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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Paute Sunday Market

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Sunday we went to the big Sunday market in Paute, Ecuador. Chuck told me that someone told him that even some folks from Cuenca go down to Paute to shop because the produce is superior to here. This is third hand information....but it could be true. All I know is that the produce at the markets in Cuenca is so superior to anything I could ever find at our local Safeway in Washington state and they are a fraction of the cost.

As in most of my blogs, this blog is mainly a picture blog. I will take you through the market with me. There is an outdoor market and an indoor market. All of these pictures were made in the outdoor part of the market.

The first items I came upon was bread.... This is only one of many vendors selling all types of bread.

There are two things you can be sure of finding in the markets in Ecuador, they are plaintains and bananas. This is just one area of plaintains....there were many.

Here are some bananas.... They are different from the bananas that Ecuador exports to the United States. I think these bananas don't keep as long. They are a little shorter, and the peel is a little thicker, but they taste pretty much the same as the bananas we eat in the U.S. But unlike the price we pay at Safeway, these bananas are - 2 bunches for $1.00

Ahhhh! This is an interesting fruit. This is very popular here. It is called a tree tomato. They make a wonderful juice. The do not taste anything like a tomato as we know one to be. The juice is sweet. I would say this fruit is as close to a tomato as a pineapple is to an apple.

Speaking of pineapples, they grow them here too. The pineapples here are nearer white inside than the yellow pineapples we have in the U.S. I think they are sweeter too.

Here is some more fruit.... pears, peaches, lemons, limes and apples which by the way are not nearly so good as the apples we could buy in the U.S.

There was a lot of fresh vegetables.... (much more than I photographed). Here we have carrots, tomatoes and garlic.

The cabbage here is unreal. A head of cabbage is at least twice as big as at home. Here you can expect to pay 30 to 50 cents a head.

These red peppers are hot and the large green peppers taste much like our green bell peppers in the U.S.

What would a trip to a market in the Andes be without potatoes? They have as many varieties of potatoes down here as we have apples in Washington state.

Here are some real cute ones, very popular down here. They are just a bit larger than your little finger.

Here is another root plant....yuca.

They had just about every dried grain and bean you could imagine....

and I even spotted a staple from my childhood....dried black eyed peas.

Other than food, they had plants....
and of course live chickens... big

and small..

They had puppies and parakeets....

There was metal ware...

and kitchen ware...

and plastic ware...

Handmade wooden utensils...

and handwoven baskets....

and last but not least....wonderful pottery.

In the indoor market they sell meat, fish and poultry as well as fresh produce.

Audrey has done a very good blog about interesting fruit down here... you can check it out by clicking here.

Next time I will share some pictures I took of people at the market.

Man is leaving tomorrow heading down to Peru. Audrey and Jim are leaving on Friday heading back to California. Saturday my brother, sister-in-law and mother arrive from Texas. We are so looking forward to sharing Cuenca with them.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Visit to Paute, Ecuador (or) How to Treat Your Guests

Dear Family and Friends,

Saturday we had a new guest arrive. Man (short for Emanuel) is the son of my cousin, Bo. Although we have not actually seen each other since he was about 9 years old, he was very brave to take on unfamiliar relatives during his trek through South America.

We were prepared for him. We have the single bed sofa that arrived exactly one week ago. Good timing!!

David, our next door neighbor, told Chuck and I about a fabulous restaurant in Paute. So, on Sunday, Chuck, Jim, Audrey, Man and I went on an adventure into the country. First we rode the city bus to the bus terminal. There we boarded a bus for Paute. The ride was about 45 minutes and cost us 75 cents each.

We had two objectives: (1) to go to Paute's Sunday market and (2) to try out the Corvel restaurant that David suggested.

I will share about the market experience in my next blog. For now I will tell you about our Corvel restaurant adventure.

The restaurant had indoor and outdoor seating. We were a little early (about 12:30), Ecuadorians tend to eat a little later. Since we were early we were able to select a nice table outside.

Jim, had the Sunday buffet. Audrey had a seafood soup. I had coconut shrimp. Chuck and Man went for the steak.

I intended to take pictures of the dishes, but I was so hungry I forgot to do it. The food was beautifully presented. Chuck and Man said their steaks were very good and my shrimp were delicious.

Next time I will try to restrain myself from eating until after I have made the photographs.

There was a roving singer. I do not know if this is a Sunday only touch or if he is there every day. It was a really nice experience.

This is our waiter. Notice his colorful vest. This material is used in Ecuador to make tablecloths.

Here is Man. Yes, he is wearing the same hat that the black hat people wear. He bought it on his way down from Quito. Doesn't he look dashing??

After lunch, we walked through the town square to get to the bus terminal. When we arrived, there was a bus all filled with people. The only problem is that this bus was going to Cuenca and we knew if we got on, we would have to stand up all the way home. We are adventurous, but not that adventurous. We decided to wait for the next bus.

Here is a picture of the bus before it left the terminal. There was a man selling ice cream cones and he was doing a good business. I enjoyed watching the baby girl monitoring the situation out the bus window.

Soon, Man spotted a Mixto (taxi-truck) across from the bus terminal. He said he would love to ride in the back, so we all agreed. Here we are loading up for our trip back to Cuenca. Jim wasn't finished with his cigar, so he decided to ride in the back with Man.

The Mixto took us to the city center of Cuenca. We then went to the Frutilado and had a second dessert.

As you can see, we make sure our guests get "first class" treatment.

See Audrey's latest blog about amusing things around Cuenca.

And, to see Man's pictures of his South American adventure click here.

Next the Paute Sunday market.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We now have a new TV - and a new President

Dear Family and Friends,

When we lived in Richland, WA, Chuck and I had a television but we did not have cable. We only used our set to watch DVDs. We listened to NPR (National Public Radio) to get the news.

Since we have been in Cuenca we have been looking at televisions. We need to have one for watching movies down here. Last week we started shopping in earnest because we wanted to be able to watch our new President be inaugurated.

On Monday, the day before the inauguration we went to the store that had offered us the best deal on a television. We bought a 46 in. Sony HD flat screen television. (We want to be able to see the movies real good!)

When we bought the television the sales person asked us when we wanted it delivered. I looked at my watch, it was about 11:10 am. I told her we wanted it delivered at12:00 noon. I was half joking but she didn't bat an eye. She asked us to have a seat while she made the arrangements.

We watched the television we had just bought. The sound system at the bottom of the picture is not part of the television.

After about 30 minutes she said it was ready to go. She said we could ride with the driver to deliver the television.

We went outside the store and found a boxed up television ready to be delivered waiting in the delivery truck.

Yep, this is what we saw.

The driver explained that the front of the truck only had two bucket seats.

I looked at Chuck and shrugged my shoulders. Chuck, being the wonderful husband he is, said "Get in the cab, I'll ride in the back." And, this is how Chuck made sure our television was delivered to our condo safe and sound.

Since only the TV was tied down, I worried a little about Chuck as we hit potholes. I kept a watch on him out the side mirror. He seemed to be getting along fine back there.

We got home and the delivery man brought the TV into our condo and set it up. We actually had our television in our condo by 12:00 noon as I had requested. What a kick!!

As part of our internet service we have cable TV also. As expected, most of the stations are in Spanish but we do get CNN International.

On Tuesday, five of us (Chuck, me, Audrey, Jim and our wonderful neighbor, David) set around the television to watch as Obama was inagurated President. What a wonderful experience to be able to watch it live.

Afterwards we toasted with champaign and had a luncheon in honer of our new president.

Here is Chuck posing with our new television in our media room.

Slowly but surely we are getting our condo furnished.

Nancy and Chuck

Monday, January 19, 2009

Life is Good!

Dear Family and Friends,

We have been making changes here. The changes are coming slower than we had originally planned because (1) we did not sell our house in the U.S. and (2) our 401K is now a 201K. We have decided rather than touch any of our investments we will just upgrade a little each month until we have our condo completely furnished.

This month we had Hugo come and install more canister lights in the kitchen, patio, and all three bedrooms.

He also added a couple of new circuit breakers to the breaker box and painted our computer room, which will soon be known as the media room, as we are getting a television today. (We hope to be able to watch the inauguration tomorrow.)

We got our media room painted just in time, because we received a call Friday night that our new sofa (makes into a single bed) was ready to be delivered. It was delivered Saturday morning and it looks very nice.

Chuck has been busy buying pots and plants for our patios. It is amazing how many plants and pots he can manage to bring home in a taxi. These pictures show his progress...

Audrey and Jim helping with the formal patio yesterday.

The patio off the living room will be all greenery.

We have not decided on living room and dining room furniture yet. It will probably be a couple of more months before that is done. In the meantime we are getting by with our small kitchen table.

Life is good.

Nancy & Chuck

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Field Trip - "El Chorro de Giron" Waterfall

Dear Family and Friends,

My Spanish school, Estudio Sampere, took a field trip on Saturday to El Chorro de Giron. El Chorro de Giron means "The waterfall of Giron. Giron is located about 30 miles southwest of Cuenca. This beautiful waterfall is a day trip from Cuenca and is well worth the effort.

The school was kind enough to let Chuck join us in this trip since we are living here.

We were met at the school by a tourist van. The drive to the town of Giron was beautiful. We drove through the Yunguilla valley and the views were so nice.

Although we took the bypass and did not go into the town of Giron, I snapped this photo of a statue welcoming visitors to Giron.

The roads to Giron were in excellent condition. After we turned off to go to the waterfall, the roads were not very good. The van driver, however, was very experienced and all went well until we got to a very muddy part of the road and the driver pulled over and informed us that we would have to hike the rest of the way.

Luckily we were almost there, but the hike was uphill all the way. I lagged behind, going at my own pace. Eventually, we were all at the base of the waterfall.

Here is a picture of my classmates. They hiked to the top of the falls - approximately 230 feet high.

This is were they were the top of the falls.

Our teacher, Olympia, Chuck and I chose to only do the lower falls. It was still a climb but it was not too bad. The view was fantastic. It reminded me a little of Multnomah falls near Portland, Oregon.

We followed the trail up to get a closer look at the top of these lower falls.

After our adventure we went back to the restaurant and had lunch (trout) while waiting for the young people to return.

This is a typical trout meal in Ecuador.

We ate and drank beers and had a great time visiting while we were waiting.

According to the man who prepared our lunch, the rule of thumb is: "Your Spanish improves with each beer you consume."

We had a great time and highly recommend this trip if you are visiting Cuenca.