Tuesday, July 26, 2016

From Parque Calderon shoeshine boy to world champion . . .

Who would think that a gold metal Olympian would have such humble beginnings as to be shining shoes as a child in order to provide money for his family.

I received permission from Cuenca High Life to re-post this article about Ecuador's only gold metal winner at the Olympic games.  It is a very inspiring story:


Friday, July 8, 2016

High-End Living in Cuenca

Cuenca is full of surprises.  One of those surprises is a restored patrimonial home located in the downtown Cuenca historic district.  The home, located on Juan Jaramillo, is known as La Casa de Monseñor.

Friends of ours (Bob and Dorie) took it upon themselves to see beauty where others saw ruin.  They lovingly undertook restoring this grand old home, which was once the residence of Cuenca’s first Catholic Archbishop, Manuel de Jesús Abad Serrano, at one time.

Bob and Dorie originally restored the 150-year-old home with the idea of turning it into a Bed and Breakfast (turning 37 bedrooms into 5 suites).

There are two floors of living space (the Archbishop's chapel is on the third floor which is visited by a spiral staircase).

On the first floor:
  • Entry hall and courtyard
  • One-bedroom suite, complete with kitchenette
  • A sitting room with a bar, which leads to the outdoor garden complete with lemon trees
  • Office / Library
  • Indoor marble fountain
  • A laundry room
  • Maid's quarters, and a bodega
On the second floor:
  • Kitchen areas (there are two)
  • Dining room
  • One-bedroom suites
  • Main living room with over-stuffed furniture, fireplace and bar 
  • Office / Library
On the third floor:
  • Archbishop's chapel
  • Rooftop terrace with a view of the cupolas on top of the New Cathedral

Throughout the home are chanul (Ecuadorian mahogany) floors, gas fireplaces, beam ceilings, original pieces of art, Persian rugs, sculptures, and hand-crafted chandeliers.  There is an elaborate water filtration system, new plumbing and electrical, and more-than-enough gas canisters to never run out of hot water.

The best part about this home is that it could be yours -- as it is for sale.  Please visit their website http://casamonsenor.weebly.com/ for more information.

Here is an article about the renovation that was performed on the property by Bob and Dorie:  http://www.overseaspropertyalert.com/property-renovation-cuenca-ecuador/.

Don't miss out on this amazing property which could be yours!

Friday, June 10, 2016

What To Do With Your Visiting Guests (Part 2 of 2)

Virgen de Quito (source:  Wikipedia)

We flew to Quito with our guests to make sure they got home safely.  And since we were in Quito, we thought why not be tourists  --  especially since we studied so much about Quito to pass our citizenship test.

We booked our three day trip with Katherine Flores from the travel agency we highly recommend -- Apullacta.  Here's their website:  http://www.apullacta.com/

We stayed at a quaint boutique hotel in Quito called Hostal de La Rabida.  I found it on Hotels.com and decided it looked nice and quiet, which it was.  I didn't want to stay at a large hotel because they can be loud and this was a holiday weekend in Ecuador, so there might be parties going on throughout the whole night.  I highly recommend our small hotel, if you want a quiet place to stay.  Here is their website:  http://www.hostalrabida.com/

Living room with welcoming fireplace

Sun room

Mike at breakfast

Beautiful restaurant

Backyard area (and they have a bunny named "Brownie")

Some rooms are upstairs (ours was a garden room)

Here's our itinerary:

Day 1 -- Quito
Day 2 -- Mindo
Day 3 -- Cotopaxi



  • Pululahua Volcano
  • Equator (Mitad del Mundo)
  • City Tour (Plaza de la Independencia, Cathedral, Panecillo Hill
  • Cost of Tour:  $53 per person
On our first day, we went to see the Pululahua Volcano (very close to the equator).  Our guide told us that it's the only active volcano in Ecuador where people are actually living inside the crater!  (Well, it's really inactive but they say that it's active because of the hot springs that still boil up from it.)

Living in the crater of a volcano!

Then we went to the equator.  It's called La Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world).  "Equator" in Spanish means "Ecuador" and that's how the country got its name.  There is an outdoor museum at the equator called "Intiñan" where you can watch scientific experiments with regard to the differences between the northern and southern hemispheres.

We saw water flowing down a drain counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, due to the "Coriolis Effect".  That's why hurricanes spin counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and typhoons spin clockwise in the southern hemisphere!

People were able to balance an egg on the head of a pin (I couldn't).

Walking on a straight line with your hands outstretched and your eyes closed was very difficult to do on the equator.

Hemispheres apart!

Next, we went into Quito which is about 20 minutes south of the equator.  We went to Panecillo Hill in Quito where the Virgen of Quito sits, keeping watch over Quito.  This sculpture was created by Berrnardo de Lagarde (a question on our citizenship test). 

Le Virgen de Quito by Bernardo de Legarde



  • Chocolate farm
  • Orchid farm
  • Butterfly farm
  • Cost of Tour:  $70 per person
On our second day, we went to Mindo which is a tiny town about 75 minutes northwest of Quito.  It is set amidst some of the most beautiful and peaceful countryside in the entire country. It is a center for both nature and for adventure activities, as well as for bird watchers.

Butterflies coming out of their cocoons behind me

Toucan, having his lunch!



  • Hiking
  • Viewing the wildlife
  • Cost of Tour:  $70 per person 

On our third day, we went 90 minutes south from Quito to the Cotopaxi National Park.  Cotopaxi is the world’s tallest active volcano (19,347 feet), located in the middle of the “Volcano Avenue” consisting of 84 volcanoes that encircles the Pacific Ocean.

This giant, covered in ancient glaciers and illuminated by the intense Ecuadorian sun, invites us to immerse ourselves in the mythical “cordillera” of the Andes and to explore the cloud forests that hide different species of endemic flora and fauna.

Wild Horses

We hiked high above the tree line, taking our time every few steps to pause and breathe.  This was such a beautiful, quiet place.  We were on our own on this hike and took our time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then, we reunited with our guide and walked around a glacial lake.

Limpiopugo Lake, that we walked around
Pathway around the lake
Beautiful little stream
Following our guide back to the car (it was starting to rain)
We had a great time but it's always good to get back home and sleep in your own bed!