Featured Post

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cuenca Independence Day - #3

No, it wasn't the 3rd anniversary of CID, it was MY 3rd time being here to be part of the celebration!!

People from all over EC come to be a part of the CID festivities that span almost a week.  My friends the Gabors, however, head out of Dodge to their beach retreat to shun the hordes of people and paparazzi.

There are so many events it's hard to know what's going on and where.  There's parades, indoor and outdoor concerts, tons of food vendors lining streets, the carnival, the 4-H'ish fair, parties, and blocks and blocks of tented crafts booths.  Coinkidinkly, the Day of the Dead celebration starts the whole thing off. This is where thousands of people go to the cemeteries to visit the long-gone, clean, and adorn their gravesites.

One of the BEST events I went to was a performance of the Cuenca Symphony.   They did two concerts, one outdoors in a large park, and the other outdoors in a plaza behind the Central Bank next to the Pumapungo ruins.  I organized a small group of friends to have dinner at a nearby restaurant none of us had been to.  We do a lot of that here...always trying out new (to us) places.  Afterwards, we simply walked a long block to the site and wound back behind the bank and museum to find the site of the performance.  It was perfect!  The site was surrounded by colonial architecture, arched colonnades, and palms.  The concert included performances by the Army band and a 12-member Mariachi group.  Added to the spectacle were canons and fireworks.   And...........................it was all FREE.

Here's some photos from the concert:

Approximately 1,000 in attendance on 2 levels

Cuenca's Symphony orchestra

The Army band (with canon lower left)



Another event coinciding with CID was the opening of the brand spanking new Planetarium.  Parque de la Madre was gutted and completely rebuilt over the past year-plus, including an underground 200 car parking garage.  But, what wasn't completed when PDLM re-opened was the new Planetarium.  The old one was demolished and a new one, resembling the planet Saturn, was constructed.  There are several shows daily. Cost? .............................................FREE.

Our new Planetarium theater.

Here's photos from more of the Cuenca Independence Day (CID) celebrations:

Each of these 'animals' are entirely made of foam.

Look at the size relative to the people!!!

This creature walked about (see human legs)

See the speakers near the feet of this 'thing'.  It roared 'GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!'


The CIDAP museum.  I soooooooo want to have this kind of place for my house!!!!

Vendor tents selling alpaca clothing, leather, artwork, and other kinds of crafts.

Very creative vendor 'stall'.  Inside were the handicrafts of various artisans.

A live mockup of the new lightrail train under construction in Cuenca.

Daddy....I want a PONY!!!!

I LOVE this.   If you wanted a glass of sugar-cane juice, these guys will squeeze one for you.  Notice the guys pushing and rotating the tree limb, while the cane is fed through one end, sqoooshed by the gears to get a cup-o-juice.


Am I an Alpaca, or a Llama?   THAT is the question!!!


Typical example of what would NEVER be allowed in the USA due to liability, lawsuits, and money-grubbing lawyers.  Here, anyone can ride a bucking bronco...or...bucking lamb.  Depending on who wants to do it, the team selects the appropriate animal.   Here, a young tyke takes on a bucking lamb....but gets hurled off.  She was ecstatic for the experience.


Yummee.  Not sure what it is...but...YUMMEEEE!!!

In the old stadium where bullfights were held (now illegal), horses and their trainers exhibit their ability to jump fences.

Up-Puh-Dee, UP-PUH-DEE.....TTTTHHHHAT'S ALLLLL FOLKS!!!

Dano

I'm thinking of writing my own piece called "I See Dumb Dogs":
Oh no you're not Gracie...Now get outa my blog!!!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I See Dumb People

As I sat down to write my next entry, I had to decide what the topic would be.   I have a lot stored up.   Lately, I've had on my mind to write about the whacko, dumb, puzzling, mind-numbing encounters I've had in recent months.  But, that might be construed as being 'negative' (maybe even spewing it) and/or dusting off my 'Ugly American' badge.   It was either going to be another travel entry with lots of pretty photos, or hit on some things that might strike nerves.   Sitting at my desk, I looked up at the black night sky and there was my answer....a FULL MOON.    Full moons and weirdos go together.

Thus, the title of this entry...a twerk on the movie title 'I See Dead People'.

So, don't blame me if you don't like what I'm about to tell you, blame the full moon.  Reality is real, and this is MY reality.

I meet a lot of people, either physically and/or online, because:
  • I write a blog that has a few thousand views per entry.
  • I have two short-term rentals designed for visitors and temporary re-locators.
  • I, from time to time, drive for those who don't have cars but want to see other places surrounding Cuenca.
Oftentimes, in social gatherings, people share their war stories encountering people who are intending to come here, or have already blessed us with their presence.   If they were to speak freely, they would find themselves wanting to say 'please, DON'T come to Ecuador!!!'.  Not because we're already here and want to shut the door and not let any more in...but, because we don't want any (or any more) spacecases coming!!!   Stay home!

Let's look at some examples, shall we?  Questions posed, and how I would've responded if I had the guts (but I'm waaaay too nice to):
  • People who've posted questions in online open-public forums, where any reader can respond:
    • Question:  'What clothes should I bring?"
      • Answer:  'Where are you coming FROM and where are you going TO???  I mean, c'mon...if you're coming from Phoenix and you're used to 100 degrees, or you're coming from North Dakota, the answer will be completely different.   Likewise, where you're going TO.  The coast (hot/humid)?  The mountains (cool)?'
    • Question:  'My gas tank delivery guy hasn't been coming by anymore.  Does anyone know who delivers?'
      • Answer:  'Maybe you could help us out a bit by telling us what NEIGHBORHOOD you live in!!!!'
    • Question:  'Does anyone know where I can get Crest toothpaste?'
      • Answer:  'Soooooo....Colgate or Aquafresh or other brands that millions of Ecuadorians use won't suffice?  Are you really not able to live without Crest?'
        • People were whipped into a frenzy over this one, but we later found out that Crest USED to be on store shelves here but suddenly stopped being carried.  It wasn't a to-be Expat inquiring if they can get Crest before deciding to move here...they were already here and missed their favorite when it vanished.
    • Question:  'Where's the new location of Tiesto's restaurant?'
      • Answer:  'Well, you COULD check their website.  Or, you COULD call them.  Or, there's a huge sign hung over the door of their old location that provides their new location....3 blocks away.'
    • Question:  'We found a homeless dog and her 9 puppies.  They need a home'.
      • Answer:  'Gee, couldja/wouldja give us a smidge more detail?  Like, how old are they?  Male/Female?  Any inkling to their breed (based on the mother?).  Pitbulls or Poodles?  Large/Small?  Colors?  Long-haired/short-haired?'
    • Question:  'Can someone tell me a bit about some of the cheaper restaurants?  What will it cost me for breakfast, a nice lunch, and a very good dinner, and are restaurants commonly the way that Expats in Ecuador get their food, or do they mostly cook at home?'
      • Answer:  'ARRRGHHH!!!  Howzabout telling us what CITY you're referring to?  Prices in villages are way different than in Quito, a city of a couple million people.   What do you consider a 'nice' lunch or a 'very good' dinner?  McDonalds?  Spagos?  Yes, Expats in Ecuador 'get their food' only by eating out ALL the time.  We don't cook, we don't have stoves, and we certainly don't have time to go shopping at the supermarketl  Yes, we have THAT much money, which is the whole reason why we're here...because we're RICH!!'  Though I have heard some Expats climb trees and gather coconuts and bananas to 'get their food'.
  • Questions posed by people looking to book one of my apts:
    • Question:  'My (so and so) can't do stairs very well, what are your stairs like?'
      • Answer:  'Mine go up and, as a bonus, they work in reverse, too.  And you're coming to CUENCA?  The city of stairs and cobble-stoned streets and sidewalks?  A city where elevators are rare except for more modern buildings and only when 4 or more levels?'
    • Question:  'Please describe your apartment.'
      • Answer:  'Please read the VERY detailed description on the website under 'DETAILS', click on the map to see the location, review the chart that lists the specifics such as # of bedrooms/baths, sqft, internet available, etc, and view the dozen or so photos I've posted.'
    • Question:  'I would like to book your apartment from December 3rd to January 15th.'
      • Answer:   'First of all, today is Nov 15th and you're just NOW booking your international accommodations?  Secondly, there's a handy-dandy button/link on the website that shows you the calendar displaying which dates are already booked and which are still available.  If you were to look, you'd see RED for the dates you want.  That means 'No Room in the Inn'.  Sorry.'
    • Question:  'I'm thinking of coming to Ecuador, specifically Cuenca.  Can you tell me something about your city?'
      • Answer:  'Google it.'  Or (alternative answer)....'It has houses and buildings, paved streets, traffic signals, internet, cell towers, trees, cars, schools, churches, and graffiti.'
  • Those that stayed in one of my apts:
    • The very obese guest who complained about the 3-level walk-up (which is clearly disclosed on the booking website).  Then they emptied out their luggage and there's a Halloween-sized bag of Milky Way bars.
    • The young couple with a 6 year-old child (who had deafening screaming tantrums) who were very dissatisfied with the apt, because:
      • None of the 50 or so DVD's (movies, TV shows, comedy, serious, adventure) were to their taste.
      • Complained about the 'slow' internet speed of 2.5 mb.  They brought every electronic gadget they owned.  Wanted me to get the internet company to increase the speed just for the month they'd be staying there....yeahhhh, riiiiiight.  
        • You're visiting SOUTH AMERICA!!!  Put that sh_t away!
      • Felt they were being gouged on the rent because of what they heard from others.
        • Ummm...exactly WHERE do you think you can get a 2-level modern apartment with laundry, fully stocked kitchen, 2 flat screen TV's + 2 DVD players, etc etc...for less than $30 a day?  For that amount, you can go stay in an average hotel where you'll get a bed and a bathroom!!!  Back home, that won't even get you a Motel 6.
      • Didn't like the blender I bought to replace one that wasn't working.  Had to go buy another one.
    • The guest who said the ice maker wasn't working.
      • Try putting water in it, let it freeze, then flip the handle to empty it out!
    • The guest who wanted to know how to grind the coffee beans....should he use the blender?
      • I THOUGHT I had purchased grounds, but I quickly rushed my coffee grinder from my house to the apt for him.  I DID buy grounds...he just didn't open the package and assumed they were whole beans!
    • Same guest.  Had to buy a cheese grater because he couldn't find the one that was there.
      • I guess it was hard to find.  After all, there were 4 kitchen drawers to look in.
    • The bleach lover.   He lovvvvvves bleach.  Lovvvvves the smell.  
      • My eyes were burning when I went to clean the apt after they checked out.  Colored towels and a sheet set suffered bleach splotches.
    • The kitchen sink is too small, and not enough counter space.
      • It's an efficiency apartment, less than 500 sqft....as noted on the booking website and clearly shown in photos.   Competitors apts have many of the same quirks.  What do you expect for $30 a night?
    • A friend of mine who also has short-term apts for rent received an inquiry resulting from seeing her ad online.   They wanted to know if $45 was nightly, weekly, or monthly?  I KID YOU NOT!!!
      • HUH?   Can you get a whole apartment, furnished, and fully stocked for $45 a week (or month) anywhere else in the WORLD???  Hmmm...maybe Tijuana.
      • My friend responded it was 'nightly'.
      • The inquirer replied back berating her stating she was 'effing high...and part of the problem'. After all, they had been able to find rooms for $10 - $20 a night.
      • Yes...a ROOM....not a 2 bedroom APARTMENT!!!   HELLO!!!!
      • They informed my friend "Jesus loves you".   
    • The guest who demanded a cast iron skillet to cook in as they 'don't do Teflon'.
      • Sure, we'll just run out and get one for ya.   Might you have asked about that before you BOOKED the apt?
    • The guest who was infuriated with me because his flight didn't leave until 8pm but check-out time was 11am.  'You mean I have to go to the airport and sit around for XX hours?'  'I checked your website and it didn't look like you had anyone checking in so I just figured I could stay'.  'And, besides, I booked through the 8th so I'm actually checking out a day early!!!'
      1. Check-out time is clearly stated on the website and on your booking confirmation.
      2. You don't just make your own decision to stay longer.  As with hotels, you check with the front desk.  Same with me...check with ME first.
      3. No, you didn't book until the 8th.  Here, look at your original inquiry request.  And, look at your booking confirmation.  (he did not want to look at it).  He knew...he was just playing me, trying to make me feel guilty so he could buy time.
      4. I had a new guest checking in, in an hour, and the place needed to be cleaned up and laundry done.   He said he would help me.  He did nothing but throw the laundry in the washer and kept interrupting me with questions about this or that while I was busting a sweat trying to get the place ready in time for the new guest arrival.
  • Inquiries sent to me directly:
    • Question:  'We're looking for a house to buy.  We want to be across from the river, minimum 3 bedrooms, single-floor house, with a pool, preferably not contemporary style, and under $125K.
      • Answer:   (Thinking to myself...be calm....be cool....think of your blood pressure).  'You obviously have not done your homework.  Cuenca is a city where the average temps are low 70's.   Pools are very rare here.   Also, 90% of the homes in CUE are 2 stories or more.  That's because Latinos tend to have large families and the kids (typically) live at home well into their adult years, sometimes even after they're married.   You want the house to be across from the river?  So, does everyone else.   For $125,000?  Laughable.   Please stay in your ritzy suburban San Diego home, you won't be happy here.  If you haven't done your homework, you don't get dessert...the privilege of living in a place like Ecuador.'
    • Question:  'What's the water pressure like in Ecuador?  Should I cut my hair before coming or risk getting it cut there?'
      • Answer:  'You're asking about the water pressure in ALLLLLL of Ecuador...the ENTIRE country?  WP is different in every city and village, whether you're on a spring or well or city water, whether you're at the bottom of a hill or the top of a hill, bottom floor or top floor.  It's affected by the diameter of the pipe that comes into your house or apartment, which can be small/old or larger/newer.  It's affected by how many people or applications (ie; washing machine, shower, etc) are drawing water at the same time. Your hair?  REALLY???  Risk?  There are millions of people who get their hair cut here from barbers to high falootin hair salons, and we all seem to survive.  Just like back home.   How's your Spanish and sign language skills?  You're going on an adventure to SOUTH AMERICA for cripes sake, be adventurous with your hair, too.'
  • Other loonies among us:
    • So, there's this guy (I'll call him Lamer) who attacked a Florida woman during his aborted bank robbery attempt.  He skipped bail, changed his name, married, and lived on the lam in another state for many years until the cops caught up with him.   But, he got out of the country, never serving time.  Now he's in Cuenca!  He's been banned from several online expat forums due to his rude, condescending behavior, and forced out of an apartment building through the efforts of many tenants who complained of him (ie; letting his dog poop in the elevator).  Now he's operating a bed and breakfast with his new Ecuadorian wallet...errrrr...I mean....wife (who clearly doesn't know his background).  Woohoo!!!
    • I'm always amazed at those who yap, yap, yap and don't stop yapping....completely clueless of any signals emanating from the listener...such as glazed-over eyes, not participating in the convo, looking elsewhere (seeking help!), etc.  Once, I was sitting in a cafe and ordered my food and a Diet Coke.  Across the cafe, a guy started informing me of how bad DC is, stating studies, cancer, etc etc.  He went on and on and on and on.  I barely uttered a word as I didn't want to contribute to the conversation because it would just encourage him to continue.  When my order came, I tried to shift my focus to my food.  Maybe he would shut-up and let me eat.  Yammer, yammer.   Somehow the one-sided conversation got all the way to how he used to own and drive a long-haul truck in the US, cost of gas and insurance, what he used to make, the hauls he made.....ohhh, my head hurts just remembering this scene.   Whenever I see him in social settings, I want to run in the other direction.  
    • Then, there's those among us here who seem to be know-it-alls.   You can't say 'boo' without them interjecting 'You know, the term 'boo' came from the 13th century Scots...blah, blah, blah'.  SHUT UP!!!
    • Or the guy who repeats things, repeats things (and sometimes is a yammer-er, too).   'I was walking down the street on Tuesday around 4pm...or maybe it was 3:45pm...no, it was 4pm...wearing my new suede coat I had custom made for me by this old gentleman on Simon Bolivar and that cross street near the Cathedral, ummmm, Luis Cordero and I ran into Sally, a 60 year old woman I recently met.  Oh wait!   It's not Luis Cordero, it's Padre Aguirre!  Well, Sally helped me redecorate my house a couple of months ago and it was so cheap!   She worked really hard for me...and she's 60!!.  I think she did a really good job.  (10 minutes later).....You know, I really was wondering if I could trust Sally, but she really came through and did a great job and being 60 she's one of those from an era where you can trust people.  I was lucky to have been introduced to her.   (15 minutes later)....I've been thinking about re-doing my office/den.  I don't know if I should hire Sally or not or whether I should do it myself.  But, you know, when she coordinated the remodel of my kitchen she was always on time and so nice.  For being, 60 she really did a great job.  She's a hard worker that girl, especially for being 60!!!!  (5 minutes later)....If you ever need someone to coordinate work done on your house, or a good designer, you oughta call Sally because she really came through for me.  I don't know how that 60 year-old had the energy to work so hard.  I think I made the right decision hiring her.  And, at 60 she probably needs to supplement  her income, right?'
    • One of my favorites (NOT).  Retirees who gush and dote and squeal and eat, live, and breath for their dogs.  Everyone knows I'm a dog-lover, but I have lowwww tolerance for those who:
      • feel they have to carry ...yes, CARRY....their dog from one place to another.  God forbid, the dogs paws ever have to touch the ground!!!
      • don't train their dogs and get away with everything including yapping (for all the neighbors to enjoy) at anything and anyone that moves within a hundred yards.
      • must, must, must have their dog accompany them everywhere they go, including INSIDE a restaurant.  Ohhh....but they're in their cute little knapsack (wearing a sweater no less)!!!   And, every day they spend hours at Coffee Tree (they must not have much of a life) with their friends and, of course, Pookie.   Pookie likes to pierce the eardrums of those dining around him/her whenever someone happens to walk into the patio area.   Ohhhh....shush our dear little Pookie!!  No No!!!   You're so cute when you bark and make people jump in their seats and give us dirty looks.   You're so PRECIOUS!!!  5 minutes later...rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.  Nothing learned here.
  • Last but not least, one for the Ecuadorians:
    • Remember that yellow sign hung in car rear windows that said "Baby on Board"?   I hated that thing, but someone probably got rich off of it, (and people's stupidity).  Well, we got 'em here, too.  Except they say "Bebe a Bordo".   WHAT...because you have the sign in the car I'm suddenly supposed to drive MUCH safer around you?  But, if you don't have the sign in the car, I can go back to driving 'normal'???  So, a baby on board that car is MORE IMPORTANT than if there's just regular ol' teenagers and/or adults?  Everyone else who's NOT a baby has no value therefore drive as crazy as you want.  Besides, half the time there's no baby on board anyway even though the sign is posted!!!  The baby is at home with Mom and the Dad is out running errands in the car.  How am I supposed to know whether I have to drive extra cautiously around that car, or whether I can be reckless and carefree?  Then there's those who's 'baby' is now 12 years old but they (Marcelo) haven't taken the sign down!!!
If they're going to have those stupid signs, they should make one that says '82 yo Bingo Player on Board'. Then the rest of us can steer completely clear of THAT car!!!!  It's probably a big Buick, too.

Sometimes I have to shake my head in wonder as to how these people made it through life, much less uproot their lives and move all the way to SOUTH AMERICA, a new culture, a new language, and a new brand of toothpaste!!!   I want to say to them....'You mean to tell me you raised kids, held down a job, maybe even held a management level position with authority over others, saved money for retirement, qualified for mortgage and owned a home, managed your debts and obligations, etc, etc, etc and actually MOVED to SOUTH AMERICA.....and you're looney-tunes?'

You'd THINK those types would never dream of moving to South America, yet alone do it.  THEY'RE HEEEEERE!!!   Yep, all those folks I mentioned above are either here...or they're coming.   OI VEY.

OK....next time back to pretty photos, butterflies, puffy clouds, posies, and all the wonderful things that are Ecuador!!!

Dano








And now, a word from our Sponsor (me)





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