Monday, August 4, 2008

Window Shopping & Apartment Hunting

Searching through Cuenca for feather pillows, we finally asked at the Tourist Bureau in the town square (Parque Calderon). They directed us to 2 places: Super Stock and Sukasa. Super Stock provided. The pillows were compressed to about 1/2 inch wide and we were skeptical they would fluff up but at $10 apiece we felt it was worth the chance. They also had quality pots & pans; a five piece set costing around $100. Sukasa has feather pillows but they were all in the $40 range, pre fluffed. They also have dinnerware sets that we thought might be OK. We checked through the Centro Mall near Sukasa for dinnerware as well. Upon arrival at our Hostel the pillows fluffed quite satisfactorily. Brian had a brief moment of ecstasy.

The ex-pat Friday night get together was a disappointment. Shelley ordered a salad for $3.50 and got what could only be described as a designer salad: a bit of lettuce, 4 slices of tomato, a chunk of cheese and an almost transparent thin slice of ham. Most of the people attending were tourists and thus could not provide any meaningful information. One table however, did advise on how to get mail in Ecuador; you need a PO Box. A delightful Brazilian lady married to a US fellow was very helpful but we left with a lot less than we thought we would and were forced to stop at an ice cream parlor for an Oreo sundae.

We've connected with a young fellow here at Macondo who speaks Spanish and will give us a hand looking for an apartment, settling up a bank account, getting internet when the time comes, etc. The lady we used a couple of days ago to look for apartments went on vacation for 3 weeks. We have identified the area we want to live in. If you Google Earth Cuenca, there is a cluster of new highrise apartment buildings in the triangle bounded by Avenida de los Americas y Gran Colombia. We know we can get what we're looking for, for close to $300. The surprise though is that none of the rental units here provide a stove & fridge and buildings do not have a laundromat downstairs as in North America. So we'll have to buy a fridge & stove and washer & dryer. Add another $2,000 or so to the furnishing bill.

We were also astonished at the high cost of internet. To get high speed internet you have to pay about $85 per month! We may connect with a building that has a house wifi system. We'll see.

Lying in bed Shelley whined to Brian that she needed a day off. "We've been going steady since we got here and for a solid month before that. We need a day off!" So, other than going out for an hour's walk we just goofed off all one day. Felt good. We'd been renting DVD's from the Hostel for $1 a movie but discovered we could buy them for $1.50. We went to bed early and watched 2 DVD's on the computer.

The next day it was back to apartment hunting. We looked at 2 apartments with our new young friend, both in the $300 range but neither exactly what we are looking for. We left him with more detailed instructions as to what we wanted and sat in the sun in the main square park for awhile watching the children play and taking pictures of flowers. It's been several years since either of us have had to go through the stresses of looking for a place to live and Shelley in particular seems to find the whole process quite exhausting. "We've got oodles of time" she whined again to Brian. "Why are we rushing around like mad men?"

So far at Macondo we've met an English couple who immigrated to Australia, a Switzerland couple, a Korean lady who now lives in New York and her French friend, a lady from Chicago and several other Americans. Everyone is eager to share their stories and adventures in Ecuador. Everyone agrees Cuenca is one of the best places in South America. Everybody remarks on how inexpensive things are and understand right away when we tell them that is one of the reasons we have moved here.

Another trip to the lawyer to sign another sheaf of papers went well. We asked about the Doctor's certificate and whether it was still required and got an enigmatic answer that the more documentation you could provide, the better off you were. For us, the point was moot since we'd bought and paid for the certificates before finding out that they may not be required, so we just let the inquiry drop.

Brian is still eager to window shop for future household possessions, Shelley is tired of window shopping. "We'll be shopping for real in short order as soon as we get an apartment!" she explained to Brian. We compromised. Brian went for a nap. Shelley went on the computer.

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