Thursday, April 29, 2010


This is Fabian. He has been of great help to us since our arrival in Cuenca and is a trusted friend. He has been mentioned before in other blogs but he deserves mentioning again.
He will go with you to negotiate prices on anything you need for a house or condo. He is a good driver (you know what I mean if you have been here) and in trustworthy and honest.
His number is 09 10 78 135. He will do tours of the surrounding areas or around town.
We have also used Martha for help. She joined us at Supermaxi and showed Donna what was what. Her number is 08 94 89 541. This was helpful as of course,everything is in spanish, but also packaged differently. One example is dish soap. They do have the bottles we were use to but they were not very good. Martha showed us what the one locals buy. We would have never known what it was by looking at it. The container looks like a tub of turtle wax.
It is definitely a good idea to know a couple people who can translate etc. that you can trust, as someone is always busy. The more people you know, the better chance you can get help when needed.
Until next time...............J&D

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good Chinese

Went to lunch today with friends to a really good chinese place or "chifa" as they are refered to in spanish. When we ordered we had no clue about portion size. I am never one to complain about a nice pile on my plate but wow. The prices of course very reasonable.

I did not get a picture of the wonton soup because, well it was gone, but boy was it good.

The place is called Chifa Fortuna. It is on Remigio Crespo y Agustin Cueva. I recommend it if you are looking for some good eats.
Have a safe trip Lourdes, we will see you when you return.
Until next time.....................J&D

Feria Libre

This am we went to a huge outside mercado. They have it all. Fruit, veggies, meat, fish, plants, chocolate, live animals, everything.
We went with Rich and Nancy, Barbara and Howard and our guide was Ignacio, Donna's hair guy. It is a bit overwhelming. They only have this market In Wednesday's and Sunday's.
You have to go early to get the choice stuff and also it has not been sitting out long.
All the beef was culled yesterday as well as the pork and chicken and lamb.
I did not bring my camera or anything valuable(except Donna) as this is pic pocket central. Only bring what you are going to spend and the bags to carry the loot.
I wish I could have taken pictures as this has to be seen to be appreciated.

I also caught my third soccer game last night. Cuenca vs. Guayaquil(Barcelona)
The place was packed. The biggest crowd yet (and the most "passionate"). Learned a whole bunch of new Spanish swear words. It ended in a tie 1-1. There was a game before the main event with the "b" teams of each club. Cuenca won. It was 5-1 I think as we saw these goals happen but they did not post the score on the big board. It was in progress when we got in.
We had to stand for the 3+ hours we were there. I went with Stew, Chris and a couple from Australia passing through. It turned out nice, no rain for the big game. A bit during the first but it went away.

We are also closing on our house in a week or so and we bought an apartment in El Centro. The location is unreal, 1 block from Calderon Park. We will post all that soon.
Sorry no Pics, but do not fret, more to come.

Until next time...........J&D

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In the kitchen wih Leslie

Last night we attended a cooking class with Barbera and Howard, Rich and Nancy, and Donna and I. It was a great time.
It was Thai night. Leslie showed us how to make Pat Thai, Sea Bass Curry, Cucumber and Prawn Salad, Chicken Curry with Basil -Ginger and Peanuts, Beef Panaeng, and Spicy Minced Chicken Salad.
After all the cooking was done we showed her how to eat it!
It was a real good time and we enjoyed it very much. Leslie offers classes often, focusing on different cuisines every time. Indian, Thai,
Greek, etc. She is a great cook. I think we will be going to another class soon.
I would have taken more pics of the food and the group but my camera died.
Until next time............J&D

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


When ever you walk around, you always see a cool door. They are everywhere. One of the many things we enjoy so much about Cuenca is the assault of the senses. There is always something to see if you are aware of your surroundings, the smells that are all around, and of course the sounds buzzing through the air. I am sure that is what makes walking everywhere such a pleasure. Unless you are late you do not notice the walk so much because you are too busy trying to soak it all in.
Until next time.....................J&D

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great Steak

This was our second trip to the Terrace since we have arrived back to Cuenca. The food and prices are very good.
This is called churrasco. 2 fried eggs on a tender cut of beef called "lomo fino" with sauteed peppers and onions. Rice, with avocado and fries. $6.20. Hard to beat this flavor combo for that price.
Still a voting member in the clean plate club.

The walk home was quiet last night. Must have been because it was a Monday night and it was 10:30. This is Benigno Malo. Donna and I could not help but notice how clean the street was. As anyone knows who has been or lives here this is the norm. You do see litter after a parade or the occasional beer bottle but they are not left alone for long, and the bits you see do not turn into piles. We like the cobble stone streets. Much nicer atmosphere than asphalt.

Santo Domingo church at night.
Until next time............J&D

Monday, April 19, 2010

Great Rice

The dish is called chaulafan. It is similar to fried rice that you would see in the US but I think it is better. I believe it originated in Peru but is popular here. We have not had a decent rice since we left the states. Aruba's fried rice was not good anywhere we went so this was a welcome find. This had shrimp, peas, onion, bacon, egg, pork, avocado, fried plantain, and chicken. It was yummy.
Donna and I had this for lunch at Gracies (not sure on spelling) on Gran Colombia a few doors down from the Eucalyptus Cafe going away from the park center.
This dish and 2 aqua sin gas (non carbonated water) set us back $4.80. There was plenty for us both. We went to the Mall Del Rio recently and I tried the food courts version of chaulafan also. It was good but, it was still mall food and of course a little more coin.
I will try to remember to click a photo before I inhale my meals but sometimes I plain forget.
Tonight we are going to a great steak place so stay tuned.....J&D

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Here is our new house. This is as it was in January when we bought it. Since it was still in this phase we added a few things, a storage bodega, roof top terrace, breakfast bar.
Well here we are almost 3 months later. We have just finished buying our furniture, some we are having made, some bought finished and our appliances are all picked out and bought. Donna went to Larry Marler's connection for curtains and we are having those made as well. Our container is en route from Aruba so that should be here in a few weeks. We are excited and really can't wait to get into our new house.
The house now is almost done and we should be closing in about a week. I cannot wait to get to work on the landscaping and terrace garden.
On a separate note we went to Zoe's for expat night last night. It was nice. You could here the conversations and move about the room freely. There was one guy there who I have met before, when we were here in January who is the model of the perfect expat who should stay out of Ecuador, stay out of anywhere others live as he must make locals think all foreigners are jerks. A real ass. I should keep my thoughts to myself but I call em like I see em. Oh well, everyone else we know is great.
We went to a great steak place on Calle Larga with Rich and Nancy, Larry and Liza, and John.
It was good fun. We really like the friends we have made and look forward to the coming weeks and years.
Stay tuned...................J&D

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sling Box

For anyone moving abroad who enjoys sports
do I have the gadget for you. This device called sling box ( and it allows you to watch any channel of the cable box it is hooked up to.
You need a family member or good friend to be the base for the unit. Unless you want to watch what they are watching you need your own cable box for your slingbox. This way you can watch what you want.
You need to have someone on that end to set it up. After it is all set you log on as if you were signing on to an email account.
We watched part of the Red Sox last night and I thought this is blog worthy. You do not need the fancy expensive units. We have the basic and it is great. I think they are under $200 bucks now. Oh and that is it. No monthly fees or anything. Of course someone has to pay for the cable box every month (thanks mom). It was a X-mas gift our first year out of the US.
If you have a tv with a six pin connector you can attach you computer to the tv with a cpu monitor cable and see it on the tv's display. Ahh technology.
Well sports fans enjoy following your teams where ever you are.

Until next time..........J&D

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I am sure people who are thinking of relocating can put the "Are the banks safe?" question in the top 3 of the many questions they have. I would say yes but that is a personal opinion.
We chose to go this route as it suits our needs perfectly. We opened our accounts with Banco Pichincha. We opened a savings account here in Ecuador and a checking account in Panama (both opened at the branch in Cuenca). The advantage to this is if you need for some reason to put money back into the US you are not charged the tax to wire your money out like you are if wiring out of Ecudor. You can write a check here in Ecuador and the person can cash it like a local check. We will keep some money here but Panama will the the vehicle the drives it to Ecuador and back out if needed. There is a bunch of paperwork and you must be a resident.
You can also pay your utilities through your local bank account with auto debit of your account. You need to bring in the previous bill and then you are all set, no waiting in line.
We discovered this option by accident and thought it is a sensable format.
Until next time.....................J&D

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catch the fever....

Well I made my second soccer game in as many weeks. It was Cuenca vs. Quito. There was alot more energy at this game and alot more people. The first game I went to there were a little over 8 thousand in attendance, As you can see from the score board there were a bit more. The game ended in a draw but Cuenca trailed the whole way until the final 5 minutes or so. The place was very loud when they scored. At the end of the game you can see the umpires get an escort off the field. The police make a kind of roof for them when they approach the stands. Notice the happy fan saying "your number 1". There were many bad calls against Cuenca. It is a good thing they tied it as I think there might have been a few things flying through the air. (more than already flying of course)
Last week when we went as we approached the stadium I was told that Uruguay's team colors were blue(I had on a blue pull over) but with the rain I had on a trash bag but did not feel like people thought I was rooting for the visitors. This time as we approached I was told Quito's colors were white (yup, white tee shirt). I stopped at the first place and bought a Cuenca jersey, a bit too risky this time with no trash bag for coat. There are vendor everywhere on game night. Got it for $5 bucks. We got to he stadium and the lines for tickets were HUGE. The price $15 bucks. We bought ours from a scalper to avoid the lines. Price $16 bucks, well worth the extra dollar to get right in. Rich, Chris, Stu, Adrian and few others went. It was a good time and we will be going again.

Cat update......They are doing fine.

Work for what?

I received an email from a friend and old coworker the other day. He told me of some other guys I used to work with who both had some serious health issues. One had part of a lung removed and the other a tumor near his liver and pancreas.
I actually woke up last night and I could see all the guys before these two who, like them, former co-workers who were either dead, or battling sickness in some form.
I could see Norman, Dick, Tom all dead soon after leaving the workplace. Lopsey a part time guy in the winter also dead. George, now Dane battling cancer. Even Tony and his near death coffee choking and electrocution all make me wonder what people work for. I know people need money etc.. but work till you die?
It makes me think of peoples first reaction to something offered or proposed when their answer is "I can't do that" The mind set of the routine, the knowing what everyday will be before it happens. Almost like a zombie state. Every day the same until..BOOM wake up, you are sick. It is time to live life for the time you have left.
I really hope people I know and others I do not, do things when the opportunity arrives and not let the "I can't do that" mentality hold them back. Whatever it is, do it. Who knows how much time any of us has.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Personal Maintenance

We have been fortunate to have hooked up with some quality health care people so far. Paula above and Maria below were both recommended by Larry Marler, a fellow expat here in Cuenca. Paula, now our dentist has cleaned both of our teeth. ($15 buck each) and we were both very happy with the job. I hate dentists and have spent my share stuck in the chair with various things done in the US. Donna is having a post and crown done and I will let you know how it went. I think it is around $200.00 but will post actual price when done.
Maria, Donna's physical therapist is really good too. In the 2 visits she has been we know she was a great find. Donna had hip replacement surgery in January of 2008 and has never returned back to 100%. I would have to say we took a few steps back while in Aruba because the therapist there, well sucked.
We have no doubt now that we have Maria on the job things will be as they once were, full range of motion and good strength in the leg. $10.00 per hour for the work she has done and she does not rush. Heating pad, ultra sound, deep tissue work then stretching and some exercise.
We really are happy and highly recommend them.
You can find there numbers and addresses at Larry's blog: retire in cuenca There is also a link through Cuenca High Life.
At last we have the hair. Ignacio worked in Manhattan for many years before returning to Cuenca. Donna really likes him because he has organic color products. She hates the smell of the chemicals. I think he has those too. She gets a color, cut and style for $40.00
I get my hair cut since I am there. $5.00 bucks for me. I could get it cheaper but he does a good job. Ignacio's place is called "grupo fama" It is across from the Hotel O'verde.
Once again we are very pleased with finding these people and can tell you the things they do are done well and worth the money. They are all very nice people too.
Until next time................J&D

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don Bosco

While walking to town today we heard drums beating. As we got closer we could see guys on stilts walking around the crowd. Then we noticed a kind of hearse with a glass coffin in the back.
There was a huge crowd of people in the square and in front of the cathedral.
When the truck got to the front of the church they unloaded the casket and carried it in under much ceremony.
The guy in the box is Don Bosco. A priest from the mid 1800's who dedicated his life to helping the unwanted and lost souls of boys and young men. I had to google him to find out who he was.

I do not know if that is really him in the coffin or if it is a replica but he looked pretty real.
Something I just found out if you put the mouse on the pictures you can click to get a bigger pic and a better look. Works good on the casket, you can see the ornate designs and a close up of Don.
The streets were so packed it reminded me of leaving a concert or a professional sports event. You just never know what you might see when you are out and about.
Cuenca is celebrating its foundation as a city with the actual day being the 12 of April. There are many craft and art things throughout the city and in many of the parks and plazas. We are going tomorrow to check them out.
Oh yea....the soccer game. It was Cuenca vs. the national team of Uruguay. It finished 0-0. It rained for not quite the second half. I brought
a couple trash bags for some homemade rain gear. Worked just fine. The fans here are quite passionate about there team. I do not think I would want to be on the sidelines of the opposing unit. They were harassed throughout. It was a good time and I will be going again. Ticket was $8.00.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Mercado

First let me apologize for my incredible spelling and grammar. I rely on spell check to make me look literate but I guess even the computer slept in class. Went to the mercado again but now that we are blogging I am taking photo's of everything worth sharing. This is 10 DE AUGUSTO, this is one of the local markets in the Historical District. We have been to 9 DE OCTUBRE as well but it seems I am able to negotiate at 10 DE AUGUSTO so we like it better. The rows and rows of fruit and vegetables is pretty cool to see. It is split up into a fruit and veggie section, meats, bulk grains rice and beans, and fish. There are 2 levels, fruit etc on the first and there is a food court area with a few more fruit and veggie vendors also on the second. It has escalators to take you up or an elevator if you choose. Stairs for the not so lazy but with all the walking the escalator is a nice ride. It is easy to buy alot as the prices are cheap. Make sure you have enough sturdy bags on hand to carry away the loot.
This pile of food cost a whopping $10.65 You have to look around at the different vendors and ask the price. I always try to get a lower price. Most of the time you can, it is expected. If you do not you are paying more than you should. If they will not negotiate it may be that is the price. You can find out by if you are being gouged by checking around at other vendors.
This is our egg connection. He is about a block down the street from our apartment. We went by one day and saw the stack of eggs. We bought eggs the first time at Supermaxi so when they were gone we brought the empty carton down for a fill up. $.10 cents an egg. They are great. It is amazing what you find sprinkled along the streets. There are bakery's and pastry shops every block it seems, so the smell of fresh bread and other treats is always in the air. Ice cream is also very popular and there are shops located strategically to fix you up when the need hits.
Well I smell something good so until next time.........J&D

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Temporary Housing

We rented an apartment for a month until our house is ready. It is in a great location, an easy walk to almost anywhere in the Historical District. From the street you only see doors, hiding all the court yards behind them.

The view down the street toward the park and cathedral. It is about a 10 minuite walk.

That is one thing we really like, walking everywhere. Cabs are cheap when needed but walking is the way to go (during the day). Unless of course your wife gets carried away at the mercado buying fruits and vegetables.
You need to pay attention when walking the streets in the Historical District as they are cobble stone and the walkways are of various widths. Everywhere there is a driveway the walkway dips to meet the street and if you are not paying attention you could stumble and fall. The only thing we do not like is all the car and bus exhaust when walking on a busy street. There is no such thing as a perfect 10 anyplace but a 9.5 is good for us.
Until next time..........J&D

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Beginning.......

Where to begin. Well I guess that would be in 2005 when we began our thinking of moving from the US and bought a lot on the island of Aruba. We designed our house, a modest 2 bed, 2 bath, and had it built. We made the move in 2008 and thought that was it. Well guess what, it was not.
In late January of 2010 we went to Cuenca after alot of research online and many calls to people I can now call friends. We new we were relocating here so in the 10 days we were here we found, and bought our new home. We also hooked up with a pair of great attorneys who helped in our real estate closing and our residency which I am happy to say we received only last Thursday. We picked up our cedula and censo cards yesterday so we are now officially residents.
This is a special place and we are thrilled to have discovered it. I can say after living outside the US prior to Cuenca that the expat community is very helpful and are just genuinely great people. We are honored to have fallen in with a great group and look forward to many lazy days taking this all in.
To all of you that are looking to relocate or thinking about it please read the blogs and check the Ecuador Consulate website. All your questions will be answered. It is not impossible to start a new life abroad, if you are ready to go and understand what the venture entails it will be a fun ride. I would say the big thing is leaving your family and friends. It is a personal choice but with all the technology today, Magicjack, Skype, email you really are not disconnected at all.
We arrived back in Cuenca for good on March 20. We adopted 2 cats in Aruba and brought them with us. They were a little cold at night sleeping under the covers but have adjusted fine, and yes they made the trip in good shape. We had to go from Aruba to Panama (2 hour flight then 3 hour layover), then Panama to Guayaquil (2 hour flight). We were worried about all the stops but we reminded the air crews at every stop and were told every time before the planes left the the cats were on board. When we were in Panama they put them in a special room. It all worked out better than expected.
Well that is all for now. I will write again soon. I am going to a soccor game with some fiends on Wednesday, should be fun. Donna is opting out as it has been raining in the afternoons so getting wet is a good possibility. Of course I will let you know.