Friday, November 11, 2011

Early November - North to Riobamba

At the beginning of the month we loaded all three dogs in the car and headed north.  Riobamba was the goal and it was the first time the puppies had a long drive.  Riobamba is the capital of the Chimborazo Provance. I had bought a kennel to put in the back of the car for the puppies, big mistake.  They both got car sick!  Oh well lesson learned.  We stopped along the way and got medicine for them and moved them to my lap.  They were much happier!!

The trip was another amazing lesson in the varied topography of Ecuador.
High green pastures

Dry mountain sides

River canyons

Just WOW

And more WOW

The road is a good road and the views are fabulous.  We passed through many small towns each with its church hundreds of years old.  I think the date on this one was in the late 1500!

Riobamba has a population of about 95,000 and at an elevation slightly higher than Cuenca.  The streets are wide, not nearly as clean as Cuenca but a perosn we met who knows both cities compares Riobamba to Cuenca 15 years ago.

The streets downtown were closed for a fiesta!
Jack and the kids at the Hostel Oasis
Hostel Oasis, not much to look at from the street but

Inside is an Oasis!!!!
Row of tailers with their tredal machines in the plaza market

Mercado - you can't really see but all the vendors wear green uniforms

Just north of Riobamba is Guano known for its rugs

Central Park in Guano

Jack and the girls taking a nap after a hard day of sightseeing!

The camera could not capture the expanse of the mountains and the deep canyons we saw on this trip you just have to come and see for yourself!!!  The volcano Chimborazo hid itself in clouds while we where there.  Chimborazo is the tallest mountain in Ecuador (6,310 meters that's 20,702 feet) and due to the bulge of the earth at the equator its' peak is actually the farthest point from the center of the earth, farther than Mt. Everest.

We had two great dinners in Riobamba one at Bonny Restaurant and another at an Italian place that was fabulous.  No point in giving the name as they are closing and have to move as the property they rent has been sold.  They may move to Cuenca which would be fabulous as it was delicious!!!

The return trip was uneventful, just a review of the wonderful sights of drivng in the Andes.  We will make this trip again!

After our return home we tried a new coffee shop - Moca Cafe on Gran Columbia west of Unidad Nacional in the Excaliber Building for a breakfast burrito.  Jack said the coffee was GREAT and I really enjoyed a whole pot of tea with my burrito!  Sorry no picture!  Anyway a nice change of pace....German bakery products too to go with your coffee!!!

Hope all is well in your world. Thanks for following!!!!  Chau for now.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Birthday Trip Part 2 - The Road Home

After a good nights sleep we headed for Cuenca via the road to Paute on which we came.  When we got a few miles up the road out of Mendez we came to a line of trucks stopped and the road closed.  I asked the fellow in the hard hat how much longer and he said until about 3 PM!  This was 10 AM.  Jack says we are not sitting in this sun and humidity for 5 hours even if we are at the head of the line.  Famous last words, "there must be another way".  Out comes the map and we decied to head for Gualaquiza, it's only 124 km south and then over the Andes to we turn around and head down the mountain and then south. 

Part of the way is great new concrete road . . . which suddenly truns to dirt, and then back to new road.

When we reach Gualaquiza we turn on the GPS and it tells us to turn around and head back the way we came . . hum, turns out it was set to avoid dirt roads....Shawn figures out how to change the preferences but only after I hire a cab to show us the road to SigSig.  We climb out of the valley into the most breath taking scenery we have encountered in Ecuador thus far..

Night begins to fall and we are still climbing the Andes on a single lane dirt road.

We saw a waterfall that must be close to 2000 feet high but the picture did not turn out well so I guess we have to go again!

Anyway night fell, we entered the clouds and the rain and still we climbed the Andes!  At one point we were going 5 to 10 km/hr with Shawn hanging out the window to keep us on the road!!!

To make a long story short, it took us 12 hours to get home instead of the 6 it took to get there but the reward was seeing parts of Ecuador that were fabulous. We are so thankful for all-wheel drive!!!

We had a great vist with our kids and look forward to their return.  It was the best birthday present!

The drive to Guayaquil was peaceful and the wildlife came out to say "Hasta LaVista" in a grand way.

Thanks for following....Chau for now!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Birthday Trip!

It is hard to believe it is the end of October. Life has been it's usual chaos, Jacks blood clot returned so he has been taking nightly shots which has left him more tired than usual. I can't even remember the month of September, but October has been a blast. I will probably break the month up just for ease of telling the story!
October 1st our youngest son, Shawn and his wife, Amy, arrived for a 10 day visit. This was my 60th birthday gift!  We drove to Guayaquil and stayed at the Continental Hotel which was quite nice and had a HUGE breakfast buffet included. Of course their flight was delayed by 2 hours in Panama so they arrived at about 2 AM but then that's not unusual. Sorry no pictures of the arrival but I will explain later. After the huge breakfast we drove over the Andes to Cuenca. The llamas in the Cajas were quite obliging. Our dear friends Noshy and company had stayed with the dogs over night and had a lovely typical Ecuadorian dinner waiting for us.
The next day we headed out to see the sights of Cuenca. First stop was the San Francisco Market. Jack stayed in the car while we wandered around. I left my bag in the car . . . well you probably guessed it but Jack fell asleep with the windows down and someone reached in and stole my bag with my purse, camera, Jacks blood sugar meter, etc., while he snored! Thus no arrival pictures, pictures of the iguanas in the park in Guayaquil, or llamas in the Cajas!!!!
Needless to say our plans for tourism quickly changed. I dashed home to make all the requisite phone calls to credit card and debit card companies while Jack and the kids had lunch and bought me a new camera. Our afternoon plan went unchanged and we headed to Hosteria Duran in Banos.

We enjoyed the hot pool and tried to relax. It is a lovely place! Just before dinner we realized the blood glucose meter was in my purse so I dashed back to Cuenca as I thought we had an old one and some tabs. Found one and enough tabs to get through the night and on the way back to Banos a miracle happened. I got a call from a lady who said she had my BAG! We arranged a meeting and sure enough, it was my bag and the credit cards were still in it! The camera, meter, $10, and my clip-on dark glasses and case were the only thing missing!
After a lazy morning we headed in to town and did a driving tour, met Gary and Sue Gaither for almuerso at La Molienda on Honorato Vasquez, great food, and $2.50 each. Guess Sue took the picture!

That afternoon Shawn and I had massages, Amy soaked in the pool, and Jack napped.

We arose early, and headed for our jungle adventure near Macas in the Oriente. Noshy made reservations at Casa Blanca in Macas and they recommended a guide for a day trip into the Shuar region of the jungle. The drive over was full of breath taking views and the expected dirt roads. The shortest way is via Limon but that road is still closed so we routed through Paute and Mendez.

Typical road work, this time from a slide

Lots of horses on the way

Views and more views

Orchids along the road

Future butterfly in Macas

Church of the Virgin of Macas
We stayed at the Casa Blanca, very nice folks, even a pool. Rooms are basic but we would stay again for $15-19 per person including breakfast.

The next morning Daniel Ayui (086144264) meet us at the hotel and off to the jungle in a taxi. We had our botas (rubber boots) with us, a day packs with water, insect repellant, and rain ponchos. Daniel was a great guide. He is Shuar, lives in the jungle with his wife and 11 children. As we walked through he stopped and told us about the medicinal values of various plans. He understands some English and speaks Spanish and Shuar. Even with my limited Spanish he did great job and he was able to share about his love of his jungle, his lifestyle, and his earnest desire to protect the jungle.
Heading into the jungle with Daniel

A hut built by Daniel to house guests that want to stay more than a day 
Beauty in the Jungle

While lunch cooked we hiked more

And swang on vines

Inside the Tree of the Ancestors

After lunch a canoe ride

The river

Daniel and two of his children after performing a traditional dance for us at the end of the trip

This trip home story to follow!!!! Thanks for reading!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Yes we bought a car.  It's a used Hyundi Santa Fe.  The great story is the adventure in getting it registered!  There are no pictures of the events but I feel compeled to chronical the events for those thinking of giving up the wonderful Taxi and bus system....if you aren't up to the blow by blow just know it is done!


The adventure of course began with the purchase which was through a friend.  To purchase the car of course we had a contract of sale.  That had to be notarized with the signatures of the seller, husband and wife, color copies of ceduals of all signers, and copy of the matricula (sort of a registration card).  We met at the notary, signed, paid for the notarization, but had to come back the next day to pickup the notarized document becauses the notary was sooo busy...I guess the gal we signed in front of was only a helper.

Next Cuenca Cleanaire.  You may not know but Cuenca is in a beautiful valley, at the juncture of four rivers.  Azuay, the province, has clean air standards for vehicles, so annually vehicles go for a safety check and clean air inspection.  We asked a friend where to go as this was necessary to get the car registered in my name....yes the car is in Claudia's name only.  Anyway, he showed me on a map that did not go as far the location but said, no problem there will be signs . . first clue, there is no good signage in Ecuador.  Off I go at 7:30 AM as I was advised there would be a line and get there early.  I end up the side of mountain and feel sure I have missed a turn so back down I go.  I pull off at a busy intersection, roll down the window and show a fellow walking by the certificate and ask "Donde es?" He shrugs and says "No se".  I lock the car and wander over to a cab driver and repeat the question, "Atras the puente, the primera izquierda." No problem, across the bridge, the first left.  There is no sign at this intersection but he should know.  Up the hill I go.  I approach a large driveway on the right with a guard and I see cars and trucks and buses in line - yes this must be the place but the guard asks for my ticket . . what ticket?  Where do I get one?  All in Spanish of course, he tells me the "segundo entrada"  to my Spanish that means the second entrance, and up the hill he points.  Now I am a fairly logical person so I am looking to the right for a second entrance.  I keep gaining altitude and the road is narrower and there is a big bus behind me.  I realize I have missed the second entrance somehow, find a spot for the bus to pass and make a 3 point turn on the narrow road back down the hill to the ask the guard again.  He smiles and tells me on the left!    There is a dirt road with a guy with a clipboard and a whole line of cars, trucks, and busses.  This must be the place.  I get in line.

At this point three indios (native Ecuadorians) approach the car to sell me fire extinguister, wiper blades, safty triangles, and other required things, they also tell me my break lights are out . . .hum thought we got the fixed but sure enough they are out.  How much?  $2.50 each.  OK do it.  Job is done but oh golly, senora you have special bulbs, $12.50 each!  Negotiated it down to $45.

Finally the line moves and then stops.  It moves again and I make it as the last car this time, down the hill, smile, and show the guard the ticket, park the what.  I see lots of people entering a large white building that looks like it houses the testing center.  Enter and find 4 clearly says pay the marticula here - done that already the Coopera.  Another line has a sign that says something about paying for the test.  Get in that line and fortunately the fellow in front of me speaks English, this is his first time to do this also.  A fellow gets in line behind us and asked if we have our certificate.  Huh, yes you need to have the parking certificate first, where?  Go outside to another building.  So off we go, Pable and I.  Turns out you have to pay $10 to have them check to see if we have unpaid parking tickets.  I am clear so I get the certificate and Pablo and I return to the first line.  Again we are asked if we have another certificate, no, oh well go across to that line.  Fine, pay $12.50 for street maintance.  Then back to the first line.  Pay $20 for the test.  Now we get into another line to turn in our receipt and car keys, receive a number to claim our car back and wait for the test to be preformed.

Hurray, Pablo and I both passed.  He was a great help and turns out he has an Italian restaurant off Av. de las Americas, we so we exchange infor and I promise to visit his establishment.  All in all, about 2.5 hours have passed but at least the car is certified.  the previous owners ahd paid the SOAT which is the required liability insurance so I don't have to find that until next May.

Oh, but the story does not end there. Now I have to get it transfered into my name.  I pick up Noshy at 2 pm on Friday and off we go to the SRI, sort of like the IRS in the USA.  Anyway, get in line at the info desk and the very helppful gal there gives up a paper with the list of things we need to make this change....copies of documents naturally including color copy of cedula, copy of the sales contract, matricula receipt showing I paid for the new one.  No problem, copy place convienently located across the street.  Our number is called and that is done, except we have to go to a bank and pay the fee for the transfer and it will take 2 hours for the info to show up on the computer at the bank...hum bank will be closing in two hours well, lets go to the Transito and find out what is needed there to complete the transaction. 

Arrive at Transito and get another little slip of paper listing a dozen copies and origionals of documents and fees to be prepaid.  Oh and by the way, there is the line to get a number for MONDAY, and that line will not start moving until 4pm.  Fortunately, Alfredo, Noshys husband, meet us there, so divide and conquer.  He will stand in line and Noshy and I head off to Cuenca clean aire as I need an impression of the VIN number off the engine and that is done at the clean aire....gee I was just there.  Oh well, up the mountain we go, smile at the guard and he tells us that is done at the "other location" and we had better hurry as they close at 5pm, it is 4:15.  Down the mountain, on the phone to Alfredo for directions to northern facility.  Good directions, we find the dirt road, wave off the indios, and get in line.  Get to the gate and the guy says, wrong line! Get to the right line and the guy says, no time, it will be 5 before he gets to us. Thanks to Noshy, he agrees we will be the last but she has the terrible job of telling everyone who tries to get in line behind us that we are the last car.  She does it with her usual style.  We pass the inspection right at 5pm!

Now all I have to do is get to the bank on Saturday and pay for the title name change, go Monday early to get an new parking certificate as the old one is valid for only 3 days, pay some fee and get to the Transito before my number (20) is called!

Having learned, I spend Sunday night making numerous copies of all documents I have as I know there will be some surprise come Monday.  At 7:30 I am in line outside the EMOV next to the Pichincha bank.  The guard is very helpful as I show him my list and he points to the location for the new parking certificate and the other mystery fee.  Nice surprise, there is no charge for the new parking certificate as I gave her the expired one.  I wander in the direction the guard said for the myster fee and find a security guard I show my little slip and he say window 11 and walks me there.  It is closed at the moment but I wait.  There is a sign that tells me the copies of the forms I need - boy and I glad I made multiples copies!  I am first, all is in order, now many he tells me "listo" meaning ready, and to go pay.  The guard  smiles and points to another caja and I pay $7.82 for I don't know what but I get the receipt and off I dash to the Transito where Alfredo is waiting with my number.  Nunber 16 is called as I arrive.  What greart timing.  The only little hickup was the records there are received from the Police Department she wants a copy of my passport as I don't come up on the computer.  She has my old passport number, I explain I have a new passort, had the same trouble when I got my censo, but oh my censo has my new passport number, good enough, she finds me in the computer, Alfredo runs across the street to make a copy and she prints out my new Matricula, I pay $19.50 oh but you have to get in line for the jefe, boss, to sign it.  No problem.  At 9:30 I walk out the proud owner of a fully registered car!

In telling this story to an Ecuadorian friend he says, now you know why so many gringos just us the bus and taxi!  Oh well, Jack and I, along with Iggy have grand plans for many a road trip...maybe the girls too.

Puppies New Look - Plus


The girls had their first hair cut at the beginning of the month. When I picked them up I did not recognize them!

We had a beautiful lunch in the Caja's with friends Doyle and Nancy.  The Dos Chorreras resort is in the Cajas just outside the national park and is a beautiful resort.  They have trout ponds, horseback riding, a hotel, and much more. 

Entrance to restaurant

The ruggad Andres mountains

Fountain inside the restaurant

Doyle, Nancy, and Jack in a serious discussion
The specialty of the house of course is trout fixed about 7 different ways. It was wonderful and the drive up from Cuenca is beautiful too.

Next - THE CAR!  Yes we bought a car.....