Archive for September, 2012

The bells, bells, bells, and frying pans!

September 9, 2012 3 comments

At 7:30 a.m., the bells started ringing. First there were robust, deep sounds. The there was a sound something like someone clanging cast-iron frying pans together. This went on for about five minutes, then silence.



Another sound. What was that? A toot. Another toot. Then a string of toots. An Andean pan pipe. It was playing “Hey, Jude.” Good Sunday morning in Cuenca, Ecuador!

After prying myself from the warm bed on a chilly morning, I went down the seven floors and walked to the park, in front of the New Cathedral. I found the Latin American experience that I’d been looking for — a shoeshine man. His name is Luis and he looked a wrinkled 70 years old. No matter. In 10 minutes he made my wizened 10-year-old Bass hiking boots look shiny and new again. He said he’s been buffing shoes at the same spot for 37 years.  He probably has many stories to tell. Another fellow was standing nearby waiting for shine, so I didn’t have time to chat more with Luis. Next time, I will.



I asked a cop in the park for directions to a market where I could buy fruits and vegetables. It turned out to be only three blocks away, down Calle Hermano Miguel. It turned out to be a block-sized building, with three stories. Meats and seafood were in the basement. Fruits and vegetables were on the ground floor. Prepared food was on the mezzanine.

I walked up the steps, sat down at a little counter and had some of the best roast pork I’ve ever tasted — and that includes South Carolina. A young woman served it up, along with hominy and marinated sliced red onion. I then topped it with a sauce made of tomates del arbol (tree tomatoes), cilantro and hot peppers. On my. I was stuffed.



I wandered around the market, buying some zucchini (calabasas) and red onions (cebollas rojas). The selections were massive, including some fruits and vegetables that looked like they were from Mars. Next time, I’ll need to visit with a local, who can explain all this wonderful-looking stuff.



So what’s up with y’all??



Got here!

September 8, 2012 9 comments

This is what greeting me when I arrived at the Cuenca airport on Thursday afternoon.

ImageMy landlady, Martha met me with a taxi and we made the short drive downtown. I was gawking all the way.

My studio apartment is on the 8th floor of the Edificio Alfa, which is two blocks from the center of town, the Parca Calderon. A bank is in the basement, so there’s an armed guard (often with a machine gun) on station most of the time.

To get to my place, I get into an elevator, ascendImage

seven floors and open a gate. Then, I walk down a parquet hallway and open another door. Next, is a one-flight stairway and another door to a foyer. Then the lock to my place. All of this requires an impressive key collection.

The place is tiny and that suits me just fine. It’s just one room, with bed and kitchen stuff, plus a bathroom. The most stunning feature is the view. Below you have it from  left-to-right.


So far, I’ve just strolled within 4-5 blocks of my place. The architecture in this colonial area is quite something. Here are some examples; I don’t yet know details of the buildings.






More to come!

Categories: The Beginning


September 8, 2012 Leave a comment


Categories: The Beginning