Sunday, October 31, 2010


As I have talked about before we love our rental, and the wonderful people who rent out our apartment; but because I want my mom to come visit, we need a place without stairs. And since her doctor says she can come visit we have come to the conclusion that we need to move.

We have found a place on the west side of town; a friend of a friend knew that someone down the street was moving... after a few phone calls we got to see the place before the people even started packing! Talk about luck! It is a nice house with a private parking area and garden area, which Randy will enjoy for his cigar smoking, and I will enjoy for putting in all kinds of plants and flowers.
We love the area, and hope that my mom will come soon and stay along time! This house has a maids room outside of the laundry area, so we have dubbed it Moms Room. She made sure we were aware that she was not filling in for the maid if she comes!

I especially liked the very first visitor that we got in our new place... we noticed him when we went to measure and I thought you all would enjoy meeting him..
Whoever says there are no bugs in Cuenca obviously has not had this little guy come by to visit. Fortunately for me he was already "expired".

I have been putting on my FB account about my travails and trials of trying to fly to Oregon to see my mom and pick up stuff Randy has been ordering since the inception for this trip, so I wont go into great detail, only to say that if you are a resident of Ecuador, you need your ORIGINAL Censo, they are not interested in your Cedula... they want that Censo. Well apparently the fates decreed that I got a very nice man who let me through with my copy... otherwise I would be lamenting here about my lost $1053 plane ticket and a missed trip home.

Since I have arrived home we have been shopping up a storm.. Today Friday,we are resting! While we were out though,I was taking pictures of the fall colors in the trees. Mind you these are not gallery quality as I was in the car and shooting in parking lots but the colors are just too pretty not to share. These are all taken in Salem, Oregon.

 As I said I came to visit my mom. Our moving to Ecuador was very hard on her and we/she had a very bad scare two weeks after we arrived. I was determined that as soon as our residency was settled I would figure out a way to go back home and see with my own eyes that she was ok! So within a few weeks of getting it settled I got my tickets. This is my mom..

 I am enjoying my quick trip, and will be going up to see my kids and friend in Washington later this week. I have heard from Randy that Cuenca is in full tilt for the holiday, and that nothing will be commencing on the new rental until Thursday... oh well, Cuenca time, how soon I forgot...

Friday, October 22, 2010


Since our friend Dave has arrived we tried to be good hosts and show him a bit of the countryside. We had some help from El Nomad Facilitation services.( Arturo Garate picked us up at our home and drove us up through the Andes.  It was a wonderful guided tour as well as he was a great driver. Which I must say is difficult on those windy roads. We were offered any stops at our convenience, but we powered through to Loja. Of which, I am ashamed to say I did not take one picture!

Arturo introduced  us to a lovely restaurant that served typical Ecuadorian food with wonderful ambiance, we even had a great guitarist come and play while we ate.. I again have let everyone down, as I did not take a photo or remember the correct name... its Ecuatoriano?

After eating we drove around and around looking for the University that is known for its terra cotta pots with the black art on it. Our friend Chuck Watson has some, and you know Randy, he has to keep up with the Watsons! So we searched and Arturo asked one person after another directions. Finally we found the University... nope.. they didn't make the pots. Huh? Well we knew that there were pots to be found in Loja, we just didn't have our information correct. Oh did I mention that Dave being the type A personality showed great patience as he rode along on our quest? Well we decided we had given it the "college try"
(pun intended) and off we went to Vilcabamba.

We were shown our rooms and after a quick look see, we were off to check out the Hostal grounds.

Randys adaptation of checking out the grounds....
Dave the pool shark

The breezeway/sitting area outside our room
We had a marvelous SNAP CRACKLE POP Thunderstorm that nite, and considering we had on our Birkenstocks  and the hostal is built on the hillside, and all the walkways are paved with slate and river rock, it was a very very precarious climb back up to our rooms later that nite!

Randy woke me up at 8, saying that Dave was nashing his teeth to get going, so I had a very lovely HOT shower in the rock-lined shower(again I did not take photos, but its on their website, the shower, not me in the shower) We had a great breakfast, and then we were off to town. The hike down the hill is a bit farther than you think, and even though Randy and I were dawdling, Dave was off down the hill, heading for his adventure.  We were amazed at all the building going on in this little remote town. They dont even have a gas station..They do have a town square and a big school in the middle of town. Everyone was very nice and friendly.

We had a nice relaxing sit while we watched this huge machine try to drive up a wood ramp layed across timbers, so it could get up onto the back of the trailer. There was alot of arm waving, and hollering. Randy says oh this will be good, get out your camera! He was right.

This is when they began to realize they were in a bit of a problem and starting yelling. The fellow either turned his wheel wrong or kept going, because he really made it worse.
 Everyone had to go look real close.. and determined that rocks would solve the problem so they started to hustle to gather huge rocks and shove them under the wheel.

We decided at this point that we couldn't stay to watch the end of the drama. One fellow took off down the street so we weren't sure if he went for help for took off before blame was laid!

We met up with Dave in town and after a cup of coffee at El Punto we walked across the street and had lunch. Our friend Jani was in town and she found us in the restaurant and we had a nice time getting reaquainted and introducing her to Dave.

We decided a taxi was in order, and a mixto double cab truck pulled up just as we needed one. As we were getting in I heard this loud clatter, and looked to see Randy being accosted by a tiny old man yelling something in Spanish. Our driver, Dave and Randy were all yelling and waving him away. After he backed off Randy and Dave got in.. I asked what that was all about and Randy said..."well he just wasn't going to take no for an answer."

We got back to the hostal, and Randy and I took a nap. Dave went on a hike. He says he has wonderful photos, so I will try to put some out when he sends them.

Its very peaceful at this hostal, the bird calls are marvelous, the people are very nice and the food is fantastic. I took some more photos the next morning while we waited for Arturo to arrive.

These orchids were growing in the trees

Bamboo.. Randy was very happy to see it

And another stand of Bamboo on the path to the massage room!

None of us tried out this pool, but it did look wonderful

Vilcabamba in the valley below

Randy was not to be thwarted in his quest for the pot, so we found out from Jani and Nancy Watson (via email) more information, and found that we needed to be looking for the Technical College... so we were off, with Dave's patience firmly in place. Again it was alot of stopping to ask for directions and few trips back and forth, but we did finally find our Mascetera's! Here is Randy and Arturo having way too much fun harrassing the folks in side for a Vapa (like a freebie when you buy alot) they were not going to give a discount or Vapa... it was all good natured, and everyone was smiling. But Arturo tried very hard.

We finally got done, Dave had done a least 4 laps up and down the road while we got our pots wrapped and boxed up, and was very cheery to see we were ready to get on the road.

Off we went and arrived home at 4. We had a nice getaway, and now we know that even though its warmer in that part of the country we do not want to live there. I have exactly 5 mosquito bites.. that's 5 too many. And there were black crawly millipedes in our bathroom... so nope. Scratch those two towns off the list.

Dave loves the ocean, and I told him that even though we could not go, he should head out and get on with his adventure.. so he did! Last we heard he was in Salinas. Hot and muggy and I bet he is loving every moment of it.

He will be back on Sunday or Monday and they we both are flying out of Quito for the States. He, to his job and me, to visit my Mom in Salem, Oregon. Hopefully to convince her to fly back with me! 

Sunday, October 17, 2010


We are very excited to host our very first visitor from our "old" home town, Richland, Wa. For those of you who have not followed our progress this far; we followed another couple from our home town here on a visit and ended up moving here 3 years later. We are hoping our visitor Dave feels the same way and comes here too.

We were up bright and early (make that VERY BRIGHT for me who does not like to get up early) and on the bus by 9 am. Randy and I are not very technical with our phone so when someone texts us, we either miss it or wonder why our phone is beeping. As we were riding the bus #7 to the airport, Dave had sent us a text saying that he was delayed in Quito for 45 min. Of course we only looked at the phone when he didn't arrive on time. "Randy", I said, "check your phone, did he call..?" Well no, but there was his text. Dave is so thoughtful that way. Of course it doesn't help if we don't check the phone occasionally.
Here is the sky weary Dave arriving this morning ready for adventure!

We decided to give him a bit of a break on the "en-culturation" so we took a taxi to the house instead of bussing him there. He was thankful.

We have not really given him much of a break though, we got him to the apartment, did the mandatory look see, figure out where everything was and how it worked, then it was off to the bus stop to head out to 3 de Noviembre market.  I think Dave took it as a challenge as we were telling him about the traffic, sidewalks and non pedestrian rights. He shot on & off the bus like a pro, dodging people, animals and vendors with the style only seen on gringos who have been here for months! He even commented that after watching us blunder across the street he decided to figure it out on his own, it was safer that way!

Being close to noon, the market was pretty empty, so it was nice to just walk around and look. We took him up to the most off putting area first..of course. The meat section. In the U.S. refrigeration is a big deal. Here not so much.
Roast pig, Randy is trying to buy some for burritos!

Don'cha just love these close ups..
Had to add this couple again... they were so cute..
We took Dave on a cross town walk to Kookabura for coffe and snacks where we threw him to the Gringos inside. He handled them with aplomb and I think he even still remembers their names! I think they like him, Rich came over and teased him so I told him .." you passed the Gringo test"!

Dave and Randy off to smoke cigars.. (8,300 ft elevation remember?) They got to see people doing their laundry and now I think a nap is on the schedule.

We are going to head off to Izhcayluma on Tuesday via Van. So Dave will get to see the Cajas and the Valley of Longevity while he is here. We are not sure what else will happen but we will just see how it goes.
Here is some pictures of Izhcayluma that I copied from Nancy Watson's blog.. does this count as plagiarism?
View of the valley
Where I expect Dave to be soon after we arrive
Ecuador's version of the yellow brick road!
It's fun to live here, and its fun to help others to discover Ecuador, it helps us see the sights with a new appreciation! I am looking forward to the next two weeks!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Today is our 8th wedding anniversary. We always enjoy telling our story when people ask how we met... "on the internet".. ok, so its not so funny now, but 8 years ago internet dating us just hitting its heyday, and it was every mothers fear that her daughter was going to be swept off her feet by some creepy person. To my mothers relief I was not one of those, and I actually found a great guy, or rather I should say we were lucky to find each other!

I started my day by sleeping in till an ungodly hour, Randy said that was his present to me. I think he just likes the quiet and is able to "futz" around without me getting in the way or talk at him during his chill time when he listens to music. Well, for whatever reason I was a happy camper to take a leisurely approach to the day.

At 1:00 we loaded up at the El Nomad office and headed out to our cooking class being held at Ida's family country home in Paute, just 40 min. outside of Cuenca. Ida had offered to have us all over, and the 7 of us "students" were all up for a trip to see this place that Arturo & Becca had raved about.  We were not dissapointed. Its a 90 year old farmhouse that is HUGE, and with terraces that have a great view of the valley and the Paute river. There are flowers, trees, ducks, turkeys, geese, and we also saw a cute white rabbit.
We started with a wonderful dish that Ida made called Mote... ugh, I forgot the last part... well it had what we call in the US , hominy (mote).. onion, pork, sausage, chorizo and a to die for broth... so I am sure someone will comment and tell me what that name of the dish was as well as the recipe... Becca???
Now remember we haven't even started our class yet. This was just a "appetizer" that  Ida wanted to make for us! Next we had a little dessert. Of which I cannot remember the name. But the little round thing is fruit, and the cake it made from a flour made from the roots of the Canna Lily! The names here are all different but we were so amazed when they showed us the plant after we had eaten the "appetizer".
As we started out walk they showed us the really old oven outside that was and is still used to cook bread and even meat.
The next pictures are just along our walk. These are just one beautiful thing after another.
Air plant, they grow everywhere here
Randy posing...
Brennie found the perfect rock
Bougainvillea grows wild here!
rock wall made with pieces of petrified wood!
After our walk we went back up to start the cooking class. Let me say right here. Whoever invented the deveiner for shrimp should win some kind of award! Our class was shrimp ceviche and another shrimp dish...but as I may have mentioned before this is a hands on class. We all got to peel and devein the shrimp. Its a messy business and we all had some special comments about the whole process. Here is a dish we were using to wipe the veins off our hands so we could work on another shrimp.

We did enjoy eating the food, and we fell upon it so fast that I did not even take one picture of what we ate! I did get a few of the cute baby Kesha sleeping while we worked.
I forgot to explain that this house is built up on a 1st floor. We thought it was only for storage, but Chela showed us that there was a small chapel downstairs. Remember this house is 90 years old, so I image back then the country they would have small chapels in their homes if there was not a church nearby.

There were other pretty flowers, the river, palms, odd "plum" trees, lime and lemon trees. What a day. Here are some more pictures.
Canna's, leaves for tamales and ground root flour for cake!

Oh what a day, we were pooped. We got home about 7 and just plopped down. It was a fun day in the country, we got to celebrate our anniversary in a fun way, with fun people, and made new friends in the process. We are looking forward to more times like these in the days ahead!

If you have not noticed I added two new links to my favorite blogs list. They are the El Nomad Suggests and the Facilitators Cuenca Ecuador. These are Arturo and Beccas other services that they offer. I am totally endorsing them as go to people. They have assisted us several times and now I am happy to say they are looking to offer that service to others. Give them a try, you wont be disappointed!