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Sunday, January 20, 2013

New House, New Neighbors, New Art

I’m finally settled into my new digs after moving at the end of the year.   I've been doing a lot of cleaning, primarily because of continued work on the house…things that were supposed be done over a month ago.  There was the guy who installed the moldings around the hardwood floors who decided to do all the cutting with his power saw IN the rooms!!!  Dust everywhere.   Then, after several promised dates but resulting in no-shows, the guy who patched the holes in the ceilings.  White goop was splattered everywhere.   I found splatter on photos that were ten feet away!!!   Then, came the sanding which coated everything in….dust.  On top of that, he used a homemade wooden ladder to lean against the walls, with no protection, so I had to go back and repaint over all the scratches and scrapes.  Oh yeah, and when he hauled his sawhorse upstairs scraping the freshly painted walls along the way.  GRRRRR!!!!

There’s been a lot of miscommunication with the owners.  I was asked what color I wanted the outside of the house painted.  I suggested the same colors as it is now because it would save $$.  I was informed painters would be here on Saturday morning.   Friday night the paint was delivered.  ONE gallon of light green and ONE gallon of cream.   HUH???    Is this like the story of breaking a loaf of bread and feeding 600 people?  Two gallons will miraculously coat the entire house?    Apparently, the owners changed their minds and decided to only touch up the house.  How was the paint going to match something that was 3-4 years old?   Somehow, it did.  I’m sure the painters mixed in water to stretch it out.  The touch-up really turned out nice…surprisingly.

Where I come from, we’re so geared towards safety, threats of liability, can’t do this/can’t do that, must have the most sophisticated equipment or no-go, etc.  Here, I’m always shocked at what they can get away with, with a little bit of creativity and 'can-do' attitude.   My house is 3 levels high on one side, so they need to bring in scaffolding right?   Noooo.   The guys showed up with homemade wooden ladders and if they needed to go higher than one ladder would take them…they used rope to strap two of them together end to end!!!!!  When they were painting outside the upstairs bedroom I heard a bunch of knocking.  I went to see what was up.  One of the painters wanted me to open a bedroom window so he could, with one hand, hang on inside while outside on a doubled ladder that was bowing significantly, use the other hand with the paint roller.   EEEEEK!!!   They had a roller, yes, but to reach extended areas, they found a long slender branch and jammed it into the roller handle to use as an extension pole.   Us?  We’d be out buying an adjustable aluminum pole for $79 at Home Depot!!

A lot of brush had grown up against the house since it sat unoccupied for a few years.   I’ve been hacking away at that, revealing nice bricked planters running alongside the house.   There were a lot of ‘stinging nettles’ in the mix…those suckers hurt!!!  Finally donned rubber gloves and got rid of it all.

Next was to clean up the garbage flung about the property.  Drives me nuts that construction workers tend to fling whatever they no longer need out into the yard for someone to clean up later.  I found shelving cast off into the high grass.   Then there was the area they obviously used to dump all the pieces of broken tile.  A lot of grass had grown entwined in it.  They were filling holes in the yard with it!!   How dangerous it could be if anyone was playing in the area due to all those sharp edges.  So, out it came, piece by piece by hand, some shovelfuls, into my new wheelbarrow (a birthday gift to myself) and up to the front of the property.   I even found a big mesh bag of broken tile sat into a hole that I lifted out whole.   SHEESH!!!

I have 5 large niches in the walls leading upstairs, plus a large wall space over the front door in the foyer, so I’ve been on the hunt for unique art.    About a year ago, I saw an artist in a downtown space who’s work encompasses the use of various types and colors/roasts of coffee beans, black-eyed peas, pistachio shells, pumpkin and popcorn seeds to create 3-paneled scenes.   The amount of time and tedious effort it takes to glue every single piece in place is mind-boggling.  Each of his wall art contain more than 2,000 pieces!!   I’ve had it in my mind to buy one of his creations all this time.   I gave him a call.  He remembered me.   I brought along a friend of mine (Manon) plus Monica to translate for us, and went to his house where he put on a private show for us.  He dragged out piece after piece (each creation comprised of 3 panels) and lined them up around the living room for us to view.  Plus, he had table-top items that stuffed away in a cabinet that he took out, unwrapped, and displayed for us.  Each new one outdid the one prior to it.  It was hard to make a decision.  Well, Manon bought one, I bought one plus a table-top piece and off we went happy campers.

Oh, you’re probably wondering how the new digs fare on the factors (car alarms, barking dogs, horns, privacy) that caused me to flee my previous location?   I’m happy to report…thus far….it gets a 9.5 score out of 10!!!!    Nothing is perfect, right?    My new location is about 3 miles outside the densely populated area of Cuenca, via a fast-moving highway and no stops along the way.  So, in a matter of minutes, I can be home in a semi-rural area, or smack dab in the middle of the city.

There are NO houses butted up against mine.  I have ONE neighbor who lives in a ramshackle piecemeal ‘house’ across the road.  Otherwise, zilch.  The other two sides are just undeveloped land and corn fields, and the last side has a new house under construction but it is at least 75 feet away behind a row of eucalyptus trees.   I have yard space on all 4 sides of the house.  The dirt road that accesses my house is about 500 feet from the highway.  The only noise I hear is chickens, roosters (who like to crow at 3am, 4am, 5am, and 6am), and at night a very odd new sound I’ve never heard before…kinda like “TOCK”!!!,  I’ve been told it’s made by a bug in the high grass.  From my office, I can see for miles, clear to the other side of Cuenca.

I don’t have internet yet.   For the past few weeks, I drive to the mall on a daily basis to use their WiFi to send/receive emails and post my blog!!  That's where I am right now and what I'm doing right now!

Enjoy the photos!!!


My new digs. 

I had them cut out a cabinet and re-size the one next to it so I could have a dishwasher.  
When I first looked at the house there was no place for the stove and refrigerator…so I designed this for them to build.
There were no closets so they built these with the stain I chose

I had the entire interior of the house painted.   I painted these lighted niches…now to find the art for them.
Office (before)
Office (after)
Dining room (before)
Dining room (after)
Living room (before)
Living room (after)
When the driveway portal was originally built a few years ago, the road was lower.  For some reason, the road got built up about 20 inches higher.  So, the portal had to be torn down, the gate track raised, and the portal completely rebuilt.

Luckily, I hadn’t burned this old wooden door lying out in the yard.  The painters made use of it!
Notice the two ladders connected via rope and the paint roller extension pole made out of a branch.
My coffee bean art!! 

Meet my neighbors….The Cluckers! 
Someone is confused here.  The baby is a duckling but follows the hen around everywhere she goes.
Meet my neighbors….The Heffers!!!   No, we don’t feel the need to be politically correct here so I’m not going to be all PC and refer to them as ‘Beefy’.  They are HEFFERS!!! 
Meet my neighbors….The Waddlers!!
I dunno.   It’s about 2 inches long, with a 3 inch wingspan.  Found another one the next day, but it was bark-colored and about 5 inches wide.   Maybe it’s The Tockers??


  1. green acres where i want to be or something like that v nice now what room do Gigi and i stay in and is there beer in the frig? March is comming soon can't wait to see in person. stay well and happy L and G

  2. Wow - the new place looks great Dan! Congrats! How far out of town is it, country boy?

    1. Best from George & Raul in Guatemala!

    2. Welllllll...if you READ it (LOL!) you'd see in the 3rd paragraph before the end, it says 3 miles. hehehehehhee

  3. Looks and sounds WONDERFUL! Good job!

  4. Dano, You seem to be getting more than one Anonymous response these days...AND...positive ones. Not what they used to be...you know what I mean? Where is the Anonymous with the not so sweet comments?

    1. I guess he is not an angry American now that he living somewhere more peaceful.

    2. No, deep down he is still an Angry American. They never change!

  5. Well, I just read your entire blog! Thank you so much for all your honesty and enlightening information. My husband and I are seriously considering a move there in the future. We are currently full-time RVers (retired) so no furniture to sell. LOL!

    So far the car issue seems to be the biggest stumbling block. The expense of buying a car is staggering for what you get. We are thinking maybe we'd just get two 250cc motorcycles (we both ride Harley's now). Not sure how well that would pan out in the rain. Oh well...lots of time for decisions.

    I've added your blog to my Google reader and will be looking forward to more posts and updates.

    1. Hi Donna...thanks so much for the compliment!!! Cars really hold their value here, but they really don't cost more new than in the USA unless you are importing. Brands such as Kia, Hyundai, and the locally manufactured Chevy are pretty much same as US. Just depends on what you want/need. For instance, you can get a Chevy Spark new for $10K...if it meets your needs. Motorcycles are cheap if you don't buy Honda, Yamaha, etc. 250 is the average size here. Moto riders here are NUTS...they do a lot of dangerous maneuvers. And, I used to be a bike rider!!

    2. I know you moved from in town to outside town. Wondering how you like it and how difficult it would be to get a driver from outside of town (on a regular basis). Feel free to drop me an email: donnamcnicol @ gmail.com

  6. Your house looks great, Dano. I am so jealous. Can we hire you to decorate ours after its built? :)

    I must have one of those coffee bean art pieces!

  7. Your place is amazing. You have a talent in making a house a home. Great job! :D The painters should’ve had some sort of harness or belt. It looked like he could fall any minute.

    - Oscar Lang -

  8. I’m glad the exterior paint turned out well. Did you mention the petty misunderstanding to the owners? If the outcome wasn’t positive, it wouldn’t be minor at all. On another note, it’s so nice that there are animals around. They show so much of the country life. :) Are you done with the cleaning and renovations?

  9. I always enjoy reading your updates, sprinkled liberally with chuckles! You've done a wonderful job with your latest abode. I live in Cuenca, and often find such practical, useful information here...thanks so much!

  10. really enjoyed reading your blog.we are headed to Cuenca the first couple of weeks of March.reading your blog adds a lot of insight to what life is like there for the typical American looking to retire in Cuenca. We hope you get internet access soon from your house so you don't have to drive to the mall to update your blog.

    Take Care, The Scott's

  11. I am not really anonymous but don't see a way to post otherwise. I would like more info on your rental, if you are still doing that. I will check back to see your blog with info.

    Thanks, Barb

    1. Hi Barb....my two short-term rentals can be viewed here:




  12. Talk to me - just read some Cuenca news articles and caught one involving deaths because of a Chevy Vitara - I remember that you drove the same

    Are you okay?

    Charlotte NC

    1. Yep, I'm here. You can count at least 5 Chevy Vitaras in any direction you look at any time here in EC. There's as many CGV's in EC as there are chickens.

  13. DANO, your furniture looks great. Did you bring it with you or buy it there. I am currently trying to find available dates for one of your short term rentals, however if you cannot find an available date, the system will not let a person contact you. Can you contact me and advise when the next available date will be. I need to rent the apartment and you to show me around. All I need is time to buy the plane ticket. Need to find what you found. House with some yard for the pup. Please e-mail me at rayfloridausa@aol.com
    thanks, Ray


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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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