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Sunday, September 27, 2009

A New Bathroom Floor - I Hope Chuck Likes It

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck's mother had a very nice memorial service on Thursday. Some of her children, grandchildren and a great grandchild shared their memories at the service. Chuck said it was very nice. My heart was heavy that I could not attend. But, this is one of the prices one pays when deciding to relocate outside the USA.

To all of our friends who have expressed their condolences, we thank you so much.

While Chuck has been away the work has continued here in the condo. When Chuck had to leave we were in the middle of a major re-plumbing project. We were having the toilet plumbing in the guest bathroom re-routed. It seems the builder did not follow code and we wanted to make sure the waste water went to the proper place.

Some of the bathroom floor was chipped up and a big hole was dug to get to the plumbing below. When the plumbing was done and it was time to replace the floor we could not find the original tile anywhere. On Saturday, before Chuck left, we had looked at tile and discussed what we wanted. On Monday, Hugo and I went tile shopping.

The remainder of this week Hugo has been replacing our bathroom floor. Here is Jose, Hugo's helper, putting the grout on the tile.

Here is Hugo washing down our patio after the work was complete. There was about a half inch of dust everywhere from using a power saw to cut the tiles. He left everything very nice.

And, here is the finished floor. Notice that it is not is also not slippery when wet. Since we could not match the tile on the walls exact, we decided to go with a solid complimentary color.

I've had the two water colors that we bought while in China framed. They have not been hung but the spots where they will live have been selected. I still have "the goddess" to get framed and then we will have Hugo put them up. It is necessary to have a power drill to mount pictures on concrete walls.

The first picture will go in our dining room.

and the second picture will go in our bedroom above our bed.

While on the patio this afternoon, I noticed that the strawberry plants, my friend gave us when she moved away, are starting to bloom. Yes, it is Spring here and what a beautiful reminder that life is a wonderful cycle.

Chuck will be returning to Ecuador tomorrow. I am flying to Quito to meet him and we will spend a few days there before returning to Cuenca.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Love is the Glue


Chuck called me and said that his mother passed away today in the early morning hours. Her children and many of her grandchildren were all with her.

Elsie (Mom to us) was a very strong woman in a small package. Her family was most important in her life. She loved gardening, camping, traveling, canning, but most of all she loved her family.
We all knew that too.

We love you too Mom.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Spring is here and so begins Chritmas season!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, in South America, it is the first day of spring. We are still getting used to having our seasons reversed from North America. The other day Chuck and I were browsing at Super Stock, a local department store, and we were shocked to see that they are already all decked out for Christmas.

It seems a little too early to us, but maybe the stores in North America are doing the same.

Spring in Ecuador, also means the beginning of a new school term. The other day I was downtown and noticed a large group of people that appeared to be protesting. I photographed from a safe distance and then went on my way. I read in the paper the next morning that it was teachers protesting. Sound familiar?

Good news! We finally have a sofa and chairs for our living room. They were delivered last week. We still have to hang pictures and buy coffee and end tables but at least we can offer our guests a seat.

The last couple of weeks Cuenca has had it's Third annual Festival of International Arts. On Sunday evening, Chuck and I went to the Banco Central auditorium to see a Brazilian Tap Dance group. They were fantastic.

On Monday night, Rich, Nancy and I enjoyed a Jazz group from Switzerland. Another great performance.

We have had workers at our condo for the last two weeks. We are making some major plumbing changes in our guest bathroom (pictures of that later). By Friday we were both pretty tired and decided to stay home and watch a movie instead of going to ex-pat night. Besides, if we went, we would have to decide whether we wanted to go to the Eucalyptus cafe or Zoe's. There seems to be two different venues at the present time.

We called Ossie and invited him to come over and relax with a movie. We decided to go to Ricky's for dinner and then come home. But after Ossie arrived, Chuck came up with a interesting alternate plan. He remembered that clowns from Peru were performing at the Banco Central auditorium. We decided that the alternate plan would be more fun.

I phoned our friends, Nancy and Rich, and asked them if they would like to join us for dinner and the Peruvian clown show. They agreed to join us. We changed where we were going to eat. We decided to have dinner at Indian Bapu restaurant. This way we could walk to the clown event after dinner.

Chuck, Ossie and I took the number 3 bus to the restaurant. We started the wine while waiting for Nancy and Rich to arrive.

Chuck and Ossie waiting for the bus.

We have been wanting to get a group together to enjoy the special room upstairs at the Bapu and we just never have done it. Well on Friday night we got the opportunity. The music downstairs was so loud we could not hear each other, so we asked if we could go upstairs to have our dinner.

We took our wine upstairs and had the place to ourselves. Sitting on the floor was a challenge for us. We sort of fell into our places.

We had a wonderful meal and we could hear each other without the loud music. It was so much fun.

After finishing off the second bottle of wine, we decided that we were having to much fun to go see the clowns from Peru. We ordered a third bottle of wine instead.

We had a great time and visited for a long time. So much fun. I highly recommend the upstairs of Bapu for a group get together.

Until recently, there has always been free entertainment at the central park on Sundays. Cuenca has had some budget cuts and the weekly Sunday entertainment seems to have been a victim. But we read that since the festival was going on, there would be entertainment this Sunday.

Chuck and I took the bus downtown early so we could enjoy a late breakfast before going to the park.

We went to the Raymipampa, which is located right next door to the cathedral. Unfortunately, we could not get window seats, but I photographed a lucky couple who did.

As usual, I almost forgot to take a picture of my food. But after only a couple of bites I remembered. I had a crepe with strawberries and cream. Yum.

After breakfast we crossed the street into the park. There were a lot of people there, so we knew that the word was out about the entertainment.

We met Shelly and Brian (Sunday park regulars) and chatted a bit. All of a sudden we saw a couple of clowns walking through the park.

They went to where the people had gathered and started the entertainment.

Afterwards, Chuck and I decided we would walk home along the river. I forgot that walking home along the river meant walking uphill all the way. This meant that we took several rest stops along the way. This is a picture I made of the river while resting on a large rock.

When we got home, there was a message on our Skype and a message in our email for Chuck to call his brother.

Chuck learned that his mother is hospitalized and is not expected to live. Within two hours Chuck had secured air tickets out of Quito and left to try and get a flight from Cuenca to Quito. He called me from the airport and said that he was going to have to take a bus. It is an overnight bus and would get him to Quito in time for his 6:00am flight to the U.S.

Please keep us and all of Chuck's family in your prayers.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Cooking in Ecuador - Shrimp & Pasta

Dear Family and Friends,

Today I am doing something a little different by sharing a great recipe.

Last Saturday, Chuck bought some shrimp at the market and I set out to find a recipe for preparing them. Cooking in Cuenca is a little different than cooking in the USA because we cannot always find the spices or other ingredients required. On the plus side, the ingredients that are available to us are much less expensive than in the USA.

I am sharing this recipe for anyone who would like to try it, but especially for my Cuenca friends because all of the ingredients are available at either the Super-Maxi and/or the market.

Pasta and Shrimp
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 big green onion, minced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered (tiny tomatoes avail at Super Maxi)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups torn fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the spaghetti, and return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through, but still firm to the bite. Drain; toss with 2 tablespoons of the butter.
  2. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the onions and mushrooms until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the grape tomatoes and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook and stir until tomatoes are heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp just begins to turn pink, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the white wine and lemon juice, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach; once spinach has wilted, stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese. Simmer until all ingredients are heated through and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve over the cooked spaghetti.
We invited Ossie over for dinner and we served this dish. It was very very good. Since we can buy our shrimp at the market already shelled and deveined, this makes it a simple dish and great for guests. If you prep earlier in the day, throwing the ingredients together in a wok only takes a short while to have a nice delicious meal.

If you try this recipe and like it, please let me know. If you would like to have other recipes that I have tried, and like, let me know. I am more than happy to share.

To see this recipe online click here.

Bon Appetit,


Saturday, September 12, 2009

This & That...with Pictures

Dear Family and Friends,

Ecuador is still in the playoffs for the World Cup. You can see the peoples' pride in their country's team. On game day most everyone is wearing the team colors or the team shirt. I saw this car in our parking garage all decked out.

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As we were riding the city bus the other day, this most adorable baby was in it's mother's arms in front of me. I couldn't resist taking pictures. The Ecuadorian children are so beautiful.

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I was downtown the other day and saw that I had missed something. I don't know what I missed but I saw the remnants of it.

Cuenca mounted police blocking traffic.

This father and his sons posed for me. They had been entertaining in the park.

I am sorry I missed whatever it was.

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In my last post I mentioned that we met friends in Paute for lunch at the Corvel restaurant last Sunday. I had such a great time that I didn't use my camera much and most of the pictures I did take were not very good. Fortunately, I had a chance to do it again. On Thursday, Chuck, I and three other couples went to Corvel restaurant for lunch.

We rode the bus to Paute....all eight of us. Since the bus was not crowded, we had plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the ride. Well, those of us that could enjoy the ride. We had a couple of people that get motion sickness, I think they endured the ride.

When we got off the bus, we walked a few blocks into town. Chuck and I have been down here long enough that I sometimes forget that we are a bit different than the Ecuadorians. I'm thinking that we just fit right in.

Well, when we got to the main square in Paute, I took this picture of some of our lunch group. What do you think? Do we fit in????

NOT!! We look like a bunch of gringo tourists for sure!!

Rich & Nancy and Brian & Shelly both did great posts on their blogs about this outing. You can see their version and pictures by clicking here and here.

Charlie took these first two pictures and was very generous to let me use them for this post.

Here we are in the main square of Paute (minus Charlie.)

Somehow, I missed getting the memo that stated the dress code for the day included white hats and colorful skirts.

Here are a few pictures I took...

Bruce and his dessert.

Shelly and Freddi

We did not have a roving singer on Thursday, but he was there last Sunday. I guess it is a trade off....go mid week and there are plenty of tables and no waiting OR go on Sunday, eat early so that you can get a table outdoors and have music.

Both trips were fun...the Sunday one and the Thursday one.

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Last week we got an email stating that ex-pat night would be held at Zoe's. Later, we got an email reminder to come to ex-pat night at the Eucalyptus cafe. Chuck, Ossie and I took the number 3 bus to Zoe's. We must have made the right choice because there were lots of people. I don't know if anyone went to the Eucalyptus cafe or not.

One nice thing about Zoe's is that when the group gathers upstairs, they have nice big doors that open on to small balconies overlooking the street. Here are Bruce and Ossie enjoying the view.

While on the balcony, I looked up the street toward Iglesia San Alfonso (I just call it the blue church). I thought to myself how much the view reminded me of European cities we have visited.

Five of us left ex-pat night a bit early to go to an opera. Well, not really an opera, but opera singers performing great music from operas. Ossie tells about this adventure so well that I will defer to him. You can read it clicking here.
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We are having some plumbing work done in our condo. This means a lot of pounding and banging, as the tile floor is being taken up. This has been going on several days because getting through concrete with a hammer and chisel is a slow process. I think our neighbors upstairs have had all they can bare, because we just received notice from the condo manager to limit our workmen to week days only. Since this is Saturday, we sent the workmen home.

I guess that about catches things up for this week.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Productive Week

Dear Family and Friends,

We wish all of you folks in the USA a nice Labor (free) Day today. Here in Ecuador it is the first day of school for all the youngsters. Chuck was at the Mall del Rio yesterday and he said it was very crowded with families doing last minute back to school shopping.

This past week has been very productive for us. We received our dining room table, chairs and buffet. We were not expecting it this soon so we were pleasantly surprised.

This first picture is of the delivery man assembling the table.

Here is the furniture after we got it into place.

We hope to get our living room furniture soon. We still have pictures to hang and rugs to buy but we are getting there.

The workers finally showed up to complete our patio cover. They completed the roof week before last and at the end of this past week the glass guys showed up to complete the project.

This is how it looked as they were getting started.

And this is how it looks, all complete.

Chuck and I ordered some patio furniture and we hope to have it in the next couple of weeks.

You may recall that Chuck and I showed at Nancy's & Rich's house a week early to have dinner week before last. Well, this past Saturday night (Sept. 5) Chuck and I gussied up again and walked over to Nancy's and Rich's house and were happy to find out that we got it right this time.

There were eight of us altogether. Chuck and I are so grateful to have such wonderful friends. We talked, laughed, ate and drank the evening away (well at least to 9:00pm.) Nancy and Rich prepared the most delicious lasagna. It was a perfect dinner with chocolate sundaes for dessert.

Here is Rich stir frying the veggies just before dinner.

And here we all are woofing it down.

Nancy and Rich have a fun blog they maintain about their experiences here in Cuenca. You can view it by clicking here.

Yesterday we met some friends in Paute at the Corvel restaurant. We ate outside and the weather and food was wonderful. After lunch we walked to the Paute Sunday market and looked around. Again, we are grateful for such wonderful friends. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos that were worth posting.

Luckily, we are going to Paute again this Thursday with the same group that was at Nancy's and Rich's house for dinner. I will do a better job of recording the event.

Believe it or not...Chuck had his cell phone stolen this weekend. He now has it replaced and still has the same cell phone number. I'm not sure what security method he will come up with but maybe he will adopt here.

Life is good.

Nancy and Chuck