Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our New Digs in Cuenca

We knew that when we came here to check things out, we were checking  to see if we might want to move back here later this spring.  We were looking at possible places to live.  Well, we have already found a wonderful place for us to live.  We thought it was too good to be true and we did look around at a couple of other places, but this place turned out to be everything that we wanted (except maybe a balcony).  It has 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, living room, dining room, TV area upstairs, lots of windows, and great views.  Take a look at some of these pictures.

Front of the building (our building is the one toward the back) - It has a 24/7 security guard.

We are the top floor in the back (the bump out is from the kitchen).  The bedrooms are above that.

Views across the street (note the island in the river--hence, the name "La Isla" for the building)

Another view of the river

Yet another view

From across the river back toward the building (we are the one on the right toward the back)

It is also totally furnished which will save us some money and time when we come back in late April.  Check out the pics from the inside:

The living room with a great view out the window

Another view of the living room and the steps to the second floor

Dining room off of the kitchen

The TV room in the upstairs foyer.  It is very comfortable.

Bedroom #1

Closet in Bedroom #1 (all of the closets have built-in dressers)

Bedroom #2

Master Bedroom (all of the beds and night stands were handmade here)

Built in Closet in the Master Bedroom.  There is also a little office off of the master bedroom and a full bath.

Fully Equipped Kitchen with everything except a built in dishwasher.  The view out the window over the kitchen sink looks out at the Tomebamba River.  It is very pretty.

Pat wanted me to post the following picture as a picture of our new place.  He even sent this picture to his brother and said it was our new place. 

Just kidding, Gary!!

As you can see, the apartment is really nice.  And the rent includes everything except the internet and propane gas (to heat the water and to cook with).  The gas tanks only cost about $3.00 a tank which lasts about a month for 2 people.  We are going to be able to move into the apartment on Monday and stay there until we come back on Friday instead of staying at the hotel.  So we are very excited about seeing what it might feel like to live here for a few days.  And we can leave the extra stuff that we brought with us in the apartment where we will be living.  How great is that!!

Tonight we are having dinner with some new American friends and we are looking forward to it.  Gotta go for now.  Hasta luego!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Cuenca At Last

Well, we made it to Cuenca on Wednesday afternoon, checked into the hotel (Casa Ordonez), went walking and immediately got turned around and got lost.  We tried to find the California Kitchen (a place a lot of bloggers had mentioned) and kept getting turned around.  When we finally found it, we found out that they close at 4:00pm on Wednesday.  No big deal...we just found another good restaurant to have dinner--Raymipampa's by the Parque Calderon. 

All winter as we were waiting to come to Ecuador, I had been reading the blogs and taking notes about the good restaurants that the other bloggers had mentioned.  And on the first day, I marked my map with some of those places.  So we are going to eat really well while we are here.

I also took some pics of the hotel where we are staying:

This house belonged to the owner's (Alberto) family for a very long time.  A few years ago, it became his and so he totally refurbished it a few years ago and opened a really nice hotel.  The breakfast that we had yesterday morning was fabulous.  Pat kept saying that it was the best breakfast that he has ever had.  It is also in a wonderful location and it is a great choice for us.

After breakfast, we took a walk down to the Rio Tomebamba (I think the spelling is correct) and took a few more pictures:

I even got Pat to pose for a picture, although he says that this picture looks like he could be anywhere, even in Gatlinburg, TN.  I will try to get him in more pictures as the trip goes on. 

We saw these little cuties who were walking along, either going to school or going on a field trip.  Brought back some memories of when my kids were in kindergarten and I was a chaperone.

Aren't they adorable?

Then we saw this wonderful looking building along the river and said "we would love to live in a place like that".  We later found out that it is a government building which is probably why it is so much nicer than most of the other buildings.

Pretty nice, huh?

This is a view of the city from the top of a lots of steps looking out over the river.  Beautiful, huh?

This is a picture of one of the buildings around the Parque Calderon Square that I took last night.

I will post more pictures another time of some of the other beautiful buildings around town.  The reason the time stamp on this posting is the middle of the night (for those that notice):   Well, I woke up at 2:30am and couldn't sleep, so I thought I would blog.  I tried to do this earlier in the evening, but I couldn't get a good internet connection.  So when I couldn't sleep (which is not unusual for me), I thought I would blog instead.  But now it is 4:23am and I am tired.  I think I will try to sleep now.  Hasta luego for now!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Hotel in Quito

I took some nice pictures in the historic district yesterday morning.  It was at the Plaza Grande.  They were having some kind of event, although we couldn't figure out exactly what was going on.  Here are a few shots:

 A huge group of children sitting in front of the government building

Our First Ecuadorian Parade

Like I said, we were not sure what was going on, but I think we just witnessed our first Ecuadorian parade.  Or a some semblance of a parade.  I think it was in front of a government building.

Yesterday, we decided to move to the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Quito.  The Hotel Catedral Internacional in the historic district was OK, but they had mold in the bathroom and it was just not right for us.  The staff was very friendly and helpful, but it was just not the right place for us.  We like the Best Western Plaza Hotel very much.  It is more for foreign visitors and businessmen.  It is across the street from a very modern mall--Quicenter.  I took a few pictures of the food court.

The YUM corner of the food court in the Mall in Quito---KFC, Pizza Hut, & Taco Bell!!!

Cinnabon & Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream (I had to get a 2 scoop hot fudge sundae with chocolate mint ice cream)

Then this morning, Pat and I went for a walk in el Parque --  La Carolina, I think it is the largest park in Quito.  Here are a few pictures that we took in the park:

I wanted to get at least one picture with me in it.

This is a giant airplane that has a sliding board coming out of the nose of the plane.  It was located around a huge playground area.  We're were not sure how they got the place there, but it was kind of cool.

   A huge playground area in the park. 

We also met with our immigration attorney, Gabriela Espinosa, who is going to get things started for us to get a permanent visa.  We told her that we would touch base again next week after we return from Cuenca.  We leave for Cuenca tomorrow for 10 days.  We are really excited about finally getting there.  We also hailed our first taxi cab to get back to the hotel.  And we made it safe and sound. 

Pat is feeling much better today--thankfully.  It has made it much better for me.  And we have been practicing some Spanish with some of the local Ecuadorians.  Gotta go for now.  More to post tomorrow after we get to Cuenca.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

WE MADE IT!!! Our First Day in Ecuador

We made it!!  We arrived in Quito, Ecuador late last night and got settled in our hotel.  We had made plans to stay at another hotel back in October.  Well, two days before we were to arrive, we received an email saying that they were having plumbing problems and that we would not be able to stay there.  I contacted another hotel by email that was recommended by Connie Pombo on her blog.  I sent an email to La Eugenia Hotel in Quito, but did not receive an answer back.  Maybe they never got my email.  So on Friday, I got on and made a reservation for us to stay at the Hotel Catedral Internacional on Mejia Street near the Plaza Grande.

The front of the hotel

Where we ate breakfast

It is a nice hotel, although there is some mold in the bathroom of our room.  And I am allergic to mold, but except for a little headache, I am doing OK.  The headache could be from the altitude too.  Pat has not been having a very good day.  We went out for a little while this morning, but he has been in the room for most of the day.  It must be altitude sickness--terrible headache, nausea, chills, etc.   We tried some mate de coca from the hotel and it didn't do much.  He may just have to work through it.  He has a tendency to get migraines, so it may even be the stress of traveling.

While Pat was in the room, I went exploring on my own a little bit.  I also tried to find some mate de coca.  No luck.  Does anyone know where you can find it?  Do they sell in the stores or the la farmacia?  I would love any suggestions about how we can help him to adjust.

Here are some pictures that I took while I was looking around  The first one was when Pat was with me this morning:

That is Pat in the picture (I actually got him to pose for a picture) at the Plaza Grande

In the Plaza Grande (a statue to fallen heroes)

Some children putting on a program as their parents looked on

Plaza de San Francisco

So not bad for our first day here.  The weather has been cooperating.  Now if we can only get Pat feeling better, everything will be perfect.

We were hoping to go to Cotachaci tomorrow, but if Pat is not feeling better, we will hang around Quito some more.  It's funny, but I feel like I did so much preparation for when we get to Cuenca (where to eat, where to stay, where to go, etc), that I forgot about our few days in Quito.  I don't even have a map, but I am already learning my way around a little bit.

If anyone has any suggestions about the altitude adjustment, please post an answer for me.  See everyone in Cuenca in a few days.  Sue

Friday, February 11, 2011

Starting to Pack

Well, I am finally starting to pack.  We are going to try to take some extra suitcases this time and leave some of it there for when we come back.  That way, we won't have to take so many extra suitcases when we come back for good.

It is hard to believe that we will be in Ecuador a week from tomorrow.  It has been a particularly bad winter here in the United States, and it seemed like our travel time would never come.  Now we are getting excited.  And we have been saving our one dollar bills (especially the really new ones) .  I feel like I have been reading all of the blogs and re-reading some of the information that I didn't want to forget.   I'm sure there will be some things forgotten.

All of our friends and family are not sure what to make us.  They keep asking, "Are you still going to Ecuador?"  But when I show them some of the pictures and the blogs that I follow, then they seem somewhat envious.  Although most of them keep saying that they are not brave to make such a move. 

Pat has stopped telling people that we are moving there.  He is just saying that we are "going on an adventure in South America."  But I don't mind telling the same story over and over.  I keep telling people to follow my blog, although I haven't really been posting as often as I think I will once we get there.  All I have really been doing now is -- going through all of our stuff, purging, sorting, etc. and learning Spanish.  And that doesn't seem exciting enough to write about.   Like who would be interested.

Hasta luego!!  Sue