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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Indian Bapu Restaurant

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I went to one of our favorite restaurants today for lunch. As usual the meal was outstanding.

We ordered three entrees to share between us. We had more Nan (Indian bread) than we could eat. The sauces were wonderful as usual.

Chuck ordered a large beer and I had a Pepsi. Our total bill was $13.90.

We noticed that the owner is busy decorating the restaurant. Here is Chuck admiring the new lighting as we waited for our order to be served.

When we complimented the owner on the decor, he invited us upstairs to see what he had done. Wonderful! It was hard to believe we were still in Ecuador when we saw what he had done. Chuck and I are anxious to gather up 4 - 6 more people and use this special area for dining.

Indian Bapu is located on Calle Larga. It is east of the 10th of August market by about three blocks. It is located on the same side of the street as the market.

We really like this restaurant and now it will be even more fun to eat there.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cows and Scrambled Dogs - Why I Love Ecuador

Dear Family and Friends,

Today is "Fat Tuesday" or here in Ecuador they just say Carnival.

Chuck and I are pretty much staying close to home today. One reason is that going out would almost guarantee that we would get soaking wet from water bombs (balloons filled with water) being thrown at us. The other reason is there is nothing open today. Every business, including the Super Maxi (grocery store) is closed today.

When we were walking home from the bus stop on Sunday, I looked up and was so pleasantly surprised. Luckily, I had my camera on hand.

Yes that is a cow crazing in our front yard.

As we got closer we found we had three cows in our front yard. Here are the other two.

They all three were chomping away at the clover.

Being a city slicker, I was glad to be able to get up close and personal.

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you may already know that I was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia. There is a special dish that is unique to Columbus. It is called a "scrambled dog." And, although I have not actually lived in Columbus for over forty years, every now and then I get to craving one.

Yesterday we invited our neighbors over to share some scrambled dogs with us. Once again, I got so excited about eating that I forgot to take a picture of my neighbors, but I did remember to get a picture of my scrambled dog.

To get the history of this dish and a recipe of sorts CLICK HERE

I haven't checked on my neighbors this morning, but I think everyone survived the "dog food."


We are no longer having to throw a towel over our head when we use Skype. Our computer room has just enough furnishing to absorb the echo.

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. Hopefully the water bombs will cease and we can once again walk the streets of Cuenca and stay dry.

Feliz Carnival!!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Carnival Time in Ecuador

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are enjoying Carnival here in Ecuador. Here, Carnival officially lasts 4 days, Saturday through Tuesday. It is celebrated different here than in the U.S. Even though Carnival officially lasts only 4 days, it was kicked off here in Cuenca last Thursday afternoon with a parade. The parade consisted of teens from different organizations. Teens here are referred to as (chicos).


Chuck and I went to see the kick off parade on Thursday afternoon. There were about 1000 participants. It was so much fun to watch these teens.

Although they didn't have bands, they had tons of drums. My ears went numb from the noise.

Here is a dancing butterfly.

A fire breathing chico.

and then there were the kids on stilts. They were very steady on them. As you can see they did many stunts to entertain the huge crowd of onlookers.

More drummers.

More acrobats on stilts.

This is one of the youngest of the participants.

And, of course, there were the vendors selling goodies.

The parade finished at Park Calderon. This is the central plaza in Cuenca. After the parade they had a live band that played Salsa music. Party, party, party.


Today, Sunday, we went to Gualaceo, a small town about 40 minutes from Ecuador. We had read that they were celebrating Carnival there so we went to see how they celebrated it. We invited our friends, Brian and Shelley to come along with us. (Brian and Shelley moved to Cuenca from Vancouver BC, Canada last summer. They have a blog that you might enjoy checking out:

Brian and Shelley

Oops, I almost forgot. Fredi, their little puppy came too.

We met Brian, Shelley and Fredi at the bus terminal. We took the intercity bus to Gualaceo. What is normally a 40 minute drive ended up lasting about an hour and a half. The traffic was so backed up. It seemed like everyone had the same idea we had.

The bus put us out right where the action was ... along the river.

In Ecuador, one way Carnival is celebrated is by dowsing others with water, corn starch or spray foam. So it makes sense that the celebration would take place where there is a lot of water.

Here is how Fredi enjoyed the carnival. She rode in her doggie carrier on Shelley's back. She really drew a lot of attention. She is a perfect goodwill ambassador.

There were many vendors selling corn starch, spray foam and buckets for tossing large amounts of water on each other.

Here is a father and son. They got corn starched.

Even we got our share. Here is Chuck just after he was sprayed with foam.

At least he faired better than this guy. His friends are carrying him off to throw him in the river.

There were even some vendors there from Peru. This lady told me she was from Machu Picchu.

Here are pictures of some of the interesting food that was for sell:

Fried plantains stuffed with cheese

These ladies are cooking Guinea Pigs. A very popular dish here in Ecuador.

I even spied a some fried chicken. The first I have seen like this in Ecuador.

Interesting looking candied apples. there is watermelon, pineapple and papaya. The fruit was cut up and sold in plastic cups.

This man and his grandson are making juice from sugar cane.

We had a great time.

Most of the wealthier people in Cuenca head to the beach for Carnival. Actually Cuenca is almost dead during this four day period. We figured out that the not so wealthy people head to Gualaceo and other towns to celebrate. It was packed with people there.

I spent all last week at Spanish school. It is coming, but painfully slow.

Nancy and Chuck

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Remembering Bill

Dear Family and Friends

It is with a sad heart that I share with you that Bill Hirsch died in his sleep about three weeks ago.

I remember the first time that I met Bill. It was in November of 2007. Bill and Christa bought the condo next to the one we were renting. Bill, Christa, Chuck and I became fast friends.


Bill and Christa chose to retire from Tennessee to Cuenca. But those of you who know Bill, retirement was not possible. Soon after moving into their condo in La Cuadra, Bill became active on the board of the condo association. He was elected Vice President.

Shortly after, Bill and Christa formed a partnership with Patrick. Patrick has been their close friend since they first arrived in Cuenca. They opened Cuenca Internet. As with everything Bill did, the internet service is the largest and best Cuenca has to offer.

We had house guests most of the time we rented here last year. Many of you who visited us last year met Bill and Christa. On many occasions, Bill and Christa joined right in with us.

One memorable occasion can be remembered by clicking here.

After we returned to the U.S. to prepare for our move back to Cuenca, we kept in touch via email. One of the funniest emails I received from Christa was the one where she said they had become new parents. She attached a picture of a little fuzz ball…named Sammy.

As all of you, I have many fond memories of Bill. His smile was contagious. He was so outgoing and easy to like. His heart was big. He and Christa did many favors for Chuck and me, as we did for them.

Friday was Christa’s birthday. We went to ex-pat night and then out to eat at Sakura (our favorite sushi restaurant). It was just us two “girls.” Chuck was ill at home. We had a great time, talked about fun times we have shared and even about the future. Lucky for us, Christa is going to stay in Cuenca. This is her home.

Even though we miss Bill very much, we are so grateful for all the wonderful memories we have. Friendship is a blessing from God and we are so glad that we were given the opportunity to know and love Bill Hirsch.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Are Legal Residents of Ecuador

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are now legal residents of Ecuador. We are not considered tourists anymore, which means that after 90 days we do not have to leave the country. We have most of the same rights as citizens of Ecuador - but we cannot vote.

Below is a picture of us toasting our new life in Ecuador.

Life is Good!

Nancy and Chuck

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Special Week

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I have had a terrific week with my mother, brother and sister-in-law here this past week. Their visit was short, but it was so nice.

One thing that made their visit so special is that as kids growing up in Columbus, Georgia, we were not rich, maybe not even middle class. My mom and dad worked hard and gave us a happy home. As kids, it was not even in our wildest dreams that we would one day have the opportunity to travel out of the South, much less out of the U.S. and this week we were together in South America!!

It is also poignant because my Mom is 87 years old and she has Alzheimers disease. She knew she was visiting us, but truly she did not realize the magnitude of her trip. I am so thankful to Norman and Nancy for bringing her down with them.

Here is a picture of Norman, Nan and Mom on the porch of our condo building.

We ate out most all our meals. We took them to the Tutti Freddo ice cream parlor at Parque Calderon the first night they were here. Norman loved their ice cream so much that we went there every evening after.

Here is a picture of Mom, Nan and Norman in front of our condo as we waited for a taxi.

Friday, we took the private van back to Guayaquil to see them off. We stayed at the Hotel Continental again. We really enjoyed this hotel. The rooms are nice and they include an extensive free breakfast buffet.

Below is Chuck grazing the selections.

Here we are together just before they left for the airport.

Chuck and I had planned to leave Guayaquil and go to the beach for a couple of days. We changed our minds and headed back to Cuenca because we both woke up with intestinal problems.

We were glad to get back home.

Here is one last picture. I made this of Mom the night before she left. Isn't she beautiful?

I love you Mom!!

Tomorrow is a very special day for Chuck and I. We are getting our cedulas. That means we will be Ecuadorian residents. A cedula is like a green card in the U.S.

Life is Good!


Monday, February 2, 2009

My Mom in Ecuador - Incredible!

Dear Family and Friends,

On Friday morning we called a taxi to take Jim and Audrey to the airport. They are heading back home - reluctantly I am sure. Cuenca is such a nice place that most people leave reluctantly. But we know they will be back before too long.

Here is Chuck waiting with Jim and Audrey for their taxi in front of our condo.

Chuck and I cleaned house on Friday afternoon and on Saturday morning I cooked blackeyed peas in preparation for a very special Mom. My brother, Norman, and his wife, Nancy (yes there are two of us Nancys) brought mom down to visit for a week. They flew in to Guayaquil Saturday. Chuck and I took the bus to Guayaquil to meet them at the airport.

The bus ride to Guayaquil is very beautiful if it is not to foggy to see. It rained all the way there but I was able to get a few pictures from the bus window.

You can see how the clouds are hugging the top of the mountains.

The windy road below is where we had just been a few minutes ago.

We arrived in Guayaquil and went and checked into our hotel. We then took a taxi to the airport and met Norman, Nancy and Mom.

On Sunday morning we had the hotel buffet breakfast together.

After breakfast we walked across the street to the Park of the Iguanas.

Cute little fellas,

They look a little scary but are completely harmless. Here is Mom feeding one some cabbage.

Here is mom and Norman enjoying the park bench.

After visiting the park we took a short walk down to the river.

Here is mom inspecting one of the many statues.

Chuck had arranged for a private van to pick us up and take us all to Cuenca. We drove back over the Caja mountains. This time is was foggy all the way so no views.

But it was nice to be delivered right to our condo.

We enjoyed the blackeyed peas and settled down to rest up for a very full week.