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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Great off to Vilcabamba

Dear Family and Friends,

From reading our blog you probably get the idea that Chuck and I seem to eat out a lot. Well, the truth is we do. Chuck can eat and eat and not gain an ounce. I, on the other hand, eat and eat and refuse to get on the scales.

Friday night we went to ex-pat night at Zoe's. As it has been lately, it was crowded and noisy. There were so many new faces. It is absolutely amazing how many gringos we are coming into contact with that have just moved here or are planning to move here in the near future. The real estate people must be having a ball.

After socializing, Chuck and I joined our friends, Rhonda and Jerry for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The food was good, but the best part was having a quiet place to chat. Rhonda and Jerry have been here three months. When we first met them they knew all about us. They had been reading our blog since before they moved here. They live close to us and are such great people.

Here we are enjoying our dinner.

On Saturday evening, we went to dinner with Nancy, Rich, Jason and Donna. Jason and Donna currently live in Aruba, but they are going to move to Cuenca. They came for a week and rented Rich and Nancy's short term rental adobe. Within this past week, they bought a house. Now they are on their way back to Aruba to start their move. We had a very nice evening with nice company. We are looking forward to when Jason and Donna return.

Rich took this picture of us enjoying dinner at Tiestos.

This morning, Chuck and I were up early. We went on our weekly Sunday morning walk with Nancy and Rich. We walk all the way downtown and have breakfast. We start nice and early, usually by 8:30 am we are on our way.

This morning I took this picture of Rich and Nancy waiting for us on their front steps. You can see why we love sharing time with them. They are so loving and so much fun.

This week we had breakfast at Mansion Alcazar, a very nice hotel in Cuenca. I had never been inside and was amazed at how beautiful it is. The food was good and the atmosphere was superb.

Here we are enjoying breakfast with a nice view of their garden.

Here is another view looking out on the garden.

After breakfast, we finished our walk to Parque Calderon. On the way we saw, yet again, another parade forming. I had to take a picture of this lovely senorita on horseback.

We headed on to the park and were glad to see Brian, Shelley and Fredi there sitting on a park bench. Brian looked great and told us his doctor said he was the "poster child" of recovery from his surgery.

We had a great weekend.

Tomorrow we leave for a week in Vilcabamba. I am not sure if I will be able to post on this blog from there. If I can, I surely will. If not, I will share our trip with you after we return home.

Wishing you a peaceful week with lots of laughter.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Audrey & Jim Head for Home

Dear Family and Friends,

Jim and Audrey left for home today around noon. We offered them an extra suit case if they needed to use it to get home, but incredibly, they were able to pack everything in the bags they brought.

They treated us to dinner last night at Tiestos restaurant. We had been there on Friday night and we really enjoyed sharing it with them. They loved it so much that they asked us yesterday morning if they could take us back there for dinner. We happily accepted.

Here is a picture we had the staff take of us waiting for our dinner.

"The Last Supper"

This morning I fixed a hearty breakfast with the left over steak from last night. Every other morning they were here, it was pretty much "fend for yourself" around here as Chuck and I are not big breakfast eaters. I was a little worried about their flight connections and them getting food since their plane left around lunch time.

Audrey took a lot of pictures while she and Jim were here and has done a fabulous job posting on her blog about our adventures. Her blog is especially interesting because she adds the awe that we felt when we first arrived.

Click here for Audrey's blog

This Monday Chuck and I are taking the bus back to Vilcabamba for a week. We are looking forward to hanging out there and getting to know a little more about this town.

Keep passing your smiles away.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Failed Beach Trip

Dear Family and Friends,

The four of us, Chuck, me, Audrey and Jim, headed west on Wednesday for a couple of days at the beach.

Audrey has done such a wonderful job of blogging about our adventure that I am deferring to her post.

click here:
Audrey's Blog

I will share a few pictures of happy people at lunch. This, of course, is when we thought we were going to be spending a couple of days at the beach resort.

Here we are placing our orders.

Happy people.




Luckily, I don't have pictures of our faces as we, after waiting in the heat and humidity, learned we could not get to the beach.

Next time.......

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What We Brought Home in the Back of the Pickup

Dear Family and Friends,

As I said in our last post, there was a reason Chuck wanted to take a pick up to Loja. We had been to the pottery factory before and Chuck was anxious to get his hands on some of their pots.

Here are a few photos of some of the pots and ceramics and the head statue we brought back to Cuenca.

We started our tour of Loja by walking around and window shopping. Chuck was taken by this statue and knowing he had an easy way to get it back to Cuenca he succumbed to buying her.

The rest of the pictures are of what we bought at the pottery factory.

Chuck says we can keep this pot inside. He is going to plant a fern in it.

Here is the second planter, right now it is inside but will be placed outside. These planters come in three sections.

Here is a free standing pot that Chuck set in our Zen garden and it looks great there.

Here are a couple of other pots that have yet to find a home.

He also bought these pottery plaques to put on our wall outside.

Since so much buying was going on, I couldn't help but pick out a few items.

I bought this teapot....

and this serving bowl....

I think they will blend in with my Artisa red and yellow dishes.

And I bought this vase. I bought it because I wanted to see if it would go in our bedroom. The factory had ceramic lamps with this same color. Our bedroom colors are gold and blue. I don't think it will work out but I still have the vase.

The colors remind me of ceramics from Italy.

Here are some pictures I took at the factory. The ceramics are very colorful. One day I may outfit our kitchen with dishes to match the teapot.

Here is the lamp I was considering for our bedroom.

Other ceramics....

After all the items were bubble wrapped and boxed up the back of the pick up was full. We came home with smiles on our faces.

To see Audrey's posts about our adventure click here


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trip to Vilcabamba and Loja

Dear Family and Friends,

Ever since our last visit to Loja Chuck has been wanting to return to buy pottery for the garden. Jim mentioned the other day that he would like to see Loja and that was more than enough incentive for Chuck to rent a double cab pickup for the trip down.

We left on Saturday around noon. Chuck thought we should go to Vilcabamba (about an hour further than Loja), spend the night and then go to Loja to look around and go shop for pottery.

We got to Vilcabamba about 5:30 or 6:00pm. We stayed in the hostel that we visited on a previous trip called the Jardin Escondido. It is painted bright blue, one block from the main plaza and has a wonderful garden space with an outdoor restaurant inside.

We had dinner and then settled down for the night.

On Sunday morning we walked around the town.

Here we are on the main plaza looking around.

There is a lovely church at the center of the town.

If you walk just off the plaza, there is an old west, rustic feeling to the town. It is warmer there with many tropical plants and is surrounded by mountains.

Since we had our own transportation we drove into the mountains outside of town. We found a most delightful hostel, Izhcayluma, that is owned and operated by a German couple. The beauty of this place is that it has a wonderful view and excellent facilities.

Chuck and I fell in love with the place and we have booked a cottage for the first week in February.

We drove back to Loja on Sunday stopping to enjoy the beautiful view.

Monday morning we started out with a cup of coffee near San Sebastian.

San Sebastian is a wonderful plaza in the historic part of Loja. Below is the San Sebastian church.

We walked down Lourdes Street. This street is the same as it was 100 years ago. Unlike Cuenca which is full of colonial buildings, Loja is more modern. This street, however, has been preserved.
Loja has some beautiful parks. We took Audrey and Jim to the Unidad Parque Recreacional Jipiro. Here is Audrey and Chuck enjoying a paddle boat ride.

In the afternoon we went up to the pottery store. The pottery is a whole blog in itself so I am going to tell about that later.

We left Loja, the truck loaded down with boxes and returned to Cuenca on Tuesday. It is a long ride, even in a truck. The road was good. There are just a few places yet that need to be paved. But even with a nice highway there are obstacles that slow one down.


Saturday, January 9, 2010


Dear Family and Friends,

I broke a cardinal rule.....never, never promise something while posting a blog. I last said that I would post pictures of Jim's dinner. Well, I got so absorbed in the evening that I absolutely forgot to pull out my camera. I thought it about as Rich and Nancy started to leave. It is a shame too because the table was absolutely beautiful.

Yesterday, Chuck and I went to visit our friend, Brian, in the hospital. We found him sitting up in a chair and waiting for Shelley to finish the paperwork so that he could be discharged. Other than being groggy from the pain medication, he said he felt alright. We are wishing him an uneventful, rapid recovery and bright days ahead.

Last night we went to Gringo night at the Eucalyptus Cafe. We were going to try and hit both venues, but after we go settled at the Eucalyptus we decided to just stay there and eat. Before we left, a group of friends came into the Eucalyptus from Zoes (the other venue). We were very tired, so we gladly gave them our chairs. We took a taxi home and wasted no time getting to bed.

The four of us, Chuck, Jim, Audrey and I are planning a trip to Loja for a few days. Jim wants to take a look around there. Hopefully we will make it to Vilcambamba for a day or so while we are down that way.



Thursday, January 7, 2010

Just When You Think Things are Settling Down......

Dear Family and Friends,

After the new years celebrations Chuck and I were ready to settle down into our usual routines. On January 5, Chuck read in the local newspaper that there was going to be a procession commemorating the three kings (wise men) arriving to see Jesus.

I decided to take the bus to San Blas and check things out.

It turns out the procession was a parade of children, dressed in costumes, walking with their parents to take the baby Jesus to another church and eventually to a neighborhood.

I had more fun photographing these children before they headed out. I have to share these with you. I will mark this date on our calendar so that we will not miss it next year.

Yesterday, the 6th of January, is the actual celebrated day of the three kings arriving to see Jesus. It is also the day that is marked that King Herod had all the male children under 3 years old slain. So last night there was a "Parade of the Innocents." This parade was so different from the previous religious parade the day before.

Young people (teens through twenties) dressed in every costume imaginable paraded through the streets. They had elaborate costumes and floats. They poked fun at any and everything....religion, politics, the media, the world.

We viewed the parade from Rich and Nancy's adobe. It was a perfect location to be able to look down on the parade and get an unobstructive view. The parade lasted for hours and we were getting too hungry for dinner to wait for the end. We weaved our way through the crowds of people and ended up at a steak house for a fabulous dinner. Charlie, Bruce, Rich, Nancy, Jim, Audrey, Chuck and I closed the place down and were thankful they called us a taxi to get home as it was midnight.

Since the second parade was in the night, my pictures were too blurry. That is too bad because it was a hoot.

Tonight, Jim is cooking dinner and Rich and Nancy are joining us. I can smell the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen as I am posting this blog. I'll make pictures and share with you tomorrow.