Thursday, June 30, 2011

Parasites, Our Rentals, Blogs and Birds

We're covering a few topics today...  Not really related, but we've gotten some questions and comments lately about a few of these subjects and want to answer and comment here, also.  We're figuring other readers could be interested as well.

About parasites...
It's been 6 months since we did the initial parasite treatment, and we're in the middle of doing it again.  Here, it's common for folks to do the tests and meds every 6 months.  Parasites are almost endemic here and you can get them from food, water and just breathing.  We have had vague symptoms, but we think it's a good idea to do the regular treatment anyways.  Those buggies can be very harmful if they get going...

Several of our friends have done the treatments, too.  You can do a search on this blog (for our last experience) and other blogs/forums and read the stories.

In a nutshell, the process is easy (a little disgusting, but easy!) You go to the pharmacy, get your sample kit.  Do the collections (the lab usually wants 3 consecutive poop samples), take them back to the lab for testing.  Some buggies die if they are outside your body for awhile, so you need to get those samples to the lab quickly.  You can pick up your test results later the same day. Your doctor or the phamacist will recommend the best meds for your results.

Some of the drugs are powerful. Usually no drinking alcohol during the treatment (and sometimes a few days before and afterwards.)  This time, we're taking a drug called 'Colufase' for 3 days.  Side effects, for us, are mild, so far.  A little headache (but that could be due to something else, too).  We've just begun the pills.  It's a broad spectrum drug, and will kill all kinds of parasites.  We think it's worth it. We chose to go the conventional medicine way for the big hit,  but there are more natural/folk medicine remedies available, also (or you can blend them in, as we do, to try to maintain our health....vitamins, herbs, teas, diet, etc.)

About our rentals...
We own 4 properties here in Cuenca. We live in 1, and rent out the other 3.  We are not rental agents, meaning we don't handle other properties, just our own.  To see pictures and for more info, see the links on the sidebar to the right of this screen.  Send us a note if you want to check the availability.

About our blog...
Thanks to those readers who have sent us positive notes about our blog!  We are still stunned that we have so many regular readers from around the globe.  Initially, we began our blog to stay in touch with our small circle of friends and family, as we began this journey back in 2007.  We still mostly write and share pictures for friends/family back in the US, but we are delighted that others also find the information useful and fun.

We have recently changed the blog's colors and layout...  We liked the old template with the birds, but decided to give the blog a new look.  The new colors, black/gray, white and red, are the colors of our favorite Fragata...a magnificent frigate bird here in Ecuador.  It's also the name of the apt building where we offer 2 of our rentals, coincidentally.  You can learn more and see pictures of this Galapagos bird by doing a search on this blog or on the Internet.  Fascinating birds!

We encourage everyone to read other blogs and do a search of ours for more information, stories and pictures of our wonderful Ecuador.  There is a wealth of info out there!  On the sidebar, we have included links to just a fraction of blogs that you can begin with...Be sure to check out Mary's award-winning 'blog of blogs' for even more.  (Mary's blog is called South Of Zero on the sidebar.) 

Bloggers have covered topics, such as shipping (or not), medical, housing, weather, budgets, visas/residency, llamas!, food, bringing pets, buying cars, learning Spanish, adjusting to the culture, airlines and  in-country transportation, attorneys, real estate, safety/security, and so much more.  We wish we'd had this treasure of information when we first started planning our move here!  The blogs will give you a good idea of life here, but we also think it's a good idea to visit and see everything first-hand, to see if Ecuador is your cup of tea.  Ecuador isn't a good fit for everyone.  Only you can decide.

Happy to report, we're still loving it here, as we head into our 3rd year as legal, permanent residents.

A side note: Our San Francisco friends/family will enjoy our friend Nancy's recent blog about the parrots coming to visit here in Cuenca! We all know there are wild parrots in SF, too. We remember those magical moments when the flocks would come to visit our terrace on Telegraph Hill. Amazingly, Nancy's parrots look exactly like our visitors did in SF!
Just one-more-thing that compares San Francisco to Cuenca....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

English to Spanish, Spanish to English -- And a Little Quichua

Our regular readers will know we like to have a theme when we're out walking with our cameras.

One day we decided to do an 'English' theme...We hadn't really realized how much we see the English language on signs until we started to look for them.  Our brains usually go for the Spanish now.
We entertained ourselves by translating the English to Spanish (instead of the other way around.)   Fun Spanish lesson for us, for the day.

Shoes = Zapatos

A little familiar French/English.

Baby  =  bebe (accent on the last 'e') and it's wawa in Quichua, another popular language here.

Kids = Ninos (boys) and Ninas (girls)

Hair salon = peluquero

Scotch whiskey is here, too.  Taxi is the name of the liquor store near la Cuadra apts, but there are other locations, too.  (We had to look up the Spanish when we got home...and 'scotch' = escoces.  "Whiskey' is pronouced the same in Spanish, but spelled 'whisky'.)

A universal snack...(perrito -- or perro --caliente)

 You'll also recognize universal signs. 

If you don't know your Spanish yet, you can still figure out the street signs. 
Some areas in the USA have a Spanish/Latin American influence.  If you're coming from those areas along the border of Mexico or even California, Chicago or New York, you actually 'know' more Spanish than you think!  US areas with a large Spanish speaking population will have more Spanish words and signs.  There is no good substitution to actually speaking and understanding Spanish, but you can see you won't be totally lost and confused if your Spanish is limited at first. 

We still pack a Spanish/English dictionary, and you should, too. 

One more interesting point (and to answer a couple questions we've received off-blog):  Not all Spanish is the same!  A friend of ours who learned Spanish in Texas, did well with his Spanish here in Cuenca, but doesn't do so good with his Spanish in Spain.  Accents, words and grammer rules can be different in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.  Here, there are some slang and words borrowed from Quichua, another language in the Andes (like wawa for baby).  Spanish on the coast tends to be spoken faster and parts of words are dropped...  Cuenca Spanish is spoken more slowly and can be easier to understand.  That's probably why the Spanish schools are so popular here. 

In the beginning, we think Spanish is Spanish, and we'll learn the different versions later as we might need them.  

A good starting point is to start with  the Spanish you Spanish, shopping Spanish, restaurant Spanish.  Some websites for children will give you the basics, too, like colors, days of the week/months, numbers, etc.

So, keep studying, keep practicing and it'll eventually sink in...our old brains are 'getting it', and yours will, too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Rest of the Rainbow

Catching up on pictures...

You got it, we decided to cover the rest of the rainbow colors on our walks.  Here are more fun pictures to share.  Some readers will remember we did BLUE and RED on an earlier blog entry.  We've collected more colors since then.

First, PINK and PURPLE.

Flowers in the neighborhood.

From the garden at the Adobe rental.

A pink window, with Hello Kitty!

More Hello Kitty.

A purple beaded ring.  A buck!

Pretty candy-striped blouse and necklace in a shop window.

Some GREEN...

A heavy load of bamboo.

We love all the green in the Square.

Looking up into the trees.


A school van.  Same red tag on the side as you'll see on the taxis.  The public blue buses don't have the tag, different registering and inspection processes for the buses.

Bouquets of flowers.


Some construction.

Church at San Blas plaza.

Also at San Blas.

Another shot of the New Cathedral at the Square.

Street entertainer at the Square. 
(He's actually more copper colored.)

This boxer replaces the white angel we've all seen in front of the New Cathedral. 

And, we couldn't stand it....more BLUE and RED, of course!

More RED brick buildings in our neighborhood...

At a favorite Spanish bistro.

(You can go back in our blog for more BLUE and RED, too.)

All colors, all together...  a stained glass ceiling at a favorite restaurant.

You know we'll share more pictures later.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Appliances in Cuenca

As many of our friends know, Nancy loves her appliances.  It was a sad day when the dishwasher crapped out recently.  Workers tried to fix it but couldn't, so we went shopping.  Happy to report, there are new dishwashers, several models, available here in Cuenca!  This one is the 3rd we've bought here (the others are in 2 of our rentals at Edificio La Fragata.)

If you're in the market for appliances, go to Sukasa, Espana or Vega, for a look-see. (There are other appliance shops, too.)   Do some comparison pricing.  Might help to take a translator/facilitator with you when you're ready to write it up.  These stores carry washers, dryers, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, and more.  Give a look at the appliances made outside the US, too........some are made in Mexico, Brazil, Spain, Colombia, all over, even here in Ecuador.  Some may not have instructions or control buttons in English.  Warranties could be different, model to model..  If the units are made locally, the prices could be substantially lower due to lack of import taxes and parts could be more available.  Lots of things to think about.

As promised, our dishwasher was delivered and installed the same day, 3 days after ordering it.  Some models need to be special ordered with long lead times, so check on that, too.  This model isn't quite as fancy as the broken one, but more than fine for us!  The vendor was unable to take away the old one, another point to consider when ordering.  In our case, we had another worker take it away, at an additional (but very reasonable) cost.

One more thing...venting appliances can be different here, can be almost non-existent, even in the newer buildings.  If the appliances are not vented properly, you might get a garbage smell.  You can easily fix that by installing a little 'donut' to block the stink.  Hire a knowledgable facilitator or vendor to help.

Here are pictures of the new unit, packing materials and parts in the living room, awaiting the installers.

Ta da!  All installed and it's working great! 

Close up of the panel...

We have bought several appliances, big and small, here in Cuenca and all are working just fine.  Just remember to do the homework and bargain, where you can,  for prices and delivery times.  Prices could be higher and models may not be the same as in the US, but in our opinion, buying appliances here sure beats shipping your favorites from the States in a container!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Fruit Theme

Sometimes while we're walking around town, we go for a theme...some days we do color themes, but this walk we did a fruit theme.  Got to entertain ourselves!

The street vendors are out in force with the ripest, juiciest fruit.  This picture was taken outside ETAPA.

On Calle Larga, coconuts.

Outside Hudson's, a clothing store downtown (where some friends have found larger sizes.   Spendy, but when desparate...)

Grapes from Chile and the best pears!
Maracuyas (Passionfruit).  They are just right when they get a little wrinkled.

A fruit display near the California Kitchen.

This plate for sale shows some favorites.

Our friends, Loretta and Bill, have more information and pictures of fruits on their blog, here:

We've referred to this page many times as we identify and try out new-to-us fruits (as well as re-visit other pages of their blog of good info...)

We're still working our way through all the fruits here.  We're still amazed how good they are. 
Nothing like a fresh apricot or melon that actually taste like we remember from our childhoods.  And, passionfruit!  And, pineapple!  We love those little bananas, too.   Actually, we love them all.