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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Quest for Art

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week in Cuenca has been pretty much the same as usual except that we have had Hugo working on our patio all week. He has finished laying the tile and we are thinking that yes, it is a little dark but when we get the plants back where they belong it will look just fine.

The patio tiles on the floor look whiter than usual because it has not had the left over dust washed off yet.

The next project for the patio is to add a glass enclosure.

One thing about having workers here all week is that Chuck and I cannot go into town together. One of us needs to stay home to let Hugo in and out of the building. The guard will not let Hugo in without an OK from us. Since Hugo is in and out getting supplies it really ties one of us down.
Last week we took turns going out and doing errands. It never got to the point of having to draw straws, but Chuck and I had to work at not having a dispute over whose turn it was to have freedom.

On one of my turns out on the town I went furniture looking. I found the dining room furniture I want for our condo. I talked with the salesman and he quoted me a discount for paying cash. I told him that I would bring my husband in soon so he could see it and make sure he liked it too.

I had pizza for lunch at La Florenza (sp?). It is a pizzeria and ice cream shop. Their pizzas are a little different from what I am used to in the U.S. They do not use a red tomato base. It is a milder base that is light orange in color. The thin pizza crust is hand rolled. I remembered half way through my lunch to take a picture of the pizza. This is the diablo pizza. It has salami and peppers. It is not very spicy, but they serve a pepper condiment that makes the pizza very tasty when added. I always ask for extra oregano to sprinkle on top.

Unlike many pizzas served in the U.S. this pizza is best eaten with a knife and fork because the crust is not as dry. The special for the day was pizza, coke and ice cream for $3.99.

We went to ex-pat night last Friday. It was amazing how many new faces were there. We did not know over half the people there. A lot of the friends we do know were not there but it was great seeing the ones that were.

It is a funny thing about ex-pat night. There are a few long time Cuenca expats that show up every week but for the most part ex-pat night is made up of visitors to Cuenca and people who have lived in Cuenca a year or less. Chuck and I try to go at least once a month.

On Saturday afternoon we were invited to an international piano competition. Our neighbor, Henry Skaggs (age 16) was a participant. All the performances were outstanding. In my opinion Henry is a piano prodigy. I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but Henry and his family lived in Columbus, GA for 15 years before moving to Cuenca two years ago.

Here is a picture of Henry just before his performance.

Young Henry was my Spanish tutor before I had to spend so much time in the states. He will tutor me some more before he moves. They are moving back to the U.S. at the end of June. They are a great family and Chuck and I are so happy our paths have crossed.

Sunday night Chuck and I did a "first" here in Cuenca. We went to see a movie at the Mall de Rio. The movie "Angels and Demons" was in English with Spanish subtitles. We invited Christa Hirsh to join us. The movie cost Christa and me $4.50 and Chuck $2.25. Many things are half price here after you become a resident and are age 65 or older. Our popcorn was $1.75. This seems cheap by U.S. standards but believe me it is very expensive for Cuenca.

Hugo finished up with our patio on Monday. Yesterday Chuck and I had the whole day free to go where we wanted...TOGETHER!!

We started the day with breakfast at a resturant on Calle Larga. It has a sign out front that says "breakfast all day." I don't recall the actual name of the restaurant but it is located on the river side of the street between the market and Hotel Victoria.

The breakfast was not outstanding but it was good. We had eggs, bacon, toast, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Our breakfast was approximately $3.00 each. The outstanding part was the view we had of the river and across the way.

After breakfast, I took Chuck to see the dining room furniture I picked out. He liked it and we were all set to get it but we couldn't decide on what color fabric to have the chair seats upholstered. We told the salesman that we would be back next week.

We decided to find the picture that will hang behind the sofa first. This will give us the colors to work from to decorate the living room and dining room. Then we can select the fabric color for the furniture.

This gave a new direction for the rest of the day. We picked up a guide pamphlet at the tourist office showing where the art galleries are in Cuenca and set out to find just the right piece to hang on our wall.

Of course, there are so many galleries in Cuenca we could not visit them all in one day, but we both agreed that the painting below will not make it into the finals.

Chuck and I are leaving for Guayaquil tomorrow. We are going to go to the Chinese embassy to get visas. We are planning on a trip to China in July. While we are in Guayaquil we will visit art galleries there.

That is about it for last week.

Nancy and Chuck

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