So after many phone calls and viewing different houses and apartments from 30 minutes out in the country to even just a 10 minute taxi ride away, we found an apartment a few blocks from our temp and moved in on Wednesday. We thought this would be our longer-term rental. However, after spending a few days here, we realize (for many reasons) it's NOT! We're continually reminding each other that every decision, even ones that don't quite work out as we expected them to, is a part of the process of this journey, and it's really about the people we meet along the way!
Friends of ours then told us about another place that they used to rent, and so I immediately contacted the Ecuadorian owner, we met with her and viewed the apartment, we liked it so much more, and so we put down a deposit last night and will be moving again on January 28th!! We're hoping this will be our long-term rental. It's very open, bright, and still in the heart of El Centro. Because these are month-to-month rentals, we can try them out and we aren't committed to a long-term lease. We've decided we want to be free to "GO" when we're ready! The price is right for both these rentals, so we feel we're doing quite well in our searches.
We've been enjoying the authentic Ecuadorian little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and the prices we are paying for a lunch makes us smile. Yesterday we went out with another couple, and I paid the bill for the four of us, $8.00!!!! Bo's been keeping a budget of our expenses for groceries and produce, and if he's projected correctly, our grocery bill will be around $200 a month. Our apartment has a tiny refrigerator and freezer, and because we shop daily for fresh produce, we don't need much space for our groceries. As Bo says, every time we pay for something, "What's not to like about Cuenca?"
Our rent now is $400 for a 3 bedroom, 3 bath uncomfortably furnished (that's another story!!) apartment, including Direct TV, WiFi, Propane, and water. The apartment we will be moving to is going to be $500, but will have nicer more comfortable furniture, a huge kitchen living room area, and a city view from the windows. It's only a 2 bedroom (all we need), but the trade-off and extra $100 will be well worth the move. Again, everything is included. So, we do not have to pay for anything else except our food, medical if needed, and entertainment and travel expenses.
An eye exam in Cuenca costs $1.50 and eye glass frames are $20. The corner pharmacy we shop at had a 20% off everything sale Friday. Bo had his Prescription refilled over-the-counter for $15. In the States it costs him over $150. His other prescription will cost him $6 when he runs out. My hormone prescription will cost me $15. In the states, it is over $100.
Every time we go out and are charged for our meal or drink, we gasp! We went to the market today and shared a huge plate of Ecuadorian cuisine and two freshly blended ice-cold pure coconut drinks - Total bill for two $6.00. More than enough food for the two of us, and delicious beyond words. We were stuffed! All this to say, we are loving the cost of living here and our food budget rocks!!!
We had a sweet day today visiting our friends, Rommie and Charles. They are so much fun to be with. We laugh continually. Rommie walks us all over the city teaching us where the hidden shops are, and Charles is a delight to be with too. Bo and I have so appreciated their help, and today I was able to help Rommie by calling on some apartments and houses for them, because they needed me to speak Spanish to the Ecuadorian landlords. We met them while living at our temp rental, and they are now also looking for their longer term house or apartment. It's fun to continue to get together with them.
Because of the intense equator sun, we were hoping to find Bo a hat today at a wonderful handmade hat shop, but Bo is just not a hat guy. Instead, Rommie found one that was perfect for her. I am not shopping these days, not until we settle into our permanent rental. Then, watch out world!!! For now, we have all we need.
Bo and I also have been climbing several of the stairs in our city. There are several landings that go down to the Tomebamba River and lower level of our city, so it's been Bo's daily exercise - one flight down, and one flight up! Today, we did a double round, up and down, up and down! We're talking over 90 steps! With the extreme elevation here (8,500 feet) and not working out for awhile, all this walking and exercise is another wonderful part of living here. It's amazing to watch the older Ecuadorian women climbing the hills and stairs effortlessly. Some of them have bundles on their backs, and daily you will see little hunched over bodies walking the streets on the way to their vendor spots. Back home, Bo would be carrying everyone's bundles. Here, it's an Ecuadorian lifestyle.
|We moved to this area of El Centro (about 4 blocks from out temporary rental). We're still in the bustle of this beautiful city! (Our apartment is on the left mid-block).|
|We love visiting the Mercado daily. Today we had lunch upstairs with our friends. We spent a big $6.00 for two and had a delicious Ecuadorian meal and fresh blended Coconut Juice.|
|Bo loves Cuenca Life! What's not to like???|
|After lunch, we went hat shopping for Bo. All these hats are handmade. (That's Rommie on the left shopping for her hat!)|
|Will he find a hat? Charles looks on, as Rommie continues to shop in the background.|
|Looking Good! No, he couldn't bring himself to doing it. Still no hat for Bo......|
|Stairs to lower level of the city along the Tomebamba River. We walk up and down these stairs two times daily for exercise. No small feat I tell you......|
|Every corner is a treasure! Every building a work of art! The mountainous surroundings and beautiful sunny blue skies are a few of the delights of our days.|
|Some vendors don't have a particular booth or location. They simply lay their fruit, herbs, flowers, or particular wares along the sidewalks and sell to the passersby.|
What we love most about living in the heart of this glorious city is being able to walk home when we want to drop off our produce or groceries, or if we're hungry, need a bathroom break, want to change clothes (because of the daily weather patterns) or are just worn out and tired. We are usually only a few blocks or a few miles away, and walking back and forth to our apartment is effortless. At 7:30 tonight, after already being settled in for the night, I suddenly said to Bo, "Let's go out for a city night walk." And we did! El Centro was still Saturday night alive, but many of the vendors were shutting down their booths or packing up their carts or wares and heading home for the evening. It was already dark and late, yet they will be back to their particular spots the next day, ready to work and earn their livings. The Ecuadorians are truly a unique, humble, and beautiful people whom we love living amongst and getting to know.
Yes, it's been another glorious day in our beautiful city. When I lay my head on my pillow, I thank my heavenly Father for bringing us to Cuenca and for each new day ahead.