Sunday, September 26, 2010

Flowers and Produce

Always something fun to do.  Recently, we got these pictures of the flower market near the new Cathedral.  We never tire of all the beautiful flowers!

Lots of choices.

We were charmed by this young lady.
Since the day was warm, she was helping by watering the arrangements.

Nancy and Charlie are busy buying out the place.  The orange lilies are some of our faves.

One day we walked to town with Chuck.  We stopped in at the 3rd November market (our first visit).  Beautiful displays of produce.  Chuck found a special cabbage, only sold in the markets, for an Ecuadorian recipe he wanted to try.  No picture of the cabbage, but it looks more like lettuce.


We were curious about elevation differeences among some of the surrounding towns.  Chuck tells us:

2560 m (8399 ft)

La Union (near Andre and Ronnie's place in Yungilla)
1518 m (4987 ft)

2123m (6965 feet)

1474 m (4839 feet)

The weather is warmer at the lower altitudes.  No wonder Andre and Ronnie live in shorts!  Bob and Rox do, too, at the coast (sea level).  We, on the other hand, are grateful for our warm jackets and fleece vests here in Cuenca on the colder days.
Different vegetation at the different altitudes, too.


Here are more pictures of the farms right outside of town, in the San Joaquin area.  This is where most of the produce sold at the Co-op is grown.  Some say it's 'organic', but we guess it depends on the definition.  Most farmers use both organic products (like chicken manure for fertilizer) AND chemicals (for pest control).  No Oregon Tilth standards and inspections here, as we experienced at the ranch in the US.
We did get a whiff of chemicals as we drove by.

Workers in the field.

The produce is fabulous!
Must be the good, black dirt.

This shot was taken on the main road in this San Joaquin community. 

We also see cows and goats along the rivers in Cuenca, or tethered to graze along our busy streets.
We see and hear those noisy roosters in the neighborhood, too.

A nice blend of 'country' and 'city' here in Cuenca!
We like that!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trip to Andre and Ronnie's

Part 2 on the road trip to Yungilla.  Here are more pictures of our visit with Andre and Ronnie.

Entry to their country home.  An arch of flowers, as well as flowers along the driveway.

Andre and Ronnie.

Stunning views of the mountains.

The vegetable garden!

Andre and Chuck.

In the outside cooking area.

Lovely pool area and the mountains again.

The perfect place to relax.

Mango tree (looks like giant avocados).

After a tour of the house and property, we headed out to lunch.  Nancy volunteered to ride in the back of Puf-Puf, but we managed to all squeeze into the back seat instead.

 Love the spelling of the name of the restaurant!  We had a mixed grill for lunch, with 'sides' of salad and potatoes.

What a fun day!
We really enjoyed our road trip to the countryside and catching up with friends.
Thanks, Chuck and Nancy, Andre and Ronnie! 

(For more pictures of the trip, see Nancy/Chuck's blog -- link on the left.)

Road Trip to Yungilla Valley

We were delighted to join our friends, Chuck and Nancy, for a little road trip.
Rich was a little intrepid about the ride as he suffers horrible motion sickness sometimes, but we decided to give it a try.  Chuck was the perfect, careful driver and Rich chewed on his ginger and was just fine.

This was our first trip into the Valley.  The scenery is breathtaking.

We thought this picture was kind of fun.
Lots of cows and a billboard advertising extreme sports.

We passed through the tiny town of Giron.

A statue of a 'Chola'.

Street art.

A museum to visit next time.  You can see the small cannons outside, so we think it might be a military exhibit.

Sugarcane processing.

The altitude is about 2000 ft lower than Cuenca, so the vegetation is different and the weather is warmer...nice to warm our bones after the cold of Cuenca.

The agenda for the trip (besides seeing all the wonderful scenery) was to also catch up with Andre and blog entry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bob, Rox and Coquita Visit Cuenca

We had a whirlwind, busy and very productive week with our family from the coast... 
Bob and Rox and Rocket Girl Coquita! 

We shopped, we ate, we visited with friends.  We cooked, we got those errands done, like hair appointments and dental visits.  We even managed to get some business done. Wow, all kinds of stuff done on the lists and checked off.  And, of course, you know us...we chatted and chatted and chatted!  Tried to solve all the world's problems, too.  (Now, if only the world leaders would listen to us!)

Bob and Rox updated their blog as the week went by.  In case you missed it, go to their blog (click on their link on the left side of this page).

Here's our medley of fun pics of the week, kind of a summary of fun!

Pics from a very fun dinnner party at Chuck and Nancy's. 
Always a special treat.  Dinner and company are always fabulous!

The garden is so pretty.

Dinner, yum! 

More garden pics...there's always something new to admire in Chuck's garden.

Coquita has a brand new doggie bed!  She loves her new warm hut.  Coquita seems to adjust to the higher altitude of Cuenca just fine when she's here visiting, but we're sure she misses the warm sand of the beach and her buddies Agrapina and Isidro.

This is a pic of Nancy, Coquita, Barbara and Rox at a dinner party of beef stroganoff and more fun.

Last visit, we shared Tiestos and the Kookaburra Cafe with Bob and Rox.  This visit, we shared breakfast at the California Kitchen...always fun to visit new places (as well as our old favorite restaurants, like The Terrace).  Bob mentioned that breakfast at the CA Kitchen was the best breakfast he's had in all of his 3 years in Ecuador!  That "DayEnder" menu, which includes a sample of everything, IS the best!  As the guys say:  Too much food is just enough.  And, meeting the ever-gracious and friendly Evans family, the owners/managers/cooks at the CA Kitchen, was definitely a fun highlight of their visit. 

One evening, we saw (and heard!) a neighborhood party right below our porch.  This is supposed to be a pic of the fireworks... You can kind of see the tops of the tents in the garden below us.  The fireworks were so close, we could look right into them from our porch (we're 10 stories up)..  Loud, but pretty!

Bob and Rox just about 'shopped til they dropped' for the upcoming Kid's Christmas Party at the coast, with lots more shopping to do!

This trip there was so much stuff, the guys had to tie some of it down on the roof of the car as they were headed out on Sunday.

Here's a pic of Bob, double-checking he had the right keys for the road...

Chuck and Nancy joined us for the send-off.   Bob and Rox  were all dressed for the beach and ready for some warm Bob says:  'shorts are a state of mind'! But, you can see they have warm sweaters and jackets on, too, for the chilly Cuenca morning and the drive over the Andes.

As Bob, Rox and Coquita left for home, we 4 (us with Chuck and Nancy), continued the trek to town for the Sunday walk.
This statue is located in the traffic circle nearby (the one near our apt that will be torn up soon for the overpass).  That's Simon Bolivar, a very important figure in Ecuadorian history.
Chuck was the brave one who took this pic...the rest of us 'just ran' across the lanes of traffic to safety!

One of the main streets through Cuenca is named after Bolivar, too.  This next street scene is  the finished picture of Av. Simon Bolivar.  You can see cars on the road, which means it's now open to traffic.  Finally!
We've been watching the construction progress for several weeks and this Sunday we were able to walk right down the new sidewalks...they workers did a fine job.

This picture is from an earlier walk through the main square.  You can see there are more than the stuffed horses now for picture opportunities.  These cute sisters had a great time posing for pictures. 
Another fun week in Cuenca! 

Bob, Rox and Rocket Girl will be back in Cuenca in November for the last shopping trip for the Kids Party.  We're looking forward to their return. 
Their visits are always fun, always wild and crazy! and we really enjoy that little touch of family.  

We're counting the days...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Out and About

Good Sunday Morning!  An update for family and friends...

We have our first guests arriving at one of our La Fragata rental units in the next couple days.  So, we've been busy getting all those last minute tasks done...a little shopping, a little touch-up, a little know how that goes.  Always takes longer than you think. 
There is always something that makes one 'pause'...  like the brand new electric kettle that doesn't work out of the box...  But there are those good surprises, the appliances that work just fine, the first time...and the painting crew that does so much more than just painting!  Bless those guys.

The flower garden on the terrace is looking good, too.  Our Master Gardener friends would be so proud!  Geraniums, daisies, citrus trees and bottle brushes...all do well here in Cuenca.  We'll share some pics later.

So -- our days lately have been starting really early (nothing new there!).   For the last few days, we've walked to town early-early to get our exercise in, stop for a quick breakfast, then head on down Av. Solano to Edificio La Fragata...  get some work done, make more lists, then head on out to shop or do some quick errands (or stand in line one-more-time)....  but, it's a nice routine that works just fine for us.  Today being Sunday, we'll miss walking to town with our friends, Chuck and Nancy, as they are out of town, but we'll be walking...  got to get those walks in, no matter!

We also are getting ready for our favorite guests to arrive for a few days!  Cuenca is so much better for shopping than some of the coastal regions...Much more on that later, too. 

A few pictures to share of recent walks and rides in Cuenca.

An earlier progress report on the street construction along Av mostly DONE!  The street has started to open up to traffic, and the overall traffic congestion downtown is a little improved...  it's a major thoroughfare. Nice to see the construction is coming to an end.  A huge project, employing many workers, and will make such a major, positive difference...  all good things, and we think all worth the inconvenience...a good, final outcome.

The next big road construction project begins late Sept/early October.  This one will be in our own neighborhood.  The traffic circle, called  Simon Bolivar, is the one we always dread crossing (or we avoid it by walking several blocks to a cross light).  This is the circle where Gran Colombia, Ordonez Laso and Av. Americas converge. The circle will be replaced with an overpass.  A major project that will be in process for about a year. 

We've noticed the increase of traffic in the area since we moved here about 1.5 years ago.  Lots of new high rise buildings (and lots of cars)  in our neighborhood.  We hear that traffic has increased as much as 4 fold in the last 10 years and we've certainly seen an increase since we've been here.

Hopefully, when it's all done, the traffic will flow more smoothly in the west part of town. 

We're not complaining, as the end result will be so much better, and many workers will be employed, a good thing!  We have no hope that drivers will drive more sane though, even with the overpass!  Most drivers here 'drive while crazy'.

Rich discovered a new-to-us bakery downtown the other day.  A wood burning oven and delicious breads. 
The bakery is located on Av. Mario Cueva, between H. Varquez and Calle Larga.

Cooking the rolls in the wood oven gives them a different, unique, and very delicious taste.  Some of the rolls are filled with cheese, some plain, all really good.

This is a busy Sunday morning near one of the outside markets.  Lots of activity at the markets on Sundays.  Many families buy food daily.  A family affair.
Supermaxi and the Co-op are open on Sunday, too.  The Ital-Deli is also open, but just until about 1pm.

Our regular readers will know we love street art! 
We took this picture during a walk down Av. Solano recently.

More pics and news later...  headed out now for our walk!  No rain this morning!
Hope everyone is having a peaceful, relaxing Sunday.