Sunday, January 31, 2010

Some Fun Restaurants

One of our most favorite restaurants in Cuenca is Tiesto's.

It's located at Juan Jaramillo 7-34 y Borrero; open Tuesday - Saturday for both lunch and dinner.
Lunch hours are Noon - 3:30pm; dinner is 6:30pm to Midnight.

"Tiesto" means 'hot platters' and the food comes out sizzling. The sauces and condiments are so tasty! Actually, all the food is! We love the chutneys and all the spices. Everything we've ever ordered is just perfect and so delicious.

Here are pictures of some of the delightful staff who all work hard to please you.

Here are pictures of a recent Tiesto's dinner with Chuck and Nancy, Jason and Donna.

All the dishware is from our favorite pottery place in Cuenca, Artesa. Each table is set with a different pattern.

The girls are having fun.

We ordered a beef dish and a chicken dish to share. Very delicious. You can see there are several side dishes included, too. Desserts are beautifully presented and very good. We shared an apple pie, spice/carrot-type cake and a chocolate dessert. You can see the decorated plates, works of art! The flowers and leaves on the plates are made with different flavored syrups.


Another favorite restaurant is Akelarre, located right next door to the Inca Real Hotel; General Torres 8-40 y Bolivar. We ran into our friends Liza and Larry downtown recently, and celebrated a birthday lunch there!
Good hamburgers and beer for the party! (Burgers, with all the trimmings, $5).

You can sit either in the bistro restaurant or in the lovely courtyard.

Here we are, having a blast!, and toasting the Birthday Boy!

We decided to wander down Calle Larga to Kookaburra Cafe for a birthday postrie (dessert) ... Kookaburra is becoming a favorite hangout for Gringos and Ecuadorians alike, and it's always fun to run into friends there. The food is really good, too!

Link to Kookaburra Cafe (with some wonderful photography of Cuenca!) is on the sidebar of this blog.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In love with Cuenca

We've been meeting more folks...  either they are passing through as tourists or they have made the huge step of moving here. 

We are seeing and meeting more and more gringos, some with incredible stories of finding and buying apartments or houses in ONE week's time!  More and more visitors are deciding to go back home, unload stuff and relocate here.

We were at Expat night last Friday at Zoe's.  It was so crowded and raucus we could hardly hear ourselves. We met several new folks, and tried to visit with 'old' was challenge to carry on a conversation!

But, we got this fun shot of our friend Liza, who is getting ready to party:

Liza is our mosaic artist friend, a link to her fabulous work is on the sidebar of this blog.

Audrey and Jim, from Santa Rosa, CA visited for a month......this is their 3rd visit.  We are hoping they decide to move here soon.  Such fun folks!

Here's Jim showing Jenny (of Kookaburra Cafe) all the wonderful shirts he just had made by a local tailor.  Audrey and Jim brought the fabric and buttons from the States.

Here are the 2 Nancy's and Audrey.  This photo is from the day we visited an old pharmacy off the main square and tried out a 'soda' (which is actually a very fizzy tonic, full of vitamins, herbs and other good things.)

Jason and Donna came to check out Cuenca and have decided to move here.  They are originally from the States, but most recently, they are from Aruba...also fun folks!

We also heard that a couple who now lives in Vilcabamba, has decided to move to Cuenca...they were able to find an apartment here to rent in ONE day!  (Amazing!)

Yes, it's true...more and more folks are falling in love with Cuenca!!

Sunday, Sunday

We had a very full Sunday!

Our traditional Sunday walk to town, breakfast at a new (to us) restaurant, friends at the Square, paella at Akelarre's...

We never tire of the treasures we discover on the way...

Love the hat!

Another cute child (probably all dressed up for yet another parade...)

A very cool door knocker.

On stilts...

Can you see the DUCK in the side carrier??!

We walked clear to Calle Larga for breakfast at the Hotel Crespo.  We'd heard that their breakfast was really good...and it was!  An 'Americano' meal, with lots of fresh fruit and juice.  The pancakes were more like corn bread, very good!  Good hashbrowns, too!
(hashbrowns = 'papas hash' on the menu)

Here's Chuck, Jim and Nancy on the outside balcony and a river can see the water level is up a bit...

After we could eat no more, we walked back to Parque Calderon.  Several friends were there, always fun to visit.  Pretty flowers in bloom. 

Holly and Brian have a new puppy!  Doyle is so cute!  ("Doyle" is his name now, could change. )

Here's Doyle and Fredi getting acquainted.  New friends!

Entertainment, too.

We ended up at the Akelarre for a lunch of their Sunday specialty, paella. 

With all the food (including ice cream later!), we called it a day, went on home and napped...  Another fun-filled Sunday!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Museo de Las Conceptas

We had been wanting to visit this museum for awhile, and we were happy to find it open.  This is one of the most important museums in Cuenca.

It was better than we had imagined! 

The Museum is located in an old, old building, one of the oldest in Cuenca, built in the late 1500's.

The Order of the Pure Conception was founded in Spain in 1448 and the first convent of the Order was established in Quito in the mid 1500's.

In 1559, one of Cuenca's oldest families (Ordonez) gave this building  to the Church for Cuenca's first convent. It was once the family compound, the grandest house in the City. The family also 'gave' 3 daughters, and this block-size compound was the 'dowry'. 

The museum, located in the old infirmary of the convent (added in 1875), displays some of the old art that new nuns had brought with them to the convent as their 'dowries'. Some of the new nuns, in the early years, were as young as 12 years old.  It was touching to see their 'gifts'...  music boxes, toys, dolls, tiny tea sets...

Some of the families who 'gave' their daughters (usually the first-borns!) were quite wealthy, so the art that came with them is a good selection of colonial, religious art, by local artists of the time.... paintings, ceramics, sculptures. 

There are several rooms, each housing art by 'theme'...  saints, holidays, textiles, Virgin Mary, statues, toys, etc.

There is also furniture from the early era, as well as embroidery and textiles that the nuns had crafted. Photos show early life in the convent, too, which was/is self-contained and very simple. 

The museum is just a small part of the complex. The convent is still home to cloistered nuns.  The only time the nuns leave the convent is to clean the museum, after hours.  (The convent part is not open to the public.)

We walked the outside of the building, around the block.  There is a pretty church on the property that we could see through one of the street gates.  We think it's open to the public on Sundays.  The church dates back to the early 1700's.  Looked small, but lovely decorations.  Also, there are some small craft businesses located along the outside of the building. 

Admission is $2.50.  Located at Hermono Miguel 6-33.

No pictures are allowed of the exhibits.  But, we did get these pictures of the outside of the building and the inside courtyards with pretty gardens. 

Outside cooking area in one of the courtyards.

Back of the false front of the building.

Wonderful old door at the street.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blogs and Sites We Read

Some of our readers have asked for additional information about Cuenca, and Ecuador in general, so we thought we'd share what we enjoy reading.

Some of these blogs are written by friends or family, some are written by folks we have yet to meet. But, all contain useful information. The more you read, the more you'll see the common thread... Ecuador is a special place! No matter if you're coming to visit, or retire, or work or help.

Some of these blogs and links are some we discovered as we planned the move... and we continue to read them as we settle in. Always good info on a variety of topics. Even as we attend the same events and experience the same trials and tribulations and delight in the same surprises, each blog/link has a different 'take' and focus... we're still fascinated by the wide variety of stories and all the wonderful pictures.

Many thanks to all the writers for sharing a glimpse into their lives!

This is in no way a complete list...but will get you no particular order.........
Some of the blogs/links have other linked sites with good info, too....Happy reading!


Our family, Bob (Rich's brother), Roxanne and Coquita, on the Coast:

Our friends and neighbors, Nancy and Chuck:

Jim and Audrey (Chuck's sister), passing through:

Our Canadian friends, Brian, Shelley and Fredi:

Our friends, Bill and Loretta:

Our friends, Larry and Linda:

Our friends, Andre and Ronnie:

Our friends, Clarke and Brenda, are back in Kansas, packing...

Our friend, Ozzie, back in Houston planning the next trip:

A favorite cafe, owned by Aussies Jenny and Chris:

Another Aussie's site, by Dixie, also a neighbor:

Lovely mosaic art here in Cuenca... our friends Larry and Liza:

The 'pottery place' here in Cuenca:

What's happening here in Cuenca:

Another informative blog on the joys of Ecuador:

For those asking for the link again, our adobe rental:


Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Year Celebrations

We've had a wonderful time celebrating with friends these past few days.

New Year's is a fun time in Ecuador!  One of the customs is to build (or buy) a 'dummy' to set on fire at midnight.  The 'dummies' represent the old year. 

These paper mache masks can be bought and added to the dummies.  All kinds of faces to choose from.

Another custom is for folks to dress up as 'old widows', stop traffic and beg for coins.
Some of the costumes were hilarious!  Boys and men had the best time, dressing as 'over-endowed' old women with pillows and balloons.

These darling young boys had the 'old lady, pathetic and helpless' speech down perfectly! 

We joined friends for dinner on New Year's Eve for a whopping good time!

After the dinner, we walked around town to see more of the activities.  These dummies were part of bigger displays...not sure, but we think they had local political meaning.

At midnight, the bonfires began!  The streets were all ablaze with burning dummies and firecrackers, and the sky was lit up with about a zillion fireworks and rockets.  Lots of friends and strangers hugging and kissing and having a ball!
Lots of dancing, too.

During our Sunday walk (now a tradition! with neighbors Chuck and Nancy), yet another parade was getting ready...

...and more dancing in the Square...

More adorable angels...  the holiday celebration seems to go on through January, maybe into February (right up to Lent? Carnival?), so all the children can continue to wear their costumes.  So cute!

Chuck and Nancy hosted a 'trailer trash' party on Jan 2.  Here's Nancy, in her 'kewpie doll' hairdo~!  She's holding a plate of 'scrambled dogs'...
Nancy had just finished demonstrating how to assemble... On the bun, add mustard and ketchup.  Then add:  hotdog, chili, onions, cole slaw and crumbled saltines.  Actually, it's quite tasty!

Go to their blog at for more pictures of the event.

On the 'day of the Innocents', a bunch of us gathered at the adobe rental and watched the parade right outside the windows along Doce de Abril.  Wow!  Now, that was some parade!  Bizarre, insane, hysterical, laugh-out-loud funny!,  and some 'what the heck is THAT?!?'...everything goes... We saw:  crazy wierd floats, historic costumes, including Crusaders, Romans, Southern Belles with lacy umbrellas, 50's rock/roll dancers/music...,  belly dancers, rather strange (to us) political/religious statements/celebrations, including pregnant nuns and the "Pope mobile' and mining/oil/hazmat/death/vampire floats... and soooo much more! 

We had heard the parade was featuring drag queens, a la San Francisco-style...but, either there weren't many in drag, or the costumes were really that good!

The crowds were tremendous along Av Solono, the most crowded we've seen here for an event.  Our night pics aren't good, but here are some to give an idea:

These totems were huge!

Lots of stilts...  these costumes had beautiful, flowing fabric wings...