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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Insects and Bugs of Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca never really gets too hot, therefore you will seldom see a mosquito.  Come to think of it, we rarely see mosquitoes when we visit Salinas! To see what the weather/climate is like year round in Cuenca click here.  This article will give you an idea about the more common insects and bugs in Cuenca, at least the ones we have seen and have not seen. Stay Tuned for blog post about some of the animals we have seen in Cuenca.

Bugs we rarely or never see in Cuenca:

1.     Cock roaches – never
2.     Mosquitoes – rarely
3.     Ants – never
4.     Wasps or Hornets – never
5.     Crickets/Grasshoppers – never hear nor see (common at the coast, though)
6.     Butterflies – never
7.     Flies – rarely in winter

Bugs and Insects that we see sometimes or often

1.     Tarantulas – sometimes / often, depending on time of year
2.     Earwigs – often
3.     Spiders – often, and especially in spring
4.     Italian honey bees – often
5.     Moths – often
6.     Scorpgrass – (not real name, see photo below) - sometimes

This bug that looks both like a scorpion and a grasshopper mix. We do not know what it is. It could even be an earwig.

7.     Beetles – often
8.     Flies and fruit flies – sometimes, but more often in the summer months

We just found another tarantula outside on the back terrazzo. He is not one of the bigger  ones we have seen however.

                      

Anyway, we caught the little critter in a jar and let him loose by some rocks by the river bed. Compared to South Carolina, Cuenca does not have very many bugs or insects.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Use This Blog -- Discover Cuenca Ecuador

The Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog has several hundred articles related to different aspects of living in Cuenca; based on actual experiences and observations on many different subjects. We have so much information detailed on this blog that for a reader to achieve the most out of the Discover Cuenca Ecuador Blog you will want to be sure to, 1.) use the buttons at the top of the blog that are located right below the big photo, and 2.) Use the Search Button to the right of this blog.

For instance: The button labeled “Cuenca Ecuador Real Estate” will have articles that cover the real estate market in Cuenca. In this category we go a step further and write about what we observe happening with the RE Market in Cuenca Ecuador, and we show expats how not to allow themselves to get gringo-gouged which is becoming more widespread as more foreigners move to Cuenca.

The button labeled “What is Cuenca Like” has articles about different subjects people have questions about and are concerned about such as Internet connectivity and availability. We also have articles that detail our experiences of what it is like to live day to day in Cuenca.

Another great way to see all of the articles we have written on certain subjects is to make good use of the search button to the right of the blog using keywords. For an example: If you want to view all of the articles that talk about crime and safety then use the keywords, “crime in Cuenca” or "personal safety" “How to stay safe in Cuenca”.  Several articles will pop up that are about crime and safety in Cuenca.

Just to give you an idea of how much content we have on this blog: We have posted a new article or video every couple of days on average, on this blog, so in addition to several hundred articles there are also hundreds of video posts so you're sure to find answers to your questions. But if you still don't find what you're looking for be sure to use the contact us button at the top of the page, and ask away...Although we don't answer personal questions we will make our best effort to find a best answer.

Also, if you are a subscriber you will get every new post we make in your email inbox or blog feed, depending on which way you subscribed. But what about all of the articles that were written before you subscribed? Use the two ways we mention above. Let us know your comments and questions--your thoughts are important to us.

If you want to see recent posts for any given month, don't forget to check out the "blog archive" to the right and middle of the blog. And the most popular blog posts for the month are down at the bottom of the blog page, so be sure to check those out as well. 

And don’t forget: the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide is a book to assist new people to Cuenca to get around on their own, find a short or long term rental, and get acquainted with Cuenca from the inside out. The Cuenca guide will make your first months in Cuenca so much easier and less stressful, saving you money and time, so you can spend your energy on getting comfortable with your new life in Ecuador. In addition you get free email support with the guide.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tomebamba River Walk: Paraiso Parque to El Centro

This is a beautiful walk along the Tomebamba river. From Paraiso we walked all the way to Avenida las Americas, which is about 3 miles or so. The video is only up to El Centro because my camera battery went dead.  It was a Saturday and there were a lot of bicyclists with families out and about on both sides of the river, which both sides have a walking /bicycle path. Very enjoyable walk!

              

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things To Do in Cuenca Ecuador - November 2012

This is a photo menagerie of some of the activities that have been happening lately and some of the things we have done around Cuenca in the month of November. La Vida en Cuenca!

There was the arts and crafts festival which was a huge event - it takes a whole day or two just to walk through and see everything. A must see in November 2-4

                                               And there was some very creative art exhibits

We tried out three new restaurants in the city of Cuenca and featured them in our free restaurant guide.

Banana Verde - Traditional Ecuadorian Snack type foods. 
 El Monarca Restaurant and Hotel

Nectar Vegetarian Restaurant

                   

 We walked along the river (Tomabamba) starting from Avenida Las Americas all the way to Paraiso Parque, about three miles --it is a beautiful walk!  (video coming soon!)

 Taking a break from walking - it was hot on this day.
We spotted another tarantula on our back terraza - they are a bit scary looking but we have learned they are good spiders and will not try and harm you

We went and listened and watched the Cuenca orchestra play a live event of classic (70's and 80's) rock and roll at the Casa de Cultura Theatre
(video coming soon!)
The orchestra was wonderful! 
We went out into the country and found a beautful rustic hostal; they offer horse back riding and other outdoorsy type acitvities - Cuenca has some beautiful countryside. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gran Aki Supermercado in Cuenca Ecuador

We did some comparison shopping when we went to Gran Aki Supermercado. We noticed that some things were better priced than Coral but some things were not.  But, if you buy in bulk, which is five of the same item or more you'll receive a discount. For an example: we noticed that the EV Olive Oil is the same price at Gran Aki as it is at Supermaxi, but if you buy five bottles the savings is $5 bucks! Not bad. Notice in the video there are two prices below the item. The lower price is the discount you receive if you buy in bulk.  Gran Aki sells, shoes, clothes, electronics, housewares and hardware. It is definitely worth shopping here if you buy in bulk. Enjoy the video!

              

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Notarizing a Document in Cuenca Ecuador: Just Another Day in the Life!

All I want to do is get one page notarized. That’s it.

It’s not even front and back, it’s just one side, and it’s just two itty bitty little paragraphs.  I know it’s in English and I’m in a foreign country with a foreign language, so I expect to have to jump through a few hoops. I’m going to send the notarized page up north to finalize some loose ends. 


So I show up at the notary here in Cuenca Ecuador and he somberly tells me that he cannot notarize something in a foreign language, that I would have to get it translated into Castillian (Spanish).  Ok, no issues there, fully understandable.  I was expecting that.  And I’m prepared. 
 

So the next day I ask my Cuencana translator friend to do the translation and go back to the notary with me so that she can certify (to the Notary) that the translation is correct.  This is referred to as an Ecuadorian Certified Translation.  It’s the same process foreigners have to go through as part of their Ecuador visa applications, and many foreigners actually pay their lawyers to do it. 
 

Anyhow, I show up the next day with my translator friend, she with her ID in hand and me with the papers.  Now the Notary tells me, that he can only notarize the Spanish translated document, and not the original English one unless I want to get both documents – ahem, approved, by a court approved translator.  This is the same Notary person in the previous paragraph I saw on the previous day. I didn’t roll my eyes just yet, but I smelled a rat.  

I’ve said before that I’m a student of observation, and my observation told me that this was some sort of scheme to enrich someone else in the pipeline.  What was going on in my mind at the time, was that I recalled reading an international type newsletter just a few days earlier, where the writer said that, in reference to the South Americans, when there’s a high foreigner demand for something, the South Americans will milk it all the way.  Well, I got the feeling the milking was just getting started.  Why? The magic word “approved” that’s why.  In my experience, anytime you have to get something “approved” the translation is: “reach for your wallet”.
 

Back to the notarization. So, I’m thinking, “court approved translator”, maybe a young lady in her twenties fresh out of college or something.  No way.  It’s a 40 year old guy in a three piece suit with the letters DOTTOR (Dr.) in front of his name.  Really.  So we hand him both documents, the English one and the Spanish translated one.  What followed was a very long presentation—about 20 minutes (in Spanish). 
 

On and on he explained blah blah blah.  Bottom line?  He wanted an additional $15 dollars per page, yes per page, to attach his approval signature, or he couldn’t do it.  I  put my arm on his shoulder and with a big grin told him -- that was a whole lot of talking for an extra $30 dollars.  He smiled back...it was all in great fun.  We had a good laugh.
 

On top of that, he explained, the notary was going to charge $10 dollars per page, for His notarization.  Total = $50.  So I politely excused ourselves, and when I got outside, told my wife, son and Cuencana translator friend there was no way I was going to pay $50 dollars to notarize one itty bitty little page.  Maybe in Tokyo it costs that much, but in Ecuador?
 

So as a solution, our translator friend suggested another notary just outside of the city center. Our thinking is: Once we get outside of the center, things will get easier and cheaper.  And it’s true.
The new Notary can notarize both pages for $10 each TOTAL.  


Not out of the woods yet though,as she ushers us into a nearby office for the (approval part, no extra charge) where another Dottor guy in a three piece suit sitting behind a desk with a stern look scrutinizes the documents.  He proceeds to demand explanations, and with an intimidating loud voice requires the translator to translate the documents back into English verbally on the spot.  Further, continuing with this stern and serious demeanor, demands a Spanish dialog from the signer, supposedly as some kind of test, and when I intervene on my wife’s (she’s not fluent in Spanish) behalf he points out his hand toward me and tells me to be quiet.  You’d a thought we were in a Gestapo interrogation room, or some sort of court hearing or deposition or something.  Anyhow, I just give him a big smile and at the end shook his hand and bid him a good day.   It’s all in good fun. 
 

The women were a bit shook up however.  On the way out, the man explains that we will need to go to another office in a different building at a different location to get both documents Apostilled, in order to be able to use them in another country (outside of Ecuador). Understanding this to be correct, I thanked him, shook his hand and we went on our way. We’re down to $20 dollars now, a stern interview and one afternoon.
 

The next day, we go to the “other” government office for the Apostilles. In this office, they tell us they can only Apostille the translated Spanish document, and not the English one. And that it will cost another $10 dollars.  Why is everything ten dollars in this frugal paradise of Cuenca Ecuador?  According to the rule of three and four, that’s like $30 to $40 dollars.  Sounds kinda high, don’t you think?  I got my Apostilles in the U.S. for $8.  These people must have forgotten Ecuador is supposed to be cheaper than the U.S. not higher! 
 

Ok, so at $30 dollars total so far, we’re still $20 dollars short of the original $50 it would have cost in the City Center, and in the end I would end up with only a Spanish document notarized and Apostilled, and one English document with a foreign (to the U.S.) notarization, which is not usable in a foreign country such as the U.S. 
 

On top of that, had I not had a translator friend, I would have had to pay a translator and add at least another $10-$20 for a total of $40-$50, and still not have what I needed. 
 

When was the last time I spent $50, visited three different offices on two different days to get one itty bitty little page notarized you might ask? And how many rich foreigners just pay the original $50 quoted for a total of up to $70 for one page?  
 

Paul from California says: Because of your wonderful guide “DIY Cuenca Landing Guide” in which you gave all the info about getting a visa, it took me yesterday exactly one hour at the Ecuadorian Consulate in Los Angeles to get a 6 months visit. Absolutely no problems at all. Many thanks. Paul from Porterville, CA

Saturday, November 17, 2012

La Vida en Cuenca Ecuador 2012

Daily life in Cuenca Ecuador -- from the hustle bustle of the city center to relaxing in the park watching the pigeons -- that's part of life in Cuenca. In the month of November there is usually a lot of festivities and activities going on in Parque Calderon. And there is always free entertainment on the bus! This is just a hodgepodge of video of la vida en Cuenca!

              

Thursday, November 15, 2012

El Vergel Shopping Plaza in Cuenca - This Mall Has over 40 Retail Stores

You never know what you might find when tromping around Cuenca but we found another mall! This makes four malls that we know of just in Cuenca. This shopping mall has numerous retail clothing shops as well as knick knack shops and home decor. It's bigger than Millenimum Plaza, which is right around the corner from El Vergel, but I did not see a movie theater in El Vergel and there were few eateries.

                   

Monday, November 12, 2012

Nectar Vegetarian Restaurant Featured in Our Free Almuerzo Guide

The Nectar Restaurant is an International vegetarian cuisine eatery. The food is healthy and wholesome and the almuerzo is $2.50. Teressa, the owner is a joy to talk with and she speaks English!  This restaurant has a very interesting ambiance. Teressa displays on the walls of her restaurant local artists artwork and paintings, and other handmade items such as non-chemical made creams, soaps, lotions, and a variety of natural health foods like natural coconut oil and cocoa butter. All of these locally made items are for sale to the public. Nectar is located in the heart of downtown Cuenca and is featured in our free almuerzo restaurant guide with the location. We share our restaurant choices with members of this blog.

                

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Case Study on Expats to Cuenca Ecuador: How Cuencanos Feel About the Influx of Foreigners

University student, Denise M. Bustamante from Scripps College conducted a case study on the retired expatriate community in Cuenca, Ecuador", interviewing nine Cuencanos about how they felt about the migration of gringos into Cuenca Ecuador. 

What her data suggests is consistent with what we've been observing and reporting on this Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog. Now you can read it again from a University student who conducted this case study.  This is only a small portion of her case study. Miss Bustamante also interviews twelve expats to Cuenca on how they feel about living in Cuenca, Ecuador. To read the full thesis, click here.

...below is a snippet from her thesis...
"In addition to the language barrier, other negative aspects associated with the presence of expatriates in Cuenca include increases in the cost of living and their arrogant attitudes. The presence of an expatriate community in Cuenca contributes to a rise in costs because their incomes are higher than that of the locals and they are willing to pay these high prices. Jennifer, the former real estate agent, mentioned that many landlords prefer renting their property out to foreigners because they pay more money, they are punctual with their payments, and they take better care of property than the locals. Sara, a professor at the University of Azuay, has a friend who is the only Cuencana in her apartment building. Each month, her landlord pressures her to sell her apartment because he is aware that he can make a larger profit by leasing it to a foreigner at a steeper price."

"Data suggest that Cuencanos resent the impenetrable language barrier and their cultural disengagement. The Cuencanos responses also indicate that a deeper understanding of the country and culture is necessary on behalf of the retired expatriates to facilitate their integration into the existing culture rather than trying to create an exclusive subculture within Cuenca".

One expat in her study pointed out, "Many of the retired expats arrive in Cuenca, buy or rent their luxurious skyscraper apartments and stay there. It's as if they are watching life happen on their big screen TV and they do this without even realizing it.
Read the full thesis here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Famous Park Calderon

We're sitting in the park enjoying the day and thought I'd make a little video of the people and dog. It's the first of November and a nice semi-sunny, warm day. Park Calderon was packed with people because of the festivities that go along with Independence Day.

             

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador Art Festival Tour

We spent a whole day at the art festival that ran along the river. We walked through every art booth and museum in the festival. It was a lovely day and it was hot for Cuenca at about 80 degrees all day long. I'm guessing I had taken about three hours of video throughout the day and here it is condensed into 7 minutes. Some of the handcrafted art, as you will see in the video was absolutely amazing and took some creativity and ingenuity.

                  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cuenca Ecuador Independence Day Festivities

November is festival month in Cuenca Ecuador. There are arts and crafts booths, art shows, carnival rides, traditional Ecuadorian foods, dances, music, fireworks and more...and the fireworks display is spectacular. 

This video is of a few of the festivities going on in different areas of downtown Cuenca. Next video will be of some of the fine art display and the arts and crafts of South American artisans. You'll be amazed...there is a lot of creativity going on with the arts and crafts.


          

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hermosa Cuenca! Countryside and Hilltop Vista

In our daily wanderings and interactions Frank and I often end up traveling all over the city of Cuenca. On this particular day we were clear over on the east side and up in one of the many mountains that surround Cuenca. This video shows some of the beauty of the countryside and this hillside community nestled on the outskirts of Cuenca. The city buses do travel here.