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Sunday, February 27, 2011

My First Week (2nd Attempt)

One of the first things I needed to do was to shop for furniture for my ‘new’ house.  I don’t have diddly squat.  I must’ve gone through 20 furniture shops all over town.  There was definitely a pattern that arose.  Most shops are small.  Most shops only have a few models to show you.  Most shops have their furniture made locally.  Almost every shop attendant informs you they can make whatever you want, just bring in a photo, drawing, page from a magazine, or whatever.   Craftsmanship is amazing here.   The only real differences between each of the shops is price and quality (fair, good, best).  

Whether you buy what they have in stock or whether you have them make it…same price.  If you like the style of the item, but don’t like the fabric, you can choose whatever you want….same price (except fabric vs leather).  I found very nice dining room tables with 6 chairs for about $700.  I purchased a nice handmade wood bed frame and a mattress (like Simmons BeautyRest) for $560.   I also purchased stuff for an office.  An L-shaped desk, 3-drawer file cabinet, and executive-type chair for a total of  $420.   Oh, and all prices quoted included tax and delivery. 

That’s another nicety down here.  You don’t have to ADD sales tax and whatever else onto the price you see.  What you see is what you’ll pay.  When you see $10 for an item on a restaurant menu, that’s what you’re going to pay….taxes, service are already included.  No fuss, no muss.  And, don't even get me started on tipping.  In America, it seems everyone demands to be tipped...even a cashier who's simply doing their job to give you the change you are entitled to when you buy something.  SHEESH!!!   Here, most restaurants already include a 10% service charge in their bill.  If you leave a tip, it may just be the leftover coins.  NICE

When homes are sold here, there’s a lot of things that are typically NOT included…the most prominent being appliances.  Whether buying or renting….appliances go with the person, not the place.  So, I had to buy all appliances.  Luckily, my friend who’s taking care of my cats referred me to Bryan to help me navigate through all this stuff.  He charges $5 per hour to accompany me and translate when needed.  Think about it, I didn’t even know WHERE to go much less negotiate in Spanish, or even understand brand quality (or lack thereof).  Yes, GE and Whirlpool are here, but they are more expensive because they are imported, whereas Ecuador brands are cheaper because they’re made here but are unfamiliar to most of us. 

Anyhoo, as luck would have it, Bryan’s cousin Jimmy works in a large store that sells appliances.  I had done some of my own research beforehand, writing down what goes for what in which store and it was clear Jimmy was giving me a hefty discount and I couldn’t find anywhere else that could beat his prices for the same item(s).  So, I bought a front loading GE Washer and gas Dryer, GE gas cooktop, an Oven with rotisserie, Microwave, GE Dishwasher, Whirlpool side by side Fridge, and a 40” LCD flatscreen TV all for $6,100.  Yep, including taxes and delivery.  Oh, and I bought a new all-in-one (copy, scan, print) Canon printer for $50. 

In amongst all this, I went to Home Vega and drooled over showers, vanities, sinks, tubs, etc for when I get around to remodeling the bathrooms.  Also went to some Fabricas not for fabric, but because they fabricate furniture, built-in closets, and cabinetry. 

Doing all this requires a LOT of walking and taxis.  Taxis are everywhere.  They are ONLY yellow and they rarely cost more than a couple dollars and they are not the big behemoth gas-guzzlers like in the US.  They are tiny sub-compacts.  I haven’t seen one yet that has a meter in it.  They charge based on distance/zones and there are no charges adding up while you sit at a light or in traffic.  NICE.

Most shops (except big stores) close from for lunch.  As a result, most restaurants offer a lunch special that typically runs from $1.50 to $3 and oftentimes includes a drink, meal, and dessert.  NICE

When I get pooped, sometimes I’ll head for a park and plop down and rest my legs for a bit.  The other day I was walking through the main park, Parque Calderon, where the large cathedral is, and music was being piped thru speakers.  I was taken aback when I recognized a song being played.  It was ‘My Way’.   Why was I struck?  It was as if a subtle message was being sent to me.  Because when I left San Diego in 1990 to move to Seattle, I performed my last ‘swan song’ at a club I used to work at.  That song was ‘My Way’.  The lyrics related to what I had done and was about to do….”And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…” (leaving San Diego, now leaving the US for EC).  Oh, what the heck…here’s the rest of the lyrics…you’ll see what I mean (y’all hum along now):

My friend I'll say it clear
I'll state my case of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets I've had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes there were times I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing
And now as tears subside
I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes it was my way


  1. When we finally arrive there in Cuenca we will be needing the same items that you just purchased. We will be renting but we'll be renting an unfurnished place so we'll need everything. I don't suppose you could provide Bryan's contact info so we can utilize his services as well?

    Steve & Shirley


  2. Enjoyed the post about "Itza my birthday, too" and started reading back at the beginning… you used to live in S.D., CA? Me, too!

    I also left in 1990, to marry my wife (25 years later… here we meet each other?!?)
    Looking forward to reading more posts. We're hoping to visit (wife and I) Cuenca in June. is that apartment available in Centro? LOL

    John M.


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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