Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sleep is good!

Sleep IS good and sleep we did. Stu hit the sack around 8 PM after watching 5 minutes of TV. I wasn't far behind at 9:30 PM. We both slept till after 7 AM. No coffee, no breakfast foods as yet so we piddled on the computers for a bit. Around 8:30 we headed back to San Sebas to try their breakfast. They didn't disappoint.

Stu had the banana nut pancakes - huge plateful. I had a plain bagel with butter with a side of fruit. We both had coffee (and it was VERY good, nice and strong, just the way we like it). The bill came to $9, $11 with tip. While there we saw Kent and Susie again, nice to see friendly faces.

We spent several hours enjoying our coffee and chatting. Eventually we got out and started to walk around El Centro. Some interesting stores with products we recognized and a few we didn't. The best was the bakery - hard to resist....but we did. We only saw one street vendor selling grapes. We didn't get any, maybe next time.

After we circled back to the park where we started, we flagged a taxi and asked him to take us to SuperMaxi. $2 for the ride and we were there. Ah, one Spanish phrase down - a gazillion more to go. SuperMaxi is in a small mall so we walked past all the stores first. The most interesting was the electronics store. No problem with prices for most small kitchen appliances but the televisions? Oh my...a little maybe 22" TV was over $400. Yikes!! No wonder we heard that folks that move here bring TVs with them.

Then on to SuperMaxi which is a grocery store with a few extras (more kitchen stuff, pillows and towels). We noticed that the US brands were 2 or 3 times the price of the same product made locally. We opted for all local products. Here is what we bought:
  • Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise
  • 2 pillows, plastic pitcher, 10pk plastic hangers
  • Hand soap (pump), dish soap
  • Box of 100 tea bags for iced tea
  • Small box of Earl Grey tea bags
  • 4 pack of Parmalat milk, (1 liter each)
  • Peanut butter (the REAL stuff), jelly, butter
  • Bimbo whole wheat bread (don't you love the name - saw that in Mexico, too)
  • 4 rolls toilet paper, 1 roll paper towels (short and squat - kind of cute)
  • 6 pack of local beer
  • 3 pack of purse-sized tissues
  • small bunch of bananas, 4 apples, package of strawberries
  • 2 boxes of cereal, small package of rolled oats
  • 6 pack of yogurt
 I'm sure I'm missing something, anyway, this was $67 with all taxes and any surcharge for using a credit card. I signed up for a discount card - it's tied to my passport number. They bagged it all up, rolled the cart outside, hailed a taxi for us and loaded them into the trunk. $2 later we were back at our apartment. Bueno!

We put the refrigerator stuff away, took our salads that we bought last night and headed out to the garden area for lunch. Nice atmosphere, great company (each other). We sat and chatted before heading back inside where we put things away and I started some sun tea (okay, shade tea) in our new pitcher.

Stu worked on getting my old AT&T IPhone unlocked. We hope to get a sim card here and buy minutes so we can use it for local calls (getting a taxi for the most part or calling new friends). The air is so fresh and clean we often leave the door open along with the windows - no real flying insects except for an occasional fly (rare).

So we had everything open and heard our neighbors come back. Two couples and a third gentleman who was introducing them to each other. Time to stick our heads out and meet them. I remember a few names but no matter. LOL!

By 5:00 we wanted to go for a walk and since we were both hungry we decided to try the closest place: Magnolia. We both got chicken salad sandwiches on flat bread which came with fries. VERY good, especially for $5.50. I got coffee and Stu got a local amber beer. Our waiter was excellent at helping us pronounce the names and learn what things were. We'll definitely go back.

Tomorrow afternoon we meet up with two expats we've come to know online. They invited us over for coffee and are sending their favorite taxi driver to pick us up. $2 ride each way. Saturday we have a party to go to and some time in the next few days I'll try to deliver all the goodies we picked up for folks.

Next week we hope to go to the mercado (open market) where food and other goods are much cheaper. Fruit and veggies are on the list as well as anything else that strikes our interest.We don't plan on doing much cooking, we want to experience what is here.

Thoughts so far? Well, it's obvious that we aren't in Kansas anymore. But the traffic, honking and smelly diesel buses aren't near as bad as we'd been told (at least for us). Nor are the barking dogs. They are all here, just not so bad that we hate it.

Dogs here aren't so much pets as they are alarms or security guards. Some let theirs roam free, but most are kept in tightly fenced yards. Oh, and houses are mostly enclaves with gated entrances. The hardest thing to see is the street dogs. Many have bad hips from being hit by vehicles. You see all breeds, or at least a mix of all breeds. There are organizations that come around and collect the strays from time to time, spay/neuter them, vaccinate them and try to find a home for them.

Most people have been extremely accommodating when they realize how limited we are in speaking Spanish. Words are first, then a few key phrases. Pronunciation is the toughest part - I can't roll the pronunciations like others can. LOL! Thank goodness for our little phrase book and our phone translator (even though mine is single words only).

Okay, enough rambling - here come the few photos I've taken. Hope you enjoy!

The view from our room in Guayaquil the morning of the 16th:

Apartamentos Otorongo in Cuenca:

Around Cuenca:



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