Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time To Retire The Blog

Last year at this time I started "Faces Of Cuenca".  I was very excited about moving from Oregon to South America.  I still am. I can't say that I'm fully retired.  I started helping expats with their computer problems. I started the Ipad Users Group. I created Cuenca Tech Life
a blog about duh, tech stuff in Cuenca.

So after nearly 13,000 views it's time to stop. I will leave the blog up because there is some good posts about the cost of living, medical insurance and food.

Me gusta mucho Cuenca.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Un año en Cuenca

On May 13, 2011 Sharon, Feisty(the cat) and I boarded a Delta flight from Portland Oregon to Guayaquil, Ecuador beginning the journey of a lifetime.  We arrived in Ecuador around 5:30 am the next day and then traveled with 11 pieces of luggage and hope to Cuenca.

Ecuador has met or exceeded every one of my expectations. The people of Cuenca have been warm and inviting.  The expat community has been friendly and very helpful.

Sharon and I cherish our new Cuencano friends and the new expat friends we have met this year. We obtained our Residency Visa last November after just one or two minor hiccups. We enjoy learning Spanish and I especially like exploring Cuenca each day on foot or in the bus.

I love the fresh fruits and vegetables in Cuenca.  Everyday I make a smoothie from Pitahaya, chiromoya, papaya and strawberries. The chicken is to die for and the milk is outstanding.  I haven't tried the Cuy yet but its still on my todo list.

Is Ecuador Nirvana.  Of course not. No place is. There is a lot of poverty in Ecuador and like every country Ecuador has its share of social problems.  But, we feel very safe in our home and on the streets at all hours of the day and night.

I would like share some thoughts for those who are coming or contemplating retiring to Ecuador. Firstly start learning Spanish before you come down.  You can survive on Taxi and Restaurant Spanish but you will never thrive until you can converse in Spanish. Secondly, Ecuador is just not another Spanish speaking country but another culture. Learning and appreciating the customs will make it easier to adjust.

Finally, many thanks to the blogging community and to Mary Beckman and her husband for their hard work with South of Zero.  Reading the blogs was a great "fast start" to life in Cuenca.

Me gusta mucho Ecuador. Todo bien en Cuenca.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Medical Care In Cuenca (Revisited)

A reader said that they couldn't read the posting for some reason.  Below is the original posting with an added caveat.

Medical Care In Cuenca

I mentioned in an earlier post that Sharon and I enrolled in the Coopera Credit Union Medical Insurance.  The monthly premium is $4.75 for both of us. Yes, the decimal point is in the right place.  This premium entitles us to medical and dental visits for a $2 co-pay. The medical doctor is bilingual but the dentist only speaks Español. Coopera's medical office is in San Jacquin which an easy bus ride from Cuenca.

I have slightly elevated blood pressure so I was having my pressure checked when I mentioned to Dr. Peña (the Coopera Doctor) that I was having trouble with my hip. She gave me the name of a Orthopedic Specialist and I called and received an appointment the next day.

Cost For the Coopera Dr. - Copay  $2
Cost for 30 day supply of High Blood pressure medicine $1.85
Cost for Buses to San Jacquin and Latino Clinic $2 actually it was 96 cents since I am over 65 and eligible for a 12 cent bus ride.
Cost for Orthopedic Specialist after insurance reimbursement $5

Are there any drawbacks to the Coopera Insurance.  Yes, one doctor not easy to get to in an emergency.  $480 limit per person annually on health benefits. But, you can't beat getting an appointment with a specialist in one day and finding prescriptions that are 1/5 of the cost in The States.

*** Caveat ****

As it turns out the yearly limit is $400. You have to visit the doc every time you want to renew the Rx at the reduced price.  Still a good investment for non-emergency care. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Arie & Gary's Art Students Showing

Arie and Gary had a showing of their student's work today.  The paintings and drawings were quite good.  Ok, I am a little biased on Sharon's work.  She never painted before and I was very impressed with her rendering of the New Cathedral.

Oh, and if you live in Cuenca don't forget to watch the video on Cuenca Tech Life to find out how you can win a meal for two at the fabulous California Kitchen.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter In Cuenca

We celebrated Easter in Cuenca with a spur of the moment pot luck dinner.  One of the benefits of being retired is having the time to establish new friendships.  Our new friends Gary and Arie came over with their Spanish teacher and 4 of their friends and our pot luck dinner had 11 participants including Sharon and me.

We had a great lamb stew with rice and salad. Sharon made Key Lime Pie and I made fruit smoothies.
Muy rico.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Stroll Down Primero de Mayo

Sunday is definitely family day in Cuenca.  Primero de Mayo ( the street I live on) is fairly busy but on Sunday it looks like a Ghost town.  The movie below is a recreation of a walk back to my condo from Tres Puentes( Three Bridges).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Short Walk On The Yanuncay River

Our rental unit is 20 meters from the Yanuncay River.  Everyday I walk along the river to get to El Centro.  Today, I had my video camera and I saw something unusual. Washing clothes in the river is almost always a family event. Today, an elderly woman was washing her clothes alone.  Seemed very sad to me.

Further down the walk I noticed 4 German Shepherds being trained what seemed to me to be "search and rescue' techniques.  Enjoy the video

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lab Tests In Cuenca

As I previously mentioned Sharon and I are members of the Coopera Health Insurance . Our premiums are approximately $4.75 per month and that gives us just under $1000 of medical benefits per year.  The doctor's visit at the San Jacquin Clinic is a $2 co-pay.

I needed some blood work for a cholesterol check. On Monday I walked to the lab  Mt. Sinai Hospital and had my blood drawn at 9:30 am My veins are not prominent and when I had blood drawn in the States I was always jabbed 3 or 4 times before they found a vein.  I was dreading this visit since I didn't think I had enough Spanish to explain about my weak veins.  The lab tech got the vein on the first try and I had to look twice to see if blood was flowing because I didn't even feel the needle go in.  There was a total of 11 tests and the bill came to $29. I had the lab results in my hand at 3:00 pm that day. The next day I saw the Coopera Doctor to go over my lab tests.  The doctor took me at 3:00 pm sharp and I spent twenty minutes going over each test.

Below is a picture of two of my favorite churches

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Arie & Gary's Art Gallery Opening

For the past 3 weeks Sharon has been taking drawing lessons in a class with 5 other students taught by Gary Myers. Last night was the students showing. The event also showcased Arie and Gary's new studio. About 30 people attended.  Sharon also had her quilts on display.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shopping At The Mercado

Every Saturday morning Sharon and I go to breakfast at Bananas Cafe and then to the Diez de Agosto Mercado on Calle Larga.  Just before we got into the Taxi we noticed a lone Campasino woman doing her laundry in the Yanuncay River.  Notice how swift the river is flowing.  Today's bargain at the Mercado was 30 great looking limons for a dollar.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cuenca Street Scenes

Me gusta mucho Cuenca.  I  like taking my camera with me on my walk and capturing street scenes especially street entertainers. In the video below one young man is juggling machetes and another couple is entertaining the traffic juggling their top hats.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Clases de natación

I just finished my second swim lesson.  I'm taking swim lessons from Emilie, a superb Instructor from Canada.  She is helping me with my conditioning and mobility.  Since my total hip replacement my doctor ordered me to do less walking and more swimming.

The lessons with Emilie are one to one in the Cuenca Olympic Pool.  The lessons are very reasonable and the pool is practically empty at 10:00 am.  I have a lane to myself. Today we were working on strengthening my flutter kick.  Admission to the Pool is $1.50 and you can buy a month's pass at a substantial discount.

I am still finding muscles that I haven't used in years but today I felt great and probably could have walked home.  Oops almost forgot there is a third pool where the water temp is 105 degrees F.  A soak in that felt really great.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

El hogar es donde está el corazón

"Welcome Home Guys".  That was what the handsome young man at the Miami Airport Customs said to Sharon and I as we handed him our passports.  I thanked him and thought for a moment.  I was real eager to see my son his new wife, my two step kids their spouses the 3 grandchildren and friends in Oregon but my home was now Cuenca, Ecuador.  

I was born and lived for 45 years in New York City.  I moved to Oregon and lived there for 21 years. Oregon felt like home after a short time and now Cuenca feels like home.  ¿Por qué  It may be a cliche or corny but home is where the heart is.  My heart is in Cuenca.

Sharon and I had a wonderful trip. I got to buy my new MacBook Air and Sharon got to bring back all her fabric for her quilting projects.  We visited with friends and family and met Connie, Robb's new wife. 

We  flew on 12 planes traveled two continents, 3 countries, 4 states and 3 cities.  I got to overdose on Pad Thai and Peets' Caramel Lattes.  It's back to Español,  pitahaya and maracuya.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Faces Of San Diego

Sharon and I had a great time visiting our grandchildren and their parents in San Diego.  It was my first time seeing Kathy and Tyler's new house.  It was an event filled 4 days.  Soccer games, Cupcake Drive, Open House at the school and eating great Asian cuisines.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Faces Of Portland

I'm sitting at the "Public Domain" Coffee place on Broadway and SW Alder.  Nice place, good coffee and no noise like there is in Peets or Starbucks. 8 months ago when I was living in Portland this place didn't exist. I hope they make it but by  the look of the sparse crowd, the competition and the high rent I would be surprised if they are in business in a year.

It's been raining everyday for the past week. Not the 1 hour Cuenca downpour, and then sun rain, but the entire day 2-4"kind of rain.  Major flooding south and west of Portland.  I spent the first 44 years of my life living in New York City so tall buildings are not strange to me.  My friend Bob noticed that during our walk in Portland I was looking at the tall buildings as if I never lived in a big city.  I also forgot how good a latte tastes. I have been overdosing on carmel and hazelnut lattes. I also forgot how many people smoke. Although smoking is prohibited in buildings my sweaters and jackets have smelled of smoke just walking past smokers on the street.

I had a great lunch with my friends Kevin and Pablo.  Thanks guys for indulging my need for Thai and Chinese food.  In the Chinese restaurant I asked the waitress " Bano"? I laughed - She didn't.  I'm typing on my new Macbook Air.  Muy Chevere! I'm not a Mac zealot but I can't see any reason for going back to Windows.

Our time with Blake our youngest grandson was wonderful.  It took him a little while to warm up to us.  8 months away is a significant part of his life  Skype is great but there's nothing like a grandson hug.

Tomorrow we fly to San Diego to see los otros dos nietos and hopefully no rain.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ready, Fire, Aim - Back To The U.S.

Tomorrow we start our journey back to the United States. It will take us two days. I love Cuenca but getting back to the Northwest requires two days of travel with one night at a hotel.  I am looking forward to seeing family and friends and also chowing down on some of the familiar foods that I've missed the past 8 months. Who would have thought that a Costco Hot Dog is high on the list.  We will be in Oregon, California and Idaho to see family and both Sharon and I will be busy catching up with friends and hanging out at the Apple Store.  Cuenca is now home and I'll miss the quiet life and new friends.