Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year -- 2015!

We wish all of you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!
(!Les deseamos a todos un muy feliz y próspero Año Nuevo!)


We had a busy holiday season, which started out when we were invited to attend the annual Christmas concert at Mansion Alcazar ( on Dec. 11th.  It was a wonderful evening listening to two beautiful operatic sopranos sing while we were being served wine and appetizers.

Then on Dec. 19th, we attended the Cuenca Symphony with another couple.  Beforehand, we had pizza at Pizza Niños at San Blas Park and then walked over to the church at San Blas for the Christmas concert.  Another beautiful evening.

On Dec. 22nd, we and another couple attended the new Cuenca International Chorale which gave its premier concert.  Before the concert, we had dinner at Raymipampa and then walked across Parque Calderon to the Old Cathedral for the Christmas concert.  Under the direction of Andrea Lyman and accompanied by Shelia Johns, this wonderful 45 member chorale of Gringos and Cuencanos performed a delightful Christmas program, including music from the middle-ages as well as more modern pieces and an opportunity for everyone to sing several traditional Christmas carols in both English and Spanish.

Then on Dec. 23rd, we were invited to a potluck lunch with Calvary Chapel of Cuenca (  We saw many old friends, and met some new ones.

On Christmas Eve, we were invited to friends' home for a wonderful turkey and ham dinner, with all the trimmings.  Its so fun to eat at someone's home, visit with guests, and enjoy good food and friendship.

On Dec. 26th, we invited two other couples to join us at our favorite Swiss fondue restaurant in town ( We enjoyed a delightful evening, cooking the meal ourselves on the hibachi grill, and then to top it off with a chocolate fondue for dessert!

On Dec. 27th, we went to a friend's home for a BBQ dinner (pork), beef tenderloin, baked beans, coleslaw, potatoes, and dessert.

On New Year Eve's, we were invited to the penthouse apartment of our friends to enjoy appetizers, drinks, and watch the fireworks at midnight over the Cuenca sky.  What an enjoyable holiday season. 

So now we're starting back with our healthy eating plan this month.  It's been six months since we did our juice fast, so it's time we do it again since we do it twice a year.

We've had a great Christmas season with so many free concert events, delicious meals and time with wonderful friends, which puts a beautiful end to 2014.

May you all be happy and healthy in the New Year.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Room with a View

Here are pictures and videos that we've taken recently of the scenery around us in Cuenca.

From our condo, we have mountain as well as river views.  At night, we can hear the soothing sound of the river.  It's a great way to fall asleep!

We recently took a day trip to the town of Giron (45 minutes away) and hiked up to the waterfall.  After that, we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant (El Agave) in Tarqui for lunch.

And yesterday, we purchased indoor and outdoor plants from Daniel at Habitat Garden Center (see below for contact information).  He delivered everything and told us how to take care of them.  We're hoping they still look good (if not better) in a couple of months!

Cajas Mountains, as seen from our office window (on a sunny day).

This is the view from our terrace of the trees along the river:

And here's video of our morning walks:



These are the plants that we have inside our condo, and outside on our terrace:

Cordeline plant in our office

Bamboo Palm in our bedroom
Topiario Eugenia, Topiario Bog and Fuccia Vulcanica (with Rabode Ardilla and silver bush)

Topiario Eugenia, Topiario Bog and Topiario Solanum Rantonetti

And here is a video of the falls of Giron:


If you'd like plants for your home, you can see Daniel and Silvia at Habitat Garden Center.  They are located at Ordonez Lasso 4-57 y Nogales in Cuenca.  Their email address is, and their cell phones are 099-995-7306 and 099-555-0744.  They both speak excellent English.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bloggers in Ecuador

Here is an update on the other blog that I have, updated for September.  There were many new bloggers that I have found, who are writing about living in Ecuador. But for every new blogger, there are probably the same amount leaving Ecuador for other places.  We actually know of about 5 families that have left recently, or are leaving Ecuador soon.  Most are going back to their home country -- and most of them have lived here about as long as we have.

We wish everyone the best, whether they decide to stay in Ecuador, move to another foreign country, or return back to their home country.

Happy Reading!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Documentary about Ecuador

Here's a video about Ecuador which is a biodiverse country (multi-ethnic and multi-cultural) with honest and friendly people, where you can enjoy unique experiences, and the visitor finds a wonderful place to stay.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

4 Years in Ecuador

Where has the time gone?  We are now celebrating 4 years in Ecuador (Cuenca to be exact).  In those 4 years, we have:
  • Moved 4 times, and love where we are living now.  We've been in this condo for 2 years, and just renewed our lease for 2 more years.
  • Helped out with various ministries and orphanages, and even helped to start an English-speaking Christian church.
  • Traveled to the Galapagos Islands; toured the southern coast of Ecuador; visited Quito, Guayaquil, Banos de Ambato, Cotacachi; rode the Devil's Nose Train; went whale-watching and toured Isla de la Plata.
  • Bought a car and acquired driver's licenses
  • Improved our Spanish.  DuoLingo says that I am 63% fluent (and Mike is more fluent than me!)
  • Traveled to the States 4 times and enjoyed seeing friends and family in California, Arizona, and Idaho.
  • Applied for citizenship
  • Improved our health by having less stress in our life; eating healthier; exercising more; and laughing a lot. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Extended Stay Hotel in Cuenca

La Casona del Centro
NOTE:  Since the initial writing of this blog post, it has come to my attention that the name of this hotel has changed to Gran Colombia Suites.  For more information, send an email to:


The concept of extended stay hotels has come to Cuenca.  The newly-renovated La Casona del Centro (La Casona) has just opened its doors.  Extended stay hotels, designed with the guest in mind, are the perfect short-term housing solution whether you are traveling for business, looking for temporary housing during relocation, or even a weekend getaway.  Our experience in Cuenca shows that many people, after an initial "look-see" trip, have decided to come back for a longer stay for the purpose of evaluating Cuenca as a future home.

La Casona specializes in providing functional hotel suites at affordable extended stay rates.  It is specifically designed for business and leisure travelers who want more than just a hotel room.  The suites meet all of the requirements that a traveler would require.

Entrance to Hotel
La Casona understands that, for employees on an extended stay business trip, comfort is a premium.  The time spent away from home and the inability to see one's family and friends can add to what may be an already stressful business trip.  If you find yourself on the road for a long-term project, these are the accommodations you should consider.

We've just had the opportunity to tour La Casona.  It is located on Luis Cordero 10-13 y Gran Colombia, and is a beautiful hotel inside and out, with 15 luxury suites for extended stay travelers.  No pets are allowed.

Enzo at the Front Desk

Alejandro, the Manager
Each suite is completely furnished with a kitchenette, a living room with sofa-sleeper, and a master bedroom with king-size bed.  The kitchenette features a cook-top, refrigerator, and microwave oven.   Each bedroom has ample closet space and a private bathroom.  There is one suite with two bedrooms.  The hotel has a newly-installed elevator that reaches all 3 floors.  The penthouse suite can be reached by taking the elevator to the third floor and then walking up to the penthouse level.

Included in the monthly rent for each suite is:
  • Water, gas and electricity
  • Internet with WIFI
  • Soundproof windows
  • 24-hour front desk service
  • Washer and Dryer (self-serve), or you can pay for full service
The suites range from $850 to $1,350 a month ($28 to $45 a day), based on the size of the suite.  The suites range in size from 377 to 936 square feet. The quoted rates are on a monthly basis, but shorter stays can be arranged, with the minimum stay being 15 days.

Here are pictures of the rooms:

Living Room with sofa-sleeper

Bedroom (with king-size bed)


Shower (with rainfall shower head)

The hotel is perfectly situated with the traveler in mind, having a delicatessen inside which is open from 7am to 7pm every day, that provides excellent baked goods and coffee.  Also as part of the building there is a pharmacy, a travel agency, a copy/photo center, and a handcraft gallery.  Within a few blocks, there are banks, restaurants, markets, a post office, and Parque Calderon (the central park).

Views from the penthouse suite

Here are pictures of the delicatessen:

Entrance to the Delicatessen from the hotel

Outside entrance to the Delicatessen
Delicatessen, 2nd floor


For more information, please send an email to  To make reservations, please call 282-9862, or email

Friday, June 13, 2014

World Cup, 2014

Well, the World Cup is underway in Brazil.  The opening ceremonies, along with the opening game, was on Thursday, June 12th.  Brazil won 3 to 1 against Croatia.  Here is the website:

Ecuador's first game is on Sunday, June 15th (Father's Day).  They play against Switzerland.

And the USA's first game will be on Monday, June 16th against Ghana.

Soccer (or futbol as it's called here) is one of the world's most popular sports.  In case you want to read more about the World Cup, please see:

I'll be rooting for Ecuador and the USA.  Who will you be rooting for?

Approaching our village, Vernazza, by boat from Monterosso al Mare
As a side note:  In 2006, the final game of the World Cup was played between Italy and France in Germany.  We were on vacation in Italy in a small town called Vernazza at the Cinque Terre.  That night, we were watching the final game in our apartment and around midnight the church bells started playing as Italy scored the winning goal in a shootout.  The entire town exploded in joy as the piazza filled with  the happy celebrants.  The celebration continued on through the night and the next morning, they had their world champion Tee-shirts on sale.  What an experience!