Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Opening Doors to Ecuador

Another exhausting day with our young Ecuadorian friend charging around town getting us to get things done. We had the fridge, stove, washer, dryer, bed, bedding, side tables and entertainment unit delivered, unboxed, hooked up, assembled, etc. The bedroom is complete (except for pictures) and we are very pleased. The furniture is incredibly beautiful and easily met our expectations. After the boat it makes us feel like royalty!

Left to our own devices for 2 hours, we walked up to SuperMaxi and picked up some cleaning supplies and then came back to the apartment and rested on our beautiful bed until our young friend picked us up to go get an estimate on blinds for the apartment. Blinds in Ecuador are expensive just like blinds in Canada are! We were going to go for a beautiful bamboo blinds but it turned out to be four times more expensive than standard blinds and with the amount of money we've been spending, we couldn't bring ourselves to pay four times the price.

With Brian & Shelley whining about being old and tired, our young friend then whisked us to Direct TV, which is a satellite TV provider. Apparently they had a special deal and we got installation for half price and a reduced monthly premium. Installation is on Tuesday along with the blinds. We're hoping to move in within 2 to 4 days.

A real treat (!) was dropping into a restaurant (cranky, hungry & tired) that we had visited very briefly our last trip to Ecuador and Shelley had a salad (to die for) while Brian had a pizza that was an unexpected thrill. It's a funky little place that reminded Shelley of Duncan or maybe Nelson, all the walls covered with an assortment of pictures, mementoes, plastic shoes, and other bric-a-brac. It's on the corner of Calle Larga and Cordero but we didn't catch the name.

Incidentally, our young friend said he'd be happy to help other people in the same situation we are in; new to Cuenca, non-Spanish speaking, no car. He seems to be really enjoying himself.

A little bit less exhausting day followed (primarily because we didn't have our young friend herding us everywhere), we searched for a couch and dining room table at several places and ended up buying from the place we got our bed from. A sectional couch, a lovely solid wood table and 4 chairs were delivered later that afternoon. We also got a bench seat for the entrance of the apartment. We lay on our new bed waiting for the delivery with Brian popping up every 10 minutes to walk around the apartment and admire.

After delivery we taxied downtown ($1.50), ate a quick supper and shot off at the last minute to buy a surround sound CD/DVD player. The store was just closing as we got there but they were happy to stay open a half an hour more to make a solid sale.

The next day we moved into our apartment. A truck taxi (camionetta) was called to move all our luggage and we unpacked everything we'd brought from Canada & purchased so far in Ecuador. Brian spent an hour setting up the TV and new surround sound system we'd purchased. (It sounds terrific!) After that we rushed off to Sukasa and SuperMaxi to buy breakfast food and a dish set. Then we rushed off to Super Stock to buy an ironing board, sheets, a kettle, bathroom rugs, more pillows, towels, reading lamps for the bedroom, etc. etc. etc. Then we sat on our new couch and added up the money we'd spent so far. Then we sat dumfounded for awhile. Then we went for supper. Then we watched movies.

Shelley started whining again about having a day off but it won't happen for at least 2 more days.

We slept to sound of rushing water as the Rio Tomebamba is only just across across the Street. Brian said, "It sounds like the Burrard Bridge, only louder." It'd rained the day before and the river was rushing even more than usual. There was comfort in finding things that evoked memories of Vancouver in this new home of ours. When we slept on the boat, Brian often observed that the traffic on the Bridge sounded like Chatterbox Falls.

We awoke early and had Ecuadorian buns & cheese & coffee & fruit for breakfast and then once again rushed downtown to buy carpets before our young friend was due to arrive to take us for our first big grocery shop. The carpet buying proved to be somewhat contentious as, according to Brian, Shelley was being really pig headed & according to Shelley, Brian was being a spoiled brat. So, like adults, we compromised and did it Shelley's way.

At the grocery store, we signed up for a discount card. Searching for the fundamentals was quite difficult due to our lack of familiarity with Spanish terms. Also, finding sugar is hard if you're looking for a BC Sugar bag. Brian and our young friend spent a considerable amount of time trying to sort out the spice selection, while Shelley happily went her own way picking up cleaning supplies, the best ketchup she could find (we did mention Ecuadorian ketchup is like runny red stuff with corn starch - there ain't no Heinz in Ecuador) and some truly delicious breakfast buns.

Back at the apartment we put away a full cart of groceries ($200) and had a nice cuppa tea with our friend who drew pictures of the bus routes we could take to get from the apartment to town and back.

Later, left to our own devices, we ventured downtown on the bus to grab a bite to eat and hopefully to pick up a pair of scissors. Shelley was aghast when the 2 vendors at the people's market asked $2 for a pair of scissors and we eventually found a pair for 30 cents that will do the job just fine. Then, walking to the restaurant we passed through the big open air market and the plant/flower vendors and Shelley fell in love with a couple of large plants. After dinner we hailed a taxi and with a small forest drove through town back to the apartment.


  1. Dear Brian & Shelley,

    We've been eagerly following your escapades and adventures as we, too, are in the process of our move to Cuenca (from Denver, Colorado). In fact, I think my husband Jeremy, met Brian at an expat night back in July (while I was flapping my gums with some folks at another table).

    We're months behind you, so your progress intrigues us. We're still waiting for our house to sell and figure we won't be able to relocate until mid-2009 (sigh!) but I think your "young friend" has two more prospective clients.

    Thanks for sharing your story in such a thoughtful and humorous manner!

    Maureen Thomson (Maureen@Lyssabeths.com)

  2. How do I contact your helpful friend?