Wednesday, May 20, 2015


One VIEW From our New Apartment Roof Top Terrace!!

Has it really been almost two months since my last BLOG post??
I was going to do a blog post of our Travel Adventure #2, and then #3 - but "Life in Cuenca" changed for us unexpectedly.  It's those "Suddenlies" in life that we don't expect which cause everything we have planned to be on hold (like blogging or traveling) until we deal with what is in front of us.

Our landlord of two years SUDDENLY decided to put some unacceptable restrictions on us as tenants - so we decided to up and move  quickly!!  Well, the last two months have not been an easy transition, in more ways than one - but we've made it through a most difficult move, some personal struggles, and unexpected health issues.

The same day our landlord confronted us with his ridiculous and unacceptable DEMANDS, a friend informed me that she had seen a beautiful apartment in El Centro with the added bonus of a large terrace and a spectacular view overlooking the city. It was becoming available in two weeks, which was perfect timing.  I went with her to see it the very next day (one has to jump on these rare finds), had my absolutely necessary “WOW” experience, and then Bo accompanied me for visit #2.  He, too, liked it!!  Looking back at why we’ve moved so many times, I learned NOT to move again until that “WOW” encounter struck me. 

It was a difficult and exhausting two-day move, not to mention the two weeks of marathon packing - and moving again was not something I was ready for after moving from the States to Cuenca and returning three different times to purge and sell and give it away.  How in the world did we accumulate so much STUFF in a little over two years here?  Yet, as I look around at my beautiful Apartment #6, now all painted and decorated, every treasure has a place, and there really isn't that much in storage.  I don’t go shopping anymore for STUFF since living here and settling in because we have everything we need - just the expenses for daily living. 

It took a month to get our new place completely repainted, scrubbed and cleaned, and everything we own unpacked and put away.  Today, I love being home and enjoying the terrace and view.  I love the earthy colors I chose for this place, and I love having THREE bathrooms - the master bathroom even has a jacuzzi tub!  I love feeling like a princess again and having more room and a place to sit outside and enjoy all my plants.  I mostly love my friend who thought about us when I put out the word to be looking for an El Centro apartment with a sitting terrace area.  She knew it was a fit the moment she saw it.

So, I wanted to post some photos of the transition and the end result - but I mostly wanted to update you on my point of view for finding a rental and the steps I once again took to make sure it was going to be the next "right" move. 

1 - I believe that the best deals come when you can hear about a great place from someone else or see a sign as you walk around Cuenca. I was continually checking Craigslist, reading ads on Gringo Tree and Gringo Post, and looking at signs around El Centro for “Arrienda Departamento.”  I went and looked at several since we knew we wanted to transition to a place with an outdoor sitting area. All of this before our landlord turned on us and caused us to "get out now!!"   
2 - I firmly believe in negotiating the asking monthly rent.  It’s worked for me every time.  This apartment will be $120 more than our last one,  but it is still in the price range we wanted to stay in and offers SO MUCH MORE.  I knew it was renting for $400 to the previous tenant, so I was hoping for the same monthly rent. When I was told it would be $450 because the family hadn’t raised the rent in two years, I pleaded my case (that we could only afford $400 and we would be great long-term renters).  We were thankful the family agreed to $400 so we could stay in our frugal budget.  Yes, I'm so happy!  We signed a 2-year lease to lock in that price.
3 - I still believe that having ones own furniture and decor truly makes it home - for me anyway.  I have my specific taste for decorating and for art - and experiencing living in 4 different apartments the first 4 months of our Cuenca Living that were    already furnished just didn’t cut it for me.  I think back at Apartment #4 where we were paying $500 for furnished.  I’d rather invest in my own furniture and decor so I can call it home.  It certainly doesn’t make a big move to an unfurnished place three flights up easy though, but for me it is worth it. 
4 - I believe that when you know the desired location you want to live and the exact type of place you would enjoy calling home here in Cuenca - you should WAIT and NOT SETTLE for less.  Rentals     are abundant - but that “just right” place is something I had to wait for - and it finally evidenced itself just in time!!  I always say, “God’s timing is PERFECT for those who wait on Him!!”
5 - Be clear on the contract you sign.  Our contract was uncomplicated and clear without any hidden agenda or legal jargon.  I love that we can paint and make changes to upgrade, and our landlady made sure that everything I needed fixed or changed once we moved in was taken care of and paid for. 
6 - Don’t be stuck in a place that doesn’t work anymore. MOVE!  Yes it’s difficult and can be costly - but where you live here in Cuenca is important.  If you can’t call it home and it isn’t a place you enjoy being in, then MOVE!  It’s difficult enough to leave everything familiar and step into a new culture and start all over again.  Make sure you find an apartment or home that brings you joy and peace.  After 5 moves in the first 4 months, living in Apartment #5 for two years, and now our sixth move - I can truly say, “I LOVE OUR NEW RENTAL - It’s perfect for us and now that we're settled in, it’s home!!!” 

Just the beginning of our STUFF arriving to our new apartment.
 The entire place was originally painted a deep canary yellow - YUCK!  I was so excited to see it transformed with the earthy warm colors I chose.  My painter, Henry, was the best - Maticulous, tidy, and always on time!

 It took days for the painting to end and a couple weeks for things to find its place.  The colors were perfect and I was glad when the painting was finally done!  I can't wait to hang our beautiful art around the apartment.  For now, I just stuck photos where there were existing nails!

I stayed with two warm earthy contrasting colors throughout the entire apartment.
That's our Cozy TV-Movie Cove.  I chose the darker delicious mocha color for this area to contrast the lighter color in the dining-living area.

Outside, the terrace was transformed from a dirty boring white......

 To a golden mustardy color with a carmel-colored trim.

 Beautiful creamy linen curtains came with the apartment.  I'll never close them because we have so much privacy here.  We're the only apartment in the building, and we're up on the third floor.

The Terrace is transformed - and I LOVE IT!!!

 This apartment has such lovely added features, like the beautiful solid wood doors  and floors, and those three sweet stained glass windows at the entrance area.
A glimpse of the changing colors at dusk.

We're enjoying the open spacious feel to this place.

Yes, I LOVE the genuine hardwood floors throughout.....

.....and the huge windows and bright light in this place.

VIEW from our Kitchen Window!!
 I love that we can enter the terrace from the kitchen area, and that we no longer have to suffer white tile in the kitchen.  This one has beautiful reddish tiles.

Oh, and we have a double sink, continual HOT water and great water pressure (brag, brag, brag).  I've died and gone to heaven!
So much storage in this spacious kitchen too. Love showing my beautiful Vega dishes and Oregon Pottery.

 Tea, anyone?  Every feature in this place is so charming!!

The master bedroom is HUGE!  I plan to replace all the white verticles with wooden shades.

Every room has LOTS of closets and drawers for storage too - somthing the other apartment was so lacking.

 My plants are so happy in their new home.....
 .....and we love to sit outside and enjoy them and the beautiful views.
Love the red terra-cota tiles outside too!

 Ahhhh, beautiful Cuenca!

 Who could ask for anything more when it comes to a $400 a month Historic District mini-penthouse????

More of our amazing terrace views -
I'm happy to be home AGAIN!!!

I hope you enjoyed a beginning tour of what is yet to come (I'm still decorating!!!).  For now, we are settled in and resting from two months of unexpected "Suddenlies."  

How many times have you moved since being here?  Do you love your apartment or home?  Or are you just arriving or planning to come with the hope of finding that perfect place?  It's there!  I promise......  Leave your comment and share your experience for our readers to get a glimpse of RENTING IN CUENCA.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Travels in Ecuador PART 1 - SAN JUAN BOSCO, ECUADOR!!

Our 2015 Travels in Ecuador

  Our adventure in 
  San Juan Bosco, Ecuador
Near the town of San Juan Bosco is this spectacular scenic area where we gazed upon Pan De Azucar, which Means "Sweet Bread."   It has an elevation of 9,700 feet. 

It's time!! To travel and explore our beautiful Ecuador.  Now that we're settled into daily life in Cuenca, and we should be after over two years here, we want to make 2015 our year of exploring this breathtaking country.  Because our cost-of-living is so affordable, and because we are retired and free, we have the liberty to take off and GO!  So, I wanted to share our three amazing trips we have experienced in the past two months.  

Our friends, Dave and Libia invited us to come to their little town of San Juan Bosco and hang out with them for a few days.  So, off we went with our backpacks, walking sticks, and dressed for the Amazon.  Libia was in Cuenca visiting family.  So the day she was ready to leave and head home to her finca in the jungle, we tagged along, took a bus together, and headed for our three day experience in the lush green Amazon Jungle of Ecuador.  

A view of San Juan Bosco from the Bus!
Part of our days were spent exploring the town of San Juan Bosco, an historic town located in the Amazon Basin at an elevation of approximately 3,400 feet (1,050 meters).  It is a county within the province of Morona Santiago and extends from the Eastern side of the Andes mountains to the jungle border with Peru. This peaceful small quaint town has a population size of approximately 1,500 and was founded only 50 years ago. 
San Juan Bosco's Main Street

        Jungle Dave does ecological tours of the Oriente.  
You can visit his website at 
and read all about it.

We did lots of hiking with Dave and Libia.  Bo and Dave taking a break and enjoying a moment in the Mountains!!

On one of our "Tour" walks near San Juan Bosco, we made way for these harvesters of branches..... 
......heading down the mountain. 

Ahhhhh, time away from the city was spent basking in the silence of the jungle and amongst the beauty of nature.

It reminds me of lush green Oregon. 
My favorite place to relax is by a rushing river......

.....and for me, there's no other place in the world to sit and escape the bustling city!

 It had been raining for days, and the ground was very muddy.  So, we decided to not hike into Jungle Dave's farm during this visit.  One of our mornings there, Dave's farm workers hiked out to load up with more provisions.  Libia helps him tie down the load for his journey back.

One of the worker's sons takes a mountain break.

Okay, their mule is loaded and ready to go!

The journey back begins..... 
For Dave, Libia, and their helpers, this hike is a daily event.  Sometimes Dave hikes in and out two or three times a day.  For us, it would have been a great challenge and hours of forging our way in.  They are truly human mountain goats!!!
Yes, that little white speck is Jungle Dave's finca - definitely a hike to be in shape for, even if you have a mule!

 We visited one of Libia's friend's farm.  Their daughter
was captured by my camera and I was captured by her adorable face!

 We enjoyed roaming around their farm......

....and playing with the pups.

 One afternoon, Dave and Libia bought a mule she has had her eye on.  They negotiated their price....

She told me the mule was neglected - but the next time we visited, her mule would be shiny and healthy.  They LOVE their animals!

We also visited Libia's cousin's finca - 
75 spectacular acres of lush green jungle land!  

Oliver - Fishing for fresh Tilapia
Libia is an amazing cook - and guess what we had for dinner that night?
Whatcha Lookin' At????
Libia and Bo - Posing by the Pig Pen
(Is that Bo in a hat???)
We enjoyed the hidden waterfall and calm river on Olicho's property
One of the days, Libia's GORGEOUS family drove in from Cuenca to visit their mom.  I loved meeting them and taking some family portraits for her of her two handsome sons, beautiful daughter, and gorgeous grandson.

One of my prize photos of Libia and her precious grandson.


Some of you know the story of Bo's childhood past "Cowboy Hat- Hey Tex!" trauma.  To get Bo in a hat - well!!  So, for me, capturing this moment is priceless.  We both had such A HAPPY TIME during our visit with Jungle Dave and Libia.  

Thank you, Dave and Libia, for such a relaxing and enjoyable few days with you.  You made it grand for us - and we can't wait to come back and see you again!

If you haven't visited Ecuador's Amazon yet, you must.  If you haven't tasted Jungle Dave's Organic Meat yet, you must!  He does home delivery in Cuenca!  If you want to order meat or take a tour of his Finca in the Jungle and see the sweet town of San Juan Bosco, you can contact Dave at davegouch@yahoo.com 

Stay tuned for