Friday, January 14, 2011



Thursday morning we went to the airport to fly to Quito, and there were at least 5 ex-pat Americans on the flight. We talked with three of them largely because we heard them mention Minneapolis. Turns out one of the couples is from Eagan. Small world. They came down last year for 7 weeks and are returning this year for 10 weeks. The other woman was the mother of our realtor (again, small world). We talked about Zoe’s Restaurant/Bar where ex-pats get together for “gringo night” on Friday nights, so that’s where we will be heading today, both to check out the main square in Cuenca and to meet more people. Apparently, most of the ex-pats return to Cuenca from the US around this time, so they speculated it will be a large crowd tonight.

We were met at the Cuenca airport by our realtor, and we headed for our condo and signed the rental papers, turned over the money, etc. We were pleasantly surprised by the place; the pictures didn’t do it justice, but first some facts about the place.

The building is about a 20-year-old red brick building. The apartment itself seems to be about 1600 square feet at least and has 3-bedrooms, but the owner has stuff stored in one of them and it’s locked. It also has a dining room, living room, 3 bathrooms, laundry area, kitchen with dinette/bar, and – a maid’s quarters (Darlene – that’s where you can sleep, but you don’t have to clean!)! The floors are mostly tile, with tile on the bathroom walls and wood flooring in the bedrooms. Our realtor thinks the place sold for around $85,000. The monthly fee seems to be $84. Quite a deal!

The water is excellent (our realtor claimed it was better than the water in many US cities). There is no heat or air conditioning. No need for it. The temperature is around 70 degrees every day, and about 50-55 degrees at night. We have two propane tanks in the laundry room, one for the stove and one for hot water. The windows are single-pane and about R-1. We also have wonderful views out of the kitchen the dining room windows.

In total -- it is a very pleasant place. Sheila, the owner who is from Miami, has purchased some wonderful Ecuadoran art (note the art in the picture), and the furniture is a dark-wood in a rustic Ecuadoran style – not counting the couch and love seat which are red, along with purple, green, blue, red, yellow, and orange pillows. It may sound awful, but the colors match an oil painting above the couch, and it looks great. There are also wonderful watercolors, other oil paintings, some textile wall hangings, etc. I love it. Now the challenge is to figure out where all the light switches are.

Harold went out and explored the immediate area this morning, and there appear to be 3 buildings in this block of apartments with 10 apartments in each building.

THE BAD NEWS: Harold mopped the floor 3 times yesterday, and it needs a couple of other moppings (oddly enough, it didn’t look THAT bad). We headed over to the Super-Maxi for food (which is very close), and we had to run across a VERY busy road to get there (worse when you are loaded down with groceries), and many of the groceries there are generally quite expensive. For example, peanut butter is over $6.66 for a 16 ounce jar, and wine is more expensive than in the US (dang). Also, we bought a jar of Prego spaghetti sauce for dinner (just didn’t have the energy to make something), and it was $4.73 (and not all that good!). There is a local market a few more blocks away, but we haven’t been there.

Today, we will explore the city a bit.

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