My first post from Ecuador, 2017

More Earthquakes for Ecuador

Earthquakes abound! In these unsettled geophysical times, seismic upheaval occurs world-wide at a disturbing rate. In 2016, more than 14,000 quakes claimed slightly over 1200 lives (including 679 in Ecuador) and cost millions in physical and economic damages. The recovery time is not calculated but in Ecuador, many people are still homeless and services are non-existent in many communities.

Most recently, on Monday, 9 January, an earthquake with a Richter magnitude of 5.2 caused minor damage near the coastal resort towns of Muisne and Quinindé in Esmeraldas Province Tuesday night. No injuries were reported.

This quake is the latest in a series of strong earthquakes that geologists say are “tectonic plate readjustments” following the powerful 7.8 April 16 quake in northern Manabí Province. The earthquakes are not considered aftershocks of the April 16 event however, according to geologists at the Ecuador Geophysical Institute.

Mùsica, Mùsica!

Piano in Cuenca

Piano in Cuenca

My acquisition of musical instruments that I cannot play is growing. I relieved a departing expat of a keyboard giving me a grand total of two: one in Toronto and one in Cuenca. Now, I can blast my neighbours in two countries with what I hope sounds like thoughtfully contrived cacophony rendered in a time signature previously unimagined (by anyone)…

Paseo de Niño

Last year, I published a set of photos of a huge parade that takes place each December and features children. Every group, organization, neighbourhood and surrounding village takes part. This year, I again went out to take pictures. They look remarkably like last year’s. So, if you want to look at a lot of pictures of this parade visit my previous blog entry and imagine all those kids one year older…

Rick’s House Party

Music in and around Cuenca is there for the listening in every size, shape and format. From the symphony orchestra to indigenous folk groups, there’s something for every

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Host Rick Hubbert

interest. Rick Hubbert is an expat who makes a point of providing small blues, jazz and folk artists with a venue. His rooftop terrace “parties” are invitation only and he tries to ensure that attendees are really there for the music. He charges a hefty (for Cuenca) 15 to

Rick's rooftop terrace

Rick’s rooftop terrace

20 dollar cover charge that includes dinner and sometimes even a drink. Beer and wine are cheap and plentiful, and, if you want, you can bring your own beverage. My first foray was to a blues session.

Rick Hubbert posts his concert footage on YouTube searching there by name will take you to videos he has uploaded.

 The Beer House

A real challenge here is finding opportunities to practice speaking Spanish. The North American expat community here is large and there are

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The Beer House

many venues that cater especially to them. The result is that it’s easy to isolate yourself among a group of English speaking people who eagerly do things in groups of 50 to 100. There are people who have lived here for a number of years, who do not plan to learn the Spanish language and who do not deal with businesses or individuals who cannot communicate in English. It seems to me that they may be missing some of the best that foreign travel has to offer.

Beerhouse Prices

Those are the mililitre prices

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… a word from the management

For sure, it’s nice to have somewhere to spend time where you can count on being understood and where you can avoid the stress of translating your every thought into a foreign language. Believe me, that effort can just suck the strength right out of you. A 90 minute Spanish class leaves me ready for a nap. However, it is also nice to find a venue where English is not necessarily understood but where bad Spanish is accepted (and, often, corrected on the fly). The Beer house is such a place.

What to eat…

Eating out is an affordable option, not a luxury, in Cuenca. There are sushi bars, schnitzel houses, indigenous restaurants, in fact, there’s something for just about every cultural palette. Still, it’s nice to enjoy a home-cooked meal once in a while, especially if you like to cook.

There’s no question that ingredients for the home chef are all available. The outstanding exception is baking soda. Apparently, it’s used in drug manufacturing and is closely controlled. Still, you can get it. Often, at the drugstore. H-m-m-m-m. Anyway, just as at home, you try to find the best source possible.

Meat is often centrepiece of my dishes and in Toronto, I have several vendors I turn to all the time. Here it is the same. In my case, I prefer the meats of Jungle Dave.
Dave Gaucher is a microbiologist from the U.S. who relocated to the Ecuadorian Amazon and started up a beef farm. His cattle are organically raised and represe
nt the same high quality available from my Toronto folks.

For those who would like to poke around, this is a link to Dave’s website. For those who want to cut right to the point, here is my latest roast!

In addition, there is a range of consumables available from individuals and brokers. Individually, you can get dairy products from Hacienda Chan-Chan, and fresh produce from Gran Roca. Or, you can contact Gourmecito for the delivery of items from a number of different suppliers. Here is a typical Gourmecito order including a delicious pumpkin pie, salsa, potato salad, granola and a couple of dinner entrés.

Well, I’m going to stop now and go shoot some 9-ball with my billiard league. Write at you soon…