October 07, 2012

Garbage Pickup in Cuenca Ecuador

If you live in a house in Cuenca Ecuador you'll need to know about the garbage pickup rules. Garbage pickup is much more efficient here than in the US. At least in our experience.  The garbage truck does not just come around once a week but it comes around three times a week to pickup your garbage! And there’s no need to sign up with any garbage pick up. 

Garbage pickup in Cuenca city limits west side is Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. It might be on a different day in other areas of Cuenca. Ask your landlord, he'll know. They even come by and pickup the garbage when there is a festival/holiday in town, on a Saturday! Sometimes it's almost dark before they come by and get the garbage, but I don't believe they have missed a garbage pickup day yet.

It is interesting to watch the garbage truck. It never actually stops, it slowly coasts by your house while one or two guys in blue jumpsuits jumps off the back of the garbage truck and scurries to grab your garbage and then quickly darts back onto the garbage truck while it is moving down the road.

You know these guys are in good shape with all the running they do. You'd probably want them on your futbol team.

Garbage pickup is pretty efficient in Cuenca with only a few rules to heed. You can't put anything out that is not in a plastic garbage bag or they will just leave it.  UPDATE 2014: we were told this, but it is not accurate. We have put old non-working appliances and huge cardboard boxes out and the garbage men take it.

Garbage (food scraps) need to be placed up high in the steel grates that are made just for garbage or all of the stray dogs will find your garbage and you'll have a big mess. This happened to us one time when we didn’t know any better. Most homes come with a steel grate attached to the tall barred gate. You pull it down and set the garbage on it. This way dogs can't get into it. You can't have garbage cans outside your home or they will get taken.

When we first moved here we were told the garbage men would only take your garbage if it was in a big, black, plastic garbage bag. But we have since learned this is not the case. As long as the garbage is in a plastic bag, small, big, medium, shopping bags, the men will pick it up for you. 

Garbage pickup is free in Ecuador. 

UPDATE 2014: garbage pickup is not free it is included in the rent utilities...something I did not know until a few years ago. It works like this, the higher your electric bill the more the city charges for garbage pickup...its really not that much and that's why we didn't know about it until three years after living here. LOL

And that’s just about all you will need to know about garbage pickup in Cuenca Ecuador, that is if you live in a house. The condos and apartment buildings probably have the big dumpsters for you to put your garbage in.  

If there is something else you would like for us to write about, just let us know in the comments or in the email above. If we have any experience in the subject we’ll write about it. To find out more about saving money and living well on a local level, and a bunch of other stuff, when you move here, check out the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide. Hasta Luego!

October 05, 2012

Why I Won't Ride a Motorcycle or Bicycle in Cuenca Ecuador

The bus driver was speeding down the road like many do here in Cuenca, when just a short distance ahead the light turned red. The bus driver knew he wouldn't be able to stop in time to not hit the car in front of him so he swerved and went into the right hand lane. Unfortunately, in the right hand lane was a man on a motorcycle. 


We saw the motorcyclist, and the bus driver must have also, but none the less, the bus driver was just going way too fast; it was either swerve into the right lane and hope the motorcyclist sees the big bus barreling into his lane, or hit the car ahead.

The bus driver swerved into the right lane and sideswiped the guy on the motorcycle. It could have been fatal but luckily the cyclist was driving defensively, saw the bus, and was able to only get sideswiped, and he and his bike crashed to the ground. 

The bus stopped. 

The motorcyclist slowly got up from the pavement, took off his helmet, and slowly limped to the door of the bus. We thought he was going to yell at the bus driver, or take down information... and well, you know everything you would do in the US had you just been hit by a big "something ton" bus while you're on your bike. 

 The motorcyclist is the guy on the right

Instead the guy just said to the driver in loud Spanish, "what's going on? Didn't you see me?" We couldn't hear what the bus driver said back to the motorcyclist because the music on the bus was really loud. The guy simply went back to his cycle and someone got off the bus and helped him pick up his bike and the bus drove off. 

Ecuador ranks second in Latin America for number of traffic accidents.

Lately, in the last few months we have seen more cops ticketing drivers who are driving too fast. Hopefully this will help curb some of the traffic accidents that Ecuador has. However, all this new police activity, did not seem to bother this bus driver and prevent him from driving erratically and almost killing someone.  

In 2010, there were 50,000 accidents in Ecuador, which killed 2,500 people and 15,000 were seriously injured, while already this year the country has recorded 5,160 deaths from traffic accidents. Read the full article here.

October 03, 2012

Etapa Internet, Cuenca Ecuador – Just When We Thought We Were out of the Woods!

Regular readers know we’ve been back and forth with our Etapa Internet since we arrived. The last article told how we had everything brand new. The very nice head technical engineer at the Etapa office made sure we received a brand new modem. The phone line was replaced with a brand new one. And even the line originating from the telephone pole outside of the property, coming into the home, was replaced with a brand new one.

After all of this brand new equipment, we’ve been basking in pretty good internet, for Ecuador. So we thought. It lasted about three months. Not a bad streak. But, alas, it was not to last.

Some of our readers may have noticed that we have missed days where we have not posted anything. Well, this is because our Internet has been “in and out” for several weeks now. We’ve been at the mercy of Etapa for the past ten days. In the mornings it works ok until about noon and then it goes “out” for the rest of the evening, or the connection is so slow that trying to get any work done is impossible. But for the past two days it has just been “out” and no “in”.

Calling them on the phone doesn’t usually get the service techs to come out any sooner, so we end up rushing in the morning to get downtown to Etapa before the crowds show up. We get a number and wait for the next available service desk to open up so we can let them know the internet is not working. We have gone into their offices three times in a six day period and told them each time that in the evenings we do not have a connection or it is so slow you can’t get any work done.

What happens is the service tech will come out and he does his little techy things with the Internet, gets it working again, then leaves, and the next day, or the same evening it goes “out” again.

We thought since we had a new modem, new cable, and outside line that we wouldn’t be having these internet connection issues, but here it is 3 months later and we are having problems again.
We’re not the only ones who have grumbled about Etapa Internet service. Just the other day a local gal said Etapa was the worse service and she uses “Punta Net”. We have nothing to say about punta.net or any other service, except for our experiences with Etapa.

We sit here at Etapa’s mercy often. You can’t go anywhere and do anything else because the tech might show up. We’ve been waiting for two days for the tech guy to come out. You wouldn’t want to be gone while the tech was trying to fix your internet, would you? That would just push you back another day or two. Not only that, but after they come out and it (temporarily) works that evening, and then the next day’s evening it doesn’t work again, and we go back down to their offices the next day, they say it’s a brand new order and you have to wait two more days in a queue before they’ll come out again. I have to remind them in my broken Spanish that this is still the first order, as it never did get fixed, and so we deserve to be put at the front of the line, well that’s my reasoning anyway. Does it work? I don’t think so…

As soon as we do get the Internet back (no telling when that will be) we’re going to go hook up with “Cable TV” Internet so we’ll have a backup Internet. We’ve heard good and bad things about this Internet Company. We said we were going to do that in our last article but the internet started working so well that we blissfully relented.

It is unfortunate that we may have to pay for two Internet services but we work online and depend on a service that will be reliable. Let’s just hope that they both do not go out at the same time. Now that would be really third worldish.

October 02, 2012

Toasted Corn Nuts Recipe

Dried hominy and corn is used in food preparation throughout the region of Ecuador. Boiled hominy is added to soups, casseroles and other Ecuadorian dishes. Another way to use dried hominy is after it is boiled, roast it in the oven with a little salt and oil to make corn nuts. I remember eating the packaged corn nuts in the US. They are good.

Here in the Andes, roasted corn nuts are also used as a side dish for encebollada soup. We also like them roasted, and so about once a week I make a big batch of roasted corn nuts to have around for snacking on. 


Roasted Corn Nuts

Rinse 1lb of dried corn

Boil corn with a tablespoon of salt for 1 hour

Drain corn

 Spread the corn evenly in a baking dish or cookie sheet

 Add a tsp of salt and a couple tbs olive oil to the corn and mix well

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour in a  325 degree oven, checking on them periodically
You may want to stir them around a bit after about a half hour

Enjoy your roasted  corn nuts. They are kind of hard to stop eating once you get started.
Great for trips, hikes, and taking along with you to work.
Corn nuts are also good with a little Cayenne on them for those of you who like your food a little bit spicy. (Add the cayenne with the salt and oil before roasting)

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