Friday, January 30, 2015

Getting Supplies. . . and Getting Settled In

We woke up Thursday, the 22nd to a beautiful sight. . . Cuenca, Ciudad de Primavera Eterna - City of Eternal Spring, and City of the Four Rivers: Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Tarqui, and Machangara. 

The view from the fifth floor here is simply stunning.  We can see, from left to right, the El Centro downtown dominated by the blue toned domed New Cathedral (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception), the Estadia (stadium), often the site of futbol matches and - if our teams win - fireworks that light up the sky and provide a familiar cackling sound to the ears, and Turi, the mountaintop terminus for the double decker bus tours that leave El Centro's Parque Calderon daily (when not raining all day) and the site for Cuenca's many television and radio stations.  Below Turi at the mountain's base is the ever popular Mall del Rio regional mall, and in view throughout this panorama are several hospitals and universities.  We have arrived - and what a view to start the day! 

New city, new condo. . . and empty refrigerator.  I dash off to El Centro for a visit to our old favorite early bird panaderia - bakery/café, Panesa, for some desayuno - breakfast - for my slumbering wife.  Para llevar - to go - are her desayuno tradicional - traditional breakfast items of scrambled egg with ham, pan pequenos - little breads - and jugo y café con leche - juice with coffee in milk.  I succeed in taking the taxi back to the condo without spilling any of the drinks, unlike one time before. . . until I get out of the taxi, that is.  Spilled coffee.  Saved half of it, though.  Oh, well!  Getting better at this and making progress from last time at least!

We have a microwave here that works, once you get the hang of it, so reheating food is no problem.  Yum!

After showering (no washcloths in Ecuador typically supplied, btw, but towels were provided for us and soap with shampoo), we headed off together to Coral in Mall del Rio.  Coral is a hipermercardo - a hypermarket - that would put our previous home's WalMart to shame.  HUGE assortment of simply everything you could ever need or want.  We focused on simply getting some basic groceries, shopping from a list.  The damage was just over $60, and I had forgotten to bring my Coral card, which simplifies the cashier's job at checkout as well as giving you a small discount of 3 per cent for your efforts.  Off to the taxi and chofer for the ride home - the ride is always close to $1.80 from MdR to our condo on the new meters the taxi cooperativas - cooperatives - are now required to have installed and running.  Neat, as some of the newer ones tell you the time elapsed and the distance traveled in kilometers.

For several days we have been getting supplies for the condo here, most often at Coral due to them having a lot of items we need, reasonable prices, and familiarity from our visit last Spring.  Hard to do this kind of task in a completely new and unfamiliar environment, so Coral ultimately has been a blessing to us.  Just like two newlyweds starting out, we have had to buy items we left behind in California.  Salt and pepper shakers, a few pans - we have become aware that this condo, while fully furnished, didn't come with *newly* furnished items - and some practical items like masking tape and scissors.  Etc., etc.  Within a few days of going to Coral, even while shopping from a list, we spent easily a few hundred dollars. . . which also included food items.  To be expected. . . but we'd sure like the money spending spree we have been on with lodging, rental car, air travel etc. to come to an end.  Ouch!

Our first cooked breakfast here was egg and toast with margarine and jam, with juice.  Carolyn Anne was excited to use the supplied Oster blender to whip up a juice concoction, which - because this is Ecuador - tasted just wonderful.  Our first supper was fried chicken with no coating whatsoever, with potatoes and salad.  Haven't found croutons here yet.

The chicken reminds me of some faux pax Carolyn Anne did in our first days here.  First, she dropped her toothbrush down the bathroom sink. . . it has a stopper, but is manually inserted, and not attached to the sink like it is in the USA.  The water ran right through it (you could see it lodged in down there!) and the landlady's grandson, Adolfo, eventually needlenose pliered it out of there.  Then, she pulled down the shower curtain bar, thinking it was substantial and built in to the walls.  Not so, as she found out.  $20 later, we have a new bar installed.  She knows better now, and besides, we now have a grab bar installed on the side wall of the tub/shower she can grab safely for support.  The bar and curtain down created a situation where she fell down to the floor - *again* - due to the floor being wet where she walked on it.  (I had just mopped it dry, but the shower curtain still sent down moisture to the floor, unbeknownst to me at the time.)  She thought she had broken her ankle, but on a closer examination, she had not.  !!! 

While we were talking to our landlady about our move in progress and such here at the condo, Carolyn Anne had forgot that in the adjoining kitchen there was chicken cooking in the pan.  All the sudden we started smelling something.  The chicken!  *On fire!*  What a smell!  !El Pollo Loco!  !Mi Esposa Loco!  Moral of this story: don't forget your chicken dinner until it's served!  (Miraculously, the chicken was still edible, though BBQ blackened on one side.  Thank you Lord for edible chicken. . . and us not having to call the Cuerpo de Bomberos - the Fire Department - on this matter!

Yup. . . that last episode would have been a great script perfect for I Love Lucy.  There's a certain Lucy element in Carolyn Anne, and a definite Ricky Ricardo element in me.  "Now Lucy!  You have ta look when you cook, or you burn us all down!  Stop talking to Ethel all the time. . .!El es peligro en Cuba!  !Ay!"

Lord, please save Carolyn Anne from herself.  In Jesus' name we pray, Amen!

We now thankfully have Internet service and Wi-Fi set up.  You go to one store/service center (Movistar), and you explain what kind of service you want.  Then you go to the actual company that supplies the service - in our case, TVCable -  and let them know what you want to have in terms of Internet service and speed specifications.  Just like in the US, there are different packages and service levels for getting on the 'Net.  I chose the level two steps above basic, which supplies 7.1 Mb continuously (not a promotional speed lasting 90 days like their less expensive plans).  $ 49 a month on a one year contract.  All discussed in Spanish, except at the TVCable office, where the rep wanted to practice his very good English with me.  Thank you Lord for this foreign language ability you have given me!

The TVCable service truck and cable guys came two hours earlier than expected the next day - business was slow, I learned from them - and the Wi-Fi service was up and running.  That said, I for some reason could not get a new window on my laptop when desired. . . defeats the purpose of having Wi-Fi  here in the condo.  thankfully my landlady's grandson Adolfo and his college friend were here during TVCable's visit (the landlady called for them the moment she knew the cable company had arrived - helpful lady) and we got all that taken care of in a subsequent visit through the services of a computer pro friend that came over, *plus* they assembled my desktop computer with speakers and printer while they were at it!  That would have cost me well over $100 in the US, but here in Ecuador, the price was far less for this technical service.  The Ecuadorian Rule of Threes and Fours (where you reduce the price by two thirds or three fourths) applies in this case, and I am thankful for the prompt service done so inexpensively.  

At the moment, I am without audio for this laptop and not sure if the MagicJack is working as first installed and working in Palmdale.  Monday we'll see through the college guys when they can get the computer tech guy back here to solve all that.  Grateful to have them around!

I haven't as yet touched on the subject of cell phones.  That will be a new post coming your way soon!  Oh, the adventures one can have when in a foreign land!  

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