Monday, June 30, 2014

Thursday is MOVE day!!

We have been busy packing, okay, so Stu did the majority (thank you sweetie, love you!). The walls are patched and painted, we pick up our keys on Wednesday, we move on Thursday and hopefully get our new DirecTV service installed that day and our Internet on Thursday (Friday at the latest).

This will probably be my last post until next weekend while we unpack and try to make some sense out of the chaos. But I can promise you we'll be enjoying our rooftop terrace every chance we get (when the weather cooperates). Keep your fingers crossed that all goes as planned!







Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29: Sunday Sundry Photo

Everyone is an art critic...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yesterday was a BIG day!

We even spent $14 (total) for two shirts to show our support for Ecuador in the World Cup. Who'd ever think we'd be watching Fútbol! Ecuador held their own against one of the giants, France, for a tie but it wasn't enough to keep them in the game. Now we can root for the US.


Many folks were at the malls and other areas with big screen televisions...this was the mall we use, Mall del Rio, shortly before the game began. They have a HUGE big screen in the food court area. Oh, the President also let all government employees off at 2:30 to enjoy the game and many businesses followed suit.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crime in Ecuador

A hot topic is crime in Latin America, for us in Ecuador and specifically, Cuenca. We've all seen the grisly headlines about drug cartels and homicides. We've read about date rape drugs and other used in robberies.

But what is the reality of living here in Cuenca? We have met over 100 expats and are online friends with many more. Have any of them experienced crime personally? The truth and sad fact is, yes, some of them have.

Most of these have been crimes of opportunity - pockets picked, cell phones left sitting on the edge of a table, backpacks not secured on a packed bus. There are a few stories of face-to-face robberies, many of them at night with the victim a bit inebriated or unaware of their surroundings.

Cuenca is not a small town even though it may feel that way at times. We have learned to not carry a lot of cash, use the ATMs inside the banks or the bigger malls, keep our wallets where we can feel them, never carry original copies of our passports (not needed now that we have our cedulas of which we carry laminated copies), NEVER flash a lot of money or wear expensive watches or jewelry. It's all pretty much common sense. Expensive cameras, laptops, tablets and cell phones are primary targets but we have heard of women having their earrings snatched.

Are we targeted as gringos? At times, partially because we are known to have more money than the locals. But we have also talked to many locals who have been victims as well. Home invasions to happen, especially to those not adequately prepared. One victim's wife opened the gate to someone who was looking for his chicken he claimed had flown over their fence. She opened the gate and she was rushed by three men. They have since installed a video camera, this would have prevented the crime. Another was robbed at gunpoint and wrote about it here. He accepts some of the blame but it did destroy their feeling of security for some time.

Homes are built in enclaves of one or more, behind locked gates with the tops wired with electricity or walls with broken bottles embedded. No enclave, then you will see barred windows and heavily padlocked doors. Dogs are guards and alarms here, not so much pets.

Here in Cuenca we don't have a problem with "gypsy" cabs or cab kidnappings as Guayaquil and Quito do (in those cities always have the hotel call a cab for you and learn the markings of a licensed, registered cab). In Cuenca the majority of the cabs have webcams AND had a little red button that calls ECU-911. Yes, there is a 911 service here, in fact the husband of the gal that runs my favorite beauty salon, works for ECU-911. We have never felt unsafe in a Cuenca taxi or on the bus but we are very aware of our belongings when on the bus.

Do we worry incessantly about this? Absolutely not! But we are aware. If we go out at night, we use a taxi. We avoid the buses when they are very crowded. If we plan to attend an event with a lot of people, we carry as little as possible with us and even have an old cell phone we can use as a throwaway. We try to keep extra money hidden, just have a couple of ones and maybe a ten or twenty to hand over. We avoid unpopulated areas when walking, especially at dawn or dusk. We have never felt threatened but we also are constantly aware of our surroundings.

July 14, 2014 ARTICLE: Former criminologist discusses crime in Cuenca

 Poverty is the mother of crime.
Marcus Aurelius

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting ready to move!

Yesterday we went to see our actual apartment after the previous tenant moved out this past weekend. These first photos are from the landlord's father's apartment with the exact same layout.

This apartment is two floors directly above ours, same layout/size. And no, there is NO diswasher in our unit...we supply all appliances. LOL! Oh, as always, click any photo to see a larger image.


These photos are from the recently vacated apartment that will be ours, currently being painted, cleaned and any needed repairs done. Can't believe I forgot to take a photo of the master bedroom and bath. Cheated and used the master bath photo from the above apt. The master has a nice room darkening roman style window cover that we bought from the previous tenant. The other windows will eventually get sheers.


We will have a huge open living - dining - kitchen great room area. The three bedrooms are a bit smaller but we are pretty sure we can fit our king bed in the master, queen in one guest room and queen iffy in the third. Plan B will be queen in our room, main guest room and our single+ in the smaller guest room. It will all work out. We also have permission to put bigger, nicer mirrors in all three bathrooms (all FULL - yup, three showers).

The views from all the rooms are wonderful...a ton of windows in the main living area lets us see the city and the mountains around us. I have a window that opens over the kitchen sink (my only UGH is the size of the round sinks) so I can see the city. Then there is the full rooftop terrace! Oh my!! We can't wait to see the city lit up at night and watch the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.


Many of the apartments have a bench or truck outside their doors, a place to sit things down when you unlock the door maybe. Since we have FOUR benches, one will be painted for just that purpose! As it stands now we will be busy PACKING most days. We get our keys the morning of July 2nd and will be meeting with our mover this afternoon to confirm a price and hopefully set up to move that afternoon.

When we left the apartment yesterday, we walked to the end of our street, around the corner to our bank. Just up the street is the Supermaxi we prefer as well. We will be going more often and buying less since we will be walking there and back. A bit longer is the walk to our primary care doctor and our pharmacy (although our landlords also own a pharmacy and we can have next day delivery) as well as the BIG mercado, Feria Libre. From our apartment we can head the opposite direction and quickly find us in El Centro. At the end of our street is the Rio Tomebamba which is the river that ran behind our temporary apartment where we stayed on our exploratory visit. Stu is looking forward to riding his bicycle as well as walking along the river.

So what are we doing now?


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