Saturday, August 14, 2010

The First Ten Days

Time. It doesn't stand still. And it's time to reflect on our lives since arriving in Cuenca. We've been here for ten days now, but it seems longer because we've accomplished so much. Here's our reflections so far, which will probably change in time.
The Good

We are walking more than we did back home. Yesterday we walked to the Super Maxi plaza which has banking, groceries, and home furnishings and is about a mile away. We've done this walk five times so far so it is getting more familiar. We walk past small businesses and have to keep aware of the sidewalk because you could trip very easily. So it's not a fast walk but we probably couldn't do a fast walk yet until our lungs get used to the high altitude. We also have to be careful crossing the street since the drivers here are like in New York City. We take a taxi home with all of our groceries. The whole grocery shopping expendition takes twice as long here than back home, but we've got time!

We're eating better because there are no fast food restaurants (only in the mall) and no frozen dinners, so you have to either go out to eat (which we don't do very often), or you cook at home. Wow, what a concept! We are eating dinner together instead of in different rooms.

We're not watching TV!! Who would of thought you could get by without TV or having news 24 hours a day.

The internet here is great. Our laptop works fine. We can do everything we need to on our computer just like at home. And Skype is amazing. For those who have learned how to use Skype, we can talk to you and we can see each other at the same time. Makes it seem like we're not so far away from home. Also, Skype is FREE as long as it is a Skype to Skype call. If it is a Skype to landline or cell phone call, there is a cost. I called Cox Communications yesterday on Skype to check on something and used their 888 number, and it was free.

Parque Calderon is beautiful. It is the central park in Cuenca and reminds me of the gathering places in Italy. I haven't been to Spain, but it probably resembles Spain, especially the downtown area with the narrow streets, and small shops. The main focal point of Parque Calderon is the beautiful cathedral. There are actually two: the old one and the new one. Both are beautiful. (Next time I'm there, I'll take pictures!)

Back to the walking: We decided to explore one day. Any time we want to take a taxi, we need to walk to theSuper Maxi plaza where the taxis are gathered. So we caught a taxi and went down to the river to a restaurant to eat lunch. It was the Inca Lounge which serves American-style hamburgers and french fries. We had a great time socializing with the entreprenuer Mike, who is American but has lived in Latin America for about ten years. After lunch, we decided to walk to Parque Calderon to see it for ourselves. After about an hour walking around the park and the small shops, I asked Mike how far away was our apartment and if we could walk home, which we did. It took about 45 minutes and we took our time because some of it was uphill. It feels good to walk around town.

The Bad

The weather here has been less than desirable so far. It has been very cold (at least judging from where we came from which was 100 degrees everyday). We're glad we brought clothes for cold weather. I caught a cold because our apartment didn't have heat and the heaters didn't work (or so we thought). Mike eventually got the large gas heater to work, and we bought a small electric heater. Now our home is nice and toasty, and my cold is almost gone. Today, it is raining so I'm glad we did our grocery shopping yesterday. I think I'll make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. This is the "winter" season so we're hoping that the weather improves in October when the "summer" season starts.

We had an earthquake on August 12th, which was a 7.1. It was centered very deep in the earth in an uninhabited area of the jungle and no damage has been reported. It could have been a lot worse, but I think the buildings in Cuenca are built very well. There are a lot of earthquakes here but growing up in Southern California, it's not too frightening.

Other Notes

We've met some great people who have helped us so much. There's Dixie Davey, who's been here with her husband John for two years from Australia. She assisted us in renting this apartment and is helping us find our next home which we'll need to move to the first of November. We'll probably look closer to the river. (By the way, there are four rivers that run through Cuenca from the Andes mountains. The river we'll live near to is the Tomebamba River.) Dixie introduced us to Juan Perez, who speaks English very well. He assisted us with our banking needs, getting a cell phone, and opening up a post office box. Dixie and Juan took us on a tour of Cuenca on August 11th and the pictures I posted are from that tour. We also have met Linda Gonzalez who also speaks excellent English. She assisted us with getting our visa documents photocopied, notarized, and overnighted to our attorney in Quito. So far, everything has been accomplished very smoothly.

What goes without saying is the downside of being so far away from family and friends. We plan on taking trips back to the states to visit family next year. And Mike will be able to fly half price with the retiree visa that he'll have!

Well, that's it for now.

Hasta Luego,

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