We have been having a great time figuring out what living in Cuenca would be like. I really do love the weather! It has stayed cool the entire time, varying between overcast, sunny, and occasional rain showers.
I have found out that one can rent an apartment for as little as $170, especially if one sends in a local friend as a ringer, but also that it is easy to quickly rack up living expenses if one feels it necessary to live exactly as one does in the U.S. Still, many things are quite inexpensive, especially as vacations go! Full spa pedicures for $10 (and that was at a very gringo-fied location) and almuerzos (lunch specials) for $2.50 are very nice.
We decided to go on a day trip to an area famous for their jewelry- Chordeleg. It was quite an experience. First, we went to the main bus terminal and found the bus going the way we wanted, which actually said Gualeceo on it, because those buses leave every few minutes and get you within 10-15 minutes of Chordeleg, but the buses to Chordeleg evidently leave only every couple of hours. But, once you get to Gualaceo, there are constant buses to Chordeleg available.
So, we are on the road to Gualaceo, and a guy stands up at the front (at first I thought he was going to collect bus fares, but that didn't happen until we arrived at our destination). He starts passing out a brochure type cookbook and starts a sales pitch. It was actually a very nice memento, so I went ahead and got it. He finished his spiel, collected the brochures or the money from all the passengers, and then jumps off the bus as soon as the driver stopped for the next light. "Odd," I thought and had no sooner prepared for an uneventful rest of the journey, when another man jumps onboard and proceeds to try to sell everyone ziploc baggies full of coconut water. His pitch was quick and to the point and he was off the bus before the light turned green. Then came the real pro. We got the full infomercial treatment from him! Even without understanding much Spanish, it was very entertaining. First, he passed out baggies of some kind of snack-type items. Then, I could understand that he was telling us how much we would pay if we went to our local tienda to purchase such a highly prized snack, but that we had the privilege and honor to be able to get not one, but TWO, of them for the low, low price of $1! Then we got to hear how his lovely, invalid mother spends hours hand making these delicious whatevers, and how we would be helping to provide a living wage for her in her old age. Actually, I must include a caveat here: because I only have an extremely limited grasp of the Spanish language, most of this is a guess. When I can only understand one word in ten, I kind of make up the rest! But, his presentation style was riveting!
And that was all before we even got to Gualaceo! I was hoping to stop at the Ecuagenera, an orchid growing place that got rave reviews for the variety included, but, even though I had tried to make my plan known to the driver at the start of the journey, we barreled past it at such a speed that it would have been a twenty minute walk uphill by the time we could have gotten him to stop. So, we focused on getting to Chordeleg. It is a quaint little town that I am pretty sure has more jewelry shops than New York City. And, while some of the jewelry was very tasteful and elegant, some of it was gaudy to the extreme! Most of what is sold there is silver, which I prefer to yellow gold. I am not a true jewelry fan though, and the jeweler a kept wanting to show me earrings that would brush my shoulders from my earlobes and heavy duty necklaces which would make me the envy of any gangsta rapper. When I told one that I only like small, simple things, the jeweler said that Frank was a lucky man. I ended up purchasing two pairs of earrings and a small necklace.
By the time we left Chordeleg, there was a huge influx of travelers on the bus. We were fortunate enough to find seats(albeit not together), but some passengers spent the entire hour or so standing in the aisle. All in all, it was a fun day!
I'm a Certified Massage Therapist, a book lover, a happy wife, a teacher, and a fiber arts specialist. Oh, and I may be moving to Ecuador!