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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Today's blog post started out as a personal email, but as I kept writing, I decided it would be my latest blog post:

Hi Lois,

Yes Chris and Bettye Petersen are great neighbors here at the Palermo.  We've been having a good time and always seem to have something to talk about, and I have introduced them to several of my friends over various lunches and dinners.  

Yesterday, started out very warm and extraordinarily sunny. The clouds over the eastern mountain range were so white and fluffy.  There wasn't a dark spot to be found anywhere in the sky enveloping Cuenca.  Of course, Lois, when you live here for a while you will learn quickly that such mornings are illusionary, and if the weather change is not what you wanted, you may even feel disillusioned.  When the three of us left for our adventure of the day at 1:00 p.m., the sky almost on cue had changed to an overcast. It happened so rapidly, that there truly is much truth to the statement, "That if you don't like the weather in Cuenca, don't worry it will change in ten minutes."  I rationalized to Chris and Bettye that the overcast would be advantageous to us, rather than spending an afternoon of walking under the hot sun, but we all knew what was most likely to be the outcome of this overcast. 

Yesterday, was a true test of a budding friendship.  I walked their and my behinds all over Cuenca, in search of the art fair.  We would have had an easier time trying to find Carmen Sandiego. There are two major art fairs annually in Cuenca. We found the first part, which is mainly crafts that quite frankly you can find anywhere in Cuenca, and it was located where it normally is on both sides of the river near Cuenca University.  By the time we arrived to this part of the fair, of course it was raining and drizzling, which would continue for about an hour.

Also in that location is Esquina Arts a complex of about twenty art shops, and which as I later would learn, turned out to be the sponsor and heart of the festival.  I then took Chris and Bettye down to Parque Madre, which, is totally boarded up, will be demolished, and replaced with a 350 underground auto garage, with a new park over the garage, and high quality running lanes for joggers and runners as well.

So all the past painting exhibitions that were along the sidewalks of the park were not on exhibit. What new location did they move the exhibits to, I wondered?  One young lady I asked said San Blas Square, and a middle-age lady said Parque Calderon.  We walked into El Centro from the river to an area between the two squares.  From what we could see, there appeared to be booths down by San Blas Square so we walked down there, and it was more of the handicraft stuff we saw earlier. Chris and Bettye did get to see the interior of San Blas Church, and a wedding ceremony was taking place at the time. They also saw the location for one of the vegetarian restaurants, which are of interest to them in Cuenca.  I also showed them the Canadian family-owned ice cream parlor on the square.  Many believe its ice cream is better than Tutto Freddo's.  I also noticed that Tutto Freddo's moved from a larger location on the square to a smaller location even closer to its rival ice cream shop.  Either way, both offer great ice cream.  A large stage was also setup on the square with all the sound equipment, which indicated some loud rock, South American style music was going to be the evening entertainment.  I also heard that Parque Paraiso would be featuring band concerts that evening as well.

We didn't have ice cream.  We just used the ice cream shop's banos, and walked back down Simon Bolivar toward Parque Calderon.  As we walked, we were accompanied by a band playing from an open van as it made its way down the street. It is always interesting, when these traditional type of bands play in the city, all the men wear suits while performing.

The band was accompanied by vintage autos from the 30's through the 70's, and there were even more vintage autos on display on Benigo Malo along Parke Calderon.  It was 4:00 in the afternoon.  I talked to the always friendly owner in the Ramipampa Restaurant, and he showed me the Art Festival ad in the newspaper. It was then that I came to the realization that possibly because of all the construction work along Parque Madre; and along the street on the opposite side of the river where major road construction is also taking place, and which had also been used in past painting exhibitions that can run for blocks; the whole fair was just scaled back this spring.  

Bettye wanted to eat at a nice restaurant, so I suggested Mangiare Bene, a fusion Italian-Ecuadorian restaurant, which in my opinion, is one of the very best eateries in the city, and it would be in the direction of our walking back to the Palermo.  As we arrived, the restaurant was closed, which I feared, since Ecuadorians usually don't eat supper until 7:00 p.m. or later, and the restaurant would not open until 6:00 p.m. for those early gringo diners.

Ultimately, it was decided by the three of us to make our way over to the Mediterraneo Restaurant, a very fine traditional Italian restaurant. The owner who is also the chef is from Milan, Italy, but the restaurant was almost one mile from our current location.   No one voted to take a taxi, so we walked.  I also figured that if the Mediterraneo was closed, there was about a half dozen other fine restaurants in the area.  As we approached the general area I couldn't find the Mediterraneo.  I left all my address books at home, because I didn't think I would need them and I wanted to lighten my bag load.  Chris was beginning to look irritated with me, not that I couldn't blame him.  We had easily walked six miles. We walked over to Zoe's, but they were closed.  We went across the street to the Indigo restaurant which is inexpensive and serves reasonably good food and sandwiches. Bettye came up with a great suggestion that we have a cocktail at Indigo's, and by six we could walk over to Las Monjas when it opened for dinner. Well, we had two cocktails a piece, and we all agreed they were quite good and very reasonably priced at Indigo's.  

By 6:20 p.m., we made our way down to Las Monjas, another one of the finest cuisine restaurants in the city.  The atmosphere, service, and food are all first class.  We started our dinner off with chocolate martinis, which were superb to say the least. They would also become Bettye and my dessert as well.  It was early by Ecuadorian standards for dining, and only one other family was in the restaurant during our time there.

This was my second visit to Las Monjas, I had visited there over a month ago when my brother and sister-in-law where visiting from the states, we all loved the restaurant then, but there were few patrons.  I would think such an outstanding dining experience would find this restaurant over-flowing with customers.  All three of us had seafood dinners, and the chef did an excellent job of preparation and presentation.  After dinner as we departed the restaurant, the better part of discretion required that we take a taxi home and not try to hoof it.  

Chris and Bettye received a better feel for the overall layout of the city, and where various places were located in relationship to others, whether they wanted the lesson or not.  I learned not to trust that the way things were done in previous events would necessarily be done the same way again.  We never found the art fair we sought out, and we never found Carmen Sadiego either.  In the end, the drinks and dinner made the day, and were the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of all that walking, searching, and experiencing the unexpected.  

So Lois, we look forward to the time you come to join us on another visit to Cuenca, and when you come to permanently settle here.  Thanks for your friendship, and for introducing me to Chris and Bettye.

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