Wednesday, December 26, 2012

living in Cuenca Ecuador - Meeting New Friends!

I met Sandy via e-mail back in October, when we were trying to find out which documents were required by Ecuador to apply for our visas.  She and I continued to stay in touch when she told me she would be visiting during the Christmas holiday.  Well, we finally got to meet today!  Sandy lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and she is hoping to relocate to Cuenca someday!  For now, she told us how much she was enjoying her three week visit in this beautiful city.

I encouraged her to continue studying and practicing her Spanish because it is going to make life so much richer and more interesting for her here if she can come with the ability to communicate with the Ecuadorians. I am thankful for my ability to understand the language and to be able to communicate with the people while living here, and I would find it very frustrating and isolating if I didn't know Spanish.  Sandy took a week worth of Spanish immersion at the Simon Bolivar Spanish School, and she said she loved it and it was helpful for her.  I think she's serious about coming back to live here someday!

We will continue to stay in touch, and we hope to get together with Sandy one more time before she heads home on January 3rd.  For now, she is loving visiting and exploring her possible future home and making new friends.  We're glad we had the opportunity to spend time with our new friend!
Sandy came to visit us at our apartment.  She is staying at a hotel only a few blocks from us in El Centro.  The location is great because she can go right out her door and be in the bustle of this alive and beautiful city.

Sandy had not yet visited the Mercado, so we went there for Breakfast and to show her around.  For $2.25, we got the Desayuno Completo (Complete Breakfast:  Fresh Juice, a breakfast empanada (like an Elephant Ear - yum!), two eggs scrambled, and hot sweet Cafe con Leche. It was so filling and delicious!!!.  Sandy has freshly made pineapple juice and I had Jugo de Naranja....
After breakfast, we strolled along the vendor displays.  Some vendors sell only one type of produce, such as potatoes or legumes, and some sell a variety of vegetables and/or fruits.  Bo and I shop daily and fresh, and we never get tired of visiting El Mercardo and seeing some of our now favorite vendors. 
One can purchase individual vegetables and fruits or by the bag.  We have learned some of the prices, so we aren't overcharged "gringo" prices. Because we buy daily and fresh, it's fun, for example, buying an avacado, and having the vendor pick one that is perfect for the evening meal. 
We then visited the meat section downstairs.  It's not like a butcher shop in the States, that's for sure!  Now what do you do with a cow hoof or a cow  or pig head?  That will be one of my questions next time I visit.....

A Christmas Nativity display at the main floor of the market is honored with a tray of lit candles in front.  The Ecuadorian community is getting ready for their New Year celebration which will be another grand party in the streets of Cuenca.
Sandy found herself a nice Panama Hat at the market (for a great price too!), and by the time we had thoroughly perused two floors, it was time for a cold beer.  Bo and I had fresh coconut juice from our juice lady, and we sat and visited.  We are aware of how long we sit and occupy the tables since others will want this table, even though there are empty ones behind us.  Each vendor is very territorial about their section - and their garbage cans.  Do not throw your empty cups or garbage in a different vendor's can or they will intensely glare and tell you, "No, no!"  Bo and I learned that one early on......
After our time at el mercardo, Sandy is now ready to go get a cell phone, and then we are off to tour the city on a double-decker bus!

It cost $5 for a two-hour bus tour.  How much do you think this would have cost in a large city in the US?  That's Anthony in front of Bo.  He lives in Corvallis, Oregon and was visiting Ecuador on his Christmas break from Oregon State!  It's a small world in Cuenca, and it's fun meeting new and interesting people.  We all have a story to tell!

There are many "tienditas" (little stores) along the streets of Cuenca.  We love shopping for everything right in our city and not having to go to the larger Super Maxi grocery stores which are outside of the El Centro area and so much more expensive.  We purpose to support the hard-working vendors and store owners in our city.  So far we've been able to find locally almost everything we need for our cooking and household. 

It was interesting seeing the city from a two-story bus - being out in the open and taking photos of the old and beautiful rooftops and balconies.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for our tour!  Blue skies with huge fluffy clouds, and a clear view of the surrounding mountains.  This is the Rio Tomebamba - which separates the old and new parts of the city.  it is one of four rivers that runs through Cuenca!

There are no yield signs or dividing lines in the streets of Cuenca.  Yet, there seems to be a smooth transition between each vehicle amidst the occasional honking of horns.  Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way, and we're becoming experts at crossing streets and dodging the fast-moving cars, taxis, and buses!

The tour bus goes all the way up to Turi (a town and parish in Cuenca).  It is perched on a hill overlooking the beautiful city. 

Anthony will be returning to Corvallis, Oregon after the New Year.  Perhaps we will meet again!

The bus returned us to Parque De Calderon, and we bid farewell to Sandy and another beautiful day in Cuenca.  We hope to see her one more time before she returns to her Florida life.

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Leave us your comments and I will respond with any questions you may have. Enjoy our Blog! Linda (y Bo)