Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy 25th Anniversary Week!

It's been a week of celebrating and many other events.  On our anniversary (Tuesday) we got the call from our attorney that our passports with the permanent residence visas applied were back from Quito!  The process has taken since November 30th but at last we officially have permission to live here as retirees, sort of like a Green Card in the USA.  The next step is to get our censo, which is a national ID card, and essential for re-entry when traveling out of the country.  We get the censo on Tuesday and then the following week we fly to Quito for the cedula.  That number is used for ID for all purchases and also for seniors, like Jack, to receive a refund of the some of the tax charged on purchases. There is a 12% sales tax on many items here.

Our Anniversary dinner was wonderful.  We dined almost by ourselves at the Mansion Alcazar in the Casa Alonso a gourmet restaurant. 

Fountain in the center of the hotel portion of Mansion Alcazar
Claudia at dinner

Jack at dinner

Wonderful Pork Tenderloin

Complimentary dessert from the Chef for our Anniversary
Celebrations continued today with Noshy, Alfredo, and kids over for dinner and they brought a fabulous fruit arrangement which we all enjoyed.

Celebrations will continue next week with dinner invitations for other friends, but I guess you only celebrate 25 years once!  One thing Jack promised me when we got married was it would never be dull, and he has kept that promise!

In case you noticed the background is changed.  I just got bored with the other one.  One of these days I will get a great Cuenca picture and use it.

A little too much excitement this week included Iggy jumping off an exam table and spraining his hind right-leg.  He was told he is 10 pounds overweight and to get the weight off now.  So he is on a strict diet and hobbling around on three legs, but he should be better soon and I will start taking him on some of my walking travels to help expedite the weight loss.

Tomorrow begins Holy Week which is very special here.  There were already parades today, one in front of our house, but we were busy trying to get a humming bird out of our garage before it wore its self out and I did not get a picture.  Poor thing was bumping into the opaque skylight, so Jack had to prop it open with a board so the little guy could get out as he did not want to fly low enough to go out the garage door.

We think the 3rd International Cuenca Marathon will pass our house tomorrow.  This is a very big marathon with competitors from all over the world coming.  The altitude provides an added challenge for competitors. 

Well, take care.  Have a blessed Easter!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April Showers -Abril Agua Mil

River in dryer times


Looking up stream to the Max Ulhe Bridge
The rainy season has finally come in full force.  This week has seen rain every day and not just the light rains of the last few months.  The rivers are really swollen and it's a sight to see for us who live beside the river.  There is no fear of flooding, but familiar rocks are gone from view.  Of course with the heavy rains comes roof leaks.  The landlady has had someone out before but the tile roof seems to have a mind of its own and I have to go into the attic with a couple more buckets until the rains stop, so the tiles can dry, before  a repairman can come and readjust the tiles.

Our other adventure this week was looking for a new vacuum (apriradora).  When we arrived we bought a small canister vac as most of the house is parquet floor and the carpet in the bedrooms is old and with little nap.  Well, it just was not doing the job on the dog hair on the carpet so off we went to find a good old upright vacuum (aspiradora vertical).  Checked, Corral, not uprights, went to the Electrolux store . . . oh my, is it made with pure gold I wanted to ask but my Spanish was not good enough, then she told me the one from Italy was even more.  But to give you an idea of how helpful folks are, the young gal working there said they had what I needed at Sukasa down the block.  She walked us down the block, took the vacuum off the display shelf and demonstrated it...we bought the Eureka with the power brush roller.  Now that thing can really suck!

On my list of things that are not readily available has been Epsom Salts and pectin. I started asking at farmacias for magnesium sulfate, one directed me to Botica Olmedo on Juan Jaramillo and Borrero.  I asked for magnesium sulfate and they gave me Sal Inglesa, English Salt, makes sense since Epsom is in England.  They also had pectina!  Both were spendy but at least they can be found like so many other things we had heard were not available.  You just have to ask and expect to be directed to an unlikely place...

This week also held many wonderful meals shared with friends in their homes and out and about.  We laugh that if I reported all the great dining you would ask . . don't they do anything but eat?  Well, actually we all eat three meals a day.  Here you are just more likely to share it with friends! 

We are still waiting for our passports and residence visas to be returned from Quito.  Nothing happens quickly we have learned...

Take care and  have a great week.  We began celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary last night with friends Jim and Carolyn in their home and plan a date night at Casa Alonso on Tuesady.  I will look like a tourista and take pictures to share!  I understand it is a beautiful and special place.  More to come! Chao!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Can't Believe It's April!

They say that time flies when you are having fun.  So it must be true:  We are having fun!  I said to Jack today.  You know I have not updated the Blog in almost month.  He said, no you just did it the other day . . .yea, Carnival.  Oops.

Life for us in Cuenca just seems to roll on like the four rivers for which the city is named.    My only complaint, and one that no one can change, is the beauty of the rhythm of life, daylight and darkness.  You see, in case you have not figured it out, living just below the equator means that there is very little variation in day length.  I think the sun rose about 6:18 AM today and sets at 6:24 PM.    This varies little over the year.  The problem is I still seem to be one Pacific Daylight Time after almost 5 months and so I find myself and my Kindle still up at midnight and then the sun comes up before 6:30 and I am awake.  Oh well, small sacrifice for living in the beautiful country.

The month has been filled with many great outings, dinners out, friends over to share meals, meeting new folks, some just kicking tires others short and long time residents.  Jack turned 75 last month and we had a house full of people to share the event . . no pictures as I thought I lost my camera . . . but I told you that already...

Gringo Bingo got kicked off in March.  The event is sponsored by the Cuenca Expats Benevolence Association.  Idea is to raise money for worthy projects and the first is a little boy who was hit by a bus and had his leg severed.  It was successfully reattached but the family has been hard hit by the rehab process and recently even had the roof of their house collapse!  Anyway, Gringo Bingo had its first night DiBaccos March 22nd and a great time was had by all.  There were big prizes and money raised.  The next Gringo Bingo by the CEBA will be a Saturday afternoon event on April 9th at DiBaccos (Tarqui Y Gran Columbia), hope you can make it!!

Debby and Dean signing in happy players
Intense number searching

Happy players

Another night we went to one of the best restaurants in Cuenca, Tiestos.  The food is fabulous and a must visit if you are in Cuenca.  Reservations are actually needed at this place!

Fillet Mignon in a blue cheese sauce that is out of this world
Other events included a birthday party for our dear friend and wonderful helper Noshy.  If you need anything she knows where it is, she translates, takes you to places, and can teach you how to shop for the local foods and even teaches cooking classes!  If you want to contact her please send me an email or leave a comment and I will be sure she gets it!

Rubin, Noshy, and Mateo
Other activites have inclued shopping for local handicrafts to decorate the house.

Friends, Gary and Sue Gaither, have returned to the US to get their possessions sorted out and return to live in Cuenca.  Stover, their four-legged child, has been keeping Iggy and us company while they are gone.  He is quite the character.  But we enjoy him so much.

Stover waiting patiently under the table for dinner scraps to fall . . .

Our attorney told us our permanent resident visas were approved to we gave him our old and new passports and the government fee to send to Quito to have the visa stamped in the new passports . . still waiting for their return...good thing we have no plans to leave the country soon!

Today the weather started out hot as we headed to church at Calvary Chapel. 

By the afternoon the rains came we are stettled in to get things caught up.  Chicken soup on the stove, with fresh peas and carrots bought at the giant open market yesterday (that is a whole blog post in it's self), and life is good.

Take care and thanks for reading!