Featured Post

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quito - Part 3 of 3


Presidential Palace.  Isn't it interesting that cars and people can get right up to it?  NOT SO in AMERICA!!!



Inside the church (from the previous photo).  Not supposed to take pictures in here, but I just turned the flash off and snuck one in.  hehehehehehe


Central Bank.  Notice the figurines holding light fixtures up near the roof.


When's my break?   My arms are getting tired!!!

Looking up to the hill where a winged Mary presides over the city.

Huge convent (one of several).  Getting a facelift, so they hung a scrim with an image of the convent on it so people could still enjoy the looks.

Quito - Part 2 of 3

When we (Kathleen and I) came down off the volcano, we hailed a taxi and headed for the Basillica...a large cathedral you can spot from nearly anywhere in Quito.  This is the first cathedral I've seen in Ecuador of the gothic design.   Gothic cathedrals are everywhere in Europe.

From there, we wandered towards the 'old town' which is primarily where all the UNESCO World Heritage buildings are, and where the presidential palace (think White House) is located.  



Notice the gargoyles around the perimeter of the cathedral.  There's two leopards(?) and two aligators in this photo.  In Europe, sometimes these were also used as downspouts.  So, when it rained, they looked like they were puking rainwater out their mouths!  LOL!

The interior ceiling.   How DID they do that several hundred years ago????

The huge stained glass rose window.




Looking back towards the Basilica...from whence we came.

We had lunch here, up on the 3rd level, and bought some souveniers, too.

Looking back down to the center court from our table.

Purty building.

A couple of boys earing some $$ giving shoe-shines in the main square.

Quito - Part 1 of 3

Since Kathleen (Awayback) had to fly home via Quito, I decided to fly with her to Quito and stay a few days since, in the past, I'd only been there as a 1-night transition to Cuenca.  Cost?  $49 roundtrip air from Cuenca....about a 45 minute flight each way.  When she flew down, she stayed near the Mariscal, a trendy neighborhood in the 'new town' area.   She had fun partying at the Foch square and wanted to spend more time checking things out. 

We stayed in a very nice remodelled old colonial hotel called Casa Foch...just 2 blocks from the main party square.  We had a large room with a queen bed and 2 singles, including breakfast, for $65 a night. 

First thing on our agenda on Day #1 was the Teleferico....an aerial tram that takes you from Quito's 9,000 feet base to nearly 13,000 feet up the side of a volcano.  The trip up was breathtaking....literally and figuratively.   The city of Quito layed below us and, luckily, it was a clear day so we could see all the way to the snow-covered volcano in Cotopaxi which is about a 2 hour drive from Quito.

When this development was built, it had grand plans.  A convention hall, disco, restaurants, shops, overnight accomodations, and even an amusement park were built.  But, most of it died out when the business didn't come.  All that is left is the amusement park at the base of the lift, and a gift and snack shop at the top...the rest is empty lifeless buildings.  Even so, the vista at the top was amazing, and we weren't even at the top of the volcano!! 

Ever try to breath at 13,000 feet AND walk?  EEESH!!!   Just going up and down a few stairs winded me.  While at the top, Kathy and I got some funny photos taken (see below).

At the base.

Going UP!!


.....and UPPPP!!!  That's the base and amusement park you see below.



The top of the volcano is that jagged area up ahead...another couple thousand feet up.  No thanks.

Me, barely breathing, at the summit.


What I wanted to do to Kathleen at times.




What she wanted to do to me MOST of the time!

Going DOWWWWWN!!!!  (look how small those other aerial cars are!!)



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hollywood Here I Come!!

Actually, been there/done that...about 25 years ago.  

Recently, there was a solicitation in Gringo Tree (an expat communication forum) for 'Extras' to play a part in a video being produced and, hopefully, submitted to a film festival.  They wanted someone over 50 (dammit), preferrably blond (check), and stunningly good looks (check, and double check check).  OK OK!!...so I made up the last part!!!  I thought, what the heck, something different to do, another adventure, and I had been an Extra before, back in my Hollywood days in the mid-80's. 

Five of us were selected.  We showed up at the appointed time of 9:30am on Saturday, at the Cuenca municipal cemetery.   We hadn't a clue what the storyline was and why it involved a cemetery.  We waited, and waited, and waited until a few were threatening to leave because the crew hadn't shown up.  After all, as non-Ecuadorians, we are used to showing up on time and consider it rude to be late and keep others waiting.  On top of that, no one had bothered to call to inform us why they were late or when they might arrive.  But, EC'rs are known not to be punctual.   In fact, it's almost opposite in that it is considered rude if you are told to come to someone's house at 7pm for dinner and you show up at 7pm.  It is common to be 'late' as much as an hour.   Go figure.

After 45 minutes of waiting and chatting amongst us ex-pats and sharing our stories, I decided to call the lead person's cell phone but only got voicemail and left a message.  About 15 minutes later Hernan returned the call and said they were running late (DUH) and would be there in 10.

A bunch of people showed up with many of them dressed in whacky costumes and makeup.  The brief synopsis of the scene to be shot was....a family of clowns and magicians are at the cemetery carrying the casket of their father.  One of the sons, who the family tried and tried to teach him how to be a clown but he failed miserably, is also carrying the casket but he's dressed in a suit as he eventually became a bank teller.  As they are gaily carrying the casket through the cemetery grounds, a group of tourists (enter us) notices them and is intrigued by their uniqueness and starts taking photos of them.   The clowns love the camea so they start showing off for the tourists which causes more camera clicking.  I leap into the scene and get a fellow tourist to take a picture of me hamming it up with one of the sons/clowns...all with the casket and mourning widow behind us.  Yeah, yeah, weird, I know.  It's ART!!!  

A few takes and retakes and CUT!!  THAT'S A WRAP!!  That was it.  Back home by 1pm.



The backdrop of the scene.  These graves obviously are for the more wealthy as they occupy the ground and are quite large.

An antique Hearse.

Hernan, the director, and some of the cast.

She is the wife of one of the Extra's.  I swear she looks like Carol Burnett (tho not so much in this pic) and I felt like I was talking TO CB.   I finally asked her, and she had never heard of looking like CB.  WHA????


The grieving widow.

More of the cemetery.  Some of these actually house a casket, whereas other structures are only deep enough for urns.  Most have lockable glass doors that family can open and put flowers, trinkets, photos, etc inside.

A Medical Experience

Many of my friends have traveled to foreign places and ended up getting Montezuma's Revenge.  I have never had that problem.  Even coming to Cuenca, I drank water out of the tap with no problems...tho, Cuenca is known for it's high-quality, safe water.  However, over a week ago I was in Quito for a few days.  Friday evening a friend and I went out to dinner and we ate the exact same thing, except I had wine, he didn't.  By morning, I was running to the bathroom and must've done so 20 more times that day.  I felt awful but was happy I was flying home that evening.  Sunday, I felt fine, but everything was still passing through me as if it was the express lane, no traffic, straight shot, start-to-finish in less than 5 seconds.  Monday, felt cruddy again, and still the runs.  Tuesday, the frequency diminished but still the problem persisted.  I consulted my best friend Brian who is experienced in this sort of thing, wondering how long before it self-corrects?  It would take meds.   So, Wednesday, I went to see a doctor for the first time....a doctor that was on my spreadsheet of references where I keep a list of things others recommend based on their own experience.

The hospital was nearby.  I went up to the 5th floor where Dr Parra's office is located.  There was ONE receptionist for the floor, who collected the $25 fee and gave me a number (like those pull tabs when you're waiting in line).  No appointments, just first come/first served.  I sat outside the doctor's office with a few others.  When the doctor was finished with a patient, he simply opened his door, let them out, and invited the next person in. 

When it was my turn, I walked into a large office space that was divided in two by a privacy wall.  On one side was a typical office desk, the other side the examination table and medical equipment/supplies.  We introduced ourselves (he is bilingual), sat down, and he proceeded to ask me a series of question (name, phone, occupation, etc) as he filled out what looked like a file card, and of course, what my problem was.  Over to the exam table to take my temp (fine), BP (fine), listen to heart/lungs (fine), and a series of more questions, and weighed me.  Poked around...ouch...yep, inflamed large intestine. 

I spent about 45 minutes with him and walked out with 3 prescriptions, instructions, and his personal cell phone # which he asked me to call him the next day and advise him how I was doing.

Off to the pharmacy and got the prescriptions filled for $21.00 plus change. 

Thursday, I felt better and the frequency of the runs had gone down significantly.  I was not to eat any solids for 24-30 hours after seeing the doctor.   I ate some food Thursday evening.  Friday, the runs had come back.  I called the doctor again (he answers his own phone) and he theorized my body wasn't ready for solid food yet, to go back to liquids-only again and call him at 7pm.   I did, the runs stopped, and I called him at 7pm (this is now the 3rd call).   He was pleased.   I was told to stay on liquids-only until Saturday afternoon at which time I could have soup (oh, yea....big thrill).   Then, I could steadily increase.  Then, please, call him on Monday and report in.  Well, that did the trick...no more episodes and I'm back to eating normally....EIGHT DAYS after it all began.

What was the source of the problem in the first place?  Don't know.  I drank tap water at David's house Friday afternoon.  Maybe that was it.  The doctor asked me several times if I had eaten seafood.  I said 'no'.  But, it dawned on me later that one of the pizzas we ate had salmon on it.  Like I said, David ate it, too.  So, who knows.

Doctor's visit 45 minutes, 4 personal phone calls, 3 medications, 1 receptionist, no nurses, no parking costs, not an existing patient, no medical coverage.....cost.....$46.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day Trip - Cajas

Another side trip while Kathleen was here was a trip up to the Cajas National Park.  It's the same route I've taken several times that takes you to Guayaquil.   But, since GYE is usually my destination, I'm usually in a hurry and don't pull over when I see something interesting.   This time, I could finally stop at those places I flew by in the past.

First stop, a place that all you saw from the road was some thatched huts and various statures (some religious) scattered about the hillside.  It's quirky, that I'll give it.   This place takes advantage of the streams and waterfalls passing through it, to create fish ponds where people can fish for trout.  No fancy fishing poles, just a stick, some line, and bait.  Scattered about were cool-looking thatched huts, walkways running here and there, lined with railings made out of gnarly, twisted wood.  Oddly, there were several llife-sized statues of historical Christian characters (don't ask, I don't know who they were).  One looked like Christ up the hill overlooking the small development and blessing it all.  Another was some greek looking guy with wings holding a sword as he's about to decapitate another man lying on the ground.  LOOK KIDS!!!  On the flip side, were whimsical animal statues such as two dinosaurs holding a rod betwen their mouths which supported a swing set.  Go figure.








That's Kathleen on the bridge.  Notice the elaborate railing work.


Further up the road, was a hosteria (hotel/resort).   It, too, catered to the fishing folk as did many hole-in-the-walls along the road, but also had facilities for horseback riding, a lodge, and beautiful restaurant.  Here's their website: 



Waterfalls were everywhere.  This was way off the road, racing down the slopes.

Magnificent backdrop behind the lodge

A large fountain/pond with boulders, foliage, and fish is the centerpiece of the restaurant.


This place had several cozy rock fireplaces, though this one was massive.  Notice the size of the copper teapot hanging from the mantle. 

From the stairway looking back across the restaurant.  When's the last time you saw a boulder in the middle of a restaurant?

Another cozy place to just hang out, kickback, and enjoy a glass of wine.


Llama in the gutter alongside the highway.


At the national park station, around 12,000 ft, looking back from whence we came


About Me

My photo
Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

Total Views