Just a few ramblings about events in recent days.
CUE - GYE - CUE in one day
Robert and Franny, from New York state, purchased my house some months ago and we've become friends. They are one of the bold ones who shipped all their worldly goods in a container from New York to Ecuador. I couldn't imagine doing it what with all the granular tasks you must perform such as listing EVERY item in the container and their value right down to the number of spoons. And, the bureaucracy....one goof and you could screw the whole process up. And, the packing so things arrive in the same condition they left. And, the waiting. And, the cost.
When their container arrived at the shipping port in Guayaquil, they had to go down and sign papers in person. Every day the container sat there, no matter the reason, was costing them $90 a day.
F&R don't own a car, so they asked me to drive them down there and back in one day. We had fun in the car while they enjoyed the spectacular views going over the Cajas. I only scared them once when a bus decided to dare me to get back in my lane from passing before colliding. It is VERY common here that drivers don't give-in even if it may mean death. I SWEAR!! One time I was passing a car and decided it wasn't going to work and tried to return to my driving lane...the traffic wouldn't let me in!! They honked their horn at me!! I digress.
We got to hot/humid GYE and met up with a coordinator who led us out to the marina. 20 minutes later the papers were signed and we were back in the car to drive back to CUE. We did stop at a nice mall and had lunch at Chili's, a very American restaurant.
To break up the trip back, we stopped a few times for photo-ops and a bit of shopping for fruits and plants at roadside shacks.
We left CUE around 7:30am and I got back to my house at the same time...but PM. Twelve hours...ugh....my head was spinning from all the zig-zaggy driving down to GYE (from 8,000 feet to 13,000 feet to sea-level), then back up to CUE (from sea-level to 13,000 feet and down to 8,000 feet).
|Robert and Franny tasting various products the vendor gave them.|
|On the way back up to CUE, we stopped to admire the clouds and topography that we had just driven through.|
|Franny taking a photo. Robert was off smokin a cig. BAAAD ROBERT!!!!|
Gettimg Internet Installed
I've spent a lot of time getting internet accounts set up and water/electricity accounts switched over as a result of moving and buying the 2 rental apartments. I've got the processes down pat now.
When I purchased my first apartment, I had to hurry to get Internet established because I had a guest coming soon thereafter to apartment-sit and take care of my feline kids while I was in the US of A. ETAPA, one of the internet companies, was backlogged and couldn't come out until almost 10 days later. When they did, I opened the door and there standing before me were two 'kids' with knapsacks ready to do the installation. They looked 14!!! I turned to Peg, my guest, and said 'Honey, the kids are home'!!!
We watched as they did the installation. There was NO WAY any of this could've/would've occured in the States. First, they said the phone line in the apartment was not their company's so they couldn't use it. What? You mean there's a physical line for each and every possible company? EEEESH. That meant they had to string their own line. Now, in the USA, this would've halted the job right then and there, a new appointment would have to be made for a different crew to come out, and the 'special' circumstances would've cost hundreds of dollars.
First, let me give you an image. There are 40 units in the complex. My unit is in the back of the complex on the 4th level. The electrical room, where all the connection/hubs are, is located in the front of the complex on the first level. I thought...they're going to string a line all the way from the front of the building, back, and up to my place??? Yep. These kids strung a line up walls, pillars, and railings to get to the ROOF, then slung the wire along the entire length of the red-tiled roof, then dangled it outside the back bedroom window where it was pulled in and connected to the WIFI router!!!! Job done!!!! Mind you, OSHA would've had a fit, they had no safety belts or ropes. The company would've had a fit because it took 6 hours. The condominium Board would've had a fit because internet lines strung across the roof is against the CC&R's. The whole job was against standard protocol, but THEY GOT IT DONE!! And, at no additional charge.....just the regular $28 installation fee. As another blogger writes when she signs off...."Cuenca, gotta love it!!!"
|TIMMY!!! You get down off that roof right NOW!!|
|Peg (from Seattle) and the 'kids' checking their installation.|
|Yours truly checking www.speedtest.net for download/upload speeds.|
The ExPat population here in Cuenca make sure some of the traditions they're used to back home continue here. For example, some of the restaurants owned by ExPats, and some that ExPats frequent, put together Thanksgiving dinners.
Last week I attended a Christmas party. Yes, we say CHRISTMAS here because that's WHAT IT IS and we're not slaves to being politically correct. Anyhoo, Sterling, a well-known ExPat, hosted a party on the roof of the apartment building where he lives. It has a huge patio with stunning views. We watched the sun set and then downtown Cuenca took on a whole new look.
|Steeples of Santo Domingo church|
|View to the Cajas, though a bit blurry.|
|Rooftop view over to the New Cathedral|
|Stormy looking clouds out East.|
|Looking across and down the street from the rooftop patio.|
|Santo Domingo church steeples lit up at night.|
|Party crashers. Chris/Kim from England (or is it Finland?), Cathy from the big D, A, double L, A, S (she swirls ice), and Ed (from San Diego via Iran...of course!).|
|Regina playing bouncer at the front entrance.|
The Villa San Carlos also put on a party. I went to this place a few months back for a party featuring several local artists. The villa is drop-dead gorgeous. It's one of those hidden gems that you'd have no clue how nice it is simply by what you see from the street. It's a real treat. And, it's directly across the street from my latest rental apartment purchase, so if I were to get slosshed, I can just stagger across the street and be 'home'.
There were many large tables of 10 expertly decked out with linens, a glass for water, a glass for red wine, and the 'proper' glass for white wine and the mandatory array of silverware ranging from large to tiny. How many spoons do I really need? They had a large buffet loaded with shrimp, caesar salad, sauteed vegetables, turkey, ham, beef, mashed potatoes, stuffing and an array of sauces, chutney, and breads. Our wine glasses were regularly topped of by very a very attentive wait staff. Then came desserts...3 too choose from, or have one of each. Luckily they were small portions since I went to the buffet line twice. We gabbed about our pets, the performances around town, the recent fundraiser for a pet shelter, and how good someone looked after her facelift 3 weeks ago. All for $25 (the food, not the facelift).
|Guess which one had some 'work' done?|
Afterwards, I went for a walk along the river. This year, the city put up approximately 200 lighted shapes such as bells, flowers, angels, etc along the river walkway for about a 6-block stretch. The trees are also backlit in various colors. With the barranca (embankment) in the background lined with traditional Ecuadorian architecture, it's really a sight to be seen.
Then, over to a nearby plaza where giant figurines lit up with swirling lights loomed over the baby Jesus in, yes, a lit up with swirling lights manager.
|Illuminated figurines along the river.|
|On both sides of the river.|
|Hmmm....looks like someone who got laid off from Walmart and decided to retire to Ecuador!|
I'm always fascinated at the number of people who come out on a sunny day and wash their clothes, blankets, etc in the rivers around Cuenca and lay them out on the lawns to dry. Sometimes they bring their cows along with them to graze in the park while they do laundry.