December 2014 – Feet on the Ground in Ecuador

Well, it’s taken a while, but, here I am again! I left Toronto with very mixed feelings. I was leaving everything behind. Everything. My friends, family, the familiarity of a city I grew up in, and, I am now bereft of almost every possession, the accumulation of the last 40 or so years. On the other hand, I am unencumbered socially, culturally and materially. Writing like this is making me homesick

From Toronto, the Copa flight took me first to Panama City. After an hour stopover, another hour’s short-hop deposited me in Guayaquil (pronounced ‘why-I-kill’). I stayed in a hotel near the airport and, I couldn’t believe it, but the lady on the desk remembered me from last year! I swear I behaved then and did nothing memorable. This time, I spent the night pondering: “What have I done?”, “What am I doing?” “What do I do next?” “Sa-a-a-a-ve Me-e-e-e-e!”

The next day, I took an afternoon flight to Cuenca, my ultimate destination.

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Neat warning on airport door...

Neat warning on airport door…

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I had pre-booked a guest house for two weeks.

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My new Ecuadorian buddies:

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During my time there, I hoped to find a long-term, furnished apartment. I lucked out in about 10 days when I came across an ad just minutes after it had been published online. When I called the guy he was almost speechless – he had barely stood up from the computer after placing the ad.
My building:

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My office:

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I haven’t really done a lot of personal decorating yet but I don’t want to start collecting “stuff” again and then have to deal with it when I return to Canada in May. If I do choose to come back to Cuenca, I will get an unfurnished apartment and put it all together.

My bed:

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My patio:

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I now live in a modest two bedroom apartment about 10-15 minutes walking distance from downtown. My $USD450 rent leaves me with lots of financial room to move. I went yesterday for a bus pass. They’re a little different than I’m used to. The actual pass costs $1.70, then I had to load it. My fare as a senior is twelve cents per ride (the regular fare is 25 cents). I loaded it with $10 and won’t have to reload it until I’ve made nearly 85 trips.
Setting up house and stocking the pantry and bar ran me another couple of hundred and I am now comfortably ensconced.

I found two local bars that I am comfortable to alternate between and one restaurant/jazz club that serves great Italian food and dishes up great music. The music at the jazz club is provided by the Jazz Society of Ecuador. This group is linked with the University of Azuay (the province in which Cuenca is situated). Along with bringing in first class entertainers from pretty much all over the world they provide performance opportunities for the university’s music students. Professional artists perform with the students and may also conduct master classes and host clinics. Last week, two German teens, in Ecuador as part of a volunteer program to teach music to street kids, dropped by and delivered a spontaneous, kick-ass set.

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Alban (drums) and Samuel (piano)

The two bars are the Inca and Chipotle. Both are laid-back, a bit rowdy and full of characters. Talk about a match made in heaven…

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Inca barista who helped me program my Ecuadorian mobile plan…

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More Inca

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Inca balcony

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And the rest of the time, I just circulate:

 

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