Friday, July 25, 2008

Settling In

Our day in Quito was busy busy busy while we searched for internet and someone with enough English to help us get a phone up and running. We were successful on both points. An added bonus was that the phone number we used when we were in Ecuador on vacation only needed to be re-activated, so we have the same phone number. We took the bus (25 cents) across town to the airport to confirm our reservations on TAME Airlines and paid them money. It was a good thing we'd booked in advance because when we arrived for our flight it was completely sold out and there were about 40 people waiting on stand-by.

The flight took about 40 minutes from Quito to Cuenca and we flew right down the Avenue of Volcanoes. Three of them were quite spectacular, covered in snow, poking above the cloud line. On our final approach into Cuenca we remarked on how red the City was. It seems that virtually all the houses have terra cotta tiles on the roofs. The taxi that took us to the hostel where we're staying for at least a month (Macondo) turned out to be a complete offset from the jerk who drove us in Quito. Armando cheerfully helped us with our luggage, charging no extra for the trip and gave us his card to call him whenever we need a cab. We gave him a big tip (almost double his fare)!

Macondo has given us a lovely big room with ensuite bathroom, lots of closet space and 3 hangers for the outrageous fee of $13 a day, which includes a breakfast of fresh fruit juice, toast, jam and coffee. Their breakfasts used to include eggs and pancakes but they now charge extra for the good stuff.

We spent the next day basically wandering Quenca and reintroducing ourselves to its many wonders. Brian's thinking of getting a custom made leather coat (he picks the style and leather) for the astonishing price of $98. We checked out a few furniture stores and reaffirmed we could fully furnish an apartment with very nice solid wood furniture for under $5,000. I thought of the kids visiting our apartment for the first time and seeing all the lovely furniture and being shocked. They grew up with second hand furniture and then we moved on the boat.

Cuenca feels cooler than we remembered. It's undoubtedly because we came here during the dead of B.C. winter and this time we arrived during a Vancouver hot spell. It's sweater weather here. Brian's also thinking of getting a hand knit alpaca sweater with a zipper for $18.

We've made an appointment to see the immigration lawyer on Monday and got passport pictures taken today for our Visa. All in all things are going very well. The high altitude, even though we're taking altitude pills, is getting to us a little bit. Minor headaches, shortness of breath and easy fatigue are typical symptoms. However, we should be acclimatized in a couple more days.

We dropped into a language school and for $10 an hour we can get 2 on 1 Spanish lessons from an accredited teacher. They suggested we do a 3 hour lesson 3 times a week but we're probably going to go for 2 hour lessons, 2 times a week because as Brian said: "We're old." The administrator at the school laughed and assured us that could be arranged.

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