 
early evening. 

The gathering/party itself is from 6-8pm and…along 
with the various “hand-delivered” food and drink…
should be “fun” J

The following day…which…if you’ve been “paying 
attention”…is Tuesday (Martes)...whiich means it's 
back into the mini-van at 7a.m. and off to Guayaquil 
to get my Cedula ...  

***Ha-la-looo-ya***  J  J  J

The rest of the week...wellll...
I guess it's...back to the old retirement grind…
and so…until next time…

Ciao mi amigos y amigas…

Sonria y el mundo sonria detras en usted
(Smile and the world smiles back at you) J J J

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Wednesday (Miercoles) 11 de Augusto, 2010

First the really great stuff…

As the title gives hint too…


I’m sure there are many more descriptive words.

imgres.jpg   imgres.jpg

The above is my attempt in giving you…albeit...
a small hint as to the descriptive scenery throughout 
about 95% of our (my two friends and our guide / 
interpreter) trip via a very comfortable mini-van.

The place…
Cajas National Park which incidentally…crosses the
Continental Divide somewhere between Cuenca and
Guayaquil (pronounced…Goo-why-a-keel).

To give you a small idea of our trip…we traveled up
to an elevation of…thirteen thousand feet (13,000ft
or just shy of 4km or…almost 2.5 miles high.

Keeping in mind that Ecuador as a whole…is a
micro-climatic area…we traveled from a temp of low
40F (Cuenca…a.m.) to Guayaquil (about mid-high 
80F’s for the time we were there).

The drive took just about three (3) hours. Once the 
van dropped us off near the airport (drop-off point)…
we taxied directly to the Registration Office and…
“lucked-out”…BIG TIME!

The building is huge…and so was the mob of people.
However our guide/translator…after a few quick hit ‘n
misses ended up at the correct window where we
“prepaid” the cost of the Cedulas ($2.00).

That done we were ushered into a room that…
and I’m guessing here…probably contained a
thousand people. The upswing to all this was that
there were 24 or so booths in which various citizens'
type  business was conducted.

So with our personal “next” numbers in hand…
we sat...and waited !!!!

I still cannot believe it but we probably waited
about a half hour… and we were each in our own
little both with our own clerk…about to embark on
the needed “Residency” classification J J J

Jumping ahead a bit…after going over our required
paperwork…getting finger-printed (no ink)…photos
taken…we were done! 
Well almost as we were then informed that we needed 
to return in 48 hours to pick up our Cedula I.D. Cards...


We could have camped out in a hotel for the next
two (2) days or return to Cuenca…hence return at a
later date. We opted to return back to Cuenca...
that same day (Tuesday)...

Now at this point one needs to [again] understand the
Ecuadorian mind-set...

Remember my past Rantings?
Ye know things like...later don’t necessarily mean that
day or for that matter…the day after next etc. etc.

Anyway…with our knowledge of how things sometimes
work in these here parts J…we decided to leave
Guayaquil and return on the following Tuesday (one
week later to the day). 
The reasoning behind this is simple! Thursday…(though 
this is the suggested day)…is way too soon and Friday…’s another National Holiday! (Ecuador is loaded 
with Legal Holidays) and Monday...which is the start of 
the week…is a BIG no-no!

So…next Tuesday at 7 a.m. we ‘re off again to…
”hopefully” bring this governmental adventure to a close!!

OK…official stuff done! 
Now it was time to get some “fuel” as in lunch and 
have a look-see around.

Now…Guayaquil is a BIG CITY!
I’ve always heard the “bad” things about the city and
to be fair… depending on how one presents or carries
him/herself in public (and this is true in most cities of
the world)…probably translates to the degree of crime
one may or may not attract. With this in mind…

Off we went to do a bit of exploration and also
to “do lunch” J

Now…there is an area that is called El Malecon 
(The Malakon)…which is nestled by the El Rio Guayas
(The Guayas [goo-why-aas] River). The area frequented
by everyday people...stretches about 2.5 miles and is
made up of (and I’m quoting this from a guide book)… 
”sculptures…ponds…playgrounds…gardens and of
course river views”. There is also a covered outdoor
food court in which yours truly and friends took part in.

The food was surprisingly “very” good…considering it
was not a restaurant i.e. “food court”. The ‘views’ and
over-all ambience (yes…food court) was very relaxing
and enjoyable…as was the company of my...
comrades-in-arms. J J J

Anyway as the temps and least we forget the humidity
that Guayaquil is known for (as in high)...we figured it
was time to VAMOOSE !!

However…before we grabbed a taxi back to the
“van” site we made a quickie stop to a small park a 
few blocks away.

The park is known for its...Iguana (some where “huge”)
and Turtle (also quite large) population where they
roam free (well the Iguana do anyway). This by the
way…was a very welcome respite from the heat as
the park has many many large trees!

OK…Iguanas and Turtles finished was time to
head on back to the “van” and back to hittin’ the
road to Cuenca.

If you haven't already guessed...I cheated a bit as...
all photos represented here were "sadly" not taken
by yours I forget to take "El Camera" with
me on this trip. So...these pics are stock photos
I found on the web. gives you a tiny idea
of what I experienced.

Now on with the rest of the story...

Back in the mountainous regions of Cajas National 
Park once again…I was presented with a sight that
was well…too awesome for words. Remember…
13,000 feet.

If you’ve ever flown (as most have) in a large
passenger jet you will be able to relate to this.

Remember when being a passenger...on a passenger
jet…and then starting the decent from the very high
altitudes and going through the clouds? 
Well…then also try to recall those puffy clouds.

Now picture yourself driving on a 2-lane mostly well-
paved road. 
Next envision yourself traveling through those…
lush green mountains accompanied by beautiful white 
puffy clouds which are waiting for you to “drive” through. 
However…as you drive…you realize…no…it isn’t like 
being in a jet at all. Because in a jet aircraft it’s an 
“impersonal and ignored experience” and your through 
those clouds in a few minutes "flat"!

Now while being a part of and...up in the Cajas 
mountains… convert those few moments to...well an 
“unlimited and one-of-a-kind” experience like no other
and one in which I…and maybe one day you…
will never forget!

Hasta Pronto mi Amigos y Amigas J

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Road to Legalization

Monday (Lunes) 9 de August (Augusto), 2010

Well it’s been...if not exciting…a hectic week or so.

You see after quite some time…I was “finally” ready to
get my Censo and my Cedula.

Now…both these documents are laminated cards and…
both are required enabling me to stay and live as a 
retiree in Ecuador. The cards also label me as a legal
“residencia”. This also by the way… gives me the right 
to live in Ecuador along with all the rights that any born 
Ecuadorian has...with the exception of the right to vote.

Now that I’ve laid the foundation for you…
comes the “good” part.

Working through my Abogado (attorney) in Quito is 
Linda…the attorney’s assistant in Cuenca. Well one fine 
and bright sun shiny day…Linda picked me up and off 
we went to get my much needed Censo and Cedula 
(from now on referred to as C&C).

First stop was the (I think) main police station. In this
illustrious stanchion of society…and after about a half
hour wait…we (Linda…myself and the Policia Officer)
went through the needed motions and “wa-laa”…I was
now the proud owner of a Censo.

With Censo in hand…we now were off to get my Cedula.

Now you just know that this is where the fun starts!
Ye know what…You’re right!

After driving across town we entered “the building” and
of course found a small mob scene. Well…Linda went
right to the front of the line…then to the front of
another line and…came back to me with “The News”.
What you may ask was this news?

Well apparently…the day before (Monday) was
the day that the “new” rule changes went into effect!
And…imagine even the Abogados weren’t aware
of this! What a Surprise!

Too make this story somewhat palatable…the ONLY
places in Ecuador to “now” obtain” ones Cedula is
either in Quito or Guayaquil.

This is when I found out the “Rest of the Story”.

It seems the rule changes also affected…to a certain
extent the following  two other locations.

In Quito…the process for getting ones Cedula went
from a three (3) days romp in the Capital…to eight…
yes count ‘em (8) glorious days. This was by the way…
precipitated by a phone call “from” my attorney
(not me calling her) telling me that I could fly to Quito…
spend one night there…fly back and she would 
pick-up the Cedula and send it via TACA Airlines to me 
(this by the wayis similar to an overnight delivery…
but extremely inexpensive…like $1.30 
(as in a dollar thirty)

Overall cost to me…approximately $200


Guayaquil…which by the way…I have never been to…
nor had I any plans of ever visiting.

Guayaquil is Ecuadors largest city and encompasses
all the hot weather (80’s-90’s and humid)… dirt… grit…
need I say crime…of any big city. However from what
I’ve heard the Government office to which we are going…
is very modern…referencing the above mentioned
documents is easier to obtain…as opposed to the
rest of the country!

Anyway…with the above information in hand…I literally
stumbled upon something at the last Friday Night get
together at Zoe’s.

Apparently…(surprise) I’m not alone in this figurative boat.
There are 2 guys who I found out were hiring a car with a 
driver…which would take them to Guayaquil. Going along
with them is a Cuencano who would act as an Interpreter
and guide for the Gringos (us).

Well…moving to the end of this exciting…nail-biting story
we are leaving on this adventure like 6 a.m. manana. With
any luck we will have secured our Cedulas and return in
the afternoon. However (and I’m not a betting person)…
I would wager a bet that we will be spending the night in
Guayaquil and returning the next day.

Incidentally...we do have a back-up plan.

If said Cedula’s won’t be ready by Wednesday…we will
return to Cuenca and then go back once again the 
following Tuesday. simply pick-up the 
documents and return once again… home…with our 
legal residencies in hand. J

And with that mi amigo’s I shall continue my diatribe...
whence I return once again from my visit to Guayaquil !

Hasta Pronto J