Wednesday, July 29, 2009


It is with great sadness that we are leaving Cuenca tomorrow morning. It has been a fabulous 8 weeks and we would love to stay longer. However there is business to attend to in Kansas.

We love it here and will be returning next June. Duh....we bought an apartment.

What do we love so much about Cuenca? The list is long, but at the top of that list is all the wonderful people we have met here. The main idea of this post it to thank all of our new friends here. You have made this visit wonderful and you are the main reason we are coming back. Without you, Cuenca is just a beautiful city. With you, it will be our home. You know who you are, so I won´t try to name everyone. If I tried to list everyone, I would just screw it up.

Special thanks to all those who encouraged Brenda with all the ¨├»nteresting¨ ideas for improving the apartment. I hope you are around with your checkbooks in June.

See you soon,
Clarke and Brenda

Friday, July 24, 2009

Apartment Signed, Sealed and Delivered

The sale is final. The apartment is paid for. 1600+ square feet. 40 foot balcony. Way less than 1/2 the price of a similar size house in Topeka......which means 1/4 to 1/6 the cost in Portland. Needs some updating in kitchen and baths, etc. But will be wonderful.

We can´t wait to come back and get started on the next phase of our lives.

No new pics or anything because the Internet in our current rented apt has been down for a couple days and Internet cafes here in Cuenca.

FYI property taxes are $20-30 a YEAR ( $2 - 2.50 a month). No heating bill because none of the houses here have heating or air conditioning.....neither is necessary on the equator in an 8000 foot Andean valley. Water and electric will be less than $30 a month...combined. We won´t need a car and therefor no car expenses. Gotta buy a motorcycle of some kind.
Life is sweet.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It Looks Like We Bought an Apartment

We weren't looking.................

It just sort of happened.

It is in the downtown historic district.
The city shots are views from the balcony. (veranda?)

Perfectly livable right now,
but there is a reason that there are
no pics of the kitchen or 2 bathrooms.
We'll knock out walls
and do the remodel next year.

The deal is not final yet
and may fall through.
But we are prety confident
that it is a done thing....gulp.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Took Some Pictures Today

I took a walk today and actually took the camera with me. Most of the pics (link above on pic or text) were just random pics. Not pics of monuments, churches, architecture or any of the usual "pretty things". I am able to take a couple walks a week of 2 hours or more. (Today was almost 3 hours.) These are exercise type walks...not a casual stroll. FYI the building above is completely faced with tile. Take a close look at it ..... very cool.
Anyway, today I took the camera and would occasionally take it out and take a couple shots in different directions.
On a few of the pics, it may look like I left the city and was in the country. Not true. There are 4 rivers that run through Cuenca. Also you can be walking in a "neighborhood" and see a very fine (expensive) house and next door could be a falling down old place or a vacant lot with old tires in it or someones little corn patch. Neighborhoods as we know them in the US, don't seem to exist here. I don't believe there is any such thing as zoning laws.
Cuenca is a great town for walking! It is not like taking a walk in Topeka.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I WAS WRONG (again)

Before we came to Cuenca, I was afraid that eight weeks might be too long.

I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong. I was wrong.

It is going to be really tough to leave, even if it is for less than a year.
<--- Senor Not So Happy To Leave

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Busses, Busses, Busses .......

So here is ”The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” on the busses.

The Good: Lots and lots of busses. They go everywhere in town….for 25 cents. If you stay on the same bus you can probably ride it all day for your quarter. All the lines are numbered and there might be 50 different routes (I really don’t know). I have seen Linea #1 and Linea #50 and lots of #’s in between. By the way, apparently some of the city busses go a considerable way out of town.

The Bad: No route map. Truly, there is no route map. I have asked around and there appears to be (yes I am saying it again)….no route map. The sign in the front window tells you about three of the major stops it makes. However, if you are truly a newbie - that is not much help. For instance, most of them say “Universidad” on the front. Well, I think there are 8 universities in Cuenca. Apparently if you are born here, the routes are part of your genetic memory. For newcomers, it can either be exciting, intimidating or frustrating …..but it is never boring!

The Ugly: This isn’t really the “ugly” but more like the “miscellaneous”. The busses don’t give change. So you must have exact change. Apparently there is a shortage of quarters in Cuenca ….. solution is to get a roll of quarters. I got mine from Nancy Watson. She calls them bus tokens. Take some time (days, months, years …..”time” is a relative term) and ride the busses till you know where they go. I have done some of that and it can be interesting. By the way, none of the busses seem to go in any specific direction. If a bus happens to be going east when you get on…that means absolutely nothing.

What is the worst thing that can happen if the bus is NOT going where you want? You can always catch a cab. Costs about $1.50 - $2.00 and there are 4,000 of those in Cuenca.

For a Good Time.....catch #7 going south on Salano (not east on 12deabril). Stay on the bus until it fnishes the loop. Take a box lunch, bottle of water and a book. make sure you start out well befor dark. Enjoy! For more fun, stay on for the other loop of the figure 8 that it does!

Friday, July 3, 2009

I Thought I Was on Vacation

Brenda made me get up early today.

She went lap swimming.

She made me climb stairs for 45 minutes. She is stupid. I hate her.

(click on pic for larger version)

And oh yeah, .......Here is a pic of the guy that made my hat. I thought he used gestures because I can't speak Spanish. Turns out he is mute. An extremeely likable man. I went to his store because it was truly the most humble place I saw selling hats. He makes them all himself. As it turns out....he is pretty famous around here.

Laundry Day - From the Softer Side

Cuenca was the original settlement of the Canari people who were later conquered by the Incas and the city was named Tomebama – after the river. The Spaniards colonized the city in the 1500’s and the city became known as Cuenca. The rio Tomebamba is the primary river which meanders merrily through this city. Some of the local indigenous women still wash their clothes in the river, using river rocks as their scrub boards. The clothes are then laid in the grass to dry. I’m humbled each time I see it. I will never complain about doing laundry again!

Ecuador is located on the equator, so most people mistakenly believe it is hot and humid here. Yes and no. Yes, it can be tropical on the coast and the Amazon jungle regions. Cuenca, however, is located in a valley of the Caja Mountains in the southern part of the Andes where the weather is ‘eternally spring’. June, July, and August is considered their winter season where the weather is still gorgeous but it rains more often. November, December, and January is their ‘Camelot weather’ – so they tell us.

Cuenca has three rivers that flow down from the mountains and through the city on their way to join mother Amazon. Consequently, Cuenca is known for its pure and refreshing drinking water. We enjoy it right from the tap.

La vida es buena! (Life is good!)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Today is Brennies Birthday!!

Feliz Cumpleanos Brendita!

It's a little strange actually. Yesterday she was 54. Today she is 50.

You think it is the altitude?

Health Care System

We had heard some astounding stuff abut the health care system here before we came down but we were skeptical.

Although it sounded unbelievable....we are finding it to be true. The care is excellent and very reasonably priced. Many people here do not have health insurance, not because they can't afford it like in the USA but because the medical treatment is so affordable! It seems to be a more simple system. The care is by no means primitive: rather it is traditional. There are some extraordinary concepts at work here.

1) your doctor, dentist or physical therapist actually spends time with you. We've heard it's not unusual for your doctor to make a house call.
2) the insurance companies do not run the show
3) rates are reasonable

Like I said "extraordinary concepts". And a real treat!!
For instance, Brennie and I each had our teeth cleaned and I had one cavity filled. $50. There weren't a bevy of receptionists and extra people running around (that we had to support). It was just the dentist. Very personal and good work.

Example 2, Brenda spent 1 1/4 hours with an osteopathic physician today about her chronic hip condition. (Her physical therapist actually walked us over to his office and translated for us.) He did an extraordinary job of examining her. Incredible really. Not like anything I had ever seen. $30. Thirty dollars!!!! And he may actually be finding the problem that has plagued her for 20 years.

Hell, at that rate I might be able to afford liposuction AND viagra! Life IS sweet.