Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a week!!!!

Time to get caught up.  This is a collection of five days worth of posts.  It has been a busy week with little time or energy left for doing the blog.   Here we go.

Got our new bed

Monday, October 11

This morning we went to the police station in a taxi so Di could file her complaint.  No go.  The person we needed to see was not there.  We took a taxi to Sukasa at Mall Los Americas.

While at Sukasa we bought a kitchen knife set, every kitchen utensil imaginable, a dish drainer, drinking glasses and we checked sizes and prices for bedding and appliances.  Juan called and said he would pick us up at the condo at .  Went to the condo by taxi and put things away while we waited for Juan.

Juan picked us up and took us back to the police station to see if we could do this report Di needed to do and still no go, they told us they needed more paperwork from the court.  Juan took us to Almacen De Plasticos.  It is, along with many other things, a bedding store.  We went there to buy a box spring and mattress.  As is normal, it was not open because it was lunch and family time and would not be opened till .  Welcome to South America.  We decided since all of us were hungry we would take Juan to lunch at a place he wanted to introduced to us.  We went to Grill Camperam at Av Doce De Octubre near the Rio Yanuncay.  Di and I had the best pork ribs we had ever had.  Juan had chicken soup that I could swear had chicken feet floating around in it.  I didn’t ask.  He had a chicken dinner that looked very good.  What a meal.  We fed all three of us including drinks for $17 and I had to bring half of my ribs home.  I couldn’t eat it all.  We went back to the bedding store and bought our bed.  The cost for a pillow top firm mattress and box spring was a bit less than we would have expected to pay in the states.

Juan brought us back to the condo and dropped us off.  The bed was delivered within an hour.  We set it up.  Then we went back to Ortorongo apartments and crashed for the evening.  And so ends another day in our adventure.

Appliances and the Internet

Tuesday, October 12

We went to Mall del Rio by bus and bought our bedding for the new bed.  We bought a set of sheets, blanket, two pillows and a comforter.  We took a taxi back to the new condo.  When we made the bed the comforter was too small.  We decided to deal with it later since Juan was picking us up to go buy appliances.

Juan picked us up at at the condo.  We went to Supermaxi at El Vergel to get our Supermaxi discount card because the Supermaxi card would save us hundreds of dollars on our appliance purchases at Sukasa.  Without Juan we could have never filled out the paperwork necessary to get this card in a timely manner.  Then we went to Sukasa and bought a GE side by side refrigerator with ice maker, a Mabe gas range with all the bells and whistles including an in oven rotisserie and a center burner with griddle and we bought a Frigidaire gas laundry center.  The prices were right at what they would be in the U.S.  We could have bought much cheaper and smaller appliances but I guess we just haven’t gotten rid of that U.S. entitlement mentality yet.  We wanted the best we could put into the space we had and Di had a plan.  The delivery was set for Thursday.

Juan then took us to PuntONet.  There we signed up for and paid in advance our internet service.  We got 1,100 kbps service for about $39 per month.  They have to install it and that is scheduled for Saturday or Monday depending on how much “posible manana”  time is thrown in.

Juan dropped us off at our Ortorongo apartment and we crashed.  And so ended another day in our adventure.

Floors and more floors

Wednesday, October 13

We went to Mall del Rio to buy groceries and exchange the comforter that was too small for our bed.  We also had to buy more cleaning supplies especially for the floors.  While we were there I bought a y-fitting to put on the washer cold water faucet so that we could hook up the refrigerator ice maker and the washer cold water.  We took a taxi back to our Ortorango apartment.

Di was so wore out when we got back that she decided to take a siesta.

While she slept I walked over to the condo with the new comforter and the y-adapter.  I made the bed and the new comforter fit perfect.

Now it was time to do the floors.  I waxed the hall floor and while it dried I put the first coat of wax on the kitchen tile floors.  Once everything was dry I waxed all the floors in the condo for the second time.  During all this I determined that we had approximately 3,000 sq feet of floors.  No wonder I was so tired.

I went back to our Ortorongo apartment and crashed.  And so ended another day in our adventure.

Appliance delivery

Thursday, October 14

Juan called us in the morning and told us that the appliances would be delivered at .  We went to the condo about .  What a zoo that turned out to be.  Juan sent his wife and a young neighbor to help.  Juan was busy with another customer.  If not for Juan’s wife and neighbor we still would not have appliances delivered.  Sukasa sent two delivery men who managed to get the refrigerator up five flights of stairs with a lot of help from Juan’s wife and neighbor and the building guard.  That in itself was a monster task. 

The refrigerator would not fit in the elevator and the delivery people had no idea how to follow instructions on the proper removal of the doors so that it would fit in the elevator.  I don’t speak the language so I was no help at all.  To make things even worse the elevator was broke and was being repaired.  It was down for two hours.  So the Sukasa delivery men simply dropped the laundry center and stove in the lobby and disappeared after they got the refrigerator up the stairs.  When the elevator was working again, Juan’s wife and the neighbor brought them up in the elevator.  We unboxed everything and put them in place.

Now the big problem was to get them hooked up.  If you want the warranty to be good you have to have them hooked up by a “professional technician”.  Right!  We thought that Sukasa would hook them up when they were delivered but obviously not.  Then we discover that we have to pay a contractor supplied by Sukasa to hook them up and we have to pay for any materials that will be required.  I researched the dryer and found out that it takes an LP gas converter kit to use it on LP gas here.  What a pain.  I sure hope that the installers know that but I doubt it.  Di made a major decision to change the position of the laundry center.  It will be more difficult to plumb but the location is so much better than I had planned.  I was going to do it myself but I had no tools.

I went to Mall Del Rio and bought tools.  Juan called me and he picked me up at the mall.  He and I came back here to discuss the need for Sukasa to get back here asap to get these appliances hooked up.  We decided it wasn’t a good idea for me to do it.  So much for needing the new tools I bought.  Well maybe I will use them sometime later.  Juan called Sukasa and made the arrangements.  Maybe by Monday if we are lucky we will get them hooked up.  We are in the “posible manana” mode again.

Juan dropped me back at our Ortorongo apartment and I crashed.  And so ended another day in our adventure.

Catch up on the Blog

Friday, October 15, 2010

We went to the condo this morning for nothing but being here because of the view and the condo is warmer and less damp than the apartment at Ortorongo and it is home.  We spent some time planning for the future furniture in the great room.  I spent most of my time typing in the computer to get caught up on the blog.  That way when we went back to our Ortorongo apartment I could jump on the internet and post the new blog entries.

We went back to Ortorongo and I posted a couple of blog entries.  Then we decided to go to dinner at California Kitchen for their weekend special.  What a meal.  George, Carol, Jim and Susie outdid themselves again.  I repeat.  What a meal.  This was their advertisement sent out by e-mail.

SURF & TURF - SHRIMP SCAMPI & MEDALLIONS OF BEEF (Lomo Fino) WITH A BERNAISE SAUCE.  WHIPPED GARLIC POTATOES & SPINACH GRATIN.  CHOICE OF A CUP OF SOUP (Fresh Green Pea Soup - "VEGETARIAN") OR A DINNER SALAD (Homemade Roquefort Dressing Available).  CHOICE OF DESSERT (NY Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse Walnut Pie, Mora Cobbler a la mode, Apple Cobbler a la mode).  CHOICE OF NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE FOR $9.95 

This is a great description of what they served and it got our attention.  The only problem with this e-mail is it didn't do the actual dining experience any favors.  The food was ten times better than the description.  This is five star restaurant food and those in Cuenca who missed it missed a good one.

We got George to take these photos.

And so ends another day in our adventure.

Cleaning up the new condo

Sunday, October 10

We tried to take it easy today.  We walked to the condo.  On the way to the condo we took a couple of photos of the outside of our building. 

        This is looking west down El Batan at our building on the corner.

Looking a little closer at the photo above, our condo great room bay window is just below the red sign.  Our condo is the full depth of the building left to right.  You see the dining window,  kitchen window with planter, #3 bedroom window and the small master bath window.

Then we went to Mall del Rio on the bus.  We window shopped for everything we knew we needed for our new home.  We bought supplies for cleaning the floors.  We bought a new pot and pan set.  We learned one thing for certain.  Never ever go shopping on the weekends.  What a zoo.  Everyone shops on the weekends there.  Took forever to get checked out.

We came back to the condo and I waxed all but the hall floor and the kitchen floor while Di took a hot shower.  After I waxed the floors I had to clean out the mop head as you see in the next two photos.  We have a scrub sink in the kitchen/laundry area.  It is neat and very handy for the task I am doing.

We got all done with what we intended to do that day and we went back to the Ortorongo apartment and crashed.  So ended another day in our adventure.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The view from our new home.

Saturday, October 9

We went over to the new condo early.  We took pictures out the windows.  What a beautiful view.  I started taking photos at the #2 bedroom window and panned left to right for four photos which is our westerly view.  Then I skipped the master bedroom because it is the same view.  I skipped the #3 bedroom northerly view and the kitchen northerly view and took the northerly view from the dining room window, four photos panning from left to right.  Then I went to the great room bay window and took five photos panning left to right of the easterly view.  We decided not to take photos of inside the condo until the floors were cleaned and waxed.  You will just have to wait.

The first four westerly view photos are from master bedroom and are the same from bedroom two panning left to right.

The second four are northerly view photos from the dining room window, the bedroom #3 window and the kitchen window are the same, panning left to right.

The last five photos are easterly view photos from the great room bay window panning left to right.

Later in the morning we went to Mercado Feria Libre to buy potatoes.  We took the bus there bought the potatoes and decided to try to bus back to the Ortorongo apartment.  What a mistake.  It took forever to get to the other side of the very busy traffic roundabout then we walked forever to the bus stop.  We won’t do that again.  We will take a taxi as we usually do.  It isn't worth the $1.50 to do that again.

When we got back to the Ortorango apartment Di took a siesta.  I wore her out again.  I went off by bus to the center of colonial Cuenca to get extra sets of keys made for the condo.  Juan told me of a place that could make these special keys that they use in our condo.  I walked forever.  I got lost.  I called Juan and he steered me straight.  I finally found the place and lo and behold it was closed for siesta!  So I walked around until I found a great restaurant across from the Parque de Calderon.  The food was excellent.

 I went back to the lock smith shop and got there just as he was closing up again!?!  I talked him into opening back up and making my keys.  I didn’t need Spanish for this one.  He saw the keys and at $10 each for the special door key times two, he jumped at it.  I took the bus back to Ortorango apartments and took a nap.  I had walked 20 to 30 blocks and I was beat.

Later that afternoon Di and I took a taxi to Mall del Rio and bought dishes and silverware.  We went back to condo and dropped them off.  We walked back to Ortorongo and crashed.  And so ended another busy day in our retirement adventure.

Mugged, travelers checks and our new home!!!! What a day!!!

Friday, October 8

We took a bus early to Calle Larga to shop for furniture.  This is a long street on the south edge of the colonial city running well above and parallel with the Rio Tomebamba.  We were out just to window shop for furniture as we had seen many furniture stores there when passing in earlier bus rides.  We also had seen hat shops with Panama hats being made and there was a barber shop there and I needed a haircut.  At the end of our walk after about an hour and a half we decided we need refreshment and we were almost to Kookaburra Cafe which we had been too in the past and we liked.

                                   Di's fireplace when we are ready to buy it.

We stopped on the sidewalk across the street from Kookaburra Cafe waiting for the traffic to ease and cross over, when it happened.

In broad daylight with literally dozens of people around, in front of open shops you don’t expect to get mugged.  We debated for a long time just how much we wanted to tell on our blog about this but we decided that it was information that everyone who may come here needed to know.  We were warned to treat Cuenca like any other very big city.  It can happen here as easily as it can happen in any big city in the world.

As we stood at the curb with Di at my right side I suddenly heard a scream that I recognized immediately as Di.  I spun to my right and caught a blur out of the corner of my eye.  I looked down and Di was sitting on the ground with here hand at her chest and she said to me that someone tried to grab her necklace.  She had the broken chain but no medallion.  I asked her if she was OK.  She said yes.  A crowd began to gather around her.

I immediately identified the man who mugged Di and took off running after him.  The whole time as I ran down the middle of Calle Larga I was hollering at him all of the most distasteful things I was going to do to him when I caught him.  All commerce on that block of Calle Larga came to a halt including the traffic.  It only took half a block down the road to realize that I was running at full speed at 8,250 feet give or take a bit and that I was at least a hundred and sixty two years old.  I stopped and he didn’t.  I went back to Di.  Needless to say I was dejected but very happy to find Di in good hands and only a bit bruised.

We got her up and took her into Kookaburra Cafe.  As we were getting her settled in, someone came in and said in Spanish that the Police caught the guy down at the corner.  I checked with Di and she was OK and off I went to do everything to that guy that the Police would allow including those distasteful things I was hollering in the street.  As I walked down the street it was obvious to everyone that this was one very mad Gringo.

I rounded the corner and there he was.  He was handcuffed to the back of a Police bike.  A young strapping motorcycle officer had the bad guy's pockets emptied onto the bike seat.  I walked up directly to the thief and shoved my finger within an inch of his face and in my best English I told him I wanted to kick his A$$ right there and then.  Nobody understood me.  What a deflating moment.  But they all knew that I was hot.  I told the officer the best I could that I saw him with my own eyes and chased him down the street.

The officer and the thief and I walked the street all the way back to the scene of the crime.  I found the medallion on the sidewalk very close to where Di went down.  I gave it to the officer.  Then I went into Kookaburra and got the broken necklace from Di and went out and gave it to the officer.  Then Manuel was at my side and he spoke broken but passable English.  What a help he was.  They loaded the thief and an officer in the back of a police truck and me and the police officer driver into the front and off to the police station we went.  They loaded Manuel into another police car and brought him to help me.

I won’t go into all the details that happened at the police station.  I dealt with the prosecutor, the defense attorney that they assigned to the thief, the arresting officer who had the evidence and about four other people that were there.  It was a big deal and I was very impressed with it all.  They asked me to bring Di back down on Friday or Monday to get her statement.  Manuel and I left and took a taxi back to Kookaburra Cafe.  There Di and I got lunch and Manuel only wanted a beer with me.  He gave us his name and his telephone number and we parted ways.

It was getting late in the day and we needed to get back.  We decided that we would walk back down the length of Calle Larga if for no other reason than to show the people there that this was our town too and we were not going to be intimidated.  We walked to the barber shop and I got my haircut.  Then we walked down the steps to Avenue Doce De Abril and took a bus to Ortorongo apartments.

Di took a siesta.  And I took off by taxi to get travelers checks cashed.  We needed cash to pay for 6 months of rent at our new home if by chance we closed the deal this afternoon.  Now here is a real adventure.  You can’t get travelers checks cashed at the banks.  I went from bank to bank by taxi.  No luck.  I was getting worried.  I was running out of time.  Our appointment was at and it was .  All I could see was a missed opportunity for a beautiful apartment.  Then a nice bank guard gave me directions to a money exchange house downtown.  Another taxi ride and it was done.  Now I had to get all that cash back to Ortorongo apartments without getting mugged.  I got a taxi immediately outside the exchange and went straight back to the apartment.

Juan picked us up just before 5PM to go to talk to owners about the new apartment.  We all went up to see it again.  Di and I were just as impressed and told them we wanted it.  We offered six months worth of rent and security up front.  Money talks.  The other person was still making up their mind.  We paid and got our receipts and keys.  We were in!!!!!  Juan left us there, his job well done.  We went up and just spent time planning what to do with enough space to raise an entire family in.  These photos are all that turned out.  Di had the new home excitement shakes for most of them.  We will post many more photos of the condo soon.

We walked back to Ortorongo apartments just before dark and crashed.  We have found our new home.  So ended another day in our adventure and an unbelievable day it was.

Apartment Hunting

Thursday, October 7

As we had talked about a couple days ago an apartment nearby was found by our friends Jim and Silene and they said it was in a very nice new building  They gave us the lead and I walked over to the apartment building a Esmeraldas y Batan and got the telephone number off of a sign on the lobby window.  It was a very impressive building and Jim told me that he thought the rent was about $350.  We gave Juan all the information and asked him to get an appointment to see what apartments were not rented.  He got us an appointment to see the apartment that was for rent.

The next day (today) Juan picked us up at at Ortorongo Apartments and took us over to look at the apartment at Esmeraldas. 

When we got there the guard told us it was rented.  Juan told him we had an appointment with the owners.  He told Juan the owner was in Quito on business and could not be there.  Juan told the guard to call the owner.  The guard called the owner and the owner said to let us in to see it.  We went up and looked at the condo and fell in love with it.  It was absolutely huge.  I estimated that it was well over 2,000 square feet.  It was three bedroom, 2 ½ bath, a very large office/computer area off the hall way, and a very large great room and a great kitchen laundry area.  It was on the fourth floor which is actually 5 floors off of the street because they don’t count the lobby floor as a floor.  We said we were interested if the price was right.  We were told that it would cost $300 per month plus a $60 per month condo fee for maintenance and security.  That sealed the deal.  We wanted it.  An appointment was made to meet with the owners on Friday afternoon at .  Juan told us that typically the first one there with the money gets the apartment.  We were very worried that we would miss this opportunity.  Juan took us back to Ortorongo apartments and we took a well deserved siesta.

We went to California kitchen for a 5:30 PM dinner date with Karen and Randy Kimbler.  When they arrived Karen looked at us a little sheepishly and asked if it was OK that they invited Clark and Brenda.  She explained that she had forgotten that they were celebrating her birthday.  We said that it was not a problem at all and the more the merrier.  We had great dinner with great new friends.  There was another party taking place.  There were about 10 or 12 people at that party.  It was a birthday party for Mike and his wife Pat.  Jim and Silene were at that party.  We met a lot of new people that night.  The food was absolutely great and we highly recommend California Kitchen.  Thanks Geroge, Carol, Jim and Susie for a wonderful first dinner there.

We walked a bit after dinner with the group and then decided that we were too tired to go any further and hailed a taxi and went back to Ortorongo and crashed.  And so ended another day in our adventure.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Mercado Feria Libre experience revisited!!!!!

Like I said in the earlier " The Mercado Feria Libre experience!! " post we would revisit the Mercado and this time we would take our camera.  Well it's Wednesday, October 6th and I can't say any more than these pictures can say.  There is no explaining the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of this experience.  I will try to put captions below most of them and leave the rest to your imagination.

These are a delicacy in Ecuador.  Or could they be your pet?

Chicken anyone?

Bags of potatoes protected with covering of some kind of greenery.

You name it you can get it.  Every kind of dried whatever know to man.

This is the bulk loading area.

Traffic around the Mercado is very heavy.

Di thought she was so cute!

We are not sure what these are.  Can anyone help us out?

They love their pineapple here.

Every fruit imaginable is grown here.

These next four photos are the fresh fish market.

Peeling shrimp.

Live land crabs.  I ate one of these once in San Juan.  They are quite good.

Restaurant row.

Roast whole hog row.

Wednesday is the big clothes market day at the Mercado.

Eating at 10AM!?!?  Di says it's because they have been here since daybreak.

Now that is what I call a Hog roast!!

After visiting the Mercado and buying about 5 pounds of potatoes for $1.50 we headed home thoroughly exhausted.  We took a siesta.  Like I said before, we are getting very good at siesta.

In the afternoon we struck out for Inca Lounge and Bistro to visit Mike (the owner) and watch some baseball playoff games.  Unfortunately they could not get TBS so we drank a few Pilseners, had a great lunch and met a very nice couple Mike and Pat and we met Ellen. If you want to have a great time in a great atmosphere, meet great people like Mike and Pat and Ellen and eat great food then this is the place to go.   We had a great time and then took a taxi back home and crashed for the night.  Below is a photo of taken during our walk.

And so ends another day in our adventure.