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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No Rhyme or Reason

Geez laweeze...it's been well over a month since I've written.  A LOT has been going on.  That's my excuse and I'm stickin to it!

Like what, Dano?

NEW RENTALS

Well, I went to see my chiropractor at his new location (he's always moving) and loved the old building and his particular apartment setup.  He mentioned there were 2 other apartments located upstairs that were empty as they had just finished being remodeled.  So, I saundered up there and loved what I saw.  I immediately saw the potential for the apartments to be marketed as short-term rentals (like the 2 others I own).   ST rentals are for the travelers who don't want to stay in a hotel (room with a bed and bathroom) setup for their entire stay.  In a hotel, there's limited space and you pretty much have to eat out for every meal which adds up expense-wise.   And, most people don't come to Cuenca for just a few days. 

Jumping ahead, I decided to rent both apartments.   But, to get them ready for guests, I had to buy everything from spoons to toilet paper to beds to TV's to washer/dryers, linens, and toasters.  I had an Excel spreadsheet of nearly 170 items to buy...times TWO!!!   Plus, I needed to paint, decorate, etc.

I had to act fast because I had a trip booked for Seattle, in 2 weeks, to visit family and attend my best friends wedding.   I wanted to get almost everything done so when I returned on the 20th of May I could get them setup online and begin marketing them.

SEATTLE

I'm writing this from Seattle, at a coffee house (naturally).  May is a beautiful time to see the Pacific Northwest.   I think Seattle is one of the (if not THE) most beautiful large city in the USA.   At this time of year, the daffodils have just finished and the tulips are in full bloom.  Rhodies (large bushes) are everywhere bursting in colors of red, white, lavender, and pink.  Trees are decked out in bright lime green new leaves.   Property owners have come out of hiding and manicured their hedges, bushes, and lawns so everything looks very fresh and tidy.  I wish I could live here during the summers and the rest of the year in Cuenca...but no can do.

If you've read past blogs, you know I write about my observations.  When I moved to Cuenca from Seattle, it was only natural to notice all those things different than what I was used to.   The reverse has the same impact.  I haven't been home in almost 2 years.   Things I took for granted, or just never stuck out, really popped out as I roamed around Seattle.  Such as:
  • It's QUIET!!   I may have heard 3 horns honk in the 10 days I've been here so far.  It would only take 5 minutes in Cuenca.  I don't think I've heard ONE car alarm!!  This in a metropolitan area of over 1 million!!!
  • A gallon of gas is up to about $4!!!!  YIPES!   It cost me $75 to fill up my Jeep.
  • Obesity is out of control, especially in small towns such as my home town.  It's appalling.
  • Fast food joints everywhere you look.
  • In grocery stores, everything is about pre-packaged.  Pre-packaged meals, desserts, single-servings, microwaveable, convenience.  Save time by not having to cut your own lettuce!!  And expensive???  Holy crap!!!  I spent $110 and got 2 bags of groceries!!
  • Lots of stores have self-checkouts which don't exist AT ALL in Ecuador.
  • You're charged 5 cents a bag if you don't bring your own grocery bag.
  • Graffiti has almost disappeared.   Now, how do we get Cuenca to do that??
  • Booze is no longer sold via state-owned liquor stores.  You can now get hard liquor at the grocery store....but you must pay 29% tax!!!!!   GET OUTA HERE!!!!
The Olympic Mountains serving as a backdrop to my hometown Port Angeles, as seen from Ediz Hook (aka 'The Spit')   (just for you Ronnie)

Ediz Hook driftwood washed ashore.

That's British Columbia, Canada over there.   Port Angeles and Victoria look at one another across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The reason for the title of this blog is because I have soooo many topics backed up on my list!!  I need to whittle it down.  So, I'm gonna knock off a few right here and now.  No rhyme or reason why a particular topic or why the order in which I placed them.   K?

VOTING

A couple months ago we had elections for Mayor of the City and the position that manages the Province.  It was the first time for ELECTRONIC voting!   The process for campaigning and voting is so refreshing here.   First, campaigning is not allowed to begin until just a few months before the elections.  Then, a few days before the election, all campaigning must stop.

Voting is REQUIRED of all legal residents and citizens (over a certain age).  On voting day, you go to the location you're assigned to.   Then, for some reason, men vote in one area, women in another.  Then, you go to the voting room designated for those with cedula (EC ID) #'s between XXX and YYY.   Lines, if any, were very short.  The computers were all touch-screen with names and photos of the candidates to select.   It was very intuitive even if you're not fluent in Spanish.

Back in my home state of Washington, they went to all MAIL-IN voting a few years back!!!!  Good grief...talk about taking a big leap BACKWARDS!!!!   Oh...there's couldn't POSSIBLY be any opportunity to foul the process up....noooooo.     That staunch Republican postman wouldn't just happen to 'lose' a few voting envelopes of known Democrat neighbors!!!    And, no one could POSSIBLY fill out a voting card and sign it and not be the REAL person it was intended for.  Noooo.  And, votes coming in for days and days and days waiting to be tallied?   Sighhhhh.

The guy in the suit is the one who ended up winning the election for the position that oversees the province of Azuay (where Cuenca is located)

The salt/pepper guy was a former Mayor of Cuenca, who ended up winning over our existing Mayor to become Mayor again.  Capish?

MARCELO

Whenever I turn on my printer, upstairs in my office, who comes running?  Marcelo!   He's totally fascinated by the sounds my printer makes and the fact the paper disappears and comes out the other side!   The little booger tries to catch the disappearing paper.  One of these days, his paw is going to get stuck!!!





Oh, and speaking of Marcelo...one day he was outside and he didn't come back in for dinner time.  So, I waited until morning.  I looked but no sight of him.   But, I could hear him meowing from somewhere.  I looked EVERYWHERE but couldn't find where the sound was coming from.   I finally narrowed it down to the eaves above the front door.  He was somewhere inside the structure.  I don't know HOW he got in there, but he couldn't figure out how to get out.  I climbed into the attic, but there was no way I could get to where he was.  So, I got the ladder out and a saw.  I cut a hole in the underside of the eave and reached my hand up in there and felt him.  Then, the @#!% would not come to me.  He was batting at my hand like we were playing.  I was NOT in the MOOD to play!!!   I had to use the 'ol pencil trick.   I tapped a pencil near the opening so he would want to play with it...then I nabbed him and dragged him out of the hole.   Sighhhhh.





FLOWERS

I love being able to buy flowers nearly every week, but not cost me an arm and a leg.  I found a very cheap location where I can buy a large bouquet for about 5 bucks.  Here's an example:


The gladiola bulbs I purchased from some ladies at the Flower Market...are blooming in my garden.  My first glads in EC!!


APT UPKEEP

I had my (from one of my short-term rental apts) L-shaped sofa re-covered.  Originally, it was a pseudo leather and looked and felt very nice, but over time it started to crack.   Also, many sofas made here have the cushions sewn in place which means they can't be flipped or rotated.  I asked the vendor to re-cover the entire sofa, make all the cushions detachable (which meant more fabric for the back sides) and re-cover 3 pillows.  Total cost including pickup, delivery, and taxes....$600.



PARKING

Recently,  a couple of parking lots in town started requiring customers to NI KCAB into parking spaces.   Ooops....I mean BACK IN.    I was really in a horrible mood one day and pulled into the Supermaxi (grocery store) parking lot and parked front-first.  One of the lot security guards came over and informed me I needed to turn around.  I did it, but I was flipping mad and told the guy to...ummm.....something 'off'.   He said 'ohhhh....Americano!!'.   After I shopped and came back out, I asked him why the stupid idea?  He said it was the Bomberos (Fire Dept).   THEORETICALLY, if you back in, you can get out of the parking lot much quicker in an emergency evacuation...than if you have to back out of your spot.   REALLY???   Geeeee....a lot full of cars is going to get jammed up one way or another trying to get out of a lot with only 1 or 2 exits, onto a street full of cars also trying to evacuate!!!  IDIOTS!!!!   And, gee, why is it that only 2 or 3 other lots in the entire city are doing the same thing and not everyone?  And, if it's such a HOT idea...why have I never seen such a thing invoked ANYWHERE ELSE, not even in the USofA!!!   GRRRRR    Lastly, it makes it very difficult for the box-boys to get around to the back of the car to unload the baskets into the cars.   dumb Dumb DUMB!!!

BLOOD CARD

Ewwww!!!   I had to get a blood card, with my blood-type on it, as part of the process for getting my EC drivers license.  I went to the Red Cross in El Centro.   I walked up to the window and told the lady what I needed.   She opened up a massive book and began to record my information in it.  No computer.   One of the things she asked me was my age.  I told her (I'm not telling YOU!!).  And, my marital status.  I told her.  She asked me why I wasn't married!!!  HUH????   Like everyone who's 5...ohhhh...you almost got me to reveal my age didn't you.....like everyone MY age is supposed to be married?   GET OUTA HERE!!!   She had blue surgical gloves on that were dirty from inscribing with a pencil and whatever else.  She wiped my finger, pricked it,dripped blood onto a glass slide, ran dye over it, determined my type, then stuck a piece of green paper into a MANUAL typewriter (so THAT's where they all went!) and typed my blood info on it and handed it to me.  I paid her $4.   Oh, I guess another source of the dirt on her surgical gloves was from handling money that was dirty (so to speak).

FLYING

My trip here was pretty uneventful travel-wise.   I took a van service from CUE to GYE and stayed overnight in my regular cheap hotel very close to the airport.  I had to get up at 3:30am to take a taxi to the airport at 4am, to catch my 6:30am flight to Panama on Copa Airlines.   After a few hours layover, I flew from Panama to LAX...my old stomping grounds in the mid-80's.   A few more hours layover and on to Seattle via United, arriving at 9:30pm.   The only thrill along the way was getting to see Airbus's big-ass double-decker airplane.  Seats over 500 people!!!

Oh..since we're talking airplanes...if you ever visit Seattle, you MUST take the Boeing tour in Everett.  I did it a lonnng time ago and it has completely changed since then.  We went into the largest building in the world (by volume) and got to the see the 747, 777, and the new Dreamliner assembly-lines.  The Dreamliner fuselage is built out of carbon-fiber instead of steel.   The wings can flex TWENTY ONE FEET!!!!  (not sure I want to see that in action while I'm flying!!!).

Some pics out my window as I flew here.

Ummmmm....is that a crack in the wing headed towards me?


Airbus's 'BAP' (Big Ass Plane).   Look at the double rows of windows!!!
I used to have my private pilots license.  I can understand how a small plane can lift off the ground and fly, but I don't get how these BAP's weighing tons and TONS lift off the ground without the wings just snapping off!!!
AMAZING  

Well, that's all for now!!!

Dano



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About Me

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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.

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