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Thursday, August 3, 2017


One of my short-term rental apartments, that is.  Sorry, not selling off my little girl - Gracie.

Here's a link to one of the sites promoting the sale of one of the apartments I own.  This one would make a perfect short-term rental apartment (ie; for tourists visiting for more than a few days but don't want to stay in a hotel).

Or, let's say you want to land in Cuenca and be fully outfitted with living amenties without any effort.  Just add food.

Excellento location across the street from the river that separates 'old town' from 'new town'.

From a long-term rental standpoint, it could easily rent for $450 a month which is almost 10% return on a CD (based on the sales price) IFFFF you could get that!!

Let's look at that again.  In the US of A, the decimal point would be further to the left, right?  Ummm...I mean....errrrrrr....correct?}

Here's a link to the listing of my apartment (departamento) de 'amor!!!

Link to Dano's apartment for Sale



Monday, June 5, 2017

A Hidden Surprise in Cuenca...Stand Next to Jesus!

Most people (who live here) know about the TodoSantos (or Todo Santos) church located on the end of Calle Larga.

What I knew:
  • Todo Santos means 'All Saints'
  • The architecture is impressive
  • It was recently re-opened after an extended period of renovation
  • It is beautifully lit up at night
  • A 'working' convent is part of the complex, as well as a restaurant down below
  • Nuns bake bread from an old wood-burning stove
What I didn't know:
  • The original part of the church was built back in the 1500's
  • It was the first church built in Cuenca
  • A fire darn near destroyed it about 10 years ago
  • The complex also includes a school for several hundred children
  • There's a garden where what's grown is used in the restaurant
  • ....annnnd....you can climb up to the top of the steeple and stand next to Jesus!!!

I met a wonderful couple from Gig Harbor, WA (near where I lived) while in the Galapagos.   Their next stop was Cuenca.  While having dinner with them here, they told me about how they climbed the steeple of Todo Santos.  WHAT???   I didn't know you could!!!  So, I added it to my list of To Do's.  I love to climb things, especially for the reward at the end....the VIEWS!

After I got my teeth cleaned ($35) a block away, I wandered over to TS and found a young woman at a desk inside the main entrance to the church.  I asked her about the 'stairs'.  She said 'un dollar' (one dollar).   I paid and thought I would just head up the steps on my own.  She closed the huge wooden doors to the church and escorted me to the top...stopping along the way to explain a few things, open up shutters to reveal stunning views, and to warn me of places where I needed to duck my head.

Instead of the usual brick and/or concrete you encounter climbing around the inside of a church, this one was a maze of wooden timbers.  The steps were narrow...at first about 24 inches wide and then down to about 18" at the very top.  The wooden steps wove around 8" round timbers jutting every direction that exists.

Believe it or not, at one point back in the 1960's these walls were white-washed.  When the church was restored, they also painstakingly restored the original frescos.

This window may look small, but the cutout is actually about 4ft wide.  Look at the first photo above and you'll see it directly above the main arched doorway.

As we climbed, my tour escort opened the shutters to reveal magnificent views.   Even SHE was taking photos!!

The school belonging to TS below.  The orange ball out in the distance is Cuenca's Planetarium.
And you thought it was Orange Julius????

As timbers were added or replaced, they were branded with their year of installation

My guide flung open a set of shutters and there was nothing to prevent me from walking out onto that tiled roof....well....except her.  Scroll back up to the first photo and you can see the level I'm at when this photo was taken.

You can see the blue-domed cathedral at 12 o'clock and two other churches to the left of it.  

Steeeeep and narrow.  So glad I went on that diet.  I was worried my hips might not pass!!!

And there he is....Jesus himself.  I stood right next to him.  He didn't have much to say though.   Quiet guy.

At the last level (the Jesus level), looking back down through the trap door I came up through.  Well....crawled through.  Yes, this last segment requires you to crawl up the steps....that is....unless you're 3ft 10" or less in height.

Looking down on a great plaza on the river side of Todo Santos.  It's such a hidden gem, most people don't know it exists!

Headed back down.
My foot.
Hi Mom!!!!

Sooooo much wood, it would be a blazing inferno if it ever caught fire....again.

So, that's where I went...up there....with Jesus.

Ok....let's get a closer shot.  See him waving???

The 'hidden' plaza around the river side of TS.  Really under-utilized as so many people don't realize it's there.

This wood-fired oven is over 200 years old, though it has been restored.  The nuns bake breads in it and sell their product to make $$ for the operational expenses of the complex.  From what my guide told me, there are 5 nuns who live on the premises.

'Gastro', the restaurant in the lower level.

Kinda cave-like, no?





Yessssss...you get TWO blogs for ONE!!!   That's right folks, just today I experienced yet ANOTHER hidden treasure in Cuenca that I just can't wait to tell you about.

And, noooo....no Ginszu knives are involved.

Yet another guest told me about a cool coffee spot I didn't know about.  It's located ABOVE the Panama Hat Museum on Calle Larga.  

I rather pride myself in ME being the person who informs my guests of all the cool hotspots (oxymoron?) they should check out during their stay.  But, I must admit I don't know everything there is to do in Cuenca!!!

Anyhoo, just a couple blocks from my apartment is the Museo Del Sombrero.  There, they show you how the Panama hat (which originated in Ecuador, not Panama) is created.  It's amazing how many styles and colors they have.  I just wish I looked good in any of them.  Instead, I look like a GORF.  Any visitor coming to Cuenca should go there.  

What I didn't know is....in the back and up a set of stairs is a really cool terrace overlooking the entire 'new town' part of the city and the river Tomebamba below......and, they serve an array of coffees.

I had to go.  If it involves a lofty view, I must see it.   I entered the museum slash working factory and asked where the coffee shop was located.    You must walk through the entire Panama hat shop to the other end, then up a short set of stairs and....voila....there it is!!

It's a very tranquil spot with tables and chairs and plants on a terrace with endless vistas and overlooking the river below.   I ordered a $2 capuchino and started clicking away.

It's open the same hours as the museum, therefore it closes at dusk Mon-Fri, 5pm on Saturday, and 1pm on Sunday.  There's an adjacent interior room where, if you're lucky, music is played for an hour or two before closing.  I spotted a piano, guitar, and drums.

Photos of this little hidden gem:

The entryway from the street.

Up a couple-o-stairs and 'voila'
Well, whaddaya know....Gringos in Panama hats!!

A tile placa depicting the view from the Barranco (embankment)

So, there you go.  You can move to Cuenca.....Ecuador.....South America.....and sitcherass in a reclining barcolounger and plant your I-phone or I-pad in front of your face, you can slurp down your vente mocachino 5.384 pumps of chocolate, 7 ice cubes made from purified water from Greenland, slim no foam, no-kill straw, shaken not stirred.....ummm....forgot what I was ordering..... or have GORKO or LUZU or NANU NANU broadcasting your favorite show of all shows of all the 1,837 channels you have available to watch and entertain you until you're a Zombie and the Russians re-program your brain......or......you can get out and Live Life and experience the gems Cuenca (or your town) has to offer.

Afterwards....THEN you can go home and  plant your I-phone or I-pad in front of your face or have GORKO or LUZU or NANU NANU broadcasting your favorite show of all shows of all the 1,837 channels you have available to watch and entertain you until you're a Zombie and the Russians re-program your brain!!!!!!

Or, while I'm on this theme, let me quote from the inimitable 'Mame' (in this case, I choose Lucille Ball playing the role).

Life's a Banquet, and most Sons of Bitches are Starvin to Death!!!

(cue symphony)

Open a new window,
Open a new door,
Travel a new highway,
That's never been tried before;
Before you find you're a dull fellow,
Punching the same clock,
Walking the same tight rope
As everyone on the block.
The fellow you ought to be is three dimensional,
Soaking up life down to your toes,
Whenever they say you're slightly unconventional,
Just put your thumb up to your nose.
And show 'em how to dance to a new rhythm,
Whistle a new song,
Toast with a new vintage,
The fizz doesn't fizz too long.
There's only one way to make the bubbles stay,
Simply travel a new high way,
Dance to a new rhythm,
Open a new window ev'ry day!

Just sayin.....


Friday, May 26, 2017

What I did Today for 1 Hour - 3 Blocks from my Apartment

It's amazing how you can live someplace like Cuenca for over 6 years (like I have) and not know about some of the exciting things to do right under your nose!  I've done a LOT in my time here and try to experience as much as I can, then pass along those nuggets to my guests so they get the most out of their visit.

Sometimes my eyeballs pop out of their sockets (painful!!) when I ask native Cuencanans if they've been to/seen such-n-such place around Cuenca.   "No".  WHAT???  You've lived here all your life and you haven't done this, this, or that?  You didn't know Cuenca had a zoo?  You've never been to a symphony concert which is FREEEEE?  Have you been to your back yard?

It was just recently I became aware you can climb one of the Cathedral's towers.  So, I added it to my 'To Do' list.

Today I did it.  

The main cathedral in Cuenca is just 3 blocks from my apartment and it's three blue domes are probably the most photographed.  Though it looks much older, construction started in 1885 and took nearly a century to build, finally being consecrated in 1967.

I walked over to the newly opened 'Calle Santa Ana' which is a restored pedestrian corridor sandwiched between the cathedral and the old Seminary San Luis.  It had been closed off over 50 years.  Many people didn't realize it even existed.  The city plans to use the passageway to showcase local arts/crafts vendors.

Just as I walked in, I noticed a tiny alcove with a young lady at a desk and stairs twisting upward next to her.  AHHHH....so THIS is where you access the tower!!  I paid a $2 entry fee and up I went...170 steps.

At the top is a wonderful terrace between the two towers where you can almost see 360 of Cuenca.  One reason I never knew the public could go up there is because it's very difficult to see people up there from the ground.  But they can see US!!

I'll shut-up and let the photos do the talking.

The terrace you climb to is to the left and right of the statue you see at the top/middle.
The two towers were never completed as planned due to a grave mistake the architect made.  If completed the foundation would not support the additional weight.
Newly re-opened Calle Santa Ana

Looking straight up through the interior of the tower.
Looking back down to the Seminary San Luis plaza

When you've reached the top, you exit this.

I wanted to keep going up, buttttt.....

When you exit the stairs this is where you land.

The terrace has steel bleacher-like steps on both sides so you can get a better look-see over the brick 'railings'.
Off to the right.
Wait a minute...is this another OSHA moment?  No railings?  And they could fall off the other side!!
Where are the Law Offices of Cogburn, Salatka, Goldstein, & Leitz?

Parque Calderon...the center of the universe in Cuenca.
The 8 pine trees you see in the center were planted as seedlings over 120 years ago!

Panorama shot.  Many government buildings line the perimeter of Parque Calderon.

Nice example of the wonderful architecture we have here.  I want that penthouse on the roof!!  I never knew it was there until I could see it from atop the Cathedral!!!

So, that was the view from the left side of the terrace.  Now, let's look off to the right.

Looking over to the next block, you can see the gardens of a Convent that many people don't know exist because it's not accessible to the public and you can't see it from the street level...only if you're up high enough or own an apartment in the upper right building.

Workers restoring/maintaining the exterior surfaces of the Cathedral.

Looking towards the Cajas Mountains and Santo Domingo church (lower right).
Headed back down to street level.
My foot.

On the way down the winding stairs was a black steel door with a few glass panes on top, one of which was broken.  The door was locked.   I wanted to know what was on the other side.  So, I lifted up my camera and poked it through the missing pane and snapped a photo.  This is what I got....a shot of the interior of the Cathedral!  See the human in the lower right?

Back on the ground, I saundered through the old Seminary San Luis Plaza.  It, too, was restored a few years ago after a fire in 2012 nearly destroyed it.   While it was being renovated, the roof happened to be under surgery and the wooden beams were exposed to the outside.   During an annual celebration, 'Globos' were lit with a small fire to create lift and sent aloft into the skies over Cuenca.  Well, one didn't get very far before it landed, still lit, but into the open roof with nice dry wooden beams.  A horrible blaze ensued and darn near destroyed the entire complex.  The city was able to restore it completely and in late 2015 it was re-opened to the public with grand fanfare and an outdoor concert in the plaza by the Cuenca Symphony.   No Globos.

Now, it houses restaurants, shops, a church, gardens, and open public spaces.

Enjoy the photos.  Well, maybe not the 3rd one.

The first two photos are the 'Globos' during the Corpus Cristie celebrations.  Guess what we AREN'T ALLOWED to do anymore????

And now today....

The Cathedral towers over the Seminary San Luis Plaza, and sardined in-between the two is the newly re-opened Calle Santa Ana (shown at the beginning of this blog).

Along Calle Santa Ana are reminders of the fire.  Several charred, but still sturdy, support posts won't let the public forget that what they see today could've been lost forever.

Referring back to the title of this blog entry....this is what I did for all of one hour today, just 3 blocks from my apartment.   For those of you who live here (either native or a newbie), get your butts up and out of your barcolounger and get out and SEE and EXPERIENCE the Cuenca you've chosen to live in!!!   🙆



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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