Sunday, September 30, 2012

Myth Busters - Cuenca

We're out and about a lot.  Mick is at the Coffee Tree every day, with or without me and  we're always amazed at the things they we overhear.  Therefore, we thought we'd address some of them, myth busters - Cuenca

Myth: There are no dishwashers in Cuenca for less than $2000. Fact: Dishwashers are available here for around $500. There several detergents available for automatic dishwashers, Dish-lav, Cascade.  This is ours; we've had it over 2 years and when it dies, there'll be another one.
Myth:  Cuenca is the land of eternal spring.  Fact:  It may be an Alaskan eternal spring.  During winter, the lows can be in the upper 30’s;  most of the time it’s cloudy in Cuenca.  It's a rarity to have a beautiful starry night; go outside the city and there are usually stars.  In summer I’ve seen it as high as 85.

Myth:  Summer is June, July, and August.  Fact:  Cuenca is south of the equator.  If you’re in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite of the northern hemisphere; therefore, the first day of winter is  June 21.  It is now spring.

Myth:  Hospital Monte Sinai  is not a hospital; it’s doctor’s offices.  Fact:  Hence the name, Hospital Monte Sinai, it is a hospital.  It offers all the services of a full-service hospital, surgery, maternity, overnight stays, etc.

Myth:  To get driver’s license if you’re a gringo you have to go to driving school because the government wants to make it hard for you to get driver’s license.  Fact:  Everyone, INCLUDING Ecuadorians,  is required to attend driving school.  This requirement became law 3 or so years ago; therefore, for those Ecuadorians who have yet to renew their license since this law came into effect, they must attend driving school prior to their next renewal.

Myth:  You can live comfortably on $500 per month.  Fact:  Maybe in your dreams.  Things are less expensive here than in North America and Europe; however, not THAT inexpensive.   Our expenses and extras are around $3000 per month which is considerable less than in our previous life.   Our plan was to live as well, if not better, than in the US.  We can do that for the amount previously quoted and consider it to be better, in that now we have a housekeeper 5 days a week versus 3 days per week previously.  Additionally, we don’t work.  Yeah!

Myth:  All sweet potatoes here are purple.  Fact:  You can find regular sweet potatoes.  These came from Coopera.

Myth: Corvina is Chilean sea bass. Fact: Corvina is applied to pretty much any kind of fish that the vendor wants to sell you. I have seen a dozen distinctively different fish, all called corvina.

Myth: Cooking is the same here as at sea level. Fact: There is a huge learning curve with cooking at 8500 ft. Anyone that makes that statement, has never really done a lot of cooking in their previous life nor here. Water boils at a lower temperature; therefore, even though you’re “boiling” something, you’re still cooking at a lower temperature. Because of the longer cooking time, more liquid is required. Additionally, with a change in altitude, there’s a change in density. If you make a recipe once and it’s dry, try it while increasing the liquid by 1.4; this is a good starting point.

Myth: The Ecuadorians love all the gringoes. Fact: Remember when you lived in the US and Canada; how did you feel about all the East Indians, Hispanics, and Middle Easterners? ….. Same thing here. They hate the fact that many don’t speak Spanish and in actuality, don’t want to learn. When I began weaving, the shop was filled with Ecuadorians and there were only a couple of gringas. It was great! My Cuencano Spanish improved so much! However, when someone who did not speak Spanish spoke English, the Cuencanas would tell her, “Spanish only”. The number of gringas increased and the number of Cuencanas decreased. The entire atmosphere changed. The Ecuadorians are afraid that they’re culture will change as a result of our presence. We’re afraid of that also. If you have Ecuadorian friends; you met them, more than likely, as a result of some business transaction. Money was involved. Think about it.

Myth: Gringoes don’t by cars. Fact: Sure they do. We, as well as most of our friends own vehicles. As previously stated, we did not want to live less than in NC. If you’re planning on buying a vehicle, but are planning on purchasing a used one, “buyer beware".

Myth:  There are no insects in Cuenca.  Fact:  There are flies, spiders (small ones and an ocassional tarantula), silver fish, ear wigs, extremely large beetles, flying cockroaches, and although not an insect, there are also scorpions.  All of these I've either killed or seen dead in various and sundry places.  The picture of the guy below was taken at a popular restaurant.

Myth:  After his defeat in 1968, Alfred E. Neuman is is running for president again.  Fact:  Many gringoes love to discuss politics in general,  however, specifically, the presidential election.  We over heard that Alfred E. Neuman is in the running, and apparently this is true, but as a write in candidate.  The amazing thing is that he hasn't aged a bit!  I'm suspecting cosmetic surgery.

Could this be the next President of the United States?

Some may think we’re being negative.  Neither of us has ever owned rose-colored glasses.  Mick is naturally skeptical and I’m a realist and a bit skeptical.  Therefore, this is our view.  For those who tend to wear the glasses of the rose-colored variety, so be it.  We’re just always amazed at what we hear.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Hoot of a Site

Sometimes I'm amazed at the things the Mickster finds on the net.  A week or so ago, he e'ed me a site that he had found and insisted that I take a look.  What a treat!  Obviously, someone has a bit much time on their hands.  This website is "Cuenca REEL Estate.  It is extremely entertaining and is worth taking a look-see.  Either the writers are anonymous or are well hidden.  I'm afraid I've never met anyone by the names of Lum and Abner here. 


Have a look and enjoy.

Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Monday, September 24, 2012

An Observation: Searching for Shambhala

I’ve never been a philospher, have never wanted to be, nor will ever be.  “Philospher” is a fancy term for “opinionated”; I’m sure there will be feedback on that; however, I’m a realist.  You must be a realist in order to be in the scientific community; you deal with logic and order (order is different from organization, for those of you who know me personally).  In dealing with logic and in the search for whatever, you’re instilled to change only one variable at a time.  When adapting a recipe, if you change multiple ingredients simultaneously, you don’t know which one gives it the umphh that you’re attempting to achieve. 

In recent months, we’ve seen a deluge of new arrivals in Cuenca; many of whom are apparently unhappy.  They really don’t like anything here, i.e., the booms, the people, the traffic, the prices, the visa procedure, changes in procedures,  and the list goes on and on.  Chances are excellent that these same people were similarly miserable in their previous life, as well.

If you've been a victim in your previous life, you'll be a victim here.  Perhaps you view yourself as having been overlooked for promotions, bullied, just missed that perfect job, never made enough money.  Well, if that's you, here, you will be taken advantage of, overlooked, and over-charged.  After all, you're a victim.  That's how you perceive yourself and that's how you will always be, regardless of where you live. 
If you’re truly unhappy where you’re currently living, why do you think you’ll find Shambhala in Ecuador.  Think about it, you’re changing more than one variable; you’re changing your residency, living situation (possibly from a house to an apartment), language, culture, more than likely going carless.  Are you ready for that?  People leave their homes in the US and move into places that they would have considered a ghetto in their old home town.  I simply don’t understand.  Life is too short to be unhappy.

People move here everyday looking for Shambhala and find that they’re more miserable than they were in the States.  The old adage, “misery loves company”, is quite true here, the MLC group congregates and you don’t want to be in the vicinity.  Where this group gathers, the positive energy and environment is completely changed to one of such negativity that places that you once loved to frequent have changed in priority. 
If you’re not happy, continue your search, but search from within.  The change that is required may not necessarily be a physical, but a mental state.  South America is not for everyone.  There are different languages and cultures, none of which are English and North America.  If that is where your happiness is, then you should stay there.  People return every day.  Because you decide that this is not for you, does not imply that you have failed, only that you’re being honest with yourself.  Be happy that you’ve discovered this about yourself and feel that you don’t have to live a fa├žade.  Some of those that leave, somewhat “slip out of town”.  Why is that necessary?  Be honest with yourself and others.  Life is too short to be unhappy. 
For some of us, this is where we're suppose to be.  This is home.  We know what we are, who we are, and accept those things and in this, we find happiness.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy


Wednesday, September 19, 2012


As you know if you follow our blog, we go through periods of blogging and then, no blogging. During the last no blogging period, we spent a weekend in Guayaquil. When the cold weather is more than Mick can handle, we go to the coast.

You usually hear only bad things about Guayaquil, however, we really like it and always enjoy a weekend there. There are fabulous restaurants and of course, there's MickeyD's. We always stay at Courtyard, which is modern and offers very good service.

While in Guayaquil, we frequent Samborondon. Samborondon is reminiscent of Miami. Beautiful homes, malls, and restaurants with outdoor seating. We had lunch at Noe, which is a chain of sushi restaurants. The meal was exquisite.

The desserts were luscious.
From the malecon, there is a river tour on the Henry Morgan. This fellow chose to kayak.
Mick on the Henry Morgan
Not the Henry Morgan
Everyone has their own preference in boats.
My guys
Some of the scenery

Larry, Karen, Mick, and Nikolas

The mast

The distributor for Garmin is in Urdesa. Karen called the owner, who met us on this holiday weekend to download the maps for Ecuador on Larry's new GPS. Here we have dueling GPS's.
Mick in Playas
It was a holiday weekend and Playas was packed.

A beach puppy
The weather was perfect, but some found it cold.
Beach bums
A cute purse

Guayaquil is just a short trip from Cuenca. It's warm, pleasant, and a big city feel. Most just pass through on their way to some place else. Guayaquil is worth perusing.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday at San Sebastian

Before coming to Cuenca, you have the idea that the place to be on Sunday is Parque Calderon. Upon arriving, that quickly passes. It's nice, but, you deal with lots of people, I suppose who have great expectations of a mini-Central Park. Actually, in our opinion, the loveliest park in the city is San Sebastian.

On Sunday mornings, we usually have breakfast at San Sebas. San Sebas has the area of a neighborhood restaurant. Food and service is good. Here are Mick and Nikolas yesterday.

Lindsay is the proprietor and always adorns a lovely smile.
There's always a case of yummy baked goods.
This is Miguel Moreno.

A beautiful balcony on the park.
San Sebas
A nearby courtyard
The Museum of Modern Art
The dome.
Frequent visitors
The front of Iglesia San Sebastian

The park

Sunday night, we were invited to Rich and Ella's for a fabulous dinner.

Perfect ending to a perfect day. The Panthers won, by the way.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A New Restaurant for Cuenca

Since the sign went up, we've anxiously awaited the opening of Sion Lung. This week it happened!! Sion Lung, located at Solano 1-74 y Tadeo Torres, is the newest addition to a chain of Chinese restaurants. There are two locations in Lima, two in Guayaquil, and now one in Cuenca. We have been to both in Guayaquil, one is in Urdesa and the other in Samborondon and both are excellent.

This location has just been renovated and the setting is exquisite. Service was impeccable; the food was delicious. Parking is on Tadeo Torres.

When deciding what to do for Mick's birthday; he declined the usual party and wanted to go simple. He kept saying we'll go to Sion Lung; it's not open. "It will be open for my birthday." Backup plan was Tiesto's. It just happened to open in time. Larry, Karen, Mick, and I, joined by Nikolas, had a GREAT dinner there.

I'm very happy that the Mickster was able to have dinner at his new favorite restaurant. This is definitely a must do.

Until next time,

Mick and Kathy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mick!

It's another special day in Cuenca. Today, the Mickster celebrates his 3rd birthday after retiring to Cuenca. The birthday wish was for a sun shiney, shorts day; however, that didn't happen, so you just have to settle for a typical cloudy day.

I hope today is perfect and that there are at least 30 more birthdays in your future, along with a lot of sunshine.

To the love of my life, Happy Birthday.