Saturday, August 7, 2010

Looking Forward to the End of Winter

Recently one of our blog readers sent us an e-mail asking us what we would have done differently when moving to Ecuador. Brian wrote back telling them we would have brought fewer clothes (as we ended up not wearing quite a few of them) and less books because we discovered the CB Caroline Bookstore. Shelley (of course) disagrees with what he wrote. If there is any size to you whatsoever, bring LOTS of clothes. The Ecuadorians are a tiny people and get a lot of their clothes from China (also a tiny people). It is difficult for Brian to find pants, shirts & shoes. Guayaquil provided pants for him and he's getting his shirts custom made. Shelley, a straight medium in North America, now picks out clothes called L and XL (which is a terrible burn to her ego). As she has pretty small feet, she can manage to find shoes but for jeans she's looking in the men's department.

We brought one suitcase full of books when we originally came, not knowing if we'd be able to purchase English language novels. The CB Carolina bookstore provides an excellent selection here in Cuenca and several of our friends have recently come down with a Kindle or iPad which seem to be wonderful devices. There are certain food products that one may also wish to bring: Miracle Whip, Chili Powder, MSG-less chicken bouillon, good cheddar cheese, etc. but these things are hard to determine before you really land here. (Ask your friends to bring some later when they come to visit.) We bought all our furniture within 3 weeks and given hind sight would probably have spent a couple of weeks longer doing this chore. We got Fredi after about 6 months and have no regrets whatsoever despite the problem of leaving her somewhere if we decide to take a trip to Europe etc. In a large sense we have few regrets, which Brian also said in his e-mail, so in the end Brian & Shelley agree. Don't move if you're running away, don't move if your relationship is suffering, don't move if it seems a last ditch effort; we only allow "happy" gringo's in Ecuador.

It continued to spit rain on Wednesday and we ended up putting Fredi in her pack sack to take her to the vet so she wouldn't get too wet & dirty travelling there. She had the 2nd in a series of 3 preventative parasite medications and goes back at the end of the month for her last one. We let her walk home and as predicted she was wet up to her stomach by the time we arrived. PS:- While at the vet's office, Brian relented and we bought Fredi a jammy top to wear when it's cold in the apartment. It's pink & fuzzy and she looks darling in it! Brian goes "harrumph".

It has been somewhat of an effort lately to manage our daily outing before the rain starts. We've been leaving earlier in the day and seem to make it home just before it begins to really pour. Thursday we went downtown. Shelley only brought 1 pair of jeans from Canada and, what with the bad weather lately, she decided she needed 2 pairs in order to rotate them. We went to a store she'd noticed before and managed to get a pair of women's jeans that fit her for $25. Pretty good deal! Afterwards we stopped at Tutto Freddo for a cup of hot tea with lime and later we managed to run into 2 couples we know and chattered for just a bit on the street. One of the couples, fairly new to Cuenca, demanded to know where the weather had gone. We could only shrug.

Friday turned out to be one of those days. Our internet wasn't working when Brian got up in the morning and it still wasn't working when Shelley got up. Brian had promised to Skype his friend Jan in the A.M. but that (of course) didn't happen. Half the channels on our TV weren't coming in and it was cold in the apartment. There was no hot water. It's not that the water wasn't hot, it's that no water was coming out of the hot water taps. When eventually the net did come up we discovered one of the kids had a piece of bone lodged in her ankle tendon from an accident several years before that had heretofore been undiscovered. Her ankle was locking & she's been put on a waiting list to have surgery. Brian got hold of Jan just as he was going out to dinner.

We had decided the day before to take one of our mystery bus tours and got on the #23 bus going west. It wound its way into a fairly nice neighbourhood but there was nothing special about the destination. On the bus were 5 young boys and 4 young girls who had decided to open up all the windows and gaily hang out of them. Fredi thought it was great; Brian was somewhat disgruntled. It's cold outside too. When we disembarked at the terminus the next bus we got onto wouldn't start. The driver put it in gear and coasted just a bit down the street and it finally kick started. About 5 minutes later, the driver pulled over to the side of the road because sparks and smoke were coming from the engine compartment. Some tinkering by the driver seemed to be all it needed and we continued on our way. Brian figured that it was a loose battery connection. At Feria Libre we got out and walked the rest of the way home; Shelley thought our nerves needed the exercise. The TV was all on (albeit there was nothing worth watching), the internet was working (albeit intermittently for the rest of the day), the hot water was back (albeit somewhat discoloured), the daughter was still on a wait list for surgery (albeit 4-5 months she was advised). Brian Skyped with Jan, we ate lunch and then pretty much decided to call it a day; Brian had a nap & Shelley read. It seemed like the right thing to do.

It was hard to get motivated on Saturday to get up and out of our warm jammies to go for our daily walk with Fredi but once we did it, it turned out to be a fabulous day; much warmer than it has been lately. We only did an hour walk around the neighbourhood but managed to run into 2 couples we knew and chatted for awhile. Although the weather here is never truly bad, we have to confess that we are looking forward to the end of the Ecuadorian winter.


  1. I am sitting at my computer and my fingers are freezing. I am so happy that Freddi now has something warm to wear.

  2. So much for all the stuff I have read about not needing a heater or air conditioner. Now that I have been tracking the Cuenca weather reports, I see that it is in the forty degree (F) range often. That is cold for someone living in Florida. So, I have to ask, are the summers hot enough to require an air conditioner?

    David Akins
    Jacksonville, FL

  3. Depending on your building, some people have electric or propane heaters. We have a particularly warm building, so we suffice with sweaters & a thin blanket when we're watching TV. This year is colder than normal. In the past there have only been a few days in the year where we weren't warm. We know of no one who has air conditioning. On the coast, of course, you need it but you can simply open a window in Cuenca and get a nice breeze if its really hot.

  4. Kathy and I are hoping you all get the winter finished before we arrive August 26th. Who knows Fredi just might get something really warm to wear. Santa does come early for our beloved animals. Have a great days guys.