Sunday, January 30, 2011

Some Much Needed R & R

It seems like ever since we landed in Cuenca this trip has been non stop for us. Our visits are always adventure filled and action packed, but this time is different as we are focusing more on the business end of things. There has been very little time for excursions or time spent with friends. Since we have rented the apartment, we are doing our own laundry, cooking an occasional meal here and there (actually Rod does all the cooking) and doing our own grocery shopping. This arrangement has suited us well as we are not situated in the middle of town and we are more likely to stay home at night and work on house plans then we are to be tempted by all the sights and things to do in Cuenca.

Our typical day starts out with Carlos picking us up at the apartment, we then either meet with lawyers, architects or take care of banking. After our meetings are taken care of, Carlos then drives us all over town to tile stores, woodworking shops, iron smiths, appliance stores, kitchen and bath shops and so on and so on. Cuenca does not have big home improvement stores such as we have in the States, so you must go to each individual shop in search of your materials and labor.

Mom & Bob Successfully Complete The
Process Of Setting Up A Bank Account

Last Sunday we were lucky enough to take the day off from our hectic schedule and Carlos drove us all to Chordeleg and the surrounding country side. What a treat it was to just ride with no schedule in mind and enjoy the scenery. The weather was absolutely perfect and such a welcome change from the ice and snow we had left behind in Huntsville.

2011 Winter In Huntsville

Lindsay Offers A Smooch To A Snowman
In Front Of One of The Local Restaurants

We ended up stopping at some of the weaving stores that Chordeleg is known for and Mom purchased a shawl. Carlos knew of some silversmiths near the weaving shops and took us directly to their workshop where we were able to purchase some unbelievable pieces of silver filigree at a fraction of the cost of what we would have paid in town. Mom had the artisans turn a piece they had already made into a brooch. It would take them a while to complete the work, so we decided to go to lunch and pass the time while her piece was being created.

Silver Artisan

Carlos knew of a Hacienda nearby and we all agreed that we ready for some lunch and a break. We stopped at the Hosteria Uzhupud which is about 35 minutes outside of Cuenca. Carlos told us they had a very good buffet and we decided to give it a try. As we walked towards the garden where the buffet was being served, I spied a familiar face. It turns out Mick and Kathy had the same idea we had. They were enjoying lunch with friends so we stopped to meet everyone and say hello. Mick told us the food was not very good this particular day so we opted to go to the dining room and order off of the menu instead.

Hosteria Uzhupud Patio

View Of The Mountains From The Uzhupud

The scenery at the Hosteria was breathtaking, we ate our lunch surrounded by lush tropical foliage and beautiful views of the mountains. The food was good, but a bit on the pricey side. None the less the trip was worth every penny. We all were in dire need of  a relaxing day. After lunch we strolled through the grounds and took in all the sights. The Hacienda itself was gorgeous and the surrounding gardens were beautiful to look at as well as peaceful.

Uzhupud Grounds


More Orchids

We Will Definitely Be Coming Here When We
Are Ready To Plant Our Courtyard Garden

Beginning on Monday once again we started our daily routine of meeting with architects and driving from place to place looking at construction materials. Much  to our disappointment we found out that Maca and Felipe, our Ecuadorian friends are moving back to the States. We are sorry to see them go, but at the same time happy for them that they are returning to a place they love. It seems ironic to me that we are wanting to leave the States to move to Ecuador and our Ecuadorian friends are wanting to leave Ecuador and move to the States. In honor of Maca and Felipe’s news we had a farewell party at Tiesto’s to wish our friends well and visit with them one last time.

Friday morning Carlos picked us up once again. Mom and I had decided that this days mission would be to visit several hotels in town in search of ideas for the house. Carlos suggested we see a new hotel in town that had opened recently. He explained that he had not yet been to it, but had heard very good things about it. Of course Mom and I were up to the task hoping that we would get some good ideas for the house. As usual parking proved to be very difficult downtown, so Carlos pulled up to the Hotel San Juan while Mom and I jumped out and ran in.

San Juan Hotel 

As soon as we walked through the front doors Mom and I knew we were in the right place. One of the hotel staff met us at the door and offered to give us a tour and we gladly accepted. The San Juan Hotel mirrored our house in so many ways it was incredible. This was the answer to our prayers as Mom and I loved the renovation work that had been done and now we could visualize the potential of our house. The gracious hotel staff was more than happy to show us several of the rooms as well as the garden, parlor, restaurant and roof top terrace.

Rooftop Terrace

Wi Fi Room


Garden Area

By the time we walked out of that hotel we were giddy with excitement at the thought that our house could look so beautiful. It was obvious that we had been looking at the ruin and rubble too long and had lost sight of what the house could really be. As we approached the car, the men knew they were in trouble as soon as they saw the look of swoon on our faces. Later that afternoon Rod returned to the hotel with us in order to get an idea of our plans (Bob wasn’t feeling well, so he stayed at the apartment). Rod was equally impressed and once again by the time we left, our heads were spinning with ideas.

Hand Painted Ceiling
Saturday morning we met with two of the architects that we are considering and took them to the San Juan to have a look and get their thoughts. They too were very impressed with the renovation job that had been done and were amazed at how closely the hotel resembled the layout of our own house.

We had today to ourselves and decided to have a little fun. We walked from the apartment to the plaza downtown and decided to take the double decker bus ride on a tour of the city. We boarded the bus and climbed to the open air upper deck and took our seats. The tour was in Spanish and even though they have an English tour bus we decided the Spanish would be fine. The bus drove up and down the streets of downtown Cuenca passing by all of the old historic churches and buildings. We couldn’t understand a word that was said, but we did the tourist thing and shot pictures the best we could with a bus full of people.

Mom & Bob On The Double Decker Bus

Views Of The Park From The Top Of The Bus

At one point we started down a steep hill on the edge of town and a siren went off on the bus. We had no idea what was going on until all of a sudden the telephone and electrical wires that run every which way across the streets of Cuenca were inches from our faces. We immediately ducked in our seats to avoid being slapped in the face with wire or better yet strangled. As soon as we cleared the wires and raised up in our seats the siren went off again. Down we went, this happened about three times before we were finally in the clear.

Rod pointed out once again that in the States this would be a lawyers dream. We all just laughed, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t ducked in time. The bus drove us out of the center of town, past the Inca Ruins, some very important buildings (although I couldn’t tell you what they were because the tour guide was speaking in Spanish). We drove to the top of a very steep hill where a little town was perched overlooking the city below. The view of Cuenca from the top of the hill was amazing and the bus stopped long enough for us to get off, enjoy the view and grab some bottled water.

The Top Deck Of Our Bus

After a short stop, we headed back down the hill towards the city all the while listening to Andean and Spanish music that was playing over the loud speaker of the bus. It was quite a ride and as we headed back into town we once again had to duck in our seats to avoid disaster. This time the bus forgot to turn on the siren so we had to rely upon the passengers in front of us to yell “Duck”. As we approached the end of our tour, we passed the remnants of a parade that had taken place downtown. There were horses adorned with fancy silk blankets, children dressed up riding in the back of pickup trucks, cars draped with lace panels and a pickup truck with an actual roast pig sprawled across its roof.

Getting Ready For the Parade

Horses In Their Finest

After climbing off the bus we headed to the Raymipampa for a good lunch followed by Rod’s favorite... a banana split at Tutto Freddo’s, the perfect ending to a relaxing fun day. Tomorrow we will be getting cost bids from two different architects and hopefully making our decision on which one will be completing our remodel. Until then we will keep our fingers crossed and maybe our toes too.

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