Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Time for Boredom

When Mick began talking about retiring, he was always asked, "won't you be bored?" His reply was always, "I'll find something to do." In Cuenca, you find there is no time for boredom. You at last have the time to do the things for which there was never enough time. For me, that includes cooking, it was just quicker to grab a carry out in the old world. Cooking brings up one of Mick's favorite pastimes, which is socializing. He always says that if we go to the effort of cooking, others should be here to enjoy it.

Mick has always been a people person. He not only enjoys having our friends over, but his morning is not complete without a visit to the Coffee Tree, where he and his buds congregate. He equates it to the Old Farts Coffee Clubs at Hardees and also adds that he never thought he'd be participating; however, time does that to you.

The socializing continues past our home and the Coffee Tree and into the homes of our friends. You find that everyone who wants to be social can find their niche. Sunday we were invited to a great breakfast at Linn and Cardell's home. Here are Linn, Cardell, and Mick on their lovely patio.

Angie and Linn
Mick and Jim

We finally have a new additon to our family. After month's of changing feeders and having an occasional passerby, we finally have a hummer that has staked out our feeder. He visits continuously and also sits by it and guards it. We call him "Sugar" and he has a family.

We were contacted recently by some folks from California that were going to be visiting and they arrived last week. John and Robin Hand arrived last week, bearing dried lima beans and this beautiful table runner. Robin is a quilter and this is gorgeous.

Here is a closeup of the detail.

Here we all are at Good Affinity.

And then, John and Robin without the pole.

We've had lovely visits with them and they love Cuenca. Retirement will be here quicker than you think, guys!

Cuenca meets our needs. We have time to do what we enjoy and continue to meet great new friends along the way. There is no time for boredom.

Until next time,

Mick and Kathy

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just Pictures

Dale, Joan, and Mick at a picanteria on Don Bosco. Yummers!

Angie learned to crochet a couple of weeks ago and is working on an afghan.

Roy and Marcia Hasseltine visited Cuenca for a month. While here, Marcia learned to weave, made beautiful things and took a loom back to Florida. Here is Marcia at her loom.

There was a kid's craft camp at Distribuidora Barrerra.

Patricia, the master weaver

Mick and Nikolas on a chilly day at Parque Calderon.

Lena modeling her new shawl

A pig cooking at La Parillada de Hector.

Our dinner

Roy and Marcia

Dale and Joan

Jim and Angie

Mick and Nikolas

Lena's sons, Juan, Jose, and Jonathon, enjoying salchipapas after shopping for school uniforms at Feria Libre.

Richard and Amy Griffin are visiting from Charlotte. We met them before moving.

We've met some lovely people through are blog, but I don't always get the pictures on in a timely fashion. It was time to do some sharing.

Until next time,

Mick and Kathy

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another Adventure with the Barnes

When you go on an excursion, you assume that you will return, you're just not sure when or in what state. Jim loves to drive on the back roads, the bumpier the better. On a recent Sunday morning, we left with dual thermoses of hot coffee and munchies.

We left Primero de Mayo for the road to San Joaquin. For those who don't know, Cuenca has a golf club, which can be found turning left off the San Joaquin road. After passing the club, the road became bumpier. We also experienced "gridlock".

We continued on our way and Jim saw a tree being taken down by a group of hombres. His curiosity got the best of him. He stopped the car and went over to take a look. The alarm system in the Barnes' vehicle has always had a bit of a flaw. We first experienced it on a trip to Ingapirca when Dale and Joan were visiting. It seems that if you open a door while the engine is engaged, the alarm sounds and the engine shuts down. There we were in the middle of no where with the alarm blasting. It finally cycled down; however, when attempting to start the car, the alarm would start up again.

The people who were cutting the tree, came over and offered to call a mechanic. In the meantime, a Nutrileche truck came by and attempted to help. This is the Nutrileche guy.

The milk man finally gave up and went on his way. Time passed. It began to rain. Mick's window was down and it was raining in the car. The battery had been disconnected in order to stop the noise. Since we had been indulging in nice, hot coffee, Mother nature began to call. Mick was a real Ecuadorian trooper. Jim had gone fishing. Angie and I decided that it was our turn, but couldn't go just anywhere, in that the river and people were on one side, and a pasture on the other side of the car. We got out and walked up the road where we found an alcove in the side of the steep hill that was suitable for our needs. Just as Angie was taking care of business, a truck came our way, being the good friend that I am, I stood in front of her. We got back to the car, had more coffee, Mick had hung his raincoat over the window. What could we do, but laugh and wait.

The mechanic finally arrived (we had been sitting there a couple of hours. It took him about 5 minutes and we were on our way with a disconnected alarm. This is the mechanic.

We continued on to Soldados, which is a small puebla, up in the hills. This is the church in Soldados.

As we continued, we ran into another entrance to the park. We were charged $1 each for entry by the fellow below.

The entrance.

It was cloudy and rainy, but the views were still spectacular.

We encountered a family, whose story we don't know. They were wet, with no sign of transportation.

We had to drive across the stream.

After returning to the city and having a quick rest, it was time for dinner at La Esquina.

It's always an adventure living here.

Until next time,

Mick and Kathy

Sunday, August 7, 2011

El Agave

While living in the old country, our favorite restaurant was Azteca, in north Charlotte. We also frequented a couple other Mexican restaurants closer to our house, and additionally, Denis was a superb cook and would treat us with her homemade tortillas, tacos, and tamales. Then, we moved....

Since arriving in Ecuador, we've been on a quest for comida mexicana. We've tried El Pedrigal Azteca on Gran Columbia Pronto Taco at the stadium, and El Mordida on Luis Moreno Mora. Of the 3, Pronto Taco has decent flour tortillas; however, we've never returned. The other two were simply extremely bad.

Although Denis gave me Mexican cooking lessons prior to our departure, I haven't had the courage to attempt the task.

Last night, at the suggestion of our neighbors, Dek and Val, we made our way to El Agave. Take the Panamerican highway south as if you're going to Yungilla. About a mile past the traffic circle for Loja-Giron, the restaurant is on the left, a lovely brick building, marked by this sign at the entrance.

The restaurant is owned by a couple, Flavio, who is Cuencano, and his wife, Nelle, who is from Mexico City. Their children, Nitza and Jason, assist with service. They've lived in New York for a number of years, so all speak great English.

Nelle, Flavio, Jason, and Nitza
The food was incredible! The tacos met the bar! Enchiladas were served with salsa verde. Nachos were authentic. The tortillas were fresh and crispy.

The restaurant is rustic, reminiscent of a hunting lodge, with furnishings of split logs. There's a large fireplace with a mounted deer head and the walls are filled with fishing equipment. The restrooms were spotless.

The food was delicious and well worth the drive out (the bus to Giron passes buy, so if you're carless, this is an option). The family was warm and friendly and provided impeccable service. Flavio even invited the guys to go fishing with him.

Restaurant hours are: Monday 11AM-2PM
Tuesday-Thursday 11AM-6PM
Sunday 10AM-6PM

Tom, Karen, Mick, Jim, and Angie, with our new friends

At last, Mexican food in Cuenca!

Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A New Blog

Our friends, Dale and Joan visited us back in February and were enamored with Cuenca. They went home, packed and sold, and made it back in record time. They have now joined the ranks of other expats and have a new blog, "Retirement: Plan B". It can be found at It will tell of their adventures in beginning a new life here. Dale was a photographer in his previous life in the old world and has great pictures to share.

They are finding their place in Cuenca and loving it! Take a look at their blog. Here's Dale and Joan at the Coffee Tree.

Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Monday, August 1, 2011

At the Movies

Mick and I have always loved going to the movies; living in Cuenca has not changed that. Periodically, depending on what's playing, we go to the movies at Millenium Plaza. In addition to Millenium Plaza, there is a Multicines complex at Mall del Rio.

Going to the movies here can be done for a fraction of the cost of the US. The normal price of a ticket is $4.60. If you are 65 or older, the cost is $2.30. With the use of a Multicines card, which costs $7 ($3.50 if you pay for it with you Pichincha card) and lasts 2 years, the price is less. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, the price is $2.99 each. On Wednesday, it's 2 for $2.99. The schedule changes for Friday and you can check the schedule on-line at The site gives the schedule, synopsis, and if the movie is in Spanish or subtitled; if subtitled, the speaking is in English or another foreign language and subtitled in Spanish.

You can get refreshments without taking out a home loan. The big combo is 2 footlongs, grande popcorn, 2 medium sodas for $10. Leave off the dogs and it's $6. The popcorn is scrumptious!

We decided to treat Lena and her children to a movie. With school vacation in process, there are lots of kiddie flicks out. The kid's movies are always in Spanish. Transformers 3 has been playing, which seemed like the kind of movie little boys would enjoy.

The only showings on Saturday were at 11:15 AM and 8:20 PM. We told Lena that we would meet at 10AM, have something to eat and send them off to the movie. It was actually about 10:15, although early for lunch, the boys wanted KFC. I headed to BK for Lena's and mine, and Mick headed to KFC. This is Juan and Jonathon looking like kings, dining on KFC.

Lena and Leandro

Not exactly Mick's idea of breakfast, but he's flexible.

After a spectacular meal, we headed off to Multicines. However, there was a problem. It seems that in Ecuador, because Transformers is an action movie (too much violence) you must be 12 in order to see it. It makes no difference that the child is accompanied by a parent. Well, if you're 11 and 7, there's not much to see. You're too young for Harry Potter, as well. The only other option was a Jim Carey movie, rated R; go figure. So, we got tickets for Los Pinguinos de Poppi. We got them popcorn, drinks, candy, a small popcorn for us for the road and we were off. As we left everyone was smiling, waiting for the penquins.

Sometimes we take little things for granted, like going to the movies. It's always a treat for us, but for some, it's a REAL TREAT.

Until next time,

Mick and Kathy