Saturday, June 23, 2012


The local Chamber of Commerce in Cuenca has made a very concerted effort to reach out to Expats moving to their town. There are meetings and classes, as well as a whole department dedicated to this effort.

One of the ways they help the expat "enculturate" is to offer tours of the surrounding businesses that belong to the chamber. This Thursday they were offering a trip to Susudel to see the local tile factory, a organic farm, and the local church and ladies weaving coop.

I will have to apologize as I did not get very many pictures. I forgot to charge my battery so I only had 3 minutes worth of photo taking.

The Tejas Pionero factory is in Ona (tilde over the n) which is about 15 minutes beyond Susdel. The son is now the manager of the factory and he explained that when his father began the business 40 yrs prior they were making the roof tiles by hand. Four years later they bought a machine that uses an extrusion process to make the tiles. They picked this area for their factory because they have 3 types of clay necessary within 3 miles of their factory.

 They were the first to glaze the tiles like they do the floor tiles. This machine was imported from Italy.. it heats the tiles to over 1000 degrees. Pretty impressive plant. They produce over 1 million tiles a day, using only 40 people, on 2 shifts. They only ship within Ecuador. When asked why they did not export, he smiled and said it was enough there in Ecuador. I liked him immediately!

After this we were taken back down the mountian to the town of Susudel. Susudel is at a lower elevation than Cuenca. It is at about 7300 ft. Nice little microclimate there. It was a warm sunny day with a bit of a breeze. We arrived at Susudel Granja Organico farm and were treated to a wonderful lunch all with homemade organic products from their farm. Even the chicken. It was all delicious!

After lunch we were taken on a tour of the farm. It was small, but the family was happy that it was big enought to sustain them and produce enough produce to hopefully give them a bit more. Their way of life seems to be intent on total organic, so much so, that they even have organic toilets on the farm. He explained how to use them. 5 scoops of sawdust to one "deposit". He moves the toilets around and when the process is complete he uses that spot to plant a tree. We all decided to use the indoor flush type.

 He did have some nice grapes I decided to photograph.. this is for my buddies in Washington state!

After our tour we gathered our items that we had bought from them. Here is the link to their website. They also offer tourism tours.  Then we continued up to the towns weaving cooperativa. Just a little room with  6 looms. These were upright looms, not like the ones I am used to seeing. The designs were drawn on brown paper handing behind the yarn strung upright... they were weaving the colored yarns by hand, according to the design behind the strings. Looked like their fingers would get sore.

Next we went to the church. It was100 yrs in the making, finished in 1752, and one that had not been "remodeled so according to our guide this made this church one of the most authentic for its age.

We were told that another item that made this church unique was that the Canari were here in the area for a few thousand years. Their beliefs were very entrenched in the people, and to urge them to come into the Catholic church some of their Canari beliefs were added to the churches interior. Snakes.. snakes in the Canari culture are good. Not so much in the other Christian beliefs. But a compromise was made as evidenced by the snakes below the priests pulpit.

After this we all loaded back on the bus and returned to cuenca... we left at 8:45 and returned at 5:45... a very busy day! Well worth the trip!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


8 DAYS= 7 takeoffs 7 landings; 1 graduation, 1 house moving, 2 bbqs and 1 wine tasting
yeah, it was worth it!

As you might have read from my last blog, I was on my way back to the states to see my daughter graduate from Central Washington University. Mission Accomplished, but boy that was a fast trip. I would not suggest only taking that short of a trip.

On this trip I pulled up my big girl panties and stayed at an unknown hostel in Quito. My friend had suggested it, and because I was trying to budget this trip a bit tighter, I thought it was a good plan. $14 a nite beat $40 hands down. Here is their link for more info.

This hostel is in the Mariscal district (translation... party party party). It is a fun area, but if you want to sleep without earplugs get one of the rooms on the back and ask for a private room. I loved staying here. It has character, WIFI in your room, the food was excellent, everything was clean, and even though I opted for a shared room (4 beds) it was quiet and I only had one room mate, one of the nites. Poor guy had to listen to me trying to get my stuff out at 4 am in the morning. 

I arrived in Seattle at 9:30 pm, and Kelsey was there to take me over the mountains back to Ellensburg.. I was a bit nervous. Dark, no one else on the road, in a volkswagon bug, going 70 miles an hour.. I know that sounds reasonable and totally safe. But think about it. I have not been in a car that has made it up to 35 in the last year! It was a bit nerve wracking at first.

Kelsey and her friends had a nice celebration at the local watering hole on Thursday nite. I was invited and treated to the customary... "tell us all about Kelsey".. I only told one story and was home by 10, I believe Kelsey was very relieved.

The next day was Friday, the day we were going to get a big lead on packing up her house..I was up, ready to go.. Kelsey, not so much. She had closed the bar.

My long time friend, Tawnee, came down on Friday nite to help celebrate. She has been part of Kelseys life since she was about 4 yrs old. So she was not going to miss this big event!

My brother Jim, and sister-in-law Lynda came and brought my mom along too!

The graduation went smoothly but very windy and cold. I think with the wind chill it was about 30 degrees.

After a gathering for lunch we all pitched in and got Kelsey moved, it took 2 SUV's, a pickupbed and 12 ft trailer and two cars packed to the gills to get her belongings back to the Tri-Cites.. and we left some furniture and clothes in Ellensburg!

I had 2 days in the Tri-Cities after the graduation. I attended a party for Kelsey, a BBQ for me and went wine tasting with the kids. Inbetween I tried to get all my stuff together to come back to Ecuador.

Even though it was a hectic time and not enough time to really enjoy with all those I wanted. I was very happy to have been able to hang out with my mom, brother, sister-in-law and most assuredly my kids!

Monday, June 4, 2012


We have been enjoying our two house guests from Alabama. Sisters,Janice and Marilyn. They arrived last week, and unfortunately Janice has had some back issues, so their travel of the city has been curtailed until she is able to get up and around. Luckily for Janice there is a great massage therapist real close, Cameron Kasey, who worked her over and "got the kinks out". Janice is getting better and thinks after one more treatment she will be on her way to enjoying the sights in Cuenca.

We said good bye to another week long guest in the Penthouse, and are looking forward to meeting the next folks later today. Our next guests are very adventuresome and have rented a car. They will be driving up from Guayaquill, getting assistance from their GPS We are hoping to meet them at the condo later in the afternoon..

Tuesday I leave around 1:30 for Quito. I fly out to the US on Wed. morning about 6 am. If all goes as planned I will meet my daughter, Kelsey, in the Seattle airport about 10pm.

Kelsey will be graduating from Central Washington University on the 9th. I could not miss that! It is going to be a whirlwind trip.

There is a potluck party scheduled at  Kelsey's house on Thursday afternoon with all her friends.. and me!. My mom, brother and Sister-in-law arrive on Friday; Graduation is on Sat morning, we have a congratulatory lunch, then help Kelsey pack her stuff for the move back to the Tri-Cities for the summer. Sunday we have a good-by breakfast with my mom, brother and sister in law, then Kelsey and I drive over to the Tri- Cites.. Eastern Washington at its best... In my opinion.. Later that day is another graduation party at Kelseys dads house. Monday is business appts. Then in the evening is a BBQ with my friends. so far Tuesday seems open, but I am sure it will fill up. Kelsey will drive me back to Seattle in the early hours of I can make my 7am return flight.

I have two suitcases ready to go. One inside the other. I have the bare minimum of clothing for me. The extra space is for my mule-ing items for Randy and others in Ecuador. I will have a backpack filled to the brim, a large purse stuffed with small stuff and then the two suitcases packed to the 50lb limit.

There has got to be some kind of sainthood for this, but I guess if I talk about it then that negates it right? Darn..