Enjoying Life in Cuenca

8/1/15 – Mike and I took a leisurely walk into El Centro today. There was music playing in Parque Caldron so we stopped to enjoy it, sitting on a park bench in the sun and just people watching.
We continued our wandering, up one street and down another, until it was time for lunch. We wanted to try something new and had heard great things about Mayu so we headed down the stairs and along the Tomebamba river to the restaurant. We both had a chicken Panini and they were so huge we only ate half and took the rest home for another meal. They were soooo good, we will be back to try more items on their menu…or maybe not, why deviate from what you already know is good???

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8/4/15 – Here is a picture of Turi as seen from our dining room window as well as a picture of Cuenca taken from Turi. Look hard in the center of the picture of Cuenca and you can see the famous blue domes of the New Cathedral in El Centro.

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The Church of Turi sits high on the hill to the south of the city and can be seen from nearly anywhere in Cuenca. A trip to Mirador de Turi is well worth it as it gives you a panoramic view of Cuenca. Mirador means “lookout” or “viewpoint”; “Turi” means “brother” in Quechua, the language of the pre-colonial indigenous people of the same name. Pictures just can’t do justice to the views you see from Turi.
8/8/15 – Live and learn! – Today we were scammed for the first time…at ETAPA of all places. We went in to pay our Internet bill, which was $36.89. I gave him a copy of the bill and laid two $20s on the counter. He tossed my bill back at me and it landed on the two $20s. He then looked at his screen and picked up the bill and low and behold, there was one $20 and one $5 where the two $20s had been. He then told us that we needed to give him more, we hadn’t given him enough. What are you going to do? NOTHING! Boy, his slight of hand would rival Copperfield!
Lesson learned – keep money in hand until they ask for payment! Propina (tip) for paying our ETAPA bill, $15!! I guess it could have been worse! ;-}
8/8/15 – This morning Mike and I decided to go to Restaurante Trastevere for brunch. The slow stroll into El Centro on this early Sunday morning was very peaceful. There weren’t all the cars and people seen during the weekdays.
Our senses were assaulted, in a very good way, as we wandered the streets. Passing a church, with the doors wide open, the singing from within tumbled out. The intoxicating scent of the flower market tickled our noses, and on the corner of the new Cathedral there was a young man playing a haunting melody on a wooden flute.
Walking past Parque Calderon on the way to the restaurant, we saw children playing in the park, families out for a stroll, and elderly gentlemen sitting on the park bench enjoying conversation.
At the restaurant we were seated upstairs, where the smells of peppers and onions being sauteed for a wonderful omelet wafted up. The omelet was served with a fresh fruit salad and a sinful cinnamon roll. We also had the most delicious juice I think I have had in a long time, pineapple and melon. In addition to the occasional Sunday brunches, they have amazing lunches. 
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After brunch we took a different route home, walking down Avenida 12 de Abril along the Tomebamba river. The sound of the river is always so soothing; I never tire of it. Closer to home we passed the completed mural we saw being painted the other day on one of the walls.

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Mike commented that this slow stroll around town could become a Sunday tradition – that is just what a beautiful Sunday morning deserves.
8/13/15 – The cupboard was bare so Mike and I decided to walk into El Centro for dinner. We knew there were demonstrations today but thought they would be over by this evening. We saw police everywhere but Parque Calderon sounded and felt more like a festival with music and entertainers. The streets going into the park were still blocked off but we didn’t see any sign of demonstrations. Don’t you just love the police on the horse; they look like they belong in Star Wars!

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We went to Fabiano’s for calzones. They are so good and very inexpensive.  I get just the cheese calzone where Mike gets the Calzone Fabiano.

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We left the restaurant about 5:30 and even though it was a beautiful evening, we decided to take the bus home. There were plenty of seats when we got on but the next stop had the bus filling almost to capacity.
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We love going into El Centro and just wandering and exploring.
8/15/15 – Today is Saturday so it became market day for us. Saturday and Wednesday mornings is when they bring the fresh fish up from the coast. We each put on our backpack and walked 20 minutes or so to Feria Libre which is a HUGE indigenous market. Most of the walk to and from Feria Libre is like strolling through a park as the path goes along the Tomebamba River. You can almost forget that you are in the middle of a large, bustling city!
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I’ve been to farmer’s markets before back in the “old country” but this is measured in blocks and not square feet. We bought a pineapple ($1.00 and soooo good!), cantaloupe ($2.50 expensive), strawberries ($1.00 and bright red), apples ($1.00), limes (5/25¢), broccoli (50¢), sweet potatoes ($1.00), and (get this) 2 pounds of fresh tuna ($2.50/lb). Our total bill was $12.25, which is still astounding to me, even after being here 5 months.

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We love getting out and wandering around, and although Saturday is a big market day it is fun to just be a part of all the hustle and bustle.
8/19/15 – If we don’t go to one of the indigenous markets to buy our weekly fruit, we go up to SuperMaxi. Our walk to SuperMaxi takes about 12 minutes. SuperMaxi is like any modern grocery store back in the states. It is clean and although you can’t find all the brands you may be used to, you can certainly find anything you want.  There are several SuperMaxi’s throughout Cuenca, the one we shop at is in a mini-mall.
2Cuenca8-19-15SuperMaxiMall copyThis is inside the mini-mall.  SuperMaxi is off to the left.
21Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxi copyPoultry and meat just like back in the States.
13Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxi copyAll kinds of frozen foods from fish, fruit and ice cream.
10Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxiMike copyWe are now eating banana chips instead of potato chips
6Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxi copyMany of the items come in bags as well as bottles or jars.  Notice the mostaza (mustard) and mayonesa (mayonnaise). I love the bags as things don’t spoil as fast as air doesn’t get to it. 
4Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxi copyA lot of food such as cheese is more expensive but still available.
16Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxi copyThere is quite a selection of wine although the one we prefer is a box wine that costs about $6.75.
25Cuenca9-9-15SuperMaxi copyHere is Mike checking out.
8/24/15 – There is a restaurant a couple blocks from where we live called Common Grounds. It does all sorts of neat things from sports night on big screen TV to themed dinners. Tonight was “Guest Chef” and our friend Dave Johnson was the guest chef. He made Shepherd Pie which was quite tasty.  Dave is in the last picture here, on the left, with a friend and his son on the right.
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8/27/15 – I just had to share with you the beautiful moonrise we saw outside out kitchen window. 

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8/31/15 – We ended the month by attending a play, The Red Horse. One of our new friends, Bob Fry, was in it which made the evening that much more enjoyable.  Our friend Bob is the second from the left in the suit.
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We are meeting new people all the time and it is fun to find out how they got to Cuenca. Everyone has such interesting stories. As you can tell, we are busier than ever and loving our life.

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