Friday, October 29, 2010

More Pictures of Friends

Another collection of pictures for the families...We try to post pics about every month or so.  (Go back  in the blog for more pics of your loved ones.)

Shell, Marsha and Shawn came to visit from the Coast.

Dinner at Howard and Barbara's...the lemon pie was dee-vine!

With Donna, Chris and Jason.

Out and about with Fabian.

New friends Chris, Leigh Ann and Ken, with Martha and Hortencia.

Leigh Ann, soaking up some sun.

Ken and Fabian.

More pictures from Mikki's birthday party:

Brenda and Clarke (Megan in the background).

Donna and Jason.

Clarke, Jason and Larry.

Charlie, Liza and Larry.

With new friends, Al and Ellen...on their honeymoon!

Bruce and Jenny.

Kilo the kitty.  (He was busy bathing and didn't want to pose.)

Our favorite neighborhood doggie.

Welcome *home*, Deborah and Gil!
You did it!!

We're going into the big holiday season here, beginning with Cuenca's Independence Day on 3 Nov.  We're really looking forward to the celebration!
We'll be trying to capture all the fun to share with you in the next few days...
stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cuenca, Our Cuenca

Amamos Cuenca!  We love Cuenca!

It's a City of immense beauty, a friendly City with kind and gentle people.  A City with life! 

You will see families 'living'...  folks working hard, folks who know the meaning of 'party-hardy'! A City that's big enough for services, but small enough to keep those old time values intact.  Cuenca feels like a small town in some can walk  most everywhere, folks remember your name, they look you in the eye, folks hug and smile.  Children are nice to each other and parents take care of their families.  And, we love the roosters crowing at all hours, the goats and cows along the rivers and roads and the church bells that toll each morning.  We love this rhythm of life!  Yes, it's noisy, but it's Cuenca!

We're so glad we're here!  We're happy we went through all the angst and trouble to get our residency.  But, we're also mindful...we're guests in this Country.  Our residency doesn't allow us to vote or hold public office.  You need full-blown citizenship for both.  But, our residency allows us to enjoy most all the other privileges that Ecuadorians do...discounts, etc. ...and we can stay here legally. We 'roll' with the ever changing laws and regulations.

We're still working at adjusting and blending in. The 'blending' part has been a bit hard...we're tall! and our Spanish is not-so-good and with a gringo accent and we're obviously non-Ecuadorian, but we are changing what we can, beyond the genes.......  Each day we're becoming less gringo, where we can.  We're working hard at learning our Spanish and changing our expectations and patience levels. No whining and complaining here!  We're so done with that.

There are many bloggers just here in Cuenca, that we can hardly keep up with all the news.  So much good, useful information out there.  We still learn alot from reading the blogs, too.  We are still absolutely stunned by the number of readers following us, too.

Originally, going back a couple years, we thought we were just sharing our experiences with family and friends back in the US.  There were just a couple blogs when we began our journey.  Our blog's initial intent was to share with our small circle, so that they would know what we were up to and we hoped they would want to come visit and enjoy, too.  We also wanted to show our friends and family that we don't live in a grass hut in the jungle!  Yes, we eat good food, yes we've lost a bunch of weight...yes, we're happy and safe.  Yes, we're enjoying the adventure!

Well now, according to our stats, we have readers from around the world!  Some of our newer readers stay on our blog for hours...  reading our story from  the very beginning.  From the stats,we know well over half of our readers are in the US.  We now have readers from every state and many countries in every region of the globe!  (And, we added a link to help with translation to your language.)  We are humbled that so many folks read our silly little blog, and return for more.  We hope the information, stories and pictures are useful, interesting and fun, as you plan your travels here or do your research to relocate here.  We love this City we now call 'home'!  And, hope you will enjoy it as much as we do, too.

'Our Cuenca' is the same, yet different from others' ...  Be sure to read all the blogs you can find on the Internet for everyone's stories and perspectives.  (Some of the blog links are on the right hand side of our blog.)  Many blog posts are about the same topics, such as all the frustrations with 'manana' (which could mean 'tomorrow', but could mean 'never'...'manana' just means 'not now'), finding a perfect place to stay (some newcomers move several times), some get sick with altitude changes and the stress of travel, food bugs, common flu and colds...or cancer.  You will read about the joy of the children, fun with friends, the beauty of the historic buildings and the Andes, the high or low levels of the rivers and the weather. 

You will share in the triumphs of  (finally!) getting residency or the discomforts of learning the least enough Spanish to get through the menus and the taxi rides, at first, then the full-blown ecstasy of knowing enough Spanish to carry on a fairly intelligent conversation with a native Ecuadorian!  (That's our goal, too!)

Our Cuenca can be different from others', only because our experiences and preferences are different...  but, we share those experiences for those who love the animals, the markets, the countryside, the gardens, the food, the music, the art, the people...  Cuenca is a big City!  Lots to do, lots to share, lots of choices.

We've added some links to our blog, too, that you will want to check out...panama hats, orchids, recipes, holidays/events, etc.  Might give you a broader perspective of more things to do and see.  You can also do a search on our blog for various topics and also go back to see how we celebrated upcoming holidays and events last year (All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Cuenca's Independence Day...all coming up here very soon!)

We've lived here for over 600 days and there is still something new every day... a new, beautiful sunrise, a new flower in bloom, a new friend, a new, fresh start to each day. And, then...a knock-your socks-off sunset of pinks and golds and reds to end each day on a high note.

Our advice to newcomers?  Follow your heart.  Do what pleases you.  Be smart, patient and  kind.  Be respectful.  Take a lesson from those who live here...enjoy all that Cuenca has to offer.  Enjoy the little (and the big!) things and relax.
Be happy and grateful that you're one of the lucky ones...You're here in this extraordinary, beautiful Cuenca!!

Si!  *YES*, we love Cuenca!  We're going to be here for awhile.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mikki and Megan's Fast Visit

We were absolutely delighted to meet Bruce's family as they breezed through Cuenca!
Mikki, Bruce's sister, celebrated her milestone birthday with us, too!

We had a great time!  Mikki and daughter Megan are fun, gracious and funny! and we can hardly wait until they return.  Ladies, you are always welcome here!

Here are some pics of all the fun!

Bruce and the Birthday Girl, Mikki.

With Megan.

Donna and Megan.

Safe travels, Mikki and Megan!  Hurry back soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Bird's Eye View, Food and Drink

More pictures of our City...

Rich took these pics while he was visiting with friends one day.  A bird's eye view,
another perspective of our beautiful Cuenca.

San Francisco Market.

We've been doing pretty good with our walks to town.  Now we walk often during the week, not just on Sundays.  Sometimes we have company for the walks, sometimes we just get out there on our own and get 'er done!

Nancy and Barbara chatting and walking
(and watching their feet on the cobblestones).

One day, we walked again down Av. Bolivar.

Beautiful old, restored buildings. 

Love all the details.

Another pic of the New Cathedral.  We never tire of the blue/white domes and all the detail on this massive building.

Picture of the main square, across from the New Cathedral.  Someone turned on the fountain!  Pretty!

One day we sat on a bench at the Square, always something fun to see as the world passes by.

We guessed it was moving day for this young man.

Another street entertainer.

Another view of the lovely old buildings at the river.

The walking bridge across the river and those stairs!
Dancers in the Square one Sunday.

A few more tidbits to share...

Some of our cooking friends and family have been curious about how the chicken and cow feet broth experiences are coming along.  Nancy is happy to report that she's doing just fine!  Well, fine with the chicken feet, as she hasn't tried the cow feet experience again after the initial experiment.  Just too gaggy and stinky with the hooves.  But, the chicken feet cooking is becoming 'normal'! 
No gagging, not even rubber far we've come... 
She does skip adding the heads though. 
Chicken feet broth is really wonderful!  And, easy!
(For a recount of making both broths, do a search on this blog for previous entries.)

Some have asked more about the traditional food here...

Ecuadorian food is, generally, good. There are a wide variety of restaurants (Ecuadorian, Continental and US-style) with a whole range of prices. A true Ecuadorian meal will include rice and potatoes, both. There is also a soup, meat or fish serving and fresh fruit juice, and sometimes a little salad and dessert.

The other day we tried a new place, very Ecuadorian, for lunch. Our Ecuadorian friend told us this place was more of a 'working man's lunch' place, one of his favorites.  Menu included steamed fava beans, slices of cheese, a potato soup (with 'leather'...which turned out to be strips of pork fat and skin), grilled pork (a little salty for us) and a hominy/egg dish. The hot sauce was HOT and spicy! 
Lots of food for a very low price. We couldn't eat it all and we arrived hungry!

You can also find more gringo-type food here, but Ecuadorians aren't big on sandwiches. Lunch is the big meal of the day and usually high-carb, with fruit juice, rice and potatoes. In restaurants, look for the 'menu of the day' posted outside (about $2-3).  Yes, you can find a Burger King for a Whopper, but it will set you back with a high US price tag.  We love the french fries here!

One day, Rich stopped by the flower market, right across from the New Cathedral.  There is another church on the market square, with an adjoning building that houses cloistered nuns.  These nuns make a special flower drink.  2 kinds:  one is red and very sweet.  The other is clear, like water, less sweet.  Rich opted for the clear one.  Maybe it was the 'placebo effect', but he says he felt more calm and collected after drinking it!  An Ecuadorian friend says that that was the point...  Rich was surrounded by several Chola Cuencanas in line...

Our first trip to Cuenca in 2008 (seems like forever ago!),  our driver took us to see the nuns'  place of business.  Since the nuns are 'cloistered', meaning they do not see the public, there is a special, revolving door/wall to make the transactions.  You can go back in the blog to learn more.

Another favorite 'special drink' is at the old pharmacy near the Square.  Order a 'soda'.  It come in a very tall, pilsner-type glass.  The 'soda' is mixed up, just for you..  Lots of good stuff in it, vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements.  And, lots of sugar.  A very fizzy, red, sweet drink.  Rich says the drink always makes him feel better.  He only drinks half of it, because of the sugar.  It's for digestion and 'well-being'.  There is always a line at the counter for a 'soda'.  The pharmacy is lovely...lots of wonderful old wood and old mystery bottles on the shelves.  A slice of history.

Another 'slice of history'!  Here are pictures from a January 2010 adventure at the pharmacy with the 2 Nancy's and Audrey:

Down the hatch!
Happy Birthday to our friend Chuck today!