One such family came from Ohio. Yes, not a couple of retirees, but a Mom, Dad, Son, and Daughter. Surprisingly enough, this is becoming more and more common as families choose to move away to, what many believe, is a better life overall for both the parents and the kids.
Enter The Frankens. Bart, Carrie, Paco, and Susie-Q. Really? Bart Franken? You'd think I made up those names. Anyhoo....Bart and Carrie hired me, several times, to drive them around the countryside to look at properties where they could have land to raise goats. One time, a rainstorm complete with thunder and lightening pounced on us when we were waaaaay up in the middle of nowhere. Carrie and the kids were at the bottom of a hill to get a closer look at a flat section of the land. I decided to drive down the hill via a crude 'road' to get them out of the rain.
Going DOWN didn't look so bad, but just underneath the top layer of grit on the road was clay. Clay, when wet, is about as good as snot. My car slid several times. On one side of the car was an embankment going UP, on the other side of the road was a precipice going DOWN. I made it to the bottom and managed to turn around and get everyone inside the car where we could all be dry.
Holy COW!!! I drove down THAT??? Looking up the road looked FAR worse then it did looking down. The question came to my mind....what was I THINKING?
Needless to say, we couldn't make it out. Not even with 4WD. So, we sat in the car at least an hour and a half for the storm to subside. We had no cell signal. When the rains stopped, we hiked up to the top of the hill, abandoning my car, and walked another hour out of the mountains to a small town where we were able to call my friend Marcelo to come save our asses and take us home.
The kids, I'd like to mention, never belly-ached about anything. They were amazing troopers.
5 days later, after everything dried out, I was able to get my car out with the help of several nearby farmers, Marcelo, and myself stuffing dry gravel in front of the tires, pushing, cussing, burning the automatic transmission, trying this and that....2 hours later.
Fast forward. A year or so later, the Frankens were shown a house owned by Marcelos' Aunt, way up past Myancela (aka 'bumf__k') outside of Cuenca. They loved it, moved in, and brought their goats.
In December, Carrie and Bart invited all their friends to their housewarming/Christmas party. Because it was way up in Never Never Land (and the fact many Expats here don't own cars), the Frankens sprang for an hourly mini-bus shuttle to bring their guests up to the house from one of the main arterials running through Cuenca, Ave Americas. Guests had to only pay $2 each. For those of who chose to drive, Carrie provided directions with 18-steps to follow.
On the way TO their place, it seemed like an eternity. However, on the way back, it didn't seem so bad. 5 kms (3 miles) on a dirt road, then 4 kms (2.4 miles) more on pavement to Ave Americas. 5 more kms (3 more miles) to El Centro, then 8 kms (4.8 miles) to my house. One way from my house to theirs, 22 kms (or 13 miles).
Their 'hacienda' is located on top of a hill with FOREVER views...until the eyes can see no more. I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.
|We encountered a neighborhood holiday parade in action.|
|The Frankens' Hacienda|
|Love open-beamed homes.|
|Paco Franken and one of his kitties.|
|Susie-Q Franken.....these stairs lead out of the main house and connect to a rear cottage where the two kids' bedrooms are. How cool is that....NOT in the same house as your parents!!!|
Insert photo here of Bart Franken.
I think, at the time, he was out back at his vodka distillery. Or....maybe he was the guy on the horse 11 photos back?????
|The view from the Frankens' Hacienda is endless.|
|Nothing like a good ol' fashioned bench swing overlooking the world, eh?|
|The Goats de Franken.|
|Carries Mom visiting from the USA...on the left.|
|"It's a hard knock life, for us!!!"|
|Those are my knees. These two happy campers patiently waited while I ate my food and, fork over a snack or two to them. I let them lick the plates when I was done.|
|yup, Yup, YUP....we like it here at Hacienda Franken!!!!|