Fun Times In Cuenca

In my last post I said that we desperately need a social secretary, and it is still true. Things may or may not settle down, but we sure are having fun making lots of wonderful memories.
On June 13th we loaded onto a bus, with lots of other expats, for a 30-minute ride to La Yunta. La Yunta has been described as an Ecuadorian “Cracker Barrel” as they have a restaurant as well as a gift shop brimming with all sorts of goodies. It was a beautiful day there, and after lunch we wandered outside to watch the children play while the adults visited and got to know each other. We met some great people, and we know we will become good friends with them. To see more pictures click HERE
*9Cuenca6-14-15LaYuntaBobTomLorenNancyBob, Loren, Nancy and Tom
*35Cuenca6-14-15LaYuntaAfterLunchStuMikeSusanMoStu, Mike, Susan and Mo
*27Cuenca6-14-15LaYuntaAfterLunchFun at La Yunta
Mike and I have become involved with Dave Johnson, whom we met in Florida in 2013. He is here in Cuenca starting a magazine called “Cuenca Expats.” The first edition of the magazine just came out, and there is an article about Mike and me in it (pages 27-28) as well as pictures of vendors I took (pages 28-29). Click HERE to view the online version of the magazine. It will also be available in printed form. This is going to be a great addition for expats in Cuenca as it is going to bring the community together with not only the expat population but the Cuencanos as well. It is an upbeat magazine and I look forward to reading future issues.
Cuena5-5-15DavidSusanMikeDave Johnson, Susan, and Mike
It truly is a small world! Last month Mike’s first wife’s sister, with whom we have remained good friends over the years, contacted us with a request. Friends who lived near her in Alabama were coming to Cuenca for a month to check it out as a possible place to move. So, we were able to share what we know of Cuenca with Jim and Kara Shea and experience some of the city through their eyes. Here they are on one of the city tour buses. We had already been on it, so they went alone to explore Cuenca
2Cuenca6-18-15KaraSheaJimBus copyKara Shea and Jim ready for their tour
OMG, what a fun day June 15th was at Baños with the girls. Kay, whom I met as she is also involved with the Cuenca Expats magazine, invited me to join her and friends for a spa day in Baños. I met Kay and several of the gals at the corner of Gran Colombia and Juan Montalvo at 9:45 am, and we caught the #12 bus for the short ride to Baños.
Being an old fart, I got in for half-price since we arrived before 11:00am. After putting on our bathing suits and showering, down we headed to the large heated pool where we stood around and talked. Then it was off to the “mud room” where we slathered mud all over ourselves before heading out into the sun to let it bake in. Returning back to the “mud room”, we got into the hot water and rinsed off. I then headed to the steam room for a bit, but after about 10 minutes I had to leave because it was so hot. We then sat around sipping coffee, eating empanadas, and talking before heading inside to the hot tub. This hot tub was SO hot we couldn’t get in it. When we asked about putting cold water in, the attendant said that wasn’t necessary and proceeded to “stir” the water, bringing the cold water that had settled at the bottom to the top. A short time later it was a perfect temperature, and we all slid in and soaked until we looked like prunes.
After getting out, we showered, dressed, and headed off for lunch nearby. After filling our tummies we headed for the bus stop and climbed on the #12 bus for our ride home. I got off at Avenida Loja about 5:15pm and had a short 5-minute walk home. I was so mellow from the day I felt like Jello. My total cost for the day’s experience was $14.50 which included entrance fee for the spa ($11), lunch ($3) and roundtrip bus fare (50 cents). It definitely pays to be a senior here in Ecuador! For more pictures click HERE.
*13Cuenca6-15-15Banos copyThe church at Baños
 *10Cuenca6-15-15Banos copyFriends heading to the spa
*14Cuenca6-15-15Banos copySoaking in the hot water
Since arriving in Cuenca we have met many wonderful people, who have since become good friends, while enjoying meals at Joe’s Secret Garden. This is basically an expat hangout, but the food is always wonderful and they have a beautiful garden where drinks are served before dinner and the conversation flows. It is a great place to meet new friends or share a meal with old ones.
Mike and I went on a hike in the Cajas National Park on June 23rd. We went with a guide, James Drummondo, and another couple who had also booked the same trip, Debi and David. June in Cuenca, and especially in the Cajas Mountains, isn’t particularly warm, as it is more like autumn back in the US. I was BUNDLED UP to the max. I had on an undershirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, turtleneck, Patagonia jacket, and my down jacket. I carried my rain jacket in my backpack but didn’t need it. I also had on a hat and gloves. It was cold starting out, but we quickly warmed up on the hike. When we reached the lake that was our final destination, the clouds came in, the wind picked up, and it got even colder.  
*16Cuenca6-23-15CajasHikeTextThe picture was taken from where we began and the arrow shows were we hiked to
We stopped for a break and a snack at the lake, which was the highest part of our hike, before heading back. It was a strenuous hike, particularly for us seniors, and I had to stop frequently as I just couldn’t catch my breath. But we made it. Cuenca sits at 8,200 feet, and we started the hike at 12,500 feet and went up to just under 14,000 feet. You don’t realize how little air there is at that altitude and how winded you can get. James was great about stopping as needed for rests (he called them “photo ops!!). Don’t you just love it!! After completing the hike, we had a wonderful lunch of trout that was freshly caught from the cold mountain waters.
About 45 minutes into the hike.  That white “square” in the middle of the picture is where we started.
*98Cuenca6-23-15CajasHike* copyWe made it, rest and snack at the lake!
*111Cuenca6-23-15CajasHike copyHeading back.  The white “square” top left is were we started
We were dead tired and had the lights out before 8:00 that night, but we still felt really good. I was proud that we were able to make the hike considering we had only been living in the higher altitude for 3 months. For more pictures Click HERE 
On June 28th we attended a program with Jim and Kara Shea called Lunch and Learn at Quinoa, a local vegetarian restaurant. It was an interesting afternoon where we learned about preparing the local fruits and vegetables, plus we got to eat all the wonderful dishes they made. The menu was popcorn and hominy for nibbles, Quinoa and Vegetable soup, Black bean burger, and salad. Dessert consisted of figs in Panela (like brown sugar) sauce. Not only did we learn a lot and have a fantastic meal, it was only $3.00 per person for the lesson and lunch!
*5Cuenca6-28-15Meal copyThis is the kind of lunch you can get for $3.00!
 As you can probably tell, we really love our new life in Cuenca. Every day presents us with something new. Sometimes we try new food, sometimes we meet new friends, or maybe we have a new adventure. I just wanted to share with you a few pictures of Cuenca. For more of our Ecuador adventure you can click on the Ecuador TAB then go to “Pictures of Our Ecuador” and view all our pictures.
*1Cuenca6-30-15Moon copyThe beautiful moon from our bedroom window
*3.5Cuenca6-30-15PaintingYellowStripRoad1 copyPainting a stripe on the road
*5Cuenca6-30-15TuriNight copyTuri from our dining room window looks very regal
Hasta Luego,

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