Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Touring the sites "Outside...but close too Cuenca"

Domingo (Sunday), 24 Octubre, 2010

I started the day early…like 6 a.m. This…
do to the fact that I had to meet my 
Expedition Van at 8:05 a.m. For some 
imaginary reason I really thought that they 
would be there “on-time”. So…me…being 
me…A.K.A...“Mr. Early for Everything” got 
there at exactly 8 a.m. and TA-DAH…

Actually and by Ecuadorian standards 
(if there ever were any) it wasn’t bad...as 
the van in question got to my pick-up point 
before 8:15 a.m. Of course I was the first to 
be picked up and then came the rest of the 
pick-up points in various parts of Cuenca.

At the end…we totaled nine personas. The 
make-up of "touristas" included one other 
male Gringo from Australia…3 Norte 
Americanos Women and 4 Senoras from 
Peru…plus yours truly...and joined by our 
driver and tour guide Diego! Needless to 
say...it was an interesting group.

Once we were all settled…off we went to 
explore the country-side along with the 
wares plied by the Indigenousness peoples 
living in these towns. 

Now one should understand that as far as 
sightseeing goes…I for one really do not 
get into this type of excitement (?). I do 
however…enjoy seeing new and different 
places including it’s histories. Thankfully 
this trip also included some amazing 
scenery. This scenery incidentally…not 
only included what one would expect 
(forests… rolling mountainous lands etc.) 
but also some stunning Spanish Colonial 
architecture all within some beautiful towns 
and cities.

The principle cuidad (Citythat we visited...
is called Chordeleg (sure-de-leg)...which is 
a fairly decent sized city but one...with a 
really beautiful town center and is known 
for it’s Gold & Silver Jewlery. 

Now...being that I had exactly "zero" 
interest in window-shopping...I roamed the 
immediate area and finally stumbled upon 
a nice shaded resting spot i El Parke Centro. 

As luck would have it…a middle aged 

woman with her son sat down next to me 
and tried (notice I said "tried"tstrike up 

Of course I politely told her in my 
best Spanish…”No Hablar Espanol” and 
with her prodding this...became 
“Yo Hablar Espanol Poquito”... 
(I speak a little Spanish).

Now maybe it was my long absence from 
the U.S. East Coast but…it seems I’ve 
lost the edge on my long ago learned 
and ingrained “Sixth Sense”...OMG !!! 

Now…when it comes to unknown peoples 
wanting something other than just being 
friendly...my inner alarms should have 
gone off “loud ‘n clear”…they didn’t! This 
instance proved to be the case…as the 
woman in question (and my 6th sense 
finally made it’s appearance albeit a little 
late)…was what one could only call and 
compare with a Born-Again Christian but 
with a Spanish-twist.

Before anyone…who might be a Born-
Again Christian please...do not read 
anything into the above paragraph as…
I hold no prejudices against anyone’s 
beliefs. I do however…do not like being 
cajoled into anything…especially when 
any religion is involved.

Anyway with this new information about 
my new acquaintance…I quickly excused 
myself and meandered this beautiful and 
peaceful city.

Approaching the Van’s departure time…
I eventually re-claimed my seat along with 
my travel-mates (all accounted for) and off 
we went for a few more stops.

One stop in particular made up for all the 
jewelry shops etc. This was an extremely 
run-down establishment in a very small 
town called San Bartolome. 
The people in this town are known for their 
Spanish Guitar Making.

As the story was told to us (and I hope I 
have all the facts correct)…many many 
generations have since past. 
When the first Spanish families settled in 
this area…one family started the Guitar 
Crafting business. As time went on the art 
of Spanish Guitar crafting was passed 
to other families…who then in turn moved 
to different areas of Ecuador. Apparently 
San Bartolome remains the anchor.

OK…nececito history lesson done.

The Guitars are made from a very rare 
wood…all hand crafted and…if I recall 
correctly…a single guitar will take 4-6 
weeks to bring its beauty to completion. 
The cost in case you're wondering...ranges 
from about $200 to $600. The guitar in the 
photo below was priced at about $240. 
All this by the way…is accomplished by 
one hombre and his son. 

No...the guy on the Guitar is not the son 
but...our now almost famous tour-guide 
Diego. The gentleman behind him is the 
owner...father and craftsman.

From what I understood…the father 
makes the guitars (remember…all by hand
but cannot play the instrument...at all. 
This is where the son comes in…who at the 
time of our visit had his soul connected to 
the Internet. 
(Yes...even in the mountains of Ecuador).

All told…I am quite sure that if I were one 
whoever played a guitar (at least a little bit)…
I would have bought one of these beauties...
on the spot!

Well…once again it was time to pile into 
El Van and off we went to…YES…E-A-T 
lunch...(You knew this was coming!)

The place...that was part of the tour for 
lunch (almuerzo)…was in its former life a 
privado hosienda (Private House). 
Today the hosienda is called 
“Hosteria Uzuhupud” and is now a beautiful 
hostel which rests in the Paute valley.

Within the confines of the Hosteria there 
is in evidence…a swimming pool…
hot springs…58 rooms..tennis…discoteca 
(disco)…outdoor restaurante etc. 

The rates…I truthfully have no idea. That 
said however…one day I would love to 
spend some “miini-vacation” time there…
one day J

At this point..and to tell you the truth…the 
tour went into “over-kill”…as I was past 
caring about anything (time elapsed about 
6 horas (6 hours). All I wanted was to see 
the tours conclusion but…NO!!!  There was 
more! Unfortunately…I was beyond caring 
and (maybe I subconsciously) buried the 
into my subconscious where it will stay!

Overall…it was a great “get-outta-town” 
escape.I’m glad I did it but…with the 
exception of my previous stated desire of 
visiting Uzuhupud again…I think this 
hombre has had it for…
at least the foreseeable future! J

Now with this...my update on my roamings...
completed...I REALLY need to get crackin’ n' 
start packin’ for my upcoming re-location…
to my Nueve Apartemento (new apartment).

See you soon…for now J
[Para ahora veale pronto] J

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Art of Change

Viernes (Friday) 22 Octubre, 2010

Well…if you hadn’t noticed…I’ve been on what one 
would call a mini-sabbatical. Actually I guess I just fell 
out of the habit of writing since I returned from my U.S. 
trip or maybe…it was just plain laziness. Whatever the 

Anyway…I do have some new updating to share J

What pray tell…you ask…
has he gone and done this time? Actually…it’s not 
anything major…but it does require some work on my 
part. However…I need to back-peddle and in doing 
that you will probably determine...the “cause and effect”.

When I first moved into my apartemento…as most new
renters…I was indeed excited. Being in the very heart 
of Cuenca one could not feel anything "but" excitement. 
The down-side of all this was the fact that my 
apartemento had two…of what I then thought were 
minor inconveniences. One was of course the “pseudo” 
kitchen and the other was the “absence” of a...
true bedroom. 

If you haven’t already guessed my news...
well here it is.

As of 1 Noviembre…I shall [once again] be moving.

Now this is definitely not a big move…however it is a 
move that will keep me firmly within grasp the my 
current neighborhood..,albeit a tiny bit further from 
El Parke Calderone.         

The good thing about my forthcoming move is that…
my new habitat will be within the bounds of a 
“Professional Building” complete with a bank...Doctors...
Lawyers and also a guard at the front entry portal.

The building itself is situated on one of the main east-
bound streets in Cuenca…which thankfully carries...
No Buses.

My soon-to-be apartemento is situated on the seventh 
(7thfloor and yes...it’s accessible via elevator and or 
stairs. The stairs incidentally will be used by yours truly 
when I feel the need for exercise. This by the way has 
become a “daily” habit…No Joke!

Now as for the apartemento…there is plenty of large 
glass areas…it’s a bit larger than my current place and 
yes…it contains a "real" bedroom and (not that I need 
both)…but two (2) bathrooms.

The kitchen is a real kitchen this time. However it is tiny.
Picture a fairly wider than normal hallway with all the
accoutrements of a kitchen...and you’ll have a 
reasonable mental picture as to what I’m trying to 
convey to you.

I will however say this…the kitchen has a fair amount of
working space along with plenty of storage areas. On 
the upside…the owner [literally]…yesterday had a new 
gas range and refrigerator delivered to the apartemento.
both items are already installed at this juncture.

Incidentally…there is quite a large [pass-through] 
opening between the kitchen and the living room which 
lends a much needed airiness to the overall ambience.

And speaking of the living room…
it’s approximately twice the size of my current one and 
includes “real” furniture. This by the way contrasts 
sharply with the [almost] “lawn type” furniture I now have. 
By the way...the same thing is in evidence concerning 
the bedroom furniture.

As for closet space…how does a walk-in closet sound
for the bedroom plus…waaay too much storage area...
more that I can ever take advantage of.

this looks as though this will be a good move.

Oh almost forgot. 
The monthly rent...$300 bucks + electric...gas and wi-fi. 
All told...under $350. Oh and No Lease!

As for anything else on the immediate horizon…

In about 2 hours I am meeting a friend and together we
will go and pre-pay a day-trip for this coming Sunday to
nearby "artisan" towns. I really don’t expect much…as 
this is a“tourist” geared outing but…it is something I’ve 
been planning for quite awhile and am looking foreword 
to the chance of "gettin' outta’ Dodge" for a day.

Hopefully I will have absorbed enough culture etc. and 
will then be able to extrapolate on this event in the very
near future.

I sincerely hope I haven’t bored you today…but moving 
into a new place…anywhere...and especially in a foreign 
country is not something that happens everyday. Yes…
I know I’ve moved recently…but this just seems more of 
the “permanent” type (hope so)!

Hasta Pronto J

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

and...In Conclusion...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

OMG…I’m still in shock.
Why you ask…’cause El Weatherman was R-I-G-H-T.

He forecast rain and “rain” it did. In fact it’s now a bit
after 4 p.m. and it’s still raining. So…even though I
usually put the poor weatherman down…I must
“commend” him today…even if it’s the only day in
recent memory that he or she…happened 
(by accident ?to be right. ‘Nuff said!

FYI…it’s now 9:30 p.m. and YES…it’s still raining. 
The rain however did not stop us from getting’ out and 
into a local restaurant for dinner.

The restaurant had a wide variety of foods…but guess
who could not pass up the Cheeseburger Platter
(a serious platter that is)…go on guess J. Oh yes…
we can’t forget the very large Vodka ‘n Tonic too.

In addition to this news…it should be noted that
“this guy” is still full about 2 hours later.

Do I hear the word “DIET” in my very near future?

Other than the above…I guess one can say…
We…Wuz Rained Out today.

Now "de Weather Guy"…feeling that he’s on a roll…
is calling for “about” (I love that word) an 80% chance 
of the wet stuff. Guess we’ll all have to wait ‘n see!

More Earth-shaking news to come J

Friday, Octubre, 1, 2010

today definitely falls under the “mixed-bag” category.

The rain was still in evidence well into the early 
afternoon hours. I will say however…that it was 
nowhere close to the type of rain that had inundated 
this region for the past 36+ hours. And then all at once 
the rain was gone and the sun came out to say “hola” J.

Now with 90% of the clouds on the run to places 
unknown…we are finally free to get out of the house…
sans umbrella’s etc.

Anyway…with El Sun sort of hinting that it may actually 
stay awhile…we all piled into my brothers’ car and off 
we went to find a pumpkin patch. Find it we did…however 
do to all the rain (I think this was the reason) the “patch” 
wasn’t ready to receive visitors as yet. So…the car trip 
continued along the winding roads of the Catskill 
mountains…until we found ourselves at...

“The Inn at Saint Joseph” in Forestburgh, NY.

If I got the story correctly…the Inn was originally a 
Catholic Church Retreat…which later turned into its 
present state…as in a hotel (or an Inn as they prefer to 
call it). Bottom-line…the Inn has an air of an extremely 
comfortable and welcoming “retreat” in which…one 
might use as a wonderful week-end escape from 
so-called civilization.

While there…we were invited to roam the grounds and 
hotel freely at our leisure…which we did…but not 
before I sampled some of the free varieties of cakes. 
There were also teas...coffee...fruits etc. …all for the 
taking but…El Pig-o here… decided…NO…
as that would be pushin’ it J

Back to the roaming part.

We continued to explore the grounds…but not all of the
One Thousand Acres. I’ll let my Bro and Sis-in-law have
that honor. Seriously though…the grounds include a
beautiful lake complete with canoes, hammocks 
(scattered throughout the property) and many more 
things that I’m sure we missed in our quick self-tour.

By-the-way…inside the Main House held a full usable
library complete with plush furniture to relax in while 
reading…a small working kitchen (that’s where I found 
the cakes and coffee) J …a full dining room…with 
some really great staid furniture and…well I could keep 
going but I think you probably get the picture.

From there it was back into the car and we were off to 
more country road driving and finally returned back at 
Allen & Linda’s place.

Now at this point you might be figuring that I’m going 
to tell you that this is the end of the day…”NOT” J

This was just a “catch ones breath” interlude!

During this timely interlude…Linda made a great and 
much appreciated dinner of Baked Chicken Breasts 
topped with home-made spiced apple compote…
Sweat Potato Pie and Tossed Salad. 

Note: For all those that personally know Linda 
(I did promise her this)…Yes…Linda actually cooked 
dinner with her own two hands. Yes…I actually 
witnessed this rare phenomenon…with my own two 
eyes of this never before "now revealed" event.

To top off the day…we then went to the Rivoli Theatre 
in S. Fallsburg, N.Y. to see a show called Bathroom 
Humor. I’m not a theatre critic however...but I must say 
it was an enjoyable and humorous play that topped the 
day perfectly. My thanks to Allen…Linda and Scott 
(my nephew) for a wonderful day.

Tomorrow Linda has planned a big and…full day of
which I’m not exactly sure what to expect…so more 
on these upcoming events as they materialize.

‘till then…ciao for now

Saturday, Octubre 2, 2010

Well…my on again off again traveling day is fast 
approaching and being that I bought more than a few 
needed personal items…I need to get “crackin” so that 
I can transport said items. What this means in plain 
language is that…I need to re-arrange all my things 
that I originally brought with me and co-mingle
them with the new.

To help accomplish this I picked up a “cheap-o” duffle-
like bag and hopefully everything will actually fit into my 
now two (2) carry-ons…and my one “checked” bag 
(original luggage). Why I did this is beyond me and I 
truly do not know why I do this to myself.  

Well…here goes nothin’ J

I’ll report back at the end of our traveling …to parts
unknown day J

OK…I have to be truthful here. By that I mean it is now 
12:22 a.m. (yes…you read that right)...22 minutes after 
midnight and I am currently sitting in Guayaquil Airport 
after my flight back to Ecuador.

Get this… I “only” have 5 & ½ hours until the check-in 
desk for TAME Airlines opens and I can tell them that 
this “muchacho” has been waiting all night in order to 
catch the first flight to Cuenca and home!

All of the above followed a 3 ½ hour flight from 
Ft. Lauderdale to Bogota, Columbia…where I had a 
wonderful 1½ hour layover…  followed by another 
1½ flight to Guayaquil (my current looong lay-over 

I do have to say however… that the flight on Avianca
Airlines was very nice as was the flight crew and 
attendants. The down side to all this was the habitual 
security checks along the way.

Just to give you an idea…

Ft. Lauderdale Airport…one (1) security check but...
extremely thorough.

Bogota, Columbia (remember this is a flight transfer 
within the same airline)…one (1) security check.

and the winner is…

Guayaquil ...where…I processing through and was 
“LEAVING” the arrivals area. This entailed going the 
Passport Control and these days…and as you 
probably know...“this” is a lot of fun and then once 
again another full baggage check.

This mi amigos y amigas...is a grand total of three (3) 
security checks in total elapsed times…equaling some 
9 hours (so far), ARRGGGGG!!!!!!!

So…now I sit here trying to recall what…I and my 
upstate family crew did on Sunday…from memory 
(uh-oh) J.

So let’s see…

Sunday Octubre 3, 2010

The first thing to report on was the weather which 
surprise of all surprises…El Weatherman was once 
again (Yes…I know this is UN-BELEIVABLE)…but he 
or she was right-on. He called for clear skies and 
sunshine…and that was EXACTLY what we got.

what’s this world coming too when El Weatherman 
is right so many times? What’s wrong with this picture 
anyway? All kidding aside my hat’s off to him or her…
well that is if I actually owned a hat! J

OK…enough stalling.

As you all know I am blessed with “total recall”.
Did I hear someone say “no” you don‘t. 
OK…OK…I don’t. But what if I really did? 
Now tell me that’s not scary ;) 
Anyway…I do actually recall…well some stuff. This is…
after all (early on what is now) Tuesday morning (11/5).

So…now I digress!

Anyway…we went to…
what I am going to name and use as a sub-title…


The reason for this title (other than the fact that it once 
was a highly popular movie)…is the fact that it is the 
actual name of a place that produces Organic Cider.

The actual name is really Cider Mills & Country Market. 
This was a definitely different learning experience and 
quite enjoyable. The grounds and buildings…although 
not yet completely finished (Cider Mills has only in 
business about a year) is a converted farm area. 

However…besides the “converted and upgraded 
farmhouse…the Mill for making the actual cider..a 
stable…what-ever…there is a country store and small 
ice ream parlor / eatery with “really” good foodstuffs J.

While on the grounds and taking advantage of the
beautiful day and scenery…we also got to go on a 
real horse-pulled "hay ride"…one in which by the 
way was decorated for Halloween Season. 
   Incidentally "the hay-ride" also took us to a “brand-
   new” horse stable and not fully completed as 
   evidenced by the still new wood aroma.

Talk about some beautiful animals…WOW!

Anyway...after roaming around the grounds…taking 
fotos and sampling a bit of lunch at the ice-cream parlor 
(I had some really great chili)…we were once again on 
the road and heading for a country-fair (I think Bro & 
Sis-in-law were trying to "contrify" this city boy). 

The fair itself was somewhat small and being late in the 
day already…well it was a bit uninteresting. That said 
though…I gotta tell ye’’…for a city-boy…and this was a 
bit foreign to me...yet nether-the-less…
I did have fun. 

The day ended with us doing some country style sight 
seeing. This included various small towns…farms…
extremely secluded homes etc. I know it sounds like 
I’m “putting this down”…but I’m not at all. It was just a 
pleasant drive through the mountainous roads of 
upstate New York on a gorgeous day.

Monday, Octubre 4, 2010

My travel day started with an unconventional side-trip.
Here’s the story…

There is a Bas-Mitzvah that my Bro and Sis-in-law…
plus…plus… plus…etc…are going to. So…we stopped 
off at the place where the party is going to be held 
(they are very close with Doc & Millie…the father and
daughter i.e Bas-Mitvah-ette). I’m guessing the catering 
establishment was someone’s home a very long time 
ago and was converted to it’s present state.

The Catering Establishment is situated on a mountain-
top over-looking some of the most stunning green 
forest-clad mountains that I’ve ever had the privilege of 
seeing…and for as far as the eye can see…well it can 
be humbling…besides leaving one speechless. I’m sure 
that Millie is going to have a party she will never forget.
She has my personal good wishes and congratulations.

From there it was on to Newburgh International Airport. 
Incidentally…as the airport is not at all large at all…its 
really hard for me to swallow the  “International” 
designation. Anyway…this was the start of my trip 
(odyssey ?) back to Ecuador.

Part “Uno” landed me back in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and 
another stay (overnight) with Ellie & Wally. However…
before we actually arrived at their abode…we made a 
“pit-stop” at Piranha Pats. The restaurant is widely 
known for and…has superb Rib Platters along with 
many other great dishes.

Now it was late and I wasn’t exactly starving…but 
yours truly…before whatever meal I ultimately decided 
on…needed a good and large…kickin’ drink. Well the 
drink in question ended up being a LARGE ...
"Long Island Iced Tea" and …it hit the spot J
That then led to my order of “hot ‘n spicy” chicken 
fingers…a baked potato with a side of delicious cole 
slaw (hey...I had to finish my vacation with a “BANG”)J.

But wait…the foodie inside me said…the vacations still 
on and there’s one more day in which to add to the 
already ridiculous amount of food I’ve inhaled 
(I’m gonna suffer for this…like dieting).

Anyway Tuesday morning (but late) we were off again…
this time to a diner very near the beach. Ohhh…I can 
still taste the French Toast…REALLY WELL DONE 
bacon (just how I like ‘emand good bottom-less mugs 
of coffee…hmmmm J  J

end of party time and the warning flags are now...
flying strong!

I won’t go into any detail as to the flight(s) to Cuenca 
but I will say that the “lay-over” in Guayaquil was 
ridiculous! The lay-over lasted from about 11:30 p.m. 
Tuesday the 5th…through Wednesday 6 a.m. as this 
was the boarding time for the scheduled 7 a.m. take-off.

Thankfully all the flights were uneventful (the best kind
and I am now home in Cuenca and…“running on empty” 
(as far as sleep goes) L. It seems that I’m just one of 
those people that hit a plateau for sleep and once said 
plateau is breached…well things just feel as though I’ve 
slept 8 hours.   Weird huh?

I think tomorrow I just might be sleeping a little later than
normal…ye think? 

So mi amigos…all I now need to do…is proof read and
publish for (hopefully) your enjoyment my jaw-dropping

Until next time…