Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trials, Tribulations & Joys

And now for some general information about Ecuador as mined from the Web: What is now Ecuador formed part of the northern Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in 1533. It gained its independence from Spain in 1822. In 1999/2000 Ecuador suffered a severe economic crisis which came to an end in March 2000 when Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Ecuador is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources and is the largest exporter of bananas in the world. Located on the northwestern side of South America it is bordered by Colombia to the north, by Peru to the south and east, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. The Andes mountain range crosses Ecuador smack down the middle dividing Ecuador into three regions: The Sierra (mountains), the Oriente (tropical rain forest) and the Pacific Coast. In addition, mainland Ecuador's natural diversity is complemented by the Galapagos Islands. Ecuador boasts one of the highest levels of bio-diversity in the world. For example one hectare of lowland rain forest can contain as many frog species as in all of North America; one tree can contain more ant species than in all of the British Isles combined; and of the world's known bird species (about 9,000), pint-sized Ecuador is home to over 1,500. As a result of its small size (Ecuador is only 283,560 square kilometers), all these regions can be readily visited in a short time. It's population of approximately 13.9 million is divided into ethnic divisions of something like 65% Mestizo (mixed Indigenous & White), Indigenous 25% (there are over 40 different indigenous Nations), Spanish & other European 7% and Black 3%. Every year, more and more people are discovering Ecuador, its diversity, it's near perfect climate, the low cost of living, the incredible depth of its culture and the abiding warmth and good nature of its people. It is up to the people coming in to see that Ecuador maintains its charm and be good citizens of this wonderful piece of the Earth.

There was something of a convention going on at the park on Sunday with maybe 8 or 9 ExPat couples showing up for the morning gab fest. We'd got up and put on long pants & long sleeve shirts before we left the apartment, in preparation for the weather we've been having lately, and then on our walk downtown were almost too warm. Coming back it cooled off and we even took a taxi thinking it looked like it was going to rain, but it didn't. Don't worry, we of course first stopped at the 10th of August market and picked up Brian's weekly roast pig. There was quite the line up at the booth that Brian usually goes to but he waited just the same. A couple of times back, Brian asked the lady how long it took to sell a whole pig, and he was advised that she goes through a pig a day.

Guess what we did on Monday?

One of "those days" happened on Tuesday again. That's 2 in 2 weeks. Tuesday morning we had a dentist appointment (both of us) to get our teeth cleaned. Neither of us particularly looks forward to this necessity but are at least grateful that in Ecuador we can afford the trip (today it was $20 for Brian & $89 for Shelley; Shelley has 13 times more teeth & also had x-rays). It turned out that this time it's Shelley's turn to suffer. The dentist felt she had gum disease around one tooth to the point where she needed to see a periodontist and might actually lose the tooth. That appointment was made for the next day. (Yipee!) At 1:30 in the afternoon Brian had scheduled a video interview with a fellow called Michael Karsh, who's the Producer and Host of something called SkyTree Productions. Michael had got in touch with us via the blog. During the interview with Alex Williams, they talked about the trials, tribulations & joys of being an expat in Ecuador. (Shelley & Fredi were too shy to be on video). At 2:30 we went to some friends of ours for an afternoon cracker and cheese party. We met several people that are visiting Cuenca in expectation to moving here permanently, and they were unanimous in the view that Cuenca would be a great place to retire. One couple had actually bought an apartment to come back to later. Nearly all of the new folks we met already knew us, in part, via the blog. Our friends got to show off their newly renovated apartment in the downtown historic district. They've done a lovely job of redecorating and Fredi got to meet their 2 small dogs. Fun was had by all.

We've exhausted television (all but a few shows are in repeat right now) and are reading like fiends (Stieg Larsson's trilogy has capture us). We go for our daily walk (somewhere) and follow our routine of shopping on Monday & park on Sunday but had tentatively come to the conclusion that we're stagnating a bit...and then...we have one of "those days". (Note: We're well aware our "those days" day was nothing compared to those endured during our 30's, 40's & 50's. But we're retired now and it takes less to fill that cup of angst.)

They've stopped selling baking soda in the SuperMaxi! They've stopped selling baking soda in SuperMaxi apparently because "drug dealers" (the bad guys) have been using it as part of their refining process! We're incensed! Now the bad guys have taken away our ability to make soda biscuits! This is a huge case of the out-of-control minority ruling the self-controlled majority. Can't they just stop people from buying 18 or 23 or 321 packages of baking soda? Do they have to prevent the entire population from making cookies & biscuits? True; they still sell baking powder, and many of our recipes can be converted, but still.... Do they continue to sell baking soda in North America? Is Ecuador particularly sensitive because they're living next to Columbia? OK...OK...we can live without baking soda but...


  1. I had heard rumors that Baking soda was going to disappear. I have been buying mine in a local tienda where the vendor sells in small teaspoon packets.

    I am hoping he has some tomorrow. I will buy every packet he has.

    PS. I am in Loja

  2. Hi,
    I add baking soda in pancakes and use it to clean
    cups after tea, so it is very important for me to have it at home.
    In Quito baking soda not sold for over a year,
    we found it(baking soda) in little farmacies
    in small packages, priced from 25 cents.
    have to ask them(farmacists) - tiene bicarbonado de sodio?
    most of them tiene.