Sunday, July 29, 2012


We are advid readers of our local online news letter and general info central called Gringo Tree. This little free newsletter has a readership of over 4,000.
The other day Randy noticed that there was some enterprising person who was hauling folks out to Yungilla to the Parque Extremo for motocross races.
Well we signed up.

The business is run by Jame Drummund, he can be reached at info@jdsecuador. He has other tours that he offers as well and it sounds like he might be able to even do private tours and trips.

Our ride out to the park was the normal 2 lane, whine dee ride.. not Windy.. :>), adding in a broken down big bus, two taxis parked half way in the road to "assist", dodging the poor runners of the 60 km race and then road construction..we got there about 11.

Here we all are at the pond, where James says in the future you will be able to catch and release huge catfish, and some other native Ecuadorian fish. Right now it just has tiny Talapia in there.

This park is the brain child of the Juan El Juri family who own ALOT of enterprises here in Ecuador. He has a mini mart, pharmacy, rides for the children, bars, a small zoo, a great area for outdoor concerts, areas for motorcross as well as cars races and bathrooms with toilet paper and rings! YES, ladies rings! I was a very happy camper.

Oh and did I mention the zoo.. well yes, there is a zoo. Right now there is only AFRICAN LIONS! Yes, lions. We were told that these were the first lions in all of Ecuador to have been able to breed in captivity.. well of course I wanted to get close and see the cute little babys.. as I did..I was attacked! Yes, I was in Ecuador at the motorcross races and I was attacked by an African lion... you know this has got to be a joke some where! Luckily for me my friends hollered at the LAST minute to move and I dove sideways as this beauty threw herself agains the chainlink fence..

 Where only moments before I had been leaning against so I could get a great shot of these sweet hearts.
Dad, was not at all disturbed..

After surviving that "harrowing experience", the races seemed a bit passe until I saw this.. again, my heart melted.

This little guy leaped out in front, fell to about 5th and came in 3rd.. what a cute rider!

A bunch of us took off for a quick lunch (no pictures, Randy would not let me take my camera) at at wonderful fish restaurant right up the street. I knew it would be good cause all the locals were there. After we ate we returned to find that the races were over..

While we waited to see what was next a few decided a nap was in order..
It was a lovely day, it was cloudy, warm and no rain.. we heard it rained all day in Cuenca... we were happy to have missed it. I think we will return to Parque Extremo, it was fun, and worth the adventure!

Oh and I have to add this.. Just because you CAN walk right up to the chain link fence with lions behind it... does not mean you should!

Monday, July 23, 2012


I re-read my  blog post from yesterday and realized I did not mention the names of the companies or how to contact Mario. So, Mario being the great guy that he is, has given me that information, along with his contact info.

The companies are as follows: for 64 years old and under, the Company name is CONFIAMED part of the group BANCO DEL PICHINCHA.

The other Insurance company for folks 65 years and older its name is: COOPSEGUROS.

The other Insurance Co. for Renters is AIG.

 My e-mail is:,
 my cell phone No.084770957 (Movi);
 my Skype id: mario.miranda471.

So there you have it. If you are in Ecuador and are interested in insurance, here is one person who is willing to help.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Randy and I have been doing well, but some of the folks in our family and our friends here in Cuenca have had some major health issues. Because of this and Randy's run in with a car; we had decided to take our health insurance.

I know that alot of folks say they will just pay as they go, but we realized if we had a major issue, if we could not pay we would not be let out of the hospital! Really... thats the way it works here. So the hunt began.

Luckily for us we play Texas Hold'em... and that is where we met Mario Miranda. He is a fellow card enthusiast as well as an agent for a local health plan through the Santa Inez Hospital.

Our coverage is good anywhere, even in the US (up to $15K), as well as in Europe and South America. Our monthly rate is $98.00 a month.. NOT per person.. thats for both of us. There is a 150.00 per person deductible.. but that is all. Oh and dental is 100% covered for everything. We have travel insurance so we can get assistance for our luggage and hotels while we recover on our trip. There is even legal assistance with that, and there is a small 30K life insurance policy included as well.

We had to face that we are getting older.. and somethings things just happen. Then we found out that there was Rental insurance too! We asked Mario to look into the costs and get a representative out to our house.

When we came to Cuenca, we came with suitcases and a "furniture" allowance. If we are robbed we would be hardpressed to replace our furniture and electronics. We are still working with the company to get the policy nailed down but it looks like it will be about 260.00 a yr. and cover us up to 25K. This makes me feel alot better. Even though we feel safe in our neighborhood, things happen..

We have also added another addtion to the corral.. a larger motorcycle. I do not enjoy driving in Cuenca on the scooter. I am not a real alert driver, so the idea that folks do not use blinkers, pass on the right when you are in the right hand lane.. and split traffic even when they are in cars, is really unnerving to me. Also, our scooters are just not big enough to get us out over those Andes! So instead of a car we bought this..

This little beauty is a Royal Enfield 500. They have been making them in India since the time when they nationalized the factory.. just recently they have been exported to the U.S  and now we have a new dealership in Cuenca! Oh and these also have side cars. So those of you who know Randy knows he loves side cars.. as soon as we get it I will post a photo. We already have visions of a trip over to the coast.. now can you imagine the sight we will be, tooling up the Ruta del Sol? I think the view might be right up there with Whale Watching!

Today we took a ride up toward Paute, but the roads were jammed with cars. There is some kind of road construction so we cut back to the autopista, stopped at the Mall del Rio and celebrated our first "two up" on the bike with burgers from the new Burger King in the food court.. yeah, they were good.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Two years? Wow, that went fast. We almost missed the big day, I remembered half way throught July 1st. "Hey Randy, remember what today is"?

We have not made too many changes in our lifestyle since we first moved here. We still walk alot but now we also have motorized transportation for each of us. Our daily schedule remains "fluid" and we enjoy meeting all the new folks that stay in the Penthouse rental or we meet out on our walks through town.

Changes in two years.. hmm. Well the busses are easier to navigate, now that the local Tourism office has a lot of bus maps out as well as city maps. We also now have cool electronic bus passes that we can refil, so no fumbling for change. Lots more "gringo type events", the Gringo tree has become a must have for those living here and those wanting to live here. More and more new blogs!

The roads in town are much safer now that the speed limits have been reduce for the taxis and busses. No more hari kari rides through traffic. That is a big bonus. I have to say though, I have only seen one accident while riding on a bus.. our bus scraped another car while trying to turn down a very narrow street. The driver pulled over and immediately gave his info the the other driver, hopped back in the bus and we were on our way. No police involved. Very easily taken care of.

We are happy that the construction (under/overpass) on the Las Americas and Gran Columbia is going to be completed in September instead of the projected November date! This has impacted alot of businesses as well as made it difficult for taxis and busses with all the re-routing of roads.

I love the hand painted murals on the walls of the new "under/over pass, I am hoping this will stay nice and pristine a long time. Most of the time the graffiti artists respect nicely done art. I like that there is  picture remembering the men and women who built the road too..
In the last 2 yrs I have learned how to knit and weave. Neither too well, but I do enjoy it. Because of these endeavors I have met the nicest ladies who are a mix of expats as well as local Cuencana ladies. The owner of the yarn/weaving shop knows we need to practice our Spanish so she is quite dilligent at speaking to us in Spanish and making sure we use as much to ask questions as we can. Its a great time, and a very laid back way to increase our Spanish vocabulary.

We have begun to knit bears at the yarn shop.. yeah thats what this is below.. not quite done, but fun. Hope the kids that get them will understand our attempts!

Randy has found a new gadget that he can download movies, tv shows and series to the computer, then to a flash drive or external hard drive. Then his gadget transfers it to the TV.. free.. no more buying 1.50 movies.. I know it does not sound like much but when you have no other TV it becomes a bit spendy. This is most of the movies and TV series that we have bought in the 2 yrs we have been here. Yeah, just a few...

AKA Kimblers Lending Library

On one of our walks a few days ago, I just had to take a picture of this manaquin. I said to Randy.. Oh look honey, maybe I should go over and get one of those.. I think he blushed.

I have talked about how folks drop in and visit... well today we had a drop in phone call.. "Hey I was cleaning out the bodega and ...", well look what we got!  And the mysterious donater even helped us put it up! Randy is very happy to have a cover for the scooters.
Yeah, we love it here. We might complain a tiny bit about this or that, but Randy said it wonderfully... it sure beats workin'!