Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Comparisons - a look back

After hearing so many stories of reverse culture shock upon returning to a home country, I was not sure what to expect. Stu was in the US for three weeks in June but was somewhat preoccupied with our newest grandbaby. I'd been in Ecuador since mid-December, a little over 8 months, before visiting the US again. Here's a recap of what I noticed.
  • Everything looked familiar and felt comfortable.
  • Seeing the more rural settings, dressed for fall with pumpkins, was warm and soothing to me.
  • Eating out - EXPENSIVE! Our first breakfast at Cracker Barrel would have bought all three daily meals in Ecuador.
  • Buying food - EXPENSIVE! I'd grown accustomed to the food prices in Ecuador, especially the wonderful fruits and vegetables. When restocking the RV for the first couple of weeks, I spent more than we spend in a whole month in EC, including eating out.
  • More than enough power outlets in every room!
  • I missed hearing Spanish and trying to figure out what was being said.
  • It took a while to remember to put the toilet paper in the toilet and not the trash receptacle.
  • SOOOO enjoyed going to the movies, pigging out on popcorn. We've bringing back our Presto Microwave Popper back with us.
  • It was fun wearing clothes I hadn't had access to for eight months but it was more fun to open all the packages of clothes that we had bought and had waiting for us.
  • I missed the faces and laughter of the children
  • I REALLY missed the smiling faces of the locals when I interacted with them. Not that clerks, etc. here in the US don't interact but for the most part, it seems to be on a more complaining level.
  • I loved seeing friends here in the US but I also miss our new friends in Cuenca.
  • While I enjoyed doing the ordinary here in the US, I missed doing the out of ordinary things we run into in Ecuador.
  • FREE coffee refills....what a luxury compared to paying for each cup (especially when sitting and using WiFi).
  • I was surprised at how many places now offer free WiFi here in the US. We've used it at our doctor's office, Sam's Club, Denny's, Home Depot, Lowe's, McDonald's, and several other spots. Really handy when shopping.

I'm sure there is more but these were at the top of my head. It has been nice to come back to all our creature comfort and be able to binge out on favorite foods. Not so nice to gain 5+ pounds from that food and the fact we don't walk anywhere. I look forward to getting back to walking around Cuenca, enjoying the sights and taking photos.
Yes, our heart is in two countries now....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Almost Home!

Two months have flown by, as referenced in this blog post on our US blog post:

   Winding down here in the US....

The errands and running around is almost done. Packing is complete - trunks and duffles for checked baggage (total of 6) as well as carry-ons. Reservations made for rental car in Florida, hotel in Guayaquil and transportation from there to Cuenca is also done. Stu has plugged all the holes that he could find under the rig, stuffed them with steel wool and then topped that off with pest repellant expanding foam. That, combined with inside and outside repellant granules and spray, should hopefully cut down on our mouse issue this winter.

Today Stu picked up some brake pads after hearing Scooby's brakes squeal yesterday (our Ford F-250) after fueling up Freddie and adding Sta-bil (our Freightliner). As he got ready to head home a LOUD squeal alerted him to an issue. Looks like the clutch bearings on the A/C compressor have frozen. He disconnected the belt for the ride home - no fan for cooling and no alternator for charging.

Now he's trying to take off the compressor and hopefully get the belt to at least run the fan and alternator. Depending on what he finds we will either finish the repair next year or take it to the local big truck repair place before we leave and have our neighbor bring it home and park it for us.

Still need to do laundry, drop off our trash, pick up the Trike at the Harley dealer (warranty and 1k service), put Sta-bil in during  the trike fuel fill-ups, run a few last minute errands in Cookeville tomorrow and do the final cleaning and winterizing of the RV on Friday. We hope to be on the road by 1-2pm, heading to Atlanta to spend the evening with my youngest daughter and grandkids.

From there we head to Florida for our last two days before flying to Ecuador on Wednesday. We will once again leave Scooby parked at my brother's house and take a rental car to Miami. We arrive in Guayaquil late in the day so we'll spend the night at the Holiday Inn. Our good friend, Emilio, will come pick us up and transport us and our 6 checked bags and our carry-ons back to our apartment in Cuenca.

As much as we've enjoyed our time in the US, enjoying seeing family and friends as well as enjoying the gorgeous fall colors, it will feel good to be back in Ecuador!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Weather in Cuenca - what's it REALLY like?

"You live on the equator, aren't you too hot?"
"I heard it's like spring year round, there. Is that true?"
"8500 ft? Wow, that's higher than Denver. How much snow do you get?"
"No A/C or heat? Are you kidding me?"

These and many more are questions about Cuenca's weather. Here is what we've learned and what we do to stay comfortable:

  1. Dress in layers - you'll often be removing a layer by 11AM and adding it back by 4PM
  2. Always have a hat, sunglasses and umbrella handy (or rain jacket)
  3. Keep throw blankets handy to head off the evening chill
  4. Have a small electric heater for really cold winter nights
  5. Check the river, if the ladies are washing clothes, chances are it's not going to rain that day
  6. Don't like the weather? Give it a bit, it'll change!
  7. Walking in the sun feels warmer than the real temperature and walking in the shade feels cooler (I experienced the same thing living in Colorado Springs).

Want to learn more? Read this great article that better explains the local weather in Cuenca.

We love the weather although I admit that a little more sun (at the same temperature) would be nice. But we both like the cooler temperatures and low humidity.
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