Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The countdown has started here in Cuenca. I have seen people selling and wearing 2011 plastic eyeglasses. I haven't been brave enough to take a photo.

We survived our first Christmas here in Ecuador without too much drama. We both are not big night owls or large party folks, so our festivities were limited to a wonderful Christmas eve party given by our good friend Ida and her family. Normally, we were told, the guests have dinner at Midnight, but due to us being invited (6 gringos) they moved the time to 9 pm. Wow, I had to take a nap to just make it that late. The dinner was wonderful, all the expected Turkey and fixings you could want. Champagne and a great white wine. After dinner we were entertained by Ida's grandson,Nicky who played his guitar and sang, then not to be out done, Nicky's dad grabbed the guitar and serenaded us with an Ecuadorian song that struck a cord with the family who all joined in singing. It was very wonderful.

On Christmas day Randy cooked up a wonderful ham with fixin's for 4 of our friends; two who live here and two who are visiting. Our other friends, Chuck and Nancy stopped by to visit before they were off to another home for Christmas dinner. I caught them all outside enjoying our Christmas sunshine.
I got some pictures of our new dining room table all set, ready for the guests to come in..

We have been enjoying gettign settled into our new home. While I was in the States, Randy was in charge of getting the house all ready, and he also had fun buying some pictures that we had seen up at Turi. These are copies of a famous picture here in Ecuador. Ours are not signed so Randy has been trying to get Arturo to sign them so folks will think we have originals... so far Arturo just laughs..
To hang anything here you need a drill.. The walls are concrete block. Great for insulating and sound dampening, but not so good if you don't have a drill. I brought one back from the states, and I am happy to tell Eddie, he did a great job picking it out. Randy loves his new drill and has been busily hanging mirrors, pictures and wall hangings.

I am not too sure the placement of Che with Mickey is the idea he was going for..
We are looking forward to our first New Years here in Cuenca. We hear its quite exciting with burning effigies and lots of fire works. I am thinking I will have to get my naps in so I can stay up late to enjoy all the festivities... Happy New Year to friends, family and readers. May your New Year be all that you hope for...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Right before Christmas our cooking class took a trip to the Cajas for a fresh trout dinner. Up high in these mountains the water is so pure and the fish are so prevalent that there are lots of little restaurants and fishing spots where you can catch your fish and have them cook it for you. Now thats fresh.

Before we had lunch we were taken to a place where the Virgin Mary had appeared 10 years ago. There were plaques and documents on a wall officiating this as a true appearance. It has since become a beautiful park where you can come and get in touch with whatever higher power you relate to.

Beautiful Cajas even higher up!

Wandering llamas

The place of her appearance.

Prayers and messages for the Virgin

Benches to reflect and pray

Waterfalls on a seemingly barren hill..

Watch your step its slippery... and then I fell...

Chela (Chef extraordinaire) taking a bit of a rest

Nice group photo

Loading back up.. how did we all fit before?

View from the 3rd row.. Chela and I were squished!

Our place of Almuerzo

Yep, trout swimming around the fireplace!

We were probably up about 11,000 ft elevation so the fire was welcome

The fishing pond outside of the restaurant

The folks pictured here were not having any trouble catching trout... I dont think there was a limit..

They call this a paper tree... the bark peels like a Paper bark birch..

My dad loved Daisys, I had to take this.. felt like he was here too!
We had a great day and everyone was full, tired and ready for the next big adventure in Ecuadorian Cooking...Thanks El Nomad for the fun times and thinking of great ways to teach us about the culture and the food in our new home!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


We had made previous plans with Leigh Frost in Olon, EC to work our way up the coast and visit her while were were in Salinas. Chuck being the consummate host that he is, said he would drive us up the coast and we could arrange to meet up with Bob & Rox in Manglaralto as well!  We said good idea Chuck! Nancy stayed home, she needed a down day.

I don't know if many of you know our friend Chuck, but he is disguised as a mild mannered gentleman.. well he is that and more.. he is quite the adventurous sort. So any trip with him will involve some navigating by the seat of his pants. We headed out bright and early, Chuck was determined to find the Market in La Libertad., after some driving around we did find it, and then he said we could just cut through town to the Ruta del Sol which would get us up the coast... well we wound around and around on some interesting mostly unpaved roads...we then saw the coolest place... our best bud Eddie in the U.S. will be happy to know that he has a place here in Ecuador!

Randy and I being the laid back people we are were not concerned that no one was really certain  where the Ruta del Sol was, just finding Eddys Hostal was fun enough. Randy wanted to stay here in homage to his buddy, but he was vetoed, lets face it, its not even a 1 star....Eddie should have better taste. So we ventured on up the dirt road only to find this great place at the end of the road.
This is Farallon Dillon. ( The current owner was a man of the sea for 30 years. He and his wife designed this as a monument to all things seafaring. It is a tremendous place. This coast is notorious for ships being sunk on rocks, and one such shipwreck was found by sunken treasure seekers; who stayed in their place for a year while they pulled up treasures! They have great pieces of the ship in a museum built on the side of the hostal. There is a huge balcony for whale watching, a swimming pool, and steps to the beach so you can lay in the shade in a hammock overlooking the waves. A great place to stay, just up the coast from Salinas in Ballenita!

Authenic pieces of the mast
Authentic cannon from the shipwreck
Balcony of the restaurant.
Mermaids leaping from the sea into the pool!
Our hostess and Owner of the Hostal.
We were very impressed and to jump forward in this narrative.. we came back on Saturday and ate a late lunch..
Swordfish, perfectly cooked, $9
We traveled up the coast to some interesting places that, Chuck as tour guide, was very familiar with. Randy and I invested in the local economy and were pleased with our purchases. As well as this one particular place, it was noted as a fair trade business.
We arrived at our 1st real destination at 11:30, Bob, Rox and Coquita were very welcoming and showed us all around their incredible home and the cosy rental they made downstairs is wonderful! I can see myself relaxing there. They have a nice breeze so its not too warm at all!
Driving up the drive

Entrance to the downstairs rental
We visited for a short time and then we were off to have lunch at Casa Blanca in Montanita. We met up with Leigh and had a great lunch!
We are very happy to have such fun friends who invite us to visit, and in turn introduce us to other wonderful folks. This was a fun day. Chuck went on home and we continued our day with an over nite visit with Leigh and Todd in Olon... next blog..

Monday, December 13, 2010


I have been told by a few very close friends that when you quit your job and dont work that is considered a vacation.. well I disagree. Randy and I have had some very stressful months getting settled here and acclimating to the climate, the tempo and the general idea of living in a country where most cannot understand us talking.

I had just returned from a quick visit to the States, and then we had our first Thanksgiving here, and then we moved into our newest home. So I say Hoooray for the Watsons and their offer to join them at the beach in Salinas. We did some fine tuning of the schedule and were able to keep Chuck's trips to Guayaquil at a minamum, so we were essentially flying back on the same place as their first guests who had just flown back to Cuenca.. we actually saw them deplane, and waved at them as we were waiting to board!  Nancy put a nice picture of us arriving on her blog.

Here is the beach as we first saw if from the Condo that Chuck and Nancy rented. Its on the quiet end of the Malacon, so I thought that was nice... until we had to walk several times a day to the other end where all the fun was happening!
Each nite the fisherman were out netting small fish to use as bait, they were fishing in the shallows of the waves, just standing on the beach.. We were watching one nite and this fellow was the center of attention. He had caught a huge fish. Everyone who had a camera was snapping pictures.
I was facinated with the different flowers and trees growing on the coast area. Randy became my comparisom person for this cool tree.

We walked the beach that day, and were pretty grossed out by all the red seaweed that was on the beach. Nancy said she had not seen any until we arrived... not a good sign.. Here is Randy, photo proof that he walked in the water!
We were very happy to see that the next day the seaweed was gone and it never returned to the beach while were were there.

Randy and I ate our weight in sea food while we were  there. Chuck and Nancy had figured out the hotspots to go for great food at any hour of the day. The lobster in Ecuador is a bit smaller than the Maine Lobsters, but nothing was lacking in flavor. We had lobster several times, and never paid over $10 for it. We were in love with a place called Cevechie Landia. a consortium of vendors selling food. They come out waving their menus trying to get you to come eat their seafood..most all had the same theme on their menus but we had one that was our favorite... Hugo something... again not so good with names... but I can walk you right to it!
Here is the lobster we ate. Randys is grilled, mine has a garlic sauce on it..

I took way too many pictures, so as my friend Clarke wont read long blogs I am going to keep this short, and do another about our day trip up the coast and our meet and greet with the infamous Bob & Rox in Manglaralto and Leigh and Todd in Olon.

Thanks again to Chuck and Nancy, we had a blast!