Monday, August 30, 2010


If any of you have been following our blog you know that right off we knew that Patience was going to be something that we needed to have in excess. We have been getting daily doses of "reminders" in the form of; lines, traffic, busses and even our Cedulas.

When you move to this country you can only legally stay 90 days on a tourist stamp, then you have to leave the country. We had all our paperwork in hand and met with our attorney the day after we arrived, July 2nd. We were assured that there would be no problems getting all of our paperwork done and approved within the 90 days. We are down to 30 days left. On August 22 we received and email from our attorney stating that in 15 days our Cedula paperwork would be ready. So that puts us half way into our last 30 days... legally in this country. Needless to say Randy and I think this is cutting it a bit close, and our faith that the 15 days is going to be a reality is really not that firm. We have a back up plan, and it involves our good friend Clarke... he says no matter what he will hide us in a closet... so our future in Cuenca is assured!

Randy and Clarke did get their motorcycles and both seem to be very pleased with them. Randy has requested that he ride a bit and get more used to the traffic here before I leap on the back, of which, I heartily agree. As I may have mentioned before, the drivers here have a very basic idea about driving... that they are the only ones who matter.

We have been trying to meet more Spanish speaking folks so we can vary our Spanish from Buenos dias and Cuantas cuesta? Randy felt that speaking for 4 hrs with the motorcycle folks was over the top and I found that when I was invited to a baby shower I was a bit overwhelmed with the speed an variation of words. I failed miserably with simple questions and thankfully Becca was sweet enough to quickly interpert for me so that I didnt have to as them to repeat it again. I have received my comeuppance and have renewed my vow to seriously try to learn to speak better. I think our Spanish teacher will be pleased as well.

I have to relate a story about what happened after the baby shower. Becca (her blog, enlisted the help of her two friends to drive me home so I wouldn't have to take a taxi. As we were going home these young ladies ( who speak English!) were enquiring what I did... hmmm, what do you mean... Well, do you take classes, exercise, or belong to any clubs? hmm, well we walk alot, ride buses, do out daily stuff....  I think they were pretty amused, but were quick to suggest a new bridge group starting as well as a weekly luncheon for Spanish and English speaking women, to encourage language development. I was  touched that they were trying to be so helpful in making me enjoy my life here. I have been finding that the "locals" who I have made friends with are very open and warm; hoping to make our life here just a bit easier.

If you have been reading Clarke and Brendas blog , you will know that they have a horde of young adults visiting from the U. S., two of which are their own. We got to go out to lunch with them and had a wonderful time as you can see from this picture.

We enjoyed a great local almuerza lunch at a Columbian restaurant. We all picked carne, of two types; poor Katie was stricken when she realized that the fried carne was liver. Randy and I were thrilled, and Randy was doubly thrilled because he got to eat Katies. This photo is of the "unfried carne", just plain old beef of some sort..

Lunch for 9... $12.50

Tomorrow we are off to our cooking lessons at the El Nomad headquarters, with Becca and Chela showing us all the great ways you can use the tomate de arbol (tree tomato). I will take photos, because this is a cool fruit that is nothing like a tomato!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


We have been moving along with our daily chores of getting here and there, meeting with friends, finding our favorite movies "in English" and discovering new ways to say the same things we know in Spanish. During this time we have found out that Randys "secrect cigar lady" does not have real Cuban cigars. Darn.

Our landlord invited a couple of soon to be expats over for dinner and also invited Randy and I. We had a wonderful dinner of BBQ hamburgers from a local Ecuadorian restaurant... we are sold. They were very very good. And the prices start at 1.50! Anyway, our new aquaintence is a Cigar shop owner in the states. He accompanied Randy and our landlord to the cigar shop... The landlord knew of the "secret place" too! They were all dissaponted when they were shown that only real Cubans would have a date on the bottom of the box, as well as some other specific details on the bands.

Later in the week I caught up with Brennie and she took me back to the San Francisco Market and we met with her favorite vendor of sweaters. I was getting a bit depressed when I would try one on and then have to say,No... mas grande por favor... Our lady was a trooper, her has walls made of piles of sweaters, and she would look and look and then point to one she thought I would like the color before she would struggle to pull this sweater out to see if it was "mas grande". She finally decided she needed to go explore the wares of a neighbor and indicated she would be right back. Brennie not to be denied the glory kept at it and pointed to a few that were up high on the walls hanging on hangers. We found the stick used to unhook the hangers and were delighted to find a Mas Grande sweater in brown! Now there are no mirrors in these stalls so you are totally dependent on your eye and your friend to be honest about how you look. Remember there is also no return policy... our lady came back with another sweater but was delighted to see that we had found on that was perfect. Because Brennie had brought a customer to her she just said the price would be the same, $14. A beautiful wool handknitted sweater. I am so snuggly warm now... Thanks Brennie!
Notice the missing detail on the left pocket... oh well..

Earlier in the week we had tried to find these sweaters but due to holidays the store was closed. We did find a warm blanket. Alpaca with lovely alpaca designs on it. It now resides on our bed, but I got a photo of it before we put in on. We were happy to pay $22 for this blanket.

Our great landlord had our furniture restuffed! So our couches and chairs are very comfy now, but Randy has been missing his foot stools. We have been looking and with our limited Spanish and arm waving we have been striking out. As we went to Supermaxi we noticed foot stools in a store and thought we would try again. These were the perfect color and size. Randy valiently strode up to the fellow and spoke in very precise Spanish, Hola, Buenos Tardes and the fellow responded with HELLO... oh thank goodness!
This fellow spoke enough to understand that we were interested in the footstool and he said "Poof?" We pointed again and he said "Poof?" Oh huh... ok so I said in my cro-magnun Spanish. Comprar solomente Poof... oh the joys of communication! He understood! He then turned and enlisted his girlfriend who had stopped by to have lunch with him until these two silly Gringos invaded. Luckily the girlfriend knew more English and we were off to the races! As a very good friend of ours says... Long story short.. we got the one "Poof", all wrapped in saran wrap type stuff. They went so far as to run down the road and grab a taxi and negotiate the fare for us. I told Randy on the way home I think the girl just wanted us gone so they could eat lunch. But she was so sweet about it you couldnt help but want to squeeze her in thanks for all her help. Here is our "Poof" in its place of honor!

We have been adding a few homey touches to our apartment and its starting to feel more like home. Here is one that Randy found to add... imagine that...

Randy has been busy ordering a hand made humidor, stereo stand and speaker stands. I have been a bit disgruntled by it all as I have not gotten anything for me... well except the Randy listened to my list of wants and we went and purchased a printer for our computer. Hooray... it scans prints and copies!

We were happy to hear that our friends Clarke and Breenie will have their Visas and soon will travel to Quito to get their Cedulas. Of course this has sent Clarke into a fit to go get his Motorcycle. Randy is overwhelmed with desire as well and has decided to get one too. Friday they took, (dragged) both Brennie and I along to witness this great event... it took all day...At our first stop after about an hour Clarkes guy found two bikes of the color that they were interested in, on the other side of town. So off we went on the bus to go talk to them. Once we get there we have to wait for the specific person who was contacted from the other guy at the first place.  At this point Brennie and I head off to Corral to see if we can find a steamer for Randy. After a unfruitful search we return just about the time Clarke leaps to his feet shaking his Spanish translator saying some in a very upset tone. Brennie and I decide they really dont want us there so we head off to eat as we are both starving. They seem to think its all worked out and will be along soon.. Brennie and I eat, and wait and wait and call...nope not done yet.. so we get ice cream... and wait. Well they do finally show up and say that all was well in the world. They were able to come to terms without blows and deposits were made and receipts were given. So now they are assured that their motorycycle will be ready by Wednesday.
What Wednesday is yet to be determined.

I have gotten behind in some of the fun photos that I have taken so I will take the liberty to show you them now. Our favorite popcorn is the Organics brand found in the local Safeway in Washington. I was shocked and amazed to find it on the shelves of our local Supermaxi. It was quickly scooped up and placed in our basket.

Randy has had some problems with the stairs here in Cuenca due to his knee issues. We are happy to report that he is getting much better and has even taken the dreaded Escalante steps. This photo is not of the Escalante, but just as steep!

 And what is a blog with out some art? I thought this was a very thought provoking piece. As our daughter says, its a picture that no one understands.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Friends in Cuenca

I have mentioned several times before that our life right now consists of finding our way to and from where ever we have decided to go. We have patted our selves on the back several times for our prowess with the bus system, even though we are still amatures at calling a cab. We are determined to make ourselves understood and cause less stress at the local cab company when we call. I think our friends who visit us will be happy too, because if their Spanish is any better than ours we dump that burden on them.

Yesterday was a great day, we never needed a taxi and we had a full day. We started our by meeting our housekeeper Monica at our friends house in downtown Cuenca. This was a 8 am. A big deal for us who like to sleep in (me). Our friends Clarke & Brenda took pity on us and invited us to breakfast. Afterwards we met our new friends Rebecca & Arturo at the California Kitchen. Rebecca is going to have a baby next month and curiously enough they had just been in Ellensburg, Wa! We had a great time visiting them and hopefully we will meet again soon.
We were off to meet Chuck after that to go with him motorcycle hunting again. They say that women are hard to shop with because they have to see every store to be sure that there isn't something better in the next. Well I think I have found 3 men here in Cuenca who personafy that sterotype. We have been to more shops than I can count, and if we have missed one, Clarke or Chuck have found another that they all must investigate to be sure that this one is not priced better or have a better deal. So far, most are exactly the same in price and colors.  Clarke and Randy are holding firm to wait for their Cedulas, but Chuck is not held back by that problem and he is forging ahead and buying a Moto1 200cc classic. I am sure they will post it in their blog when he does get it.

After the indepth motorcycle study we rode the bus back to Clarke and Brendas to solve Clarkes open bottle of wine problem. The guys smoked cigars and Brenda and I enjoyed our "girl time". While we were out on the deck, Fluffy came to watch us talk. I couldn't resist this face... could you?

Fluffy is a Pekinese, she has a little buddy, Corky, but he was hiding when the camera came out.

While on the way home I took this picture of some local renovations down by the river. I think they are very brave to be pounding on the rocks that are right under their feet. Its a long way down. And no they are not tied off anywhere.
We saw them today and they are almost all done chopping all the rocks off. There is a metal bracing that runs up the middle so they did have something to hold onto after they got that top part broken off.

We had a earthquake this morning. It was located over 100 miles away, and very deep, so we only had a bit of a rolling wake up this morning.  We are in a very solid contructed home so we feel very safe here.
Our landlord called us right after it happened to check on us and reassure us. He lives downstairs and he designed the contructions, so I feel pretty safe, he wouldnt want us landing on them!