Slowly Assimilating Into Life In Cuenca

Day by day we are assimilating into life in Cuenca. We love our lives here but don’t have blinders on to all the differences that living life abroad has, the frustrations, challenges or what simply seems strange and different to us. Like I’ve said before, if you want life to be as it was where you came from, just stay home. Life isn’t going to be the same but that is what makes it such an adventure.

We are official now. YAY, Mike and I got our cédulas May 12th!!!! A cédula is a national ID card; I guess you could say it is similar to a social security card.

 SusanCédulaFront and back of cédula

Mike and I had a hair cut the other day. It was a small little beauty shop not too far from where we live. I knew they didn’t speak English and I was wondering how I was going to convey how I wanted my hair cut. I printed out a picture of me with the haircut I wanted and took that to show how I wanted it cut. When I gave the picture to the gal who was going to cut my hair she called the other gal over and they both were going “Chévere, chévere” (chévere is slang in Cuenca for COOL.) Now I don’t know if they were saying it because I brought in a picture of me or that they thought the haircut was COOL? In any event, she did a great job and I will be going back to her. OK, forget the fact the picture on the left, the one I took in, is 7 years old. I know I will never look that young again so just look at the haircut, what do you think, did she do a good job. My haircut was $5 and Mike’s was $4


There are many challenges to living life overseas. Language is the most challenging to me but one I MUST overcome. Starting next month we will be taking conversational Spanish but I don’t know if it would have help me on this excursion.

On May 16th I was meeting a friend at her house and then we were going to the mall for a few hours and have lunch. This was to be my first time catching a taxi by myself and I was a little nervous not knowing Spanish. And since I don’t speak Spanish, YET, I had my trusty map with me where I had marked where my friend lived and using Google Translate, had the directions written in Spanish so all I needed to do was hand it to the taxi driver.

I walked the two blocks to where I was to catch the taxi and just as I got to the corner, luck was with me, a taxi appeared.

Cuenca5-15-15BoyWallArtI am fascinated with the wall art in Cuenca, this one was where I caught the taxi

I hopped in and handed the driver the map and said, “hablo sólo un poco español” and pointed where I wanted to go on the map. He shook his head yes and off we went.

Well, I think the driver saw “stupid Gringa” written on my forehead, plus the fact I told him I only speak a little Spanish. We went in the right direction but soon, after going in and out of different small roads, we can to a road that dead-ended at the Tarqui River. He pulled over and pointed at the river knowing he was to go over the river but there was no bridge and he was talking so fast I didn’t understand a single word he said. So I called my friend and she spoke to him. He kept saying sí, sí, then hung up and off we went again. My friend called back a little while later to see where we were and I told her I had no idea (they don’t have street signs and only in some places are the street names on a corner building). The taxi driver pulled over and talked with my friend again and again kept saying sí, sí and hung up. He turned around and headed back the other way, seems he was going the wrong way; away from where I wanted to go.

The reason I say he must have seen “stupid Gringa” written on my forehead is neither my friend nor I believe he was really lost, especially since he had a good map and good directions in Spanish. We feel he was just taking me for a ride to increase the cost of the taxi ride. What normally would have cost around $2.25 ended up costing $2.75 and I gave him $3.00 just to be out of his taxi. I know that doesn’t sound like much of a difference but when you can get clear across Cuenca for around $2.25; another 50¢ was quite a bit.

The taxi driver who took me home couldn’t have been nicer. He spoke some English and on the ride home helped me practice my Spanish.

It was a fun day and even with the shaky start the day ended well back home with a nice glass of wine and some dark Ecuadorian chocolate. What could be better?

We were told we shouldn’t carry our original cédula with us so on May 16th we decided to have a copy of the cédula laminated. I made a copy of each, front and back so they were perfectly lined up and all they had to do was cut it out and laminate it. When we gave the copies to the young man he looked at them, turned them over and saw they were printed on both sides. He kept turning the paper over and looking at both the front and back and finally shook his head and said they were bad pictures and he would have to copy our cédulas again. So, rather than argue we said OK. He proceeded to make a copy of the front of each cédula and then the back of each cédula then cut them out and put the front and back together then laminate them. Using the perfectly printed copy simply wasn’t the process he was used to and it appears he could only do it the way he knew, or could it be that he could charge us for the copy. Who knows, it only cost $2.00 for both so all is good. Oh, by the way, the copies he made were so much worse than what we had taken in to laminate. You gotta love it! Differences can be frustrating but they are also what makes the world so interesting and it makes no sense to get upset, just go with the flow!

Mike has an issue with the medication, Tikosyn, he is taking; you can’t get it outside of North America. We had an appointment with a cardiologist and decided to walk the 2.3 miles. It is a pretty walk all along the Rio Tomebamba.  Did I say I was fascinated with all the wall art in Cuenca?  These are some of the ones on the walk to the doctor.


We were impressed with this doctor. Rather than just prescribing an antiarrhythmia medication he told us since Tikosyn isn’t available in Ecuador and he isn’t familiar with it he would have to consult with specialists in Quito. Evidently he wasn’t comfortable working with Mike due to the Tikosyn so we were referred to another cardiologist, who, we were told, is the best cardiologist in Cuenca. Dr. Serrano is with Hospital Monte Sinai. Although he speaks English, an interpreter was sent with us to the appointment just to make sure there were no issues due to language. Basically he took Mike off Tikosyn, as of yesterday, May 21st.  He told Mike he had to stay in the apartment and stay quiet yesterday and today. Tomorrow Mike starts on the new medication. Wednesday we have another appointment with Dr. Serrano where he will give Mike an EKG and check him over. Dr. Serrano said he will monitor Mike over the course of several weeks to make sure the medication is working properly. We both felt very confident with him and are looking forward to the transition from Tikosyn to the new medication.

I am slowly catching up on all my pictures and should have them all complete and online within the next week or two.  So, check back to see more pictures and our adventures in Cuenca.

¡Hasta próxima! (Until next time!)

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