Friday, February 27, 2015

An evening out....

We were invited out to celebrate the birthday of a good friend and last night was the event. We had never been to the restaurant, Goda, but had been told it was good. Well, it was better than that! Food, service, ambiance, great price - our new spot to take out of town visitors (if they ever come visit us). It's affiliated with the El Dorado Hotel. The address is Gran Colombia 7-87 y Luis Cordero, Cuenca, Ecuador. [warning - photo intensive blog]

Here are some photos of our celebration - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Pat!





Even our waiter got his photo taken with Zero Latitude magazine!
We just left our review on TripAdvisor...we will be back!

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The rest of February....

I know, late again. But really, it's been an extraordinarily BUSY month. Honest! Here is a bit of a photo journey to prove it...

Stu went to Florida for his retired Firefighter reunion.
Stu stopped in to see my brother & his wife before heading to Key Largo for some scuba diving.
While he was gone, I got sick but was finally well enough to attend a Newcomer luncheon at Don Colon's Restaurant.
I had to visit Mall del Rio to pay our Internet, Telephone & Health Insurance. While there I finally got a good photo of this tag on a sweatshirt.
Valentine's Day brought flowers to almost every street corner.
Stu arrived home on Valentine's Day with this beautiful bouquet.
We met up with some motorcycle friends as well as a local, great lunch at Don Colon's.
Our favorite 2-story artisan shop is closed for renovations so many of them have set up shop alongside the cathedral, opposite Don Colon's.
More artisans....
Another meet 'n greet with Moe and her mom, Winnie. Moe plans to move to Ecuador and Winnie will visit during the frigid Boston winters.
A little excitement at the end of our street...glad I have a camera with a good zoom!
The flowers lasted almost two weeks, blooming beautifully!
A new print magazine was launched in town, you might recognize the name at the bottom?
The launch party for the magazine...over 500 people attended. It was a nice mix of locals and expats with several news media folks as well.
So yes, it's been a busy month. Oh, and I've gone to yoga almost every Monday and Friday, written a short story for an anthology to benefit a friend, helped 4-5 friends look for a new apartment, attended a steering committee meeting for a writing conference, started my own writing group, "Writing Our World (in Cuenca)", created a newsletter and website for that AND created the start of a website for our good friend, Simon Cordero, for his restaurant and jewelry business at Magnolia Caffe.

I think it's time for a nap!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Feliz Fiestas (Carnaval & Valentine's Day)

Not that Ecuador ever needs a reason for celebration, but today, Feb 14th, we have two! First is the one most Americans know, Valentine's Day. They do celebrate it here in Ecuador as well, it's called Feliz día de San Valentín. And since the country is known for its flowers, well, you can just imagine.

I walked to our local grocery store and there were several folks set up to sell flowers by the bouquet or a more formal arrangement.

But at the same time the locals are celebrating Carnaval and the same folks selling flowers are probably selling cans of spray foam. Water balloons, water soaker sprayers and cans of foam are the weapons and anyone out on the streets (especially in El Centro) is at their mercy. So what can you do? Simple. Stay home or join in as my good friends, mother & daughter Pat & Dale did.

Banks and government offices are closed until Wednesday and many other local businesses will close on Monday and Tuesday, although many workers have to show up on two Saturdays to make up for it.

There will be parades, concerts and more all weekend long. Wanna party? C'mon down!

Oh, and last night I was awakened at 3 am by the sound of LOUD singing. I looked out the bedroom window and there was a van with the doors open and at least six men outside singing loudly. VERY loudly. Knowing they were serenading for a sweetheart or maybe just for Carnaval, I closed my window, turned on the fan and went back to sleep. Feliz Fiesta!

Spices in Spanish
A friend here in Ecuador recently published a link to a page that listed the names of common spices in English and Spanish. I remember our first shopping trip when I was trying to find just salt and pepper, then some cinnamon and cloves.

So here it is for anyone who can use it!

Allspice / Pimienta Gorda
Anise / Anís
Basil / Albahaca
Bay Leaves / Laurel
Black pepper / Pimienta Negra
Capers / Alcaparra
Caraway / Alcaravea
Chamomile / Manzanilla
Chervil / Cerafolio
Chives / Cebolleta
Cinnamon / Canela
Cardamom / Cardamomo
Cloves / Clavo
Comfrey / Confrey
Coriander / Cilantro
Cumin / Comino
Dill / Eneldo
Fennel / Hinojo
Garlic / Ajo
Ginger / Jengibre
Marjoram / Mejorano
Mustard / Mostaza
Nutmeg / Nuez Moscada
Onion / Cebolla
Oregano / Orégano
Paprika / Pimentón
Parsley / Perejil
Peppermint / Menta
Poppyseed / Adormidera
Rosemary / Romero
Saffron / Azafrán
Sage / Salvia
Savory / Saturega
Sesame Seed / Ajonjolí
Spearmint / Yerba Buena
Tarragon / Estragón
Thyme / Tomillo
Tumeric / Cúrcuma
Vanilla / Vanilla
Wintermint / Axocopaque

That said, many folks like to bring in less common spices as well as mixes that they were used to. We brought in large containers (Sam's Club) of Mrs. Dash Original and Old Bay. You won't find chili powder or taco seasoning here, so we also brought a large container of dark chili powder. Because some of the spices are milder (blander), we also brought cumin (readily available here) and cinnamon (also readily available).

Salt is easy to get but it has no iodine in it so we also opted to bring in a container of Morton's salt with iodine. We don't use a lot but we also don't eat a lot of things that might provide the iodine. I have thyroid issues and felt this was the best thing for us to do.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Where in the world is...?

I know, I should have blogged before now but it's been a bit hectic. Stu headed to the states on Feb 2nd and I've been swamped with meet 'n greets! Oh, and of course the day to day stuff - doing laundry, paying bills, answering emails, starting a writers group, getting a haircut, trying to get a mani-pedi.

Hey, I even started a short story for another benefit anthology. Still another 8k or so words but at least I'm writing!

Stu did have a great time at his annual Florida Retired Firefighter reunion, then spent some time with my brother and his wife and is now in Key Largo scuba diving. Life is tough...LOL!

Here are a few photos of the past two weeks....

Selfie taken in taxicab of new haircut

Stu snapped a great shot of our big hummingbird visitor

My brother, Kendall, Stu and Kendall's wife, Marie
Enjoying drinks and burgers at Burp's in Florida

Selfie taken in taxicab while trying to get a photo of tiendas selling foam and stuff for Carnaval

Warning label in sweatshirt at Mall del Rio (read the fine print)

BIG meet 'n greet at Don Colon's, over 75 people came!!
Some were visitors, some here on an exploratory visit, some new to the area and,
 of course, those of us who have been here for a while. Great event!

So now it's time to head off to a steering committe meeting to discuss a writing retreat we want to hold next October. Oh yeah, I will be in the states then but two different people asked me to join and help.

Stu will be home Saturday afternoon, ready to relax and do nothing. Me? Three lunches next week...eeep! Not booking anything after that for a while, other than my twice a week yoga class.

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