2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Palermo: Part II Condo Photos UP-DATED 12/30/13

I did not realize until recently that my photos on the link were not available.  At least 200 people have clicked on to this site since my computer was hacked in May of 2013, and after reading the text could not access the link photos.  Unfortunately, not one viewer informed me of the lack of access.  I found out only by accident.  Last June I experienced a major hacking of my emails.  I finally had no choice but to close my Yahoo account completely.  Little did I know that when I closed down Yahoo, I was also closing my Flickr account.  I only used Flickr for three blog posts.  I discontinued my use of Flickr, because I thought it was the worst photo system I had ever used.  I have since become quite proficient with Picasa, and since I did not have backups to my original photos, I have re-shot the entire apartment.   If you would like to see the changes to the apartment's interior or if you could not access the photo link before, I will place it just below here for you.  After you click on the link and the photos appear. click on the first photo for an enlargement, and to be able to read the commentary with each photo:


It's been a long time in coming.  There have been people temporarily visiting Cuenca, who visited my condo and asked to be sure I did a post of my apartment, once I had all the furniture and decor in place.  I don't have all the decor in place yet, but it will be months before I get the job completely accomplished.  Then there are people I have never known who reading my posts about the Palermo have wondered what my place looked like to have a better feel for the real-estate market, and what you can actually get for a particular price range.  Finally, there are some of my friends and family members who wondered when I would post some photos of my condo.  In fact, they would have been excited if I posted photos of anything about Cuenca.  Slowly but surely as I trudge my way through photo posting hell, I am beginning to show signs of some success.  Now if I could just accomplish the entire photo process from beginning to end without it taking up a good chunk of my life.

At any rate welcome to my home.  I don't think the photos do it justice.  I'm proud of what I've accomplished in choosing the furniture, decor items, paintings, and the color schemes; and synthesizing them into well-defined  patterns of distinctiveness while still blending everything without clashing styles and colors.  It's been a hoot selecting, matching, and procuring all the items that have gone into making a condo my home.  There are also three links of previous posts that may prove to be very helpful to those of you who are newbies or soon to be newbies to Cuenca, in getting the help you need to make your initial run in settling in as smooth and stress free as possible.

"Making Life Easier in Cuenca"

"Transversing Through the Maze of Finances"

"A Potpourri of Activities"

I don't want you to think I did the buying and interior designing all by myself:

I owe a great debt of gratitude to  Fabian Bojorque, who assisted me in choosing my appliances and getting me a good price. (091 078 135)

I can not begin to express my gratitude to Martha Abril, who helped me and advised me on so many levels too numerous to count.  (099959996)

I also greatly appreciated help from a good friend, Lourdes Saneque, who introduced me to an excellent furniture designer and maker, and contributed her artistic eye particularly to spatial design and color matches.

The young ladies who are daughters of the owners of "Luriq Furniture" in El Centro were a class act, which you can read about in "Transversing Through the Maze-of-Finances".

Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to my friends here in the Palermo, Gil and Deborah Castle, who when I had a brain freeze, and with tunnel vision had decided that a particular work of art would go on a particular wall; Gil and Deborah encouraged me to consider other possibilities that allowed me to consider a major rearrangement of my wall decor.

There are wonderful bi-lingual Ecuadorians and expats here, who can be a cornucopia of help and support to you here in Cuenca.  You can read a good deal more about some of the people I mentioned above, as well as others who can provide vital assistance to you whether you now live in Ecuador or plan to soon settle in this beautiful city by just clicking on the three links above.

While my brief career as an interior designer is about completed, the most important thing is to choose according to what makes one feel most at home.  I love my selections, because they are a projection of me and my life experiences.  I greatly enjoy how as the natural lighting outside changes, the color and tonal dynamics of my art pieces change as well.  I am in an invertible space of frequent change of visual stimulation, and it is exciting.  Yet at the same time, our possessions are only things, transitory like life itself.  They are nice to have, and to enjoy for the moment, but they are not the essence of what makes life.  Our things, even the people who make up are lives, even our very experiences are all temporary, and  ultimately are simply on loan from God.

The telephone number at the Palermo is 0774073267.  Senor Estuardo Rubio is the building administrator.  Senor Rubio is normally in his office until 4:00 p.m.  His English is limited.  One of the three security guards will answer at the security desk, whenever Senior Rubio is not present, or they will transfer you to Senior Rubio's office phone when he is present.  Once again, two of the three guards speak no English, and one speaks only a little.  To those who are English speakers only, it is best to have a Spanish speaking friend to contact the Palermo for you.  Unless you only need to give the name of a tenant/owner and apartment/condo number.

If you wish to see an condos available for sale or apartments available for rent in the Palermo, contact Pepe Ajorgudo at joardudo@gmail.com.  Pepe is the contact person for most sales and rentals in the Palermo.  Pepe lived in the United States.  He speaks both English and Spanish, and he also lives in the Palermo.  With approximately 165 units in the Palermo, there are always a few units for sale or for rent.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Palermo: Part I

What the Willis (formerly Sear’s Tower ) is to Chicago, what the Empire State Building is to the “Big Apple”; that is what the Palermo is to Cuenca.  All of its mighty eighteen pisos (floors) majestically tower over the city of Cuenca--it displays an impressive edifice.  Yes, the Palermo at eighteen pisos (floors) is and will be the tallest building in Cuenca for some time to come, since city ordinances have been changed with its construction, and no new construction can be more than fourteen stories in height.

Of course, height is relative.  As a high school and college-age youth, it was a big deal to ride to the observation deck at the top level of the Prudential Building.  At forty-nine stories, it was the tallest building in Chicago in the 1960’s.  We, living in Chicago, could not imagine the dizzying heights of a 102 story Empire State Building back then.  

With the 1970’s came the new observation deck in the John Hancock, which was one of the tallest buildings in the world at the time.  In my opinion, the Hancock still offers the best aerial view of Chicago, because of its location on Michigan Avenue and overlooking Lake Shore Drive.  Meanwhile, the Sears Tower was built, and at 114 stories became the tallest building in the world, which was a title it held for approximately thirty years.  Now Saudi Arabia intends to construct the largest edifice in the world, which will be about 3/4ths of a mile.  Imagine a building of approximately 4,000 feet in height compared to the Willis Tower, which is 1,450 feet in height.

So you may laugh at the height of the Palermo, but as I said height and its affect upon human perception is relative.  Take for example, the young man who when he painted my apartment, stepped out on my seventh floor balcony and became woozy from being up so high.  The same young man was here Saturday, drilling holes into the plaster to hang all my paintings and pictures, and chose to pass on the opportunity to step out again onto the balcony.  His experience is an observation that brings home the point of how so much of who and what we are, and how we perceive reality is based upon our experiences or lack thereof.

Speaking of relativity, the Palermo is at an elevation of 8,500 feet.  Add to that the approximately 175-200 feet of the Palermo, and it’s already taller than any new building going up on the flat sea-level sands of Saudi Arabia.  Sorry, can’t help myself but brag.  It comes with being a Chicagoan.  We are always boosting about our city, which is why New York journalists back in the 1800’s derogatorily nicknamed Chicago “the Windy City”.  The name had nothing to do with the wind blowing off Lake Michigan, but rather the name was due to Chicago civic boosterism.

I did an earlier post on the Palermo when I first came to reside in its environs this past May.  Rather than repeat everything I wrote before, you may click on the link below for some background:

Today’s post is basically providing the reader with photos of the exterior of the Palermo:

                    This is a side view of the Palermo facing the east or toward El Centro, the downtown
                     business and residential area.  About two-and-a-half miles from the Palermo to the             
                     heart of El Centro is Parke Calderon.  Notice the homes at the feet of the
                     Palermo.  While numerous high-rises dot Calle Lasso (The main street on which the first  
                     photo above of the Palermo faces), the streets off of Lasso are inhabited by single and two
                     story homes.

                     This is the home in a close-up at the bottom of the feet of the Palermo.  Like many such
                     homes in Cuenca, this home is part of a family compound of homes made up of related   
             families.  In typical South American style, you will find homes gated and walled-off
                          from the street.


This close-up of the east-side of the building shows that the facade is not horizontally flat across the length of the building. There are indentations,   which give the edifice the appearance of more style-variety in the facade. Also, there are two separate wings on each floor. Each wing is composed of four  condos, with the exception of the penthouse  floor. Each wing is separated by the elevators, with one wing on the east-side to the north of
the elevators and the other wing on   the west-side to the south of the elevators. By arranging the wings in such a manner, it avoids one long, continuous hallway of all eight condos.

This is a further closeup, which is focused on my condo-rental.  The balconies are small and semicircular.  My condo is the seventh-floor condo where you see the chair.  I frequently eat my breakfast on the balcony.  In the photo, the window to the right of the balcony is where my kitchen is located; with the laundry room, maid's quarters, and bathroom with shower to the back of the kitchen.  The living room overlooks the balcony, with the dining room behind it.  The first window to the left of the balcony is the guest bedroom.   A smaller bedroom is opposite the guest bedroom, which I use as my man-cave and serves as the T.V. room.   The end window left of the balcony is the master bedroom.  There is a walk-in closest to the back of the bedroom, which leads to the master bathroom.

        A further close-up of my balcony.

This is what the construction of the high-rises looks like in its early stages.  Almost everything is made from concrete.  There are steel rods which run through the pillars pictured above.  The walls are of concrete blocks, over which they are then plastered.  No wall board or insulation is used.  Nor is any wood or steel frame used in construction.

The advantage to the concrete construction, as one Ecuadorian told me, is that Cuenca hasn't had a major house fire in seven years.

The disadvantages are two-fold:

One is that in cold, damp weather the concrete is not the best conduit for retaining heat within the building, particularly since the climate is mild and buildings in Cuenca have no central heating.  During the colder, damp months of  late July through August and September; one must either dress warmly in layer clothes, and/or make use of electrical heaters on occasional days and on many evenings.

The second disadvantage is that high-rise construction in Ecuador does not build on pylons, which allows tall buildings some sway in heavy winds or if a major earthquake strikes.  In fact, most of the single and two-story homes would be rubble in a major earthquake.  I observed the rubble in Beijing, China in 1977 about a year after a major earthquake struck.  However, Cuenca of the four earthquake zones in which Ecuador is divided ranks in the third zone.  The coastal region is ranked one; and Quito which is located in the Northern Andes among a number of active volcanoes is ranked as the second most vulnerable area in Ecuador for potential earthquakes.  The Orient, which is the tropical rain-forest biosphere in Ecuador ranks fourth.  Cuenca has not had a major earthquake in over 500 years.  I have not to date been aware of any information that geologists are predicting a long overdue earthquake for the Cuenca area, like the reports that frequently come out about California with the San Andreas fault-line.

The Palermo is not only Cuenca's tallest building, but is also the standard for construction and interior floor designs.  It has only been opened a year, and almost all the condos have been purchased.  Yesterday was just an example of its current preeminent status as another van of tourists were brought out to the Palermo for a real-estate tour of the kind of upper-scale, high-rise living that is available in Cuenca.

Next post will be of courtyard and interior public places in the Palermo.

Postscript:  A major thanks of appreciate to Lenny Charnoff.  He has followed my blog since its inception when he was still living in Oregon with his wife, Sharon.  Lenny has a tremendous background in software use, and his six hours of instruction in three separate sessions has made these photos possible.  This will astound not only some of my friends in Cuenca, but a number of my friends and relatives back in the states.  Needless to say, now I have no choice but to use my camera more frequently, so that everything Lenny has taught me will be reinforced repeatedly, and eternalletched into my memory.  If anyone wishes or has a need to learn how to do the various things necessary to transfer photos, upload, download, and all the pecuniary steps in between that drove me crazy, Lenny is your go-to man and his rates are reasonable.


Monday, November 7, 2011

No Two Days Are Alike Part II

Tuesday, November 1st, another warm, sunny, beautiful, down-right hot day.  I had lunch with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants in Cuenca, the “Terrace Grill”.  The restaurant is like an American sports bar with large television screens everywhere.  Usually during the afternoon hours, music video concerts are being played.  This time it was Celine Dione in concert.  Last time I lunched at Terrace Grill a hot video was playing. The Queen of Disco herself, Ms. Donna  Summers was featured in video concert.  The food as always was delicious, relatively inexpensive for a more upscale restaurant, and the service is always much appreciated.
After lunch, we made our way down to the 9th Annual Free National Art Fair of Excellence, which sponsored art not only from Ecuador, but also from Argentina, Peru, Columbia, and Venezuela.  While every type of art was on display and for sale, there was also a small fair a few blocks down by Cuenca University of primarily fabric and jewelry type crafts.  Music and food was also provided throughout the fair areas.  The dry weather had worked out beautifully for all the week’s festivities.
Wednesday, November 2nd, I was out to Monay Mall in the evening for a dance festival.  I regretted not having my camera, but the lighting was too dark anyway.  The traditional Ecuadorian dancers were fabulous, and the young ladies were dressed in the most beautifully, dazzling costumes in which to perform.  The dances progressed to electronic rock, a couple who were very good salsa dancers also performed, and the big performance of the evening was fourteen year old Joshua Riveros, as the Zombie or alter ego, of Michael Jackson, who was performed exceptionally well by a college student whose first name was Boris. The two did a rendition from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and as Joshua also performed as the ghost from Michael Jackson’s “Ghost" video. 

All of us went up to eat in the third floor food court after the dance performances as we sat under the behemoth Christmas tree.  Ornamented, white artificial trees seem to be the thing in Cuenca.  The food court was trimmed in Christmas decorations.  Ironically for a northerner from the Midwestern United States, Christmas in Cuenca is hard to imagine as the temperatures continue to get warmer.
Thursday, November 3rd, an evening was spent with Martha Abril’s good friends, Cheryl and Ray Pawson.   An extended evening of conversation took place, and little did I know when Martha and I left that I next would be on my way at 11:30 p.m. for the block parties that were going on in her neighborhood as well as multiple neighborhoods across the city to celebrate Cuenca Independence Day from the Spaniards.  Independence Day was a humongous day of celebrations in Cuenca.  We made our way through the throngs of people who were listening and dancing to the music, and we walked the six block area while each concert stage was spaced about two blocks from one another.  The smell of food from beef, to pork, to chicken, to vegetable variations all grilling and at the same time filling the night air with the delightful aroma that beckoned to the taste buds and lured the crowd-goers to share in the captivating feast.

The music was blaring, but it was good.  No heavy metal, no rap, just nice variations of South American music from rock style to more traditional  music that offered something for everyone. The people danced, they drank, they ate, they walked, they stood and watched the goings-on, and like us associated with friends they met along the way.  One young man was out cold, lying in a fetal position on the curb when we arrived and was still there ninety minutes later when we left the block parties.  Yet everyone was in good spirits, considerate of one another, and if there were any problems, they were unnoticed by me and my companions.  It was about 1:10 a.m. and by now I was really exhausted and ready to head home.

Friday, November 4th, I was invited by my Ecuadorian friends to a party outside the city, but I was way too fatigued, and pardoned myself from the invitation.  I slept until 1:30 p.m. and still wanted to sleep most of the day.  Once again at my age I need recuperation time from my high spirited moments.

The festivities of the week gathered steam by Wednesday, which was also the "Day of the Dead". (I know, that last sentence sounds contradictory and weird.) Many Ecuadorians visit the cemetery of their ancestors, and offer prayers for the dead.  The prayers, if necessary, promise a shortened time in Purgatory for their dearly departed according to Catholic beliefs; as one must be purified from the sins of this life, before one can come into the presence of the beatific vision of God in the next life. 

If you would like to know more about the Day of the Dead, which Catholics in the United States call "All Souls Day", click on the following link to "Grimm's Tales".  The Grimms participated in the event, and have an excellent post on the rituals and ceremonies of the day, with many photos


Beginning with the "Day of the Dead" began the five day festival in which all schools and almost all individually owned stores, and businesses were closed.  Only essential services and the malls basically remained opened.  There were also two major parades in the city during the week.  One was a military parade.  I saw part of another parade that made its way down Gran Columbia.  Parades really are not my thing.  However, if you like parades, Cuenca knows how to put on some spectacular ones.  

Yes, there are fireworks around the clock.  The fireworks are initially worth seeing if you are new to Cuenca or happen to be visiting, because they can be quite different from the fireworks displays we are accustomed to in the states.  However, Cuencanos celebrate everything with fireworks, so the explosives can be almost nightly routines somewhere in the city.  When I was in Quito, I asked the young man who took me to process my sedula and censo, if fireworks were as common in Quito as they are in Cuenca.  His response was of interest.  He stated, “Oh no, that is a Cuencano thing.  They have the money for such displays.”  

There were literally hundreds of some kind of activities of music and cultural events going on everywhere throughout the city during the five days.  Despite all the activities or possibly in spite of all the activities, there were many Cuencanos who with the extended five day holiday chose to make their way to the coast and spend it on the Ecuadorian beaches of the Pacific.  Meanwhile, their numbers were more than made up for by the large number of visitors who came to Cuenca from the surrounding areas to partake in the week's festivities.

Saturday, November 5th, would turn out to be the most unanticipated day of all.  The plan was for me, my friend, and her two children to spend the afternoon in Parque El Paraiso, the largest park in Cuenca and very family-friendly.  Upon our arrival a fair was in process.  In the United States, we would call it a “New Age Fair”.  There were numerous booths, which offered all types of massage therapies, herbal jars filled with every type of herbs imaginable, the aromatic smell from aroma therapies, and the incessant smell of incense.  No psychics, however.

The show stopper for me was the shaman.  My friend and her two children each went individually through the ritual of holding some log-like object which while they were shaking it, the shaman would make his way around the individual chanting and shaking a rattle.  The ritual was concluded when the shaman opened a large jar of water filled with some type of herbs, took a big mouthful of the solution and spat it first in the person’s face, the second mouthful was spat on the individual's bare chest, then another mouthful on the back of the head, and finally the last mouthful was spat on the back.  That "ritual washing" was just for each of the two kids.  The mother got additional mouthfuls of “blessings” on her sides as well; whether her fortuitous sprays of water were because she was an adult, or whether they were because the shaman told her she was too stressed is anybody’s guess.  Well, what can I say, there was no way in Hades this guy was going to spew mouthfuls on me of whatever only God knows what he had in that jar, especially with it mixed with his saliva.  I’ll gladly stay stressed, thank you.

I also ran into another expat at the fair who I knew and who had just had himself injected with three syringe shots without any knowledge of what he was given nor for what health purpose.  He was standing in line for the alternative medicine colonoscopy next. Once again, God only knows what that entailed, and I don't think you would want me to describe it if I had hung around to witness it.  I won’t mentioned the well-known expat's name.  He has his own blog, and if he wishes to, he can “out” himself on these activities of which he so willingly and unflinchingly partook.  He explained to me that this is Ecuador and you need to go with the flow.  I’ll let the reader arrive at their own judgments on that bit of philosophy, and when it should and should not be applied.

I did submit to a foot massage and a muscle massage, both of which did help relieve much bodily tension, and for the first time all week I was no longer feeling fatigued.  The price was right.  There were no charges for any of the treatments.  I didn’t have time for the acupuncture and massage combination treatment, which looked promising.  Some of the other offered treatments struck me as more like magic then treatment.  At least my masseur had a doctorate (P.H.D.) in Alternative Medicine.  (Talk about pile it high and dig it deeper.)  My comments are not meant to disparage all alternative medicine practices.  Some work quite effectively, and we know how often M.D. conventional medical treatments leave much to be desired.  I have found massages to be far more helpful, for example, than an M.D. just throwing pain pills at me.

Sunday, November 6th was “come down to earth day”.  After days of excitement and nonstop action, the festival was beginning to wind down.  The art fairs were in their last day of exhibitions, and some minor music celebration was still accompanying the fairs.  No doubt the evening ended with fireworks somewhere in the city.  Otherwise, Sunday was a day for church-going, returning from coastal vacations, and unwinding and resting up for the return to school and to work tomorrow for most Cuecanos.

Unfortunately, I am so accustomed to not having my camera on me that I forgot to take it out of my bag at the time when my friend and her children were getting hosed down by the shaman, which would have made some great comical shots,  although the participants were taking the whole ritual quite seriously.  Then when the crowd gathered to watch shamans or whoever the men were who walked on red hot charcoals, I was being massaged and missed photos of that as well. I couldn’t even get a shot of two handsome roosters together.  In the short time it took to focus, one jumped into a nearby bush and the other rooster fled in the opposite direction.   However, I do have some generic photos of the “Healing Fair”, which are shared with you below:  (Just click on the link, and follow the slide presentation.)  The photos have commentaries.

This is just the beginning of the festival season, which dominates much of the calendar in Cuenca right up through Easter.  By midnight, Monday morning, it was heavily raining and from what I can tell it rained pretty much throughout the day Monday.  Rainy and cloudy all day long.  Like I said, no two days are alike in Cuenca.   What a down day to go back to work or school after a warm, sunny, week of celebration.  I just curled up in bed, and spent the day nestled in the comfort of my condo, ever so thankful that I am retired.

No Two Days Are Alike Part I

One thing is for certain in Cuenca, and it’s a certainty of excitement.  If I so choose, and sometimes when I don’t so choose, no two days are alike for me in this Basin City.  I have lived in this beautiful city eight months now, and the last two weeks are just a sample particularly around fiesta time of how life becomes magnified and intensified.
Monday, October 24th, cleaned the condo, ran errands, shopped at Coopera, and got bills paid.  Yes, I may be the only resident gringo living in anything larger than a studio apartment, who doesn’t have at least a weekly maid. Cleaning the house for me, especially of rainy days gives me an opportunity for some exercise.
Tuesday, October 25th, Gringo Night at Di Bacco’s Italian Restaurant.  I had a good time, conversed with some old friends, and made new friends and acquaintances as well.
Wednesday, October 26th, I stopped out at Pablo Cadero’s studio, a top ceramist in the city, to pick up my certificate authenticating my number in a limited series of the ceramic wall plague I purchased of a scenic view of the Cuenca city-scape looking upwards from the Rio Tamebama.  Pablo and his wife are beautiful people.  They shared with me Pablo’s most recent ceramics and some new scenes and designs on which he was working.  He showed me how the kiln was used and how the wet plaster was positioned in the kiln.  It was raining heavily, I appreciated that Pablo graciously drove me to El Centro since taxis are almost impossible to procure during rain storms.  Pablo showed me two places where he had taken photos for new city-scape ceramics he is in the process of making.  I could see his artistic eye at work by the perspective and angle at which he captured the sites.
By evening, I found myself at Di Bacco’s again for a three hour financial seminar.  Once again meeting people I knew, and making contacts with new acquaintances as well.  Didn’t learn much that was new, but the seminar led me to believe that I am moving in the right direction with my financial investments.

Thursday, October 27th was poker night with the boys and yes, a few ladies at the Chamber of Commerce.  Always new and old faces with whom to mingle and to share the latest info and gossip.

One of my biggest disappointments in Cuenca over the last few months has been meeting three really nice couples where we hit it off nicely right from the get-go, but who it turned out were visiting the city only temporarily, and with whom I met at the tail-end of their visits. 

Names and faces have become more difficult for me to remember, as so many new people either enter or momentarily pass through my life.  Sorry to say I can’t remember his name, but as we were walking from the Chamber of Commerce, the trophy winner for the evening of poker was sharing with me how he wrote jokes for Jay Leno for a number of years, and is a comedy writer.  There are always interesting and fascinating people to meet in Cuenca. 

As we went our separate ways, I unexpectedly got caught up in a rock concert being held in the square by the “Coffee Tree” on Calle Larga.  After about a half an hour of listening to the music and observing the crowd, I ran into my Spanish tutor, and off we went to have a couple of beers and catch up on what we’ve been doing lately.  We've seen little of each other, since studying Spanish hasn’t been a priority with me after my return from the states.  An unexpected concert and an unexpected evening with a friend are just examples of what I never know is about to happen next.

Friday, October 28th, Big Disco Night at Tabasco Discotec, which sponsored music from the 70’s and 80’s.  Accompanied by a half a dozen ladies and a couple of male friends, we discoed the night away, while  watching tapes from live concerts of the earlier time period when we were all so much younger,  

We met Oswaldo Valencia, Mr. Soul Train, himself--The Numeral Uno D.J. in Ecuador.  He has his own radio and television programs, and is comparable to Dick Clark, only about twenty years younger.  It was nostalgia night, so I could say, he was like the Wolfman Jack of his generation.  Another gentleman performed Michael Jackson’s, Moon Walk.  The place was jammed pack, and there was nothing that even remotely approached a problem from 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Everybody was just having a good time.  Some folks were dressed in the disco styles of the period, and when there was no longer enough room to dance on the floors, while the booth seats along the wall served us just as well.

I spent ten minutes trying to get six empty plastic cups from the two beautiful bartenders, since our table ran out of cups and we still had plenty of libations available, before I finally succeeded in getting them to understand what I wanted. Their beautiful smiles would elicit from them the comment for me to "wait uno minuto".  I would then be brought glasses with coke, glasses with rum, glasses just with ice.  They brought me whatever they thought I was asking for, or pantamining, or attempting to point to a glass and explain,” but without the contents”, as each failed effort was placed before me.  A young man tried to help me with the ladies, but he didn’t speak any English, which got me nowhere.  When I miraculously succeeded in getting the ladies to bring me four empty cups, for which I settled, since they already presented me with two cups containing just ice. We all had a good laugh over it, and everybody involved was excited like we had finally solved the riddle.  They were all so patient and gracious, and so earnest in wanting to please me.  I just love these people.

Once we left the disco, some of us went out to get a bite to eat, I had little to drink, but I’m also no longer in my 20’s or 30’s.  I dropped into bed at 3:00 a.m., and slept until 2:00 p.m. the next afternoon.

Saturday, October 29th,  was recovery day from the 28th, a well earned day just to rest up, relax, and not leave my condo.  The 29th was a day of peace and quiet, a real appreciation for the sounds of silence after a night of ear-splitting, loud-speaker blare.

Sunday, October 30th, I finally had the chance to make contact with my son, Marc, in Maryland and wish him a Happy Belated 28th Birthday.  Having been way over-rested on Saturday, I spent Sunday alone on a five to six mile walk across town to Kiwi, (Cuenca’s version of Menard’s) in the Miraflores Mall,  just to buy some yellow-tinted light bulbs, since incandescent bulbs are no longer available.   I hate the dangerous white bulbs now used in homes, which the fundamentalist environmentalists have shoved down our throats, and give homes such a fluorescent white office feeling.  Kiwi, from what I discovered, appears to be the only place in Cuenca where I can get the yellow natural light-tinted bulbs.  I then did my grocery shopping at the Supermaxi’s, which is also located in the mall, and with all the bags had no choice but to take a cab home.  It’s strange to use the word “cab” here.  No one in Ecuador knows what that means.  The cabs are always called taxis.

Monday, October 31st, I had lunch with a new friend, and discovered California Kitchen is not open on Mondays.  Spent whatever free time I had trying to get packages from abroad delivered to my home, which meant more time on the Internet always trying to figure things out and getting them to work properly.  In the evening my friend and her eight year old daughter stopped by, as Amy was dressed as a beautiful princess for Halloween and her mother was dressed as a witch right down to the black lipstick and fingernail polish.  There seemed to be some Halloween parties for kids in Cuenca, but not much in the way of Trick or Treat like back in the states.  Halloween is less celebrated here than in the U.S.  There was a Gringo Halloween party at DiBacco’s that night, but I didn’t find out about it until almost the last minute, and I didn’t want to splurge on a costume.  I hear the party went quite well.

To Be Continued