Ho Ho Ho, etc.

Well, good morning everyone and Merry Christmas to all.  It’s Christmas morning here in Cuenca and I thought I’d better catch you all up on what’s happening down here.  It’s 7 a.m., the streets are wet (but the rain has stopped) and the clouds are low on the mountains, but they’ll burn off as the morning progresses.  I imagine the munchkins are still sleeping, but they should be up soon and I’m sure there will be plenty of joy and bright faces this morning.  We are wishing we could be with the family and grandkids today and are hoping for lots of photos and videos.  Perhaps we’ll be there next year.

We’ve moved into our new (brand new) apartment (about a month ago) and are loving that.  We bought appliances and furniture and are getting very comfortable here.  Mimi has her massage room all set up and has been building a nice little business over the past month.  We’ve been at peace here … up until lately that is.

Thanks mainly to a screwup by our attorneys (and the ecuadorian goverrnment changing the system), we will now have to return the the States sometime in January (at their invitation) and then re-apply for visa status, which means doing the paperwork (and the expense) all over again.  Sigh!   To their credit, the government here is much more interested in the welfare of their people than say, the United States government, and they are trying to get this immigration mess straightened out, but we got caught right in the middle of the changes.  So, we’re planning on flying back to Florida late in January.   Then we’ll see where the wind is blowing us.

In the meantime, I thought I’d better send along some images from Cuenca.  Mimi and I were in the mountains a few weeks ago, so I’ll include a couple of photos from that trip.  The rest were taken at the Christmas parade yesterday in El Centro (the old part of town).  It is the biggest Christmas parade in South America and goes from 9 in the morning til 4 in the afternoon.  The day was sunny and warm – gorgeous.  Here are the photos with explanations below.

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The first image is Mimi and Grace getting orchids (yes, they are wild and everywhere) up in the hills around Cuenca.  The next few photos are from that trip – a picnic by the river, the valley, etc.  We were a little above 10,000 feet on this trip.   The rest of the photos are from the Christmas parade and festivities in El Centro.  As you can see, people dress either as biblical characters or in their native dress (especially the kids) and parade through the streets.  People come from all over (even outside the country) for this celebration, which ends up with the baby Jesus being taken to the new cathedral (blue domes) and a big celebration taking place.  There are a couple of photos of vendors – we buy some of our fruits, especially strawberries, from the wheelbarrow vendors.  The blue uniforms are street cleaners – it is a very clean city.  And, of course, there is one of Mimi next to the big xmas tree in the main square.  Mimi and I only stayed for a couple of hours, then walked home – yes, we’re BIG walkers now – it was only about 25 blocks.

We’ll see what the future brings … when it gets here.  We’re still adventuring!!!


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It’s a better week

Went out to Peg’s house with Grace and Fernando to try out their oven.  Fernando had built it a year or so ago but it had never been tested.  Looks pretty rough, but I thought I’d lite it on fire and see what happened.  Photos below.  Oh, the first photo in the series is Doctora Andrea – Mimi’s dentist.

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I have volunteered to help Fernando build another oven and/or fix up what he has.  Should be a fun and interesting project.  I’m hoping they accept on building a new one (they will have to buy the materials).  We’ll keep you posted.

Mimi has one more trip to see Doctora Andrea, then she is hopefully finished with the dentist for now.  She loves Dra. Andrea and I’m sure will miss her – but not the drill.

Today, we signed up for our health insurance program.  It’s $92.56 per month for the both of us and covers 100% up to $20,000 for each occurance.   We can add up to a million more for another $60 or so a month, but figure the $20K/per incident ought to be enough down here.  So, that was done today and we went to the German Bakery to celebrate – pastry to die for and the sandwiches are excellent also.  What diet?

We also met a couple (coming into the insurance office as we were leaving) – Lional & Jackie – we talked a little – nice people.  We’re hoping to get to see more of them.  On the same note, Peg’s birthday is this week (as is Sally’s in Weaverville) – I think they’re both around 30 something.  I believe we’re going up to Gringo Towers to celebrate with some of Peg’s friends but that is to be determined – again, we’ll keep you posted.

Oh, it’s movie time (with popcorn) so I’m outta here.

Chow chow for now.

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Dave the Grouch

Well, good morning all. Hope you’re having a wonderful day!!!

I have to say I’m feeling particularly venomous this morning,
thank you wal…. for not accepting my order for a pair of pants (even though
the shipping address is in the states and the credit card is fine). Between
them and these fanatic (and/or idiotic) politicians and wanna-be powerfuls in
the states, I’m just off my breakfast today.   Perhaps a revolution would be in order!?!

But, on a lighter note, the sky is full of fluffy white clouds, Louis
and the girls are out in front of the building playing soccer (or something
like it) and it’s fun to watch them. I’m listening to my usual radio station
(Portland, Oregon classical) and that is somewhat soothing. Once I take my
shower, I’m going to walk down to SuperMaxi and buy some more strawberries –
yummy!!! That should make me feel some better.

Not too much happening here and that is good. We’re considering
buying a new mattress. We’re both getting tired of sleeping in a hole (in the
foam). We saw a pillow-top mattress downtown for $261 and have been lusting
after it. I’ve also been looking at paper cutters, but they are expensive. I
have a great one in Hollywood, but it’s too big to fit in a suitcase (I think).

Speaking of which, Liz and friend Elaine are coming for a visit in
January. That will be great. They’re going to the Galapagos first, then coming
here. Would love to go to the islands with them, but it is a bit expensive for
us for now. We are hoping they can bring us a few things that we left in
Hollywood. It will be great to have visitors.

Alfredo was supposed to bring me the studio lights on Wednesday.
Having failed that, I was expecting him on Thursday. Again, no show. So, now
it’s Saturday and Noshy (Alfredo’s wife) is coming to get her photo taken this
afternoon. Hummmm? Still no lights.

Our Spanish is still struggling (or pathetic) so we’ve got a young
couple coming over tomorrow to start working with us.  It’s our own damn fault – we’re just not
putting any time into learning it.  We
can get by with what we know, so it’s easy to slide.  A little more motivation is needed on our

On Sunday, we’re heading out to Peg’s to try and fire up the
wood-fired oven that Fernando made.  I
have my doubts about it, but said we’d give it a try.  I’ve been thinking about building an oven
here (somewhere here), but so far have resisted the urge.  I wouldn’t mind making an oven in a
restaurant and specializing in pizza, but that is more money then we have to spend.  Anyway, tomorrow is Fernando’s oven – I’ll
have pics next week.

I’m off to the shower – Chow Chow for Now!

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Sunday, the 11th – Another Nice Day in Cuenca

We went downtown this morning to find some papel fotografico (photo paper) for my new Epson photo printer.  We hiked around to several stores and yup, you guessed it – closed.  Even the guy who floats and is usually at the big church (with the blue domes) was on vacation.  Well, we had a nice walk anyway – and we took some (never before seen) photos.

The photos start with the 2 little girls who were out playing in a puddle in front of our building with some paper boats after a rain the other day.  They are cute as a button (as Mom used to say) and belong to the building guard who lives on the first floor.  Next is a view of the city from the church at Turi, which is just above the city.  Our neighborhood is on the left side of the photo, not too far in from the mountains.  Next pic is Dragon Fruit and it is delicious!!!  Next several shots (up to the pic of us eating) were taken this morning in and around the flower market – which is in the courtyard of a church.

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Noshy & Alfredo invited us out to lunch and all 7 of us piled into their black limo (I’ll get a pic of that sometime soon) and we drove up to Che’s Restaurant – the owner loves Che Guevera (sp may be off here) and there are photos of him and other revolutionaries all over the restaurant.  Anyway, we had lunch (pig, chicken, rice, potato cakes, white corn, something like lima beans – it was all very good.  We did not have any cuy (guinea pig) – perhaps next time – but you can see 2 of them cooking on the spit next to the chickens.  Mimi got lots of pics.  Kids are Sarita, Ruben, Matthew.  Last pic is me and Jefe (pronounced heffy) Alfredo (Boss Al) up at Turi at the overlook.

I’m going to try to insert a movie clip here – this is one of the “entertainers” around the Blue Dome church downtown.  As I said, floating guy wasn’t there, but we’ll get him next week.  The neño (boy) with the gato (cat) was just standing watching the entertainer.  See what you think.  …….  Hummm?  That isn’t as easy as I thought – I’ll have to make it into a YouTube video first (or pay $60 to use the WordPress video converter).  OK, well, I’ll work on putting this video thing together, putting it out on Youtube, then adding it here on a future blog.

Mimi’s calling for “Smoothies” and Peter/Nichole/Mia are about to call and SKYPE!  So I’m outta here.  Chow Chow


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September already

My but time is flying by.  We’ve already been here two and a half months.  It seems, to our “mature” minds, that we’ve been here years.  We’re both very comfortable with this new life and we’re really loving this city.  Our attorneys said we’ve got another couple of months (at least) to wait for our visas and we’re hoping that they will accept us.  We’re following the news from the states – and we’re glad to be in Ecuador.

Mimi got her haircut yesterday at Miriam’s.  It’s kind of fun to go there because she speaks NO english – so Mimi just tells her to “do whatever she wants” – see pics below.  I spend my waiting time sitting in one of the barber chairs reading “El Condorito”, which is a comic book series here (in Spanish, of course).  I believe the caption says “You wanted the neighbor, my love?”  My Spanish is not great yet, but I think that is correct.  And yes, their culture is a bit spicy (smile).  Of course, the frig art is our gallery of princess art.

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Noshy was over to do Spanish lessons and decided she’d cook us dinner, so we had rice and peas and a tortilla made with tuna fish (the only thing we had in the house at the time).  Pretty good – tasted a lot like a fish cake.  We’re redoing our diets, cutting out meat, chicken, fish, dairy, sugar —- hummmm — I guess that leaves fruits, veggies, water, and tree bark.  We’ll keep you posted.

Weather is gorgeous today.  Its been rainy and a bit cool (mid to high 60s) for a week or more, but today it’s sunny and blue skys (and will probably get up to a soaring 70).   Spring is almost here, so we’ll be warmnig up a few degrees soon.

This sunday we’re supposed to go with Alfredo to take some pictures around the city.  He has a car which makes it easier to dash around.  We’re also going to try to get out into the mountains sometime soon and get some pics there.  El Cajas national park is just a short ride out of the city and is beautiful (we have heard) – so we’ll try to shoot it soon and post it.

We’re looking for someone who is coming to visit – we need a few things brought down (like an Epson 1400 printer and socks for Mimi).  Any volunteers?  Actually, if anyone is coming this way, please let us know – we’d like to get Mimi’s massage table brought down.

That’s all for now.   Chow Chow

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Tuesday again

Well, it’s Tuesday again – we’re loosing track of days now.  The only thing that regulates our time now is Mimi’s dentist appointments.  Once those are done, we may go off the calendar completely.

OK, some more pics are in order.  First is little David at 2 weeks old (parents are still in shock/sleep deprivation mode).  Next is some roses (the national flower) from the downtown flower market.  We’ll get some good photos of the market this weekend.  The little parro (dog) was the guard at a downtown funeral shop (caskets – many were child size).  Then several more street scenes.  The steps (don’t show very well), but there are 89 of them.  We huffed and puffed our way up them at first – now we can just walk normally up them. (smile).  The river is the Tomebamba about a block from our apartment.  The neighborhood roofs was taken from our roof (7 stories up) – roofs may be a repeat from the other blog that the dorks at google deleted.

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We went to a concert (German Youth Orchestra – up to 21 years old) last Wednesday evening with Peg.  Beautiful auditorium and wonderful performance.  Brought back memories of Peter’s days in the orchestra.  We do wish he had kept it up.  Anyway, there are lots of concerts and events here – most are free – so it’s just taxi fare or bus quarters for expenses.

Went to Peg’s on Friday (sans Mimi) to fix her dinning table with Alfredo (Noshy’s husband).  He has a handyman business and I got to be his assistant.  Nice to play with tools and repairs again – I do miss that.

We’ve been mostly lazy and haven’t gone out much.  I’ve been working on the book (now published) and the websites (mostly up and running) … see www.CuencaFotografia.com for one of them.  The medical thing I’m still working on.  I’m also thinking about a political blog (off with ALL their heads) – still figuring out what I want to say on that (actually, I know what I want to say, I’m just trying to find a half-way polite way of saying it).  Although we don’t physically live in the country, we are still very concerned about it’s survival.  OK, enough of that – my blood pressure is going up again.

Bought some hamburger at SuperMaxi the other day and it was actually pretty good.  We haven’t be able to find meat that we like, but this stuff was close to stateside taste.  I had a burger and it was good.  Put some in my famous “Dave’s Spaghetti Sauce” and it was good too.  So maybe meat is back on the menu – perhaps once a month or so.

We’re hoping our little camera will show up by the end of the week.  We’re itching to make some videos and post them on here.

I’m going to go work on some photos to calm my mind!

Chow Chow

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More Dentist – Pics of Town – Lunch with Peg

Well, today is Tuesday and we went into town again to have lunch with Peg – El Tunel – appitizer, soup, main dish (fried rice with shrimp), desert (always the best part) and fresh squeezed juice.  $2 each.  We LOVE that.

Yesterday, we were in town for some x-rays for Mimi – she’s starting her dental routine later this afternoon.  Doctora Andrea – very nice and just 7 blocks from here.  I’ll let you know how that all works out.

Here’s a few more pics from yesterday – 1st is Mimi shooting a gate, me shooting the kids climbing an old stone arch bridge, a girl decenting the bridge (with help from a friend), a few street and building scenes, then some scenes at one of the open markets near Parque Calderone, the a couple of shops (the town is full of these types of shops – very small).  The rest are more churches – there is something like two dozen in the downtown area – All Old.

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We also got a really cute video of Mia yesterday – she’s reciting “Indian Child” – I think she’s headed for stardom.  You can see her in action on Youtube.com   – search for Mia Indian Child … it should be the first one on the list.

We’ve decided that we’ve been eating too much sugar, so we’re cutting down on trips to the bakery – darn!!!    Maybe it will help with our girlish figures.

The building across the street is still growing – it’s up to 5 floors now and they’re working on #6.  We hear it’s going to 12 stories – I’ll have to go to our roof to take pics pretty soon.

We’ve heard that our Canon SX 230 HS has left Miami headed south, so we’re expecting that in another 10 days or so.  That will make it easier to shoot street scenes and to take videos.

Nearing time to go to see Doctora Andrea – I’ll try to write more soon.

Chow Chow

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