Photo of The Day #71, Panaderia Deluxe at The Oro Verde Hotel Guayaquil

As I stumbled down to the coffee shop in the lobby of The Oro Verde Hotel, I told myself the trip to Ecuador was just beginning and I needed to just have coffee and something healthy, in a manner of speaking. I had no idea I would encounter such a plethora of sweet items that challenged my desire to remain healthy. After all I was on a 5-week trial run to see what the real cost of living in Cuenca was for a month. I knew my fiend Efrain of Mio Tours would be there soon and I had to make a decision.

 

Assorted Sweets for Anytime of the Day

Assorted Sweets for Anytime of the Day

 

I decided I would eat healthy when I got to Cuenca and settled into my condo. To heck with being healthy, when all this was staring me in the face. Not only was I pondering the quantity and assortment of sweets to ingest, I actually had serious debates with myself about the assorted sandwiches and salads displayed in this case below. Decisions should never be made when you are hungry! I knew this and also was very familiar with the process of having Mio Tours (You Tube Link) drive me to Cuenca. I knew full well that we would stop at a restaurant my friend Efrain favored in Puerto Inca. The lunches with juice and soup run around $3.50 per person and are very tasty.

 

Sandwiches and Ready to Eat Items

Sandwiches and Ready to Eat Items

 

Then of course another challenge is the magnificent bread they prepare all over Ecuador and since it is so inexpensive you want to buy every type of loaf available and see what is in line with your tastes and what isn’t. Down deep I knew I couldn’t buy more than one type of bread at a time and would have to wait until I got to Cuenca and shop at Maria’s Alemania Bakery. This bakery has the absolute best breads in the world, bar none!

 

Loaves and Loaves of Fantastic Bread / Pan

Loaves and Loaves of Fantastic Bread / Pan

 

Oh how I wanted to box up one of these whole cakes and take it with me to the Condo. I could then bury my face in all that sweet goodness and eat like a pig! No one would see me and no one would know. So why not you ask? Because rather simply put, I have to live with myself and couldn’t do this without totally stressing out! Oh well maybe next time. I absolutely love all the Panaderias in Ecuador and they make very delicious goods. Most are so inexpensive it is almost embarrassing. This shop was nothing really out of the normal and is fairly representative of the bakeries in Ecuador. One of life’s small pleasures and I can’t wait to get back to Ecuador and eat my fill of sweets! Waistline? What waistline? I can always walk it off in Cuenca! After all it is situated at around 8500 feet above seal level and that takes more than a little effort when you are my age.

 

Take Home Cakes and Other Sweet Delicacies

Take Home Cakes and Other Sweet Delicacies

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #64, #NomadicTexan

Last march Kim and I had the pleasure of visiting Cuenca Ecuador. Kim had never been and wanted to see why I was so excited and in love with Cuenca. We stayed at the Casa Ordonez, run and managed by Alberto Ordonez. Alberto is a master of great customer service and he is like family to me now. He always has time to help, regardless of his schedule and he knows everybody in the entire town I think.

 

Earl and Max who Made Our Tours Great!

Earl and Max, Who Made Our Tours Great!

 

Kim and I wanted to see Ingapirca, the Incan Ruins site. Alberto mentioned that a couple of gentlemen staying at the Casa were going and might just allow us to tag along. We met them in the lobby the next morning and they agreed to let us go with them. It helped us both reduce the cost of the tour. What we did not know was how entertaining and friendly these two would be. We thoroughly enjoyed their company and communicate back and forth now.

 

 

We visited El Chorro waterfall one day and a debate, lesson or discussion broke out about bamboo between Max and Kim. It was hilarious to me and I caught a portion of it on video. Hope you enjoy and thanks Earl and Max for letting us tag along. We had a blast with you guys!

Photo of The Day #62, #NomadicTexan

Last August when I lived in Cuenca for five weeks, this Indigenous lady sat on the corner of the street where my condo was located, selling lottery tickets. She was there every day rain or shine and sold tickets from early in the morning until late afternoon.

 

Indigenous Lady Selling Lottery Tickets

Indigenous Lady Selling Lottery Tickets

 

I always wondered if she had a family and if she had housing. She never missed a beat and when I would walk by her she extended a ticket and asked me if I wanted to purchase a ticket. I never did and almost felt guilty about NOT gambling!

Photo of The Day #43

Mudding in Cuenca

Mudding in Cuenca

 

 

When my three sons were growing up in Austin Texas, they practiced what was called “Mudding” with their vehicles. The young men from their high school would go out on weeknights and weekends and locate a muddy area, that they could drive through and eventually cover their trucks or vehicles with mud.

 

 

Of course the down side is it all has to be washed off  at a local car wash! This is still a common practice in Texas and one sees mud covered transportation all the time. I was struck by this vehicle in Cuenca, when it rolled by me on the street I was walking and reminded me of my sons!  #Flashback

Photo of The Day #41

Deluxe Hamburger

Deluxe Hamburger

 

The Cilantro Cafe Restaurante in Cuenca is a fabulous place to eat an economical meal. It has daily specials that follow the traditional meal platform, with a soup, entree and dessert for $4.00. It also has a wide array of vegan dishes.

 

 

I chose to eat their deluxe hamburger and as most in Ecuador, it came with a fried egg, a slice of ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato slices. Additionally it had bacon, but I don’t eat bacon. At first I was unsure if this combination would be edible, but I found myself going out of my way to eat this style of hamburger and I highly recommend you give it a try! Saludos!

Photo of The Day #40

Never Too Young

Never Too Young

 

 

One afternoon, while I was street walking in Cuenca, I saw this young girl and from the angle it appeared she was getting ready to hop on the motorcycle and go for a ride. I guess one is never too young to dream, imagine and travel! So go for it. Get up off your rear end. Dream, Imagine and then by gosh,  just go “Do It”!

Photo of The Day #39

Eggs Benedict at the California Kitchen

Eggs Benedict at the California Kitchen

 

 

I am a long time fan of Eggs Benedict and when I feel down, as I was when leaving Cuenca, I had to treat myself. The Eggs Benedict at the California Kitchen are to die for! I have only had one comparable dish and that was at the Royal Sonesta Garden restaurant in New Orleans. OMG they are both excellent!

 

 

By the way, if you know anyone that is interested in purchasing an excellent run operation, the California Kitchen is for sale. They are pillars in the community and give back a tremendous amount of support . Please contact the Evans family: George, Carol, Jimmy and Susie Evans  at  “info@californiakitchencuenca.com”. You will not find a better opportunity.

Photo of The Day #37

Colon Campos at Work

Colon Campos at Work, Engaging Customers

 

I have traveled extensively around the world and had the pleasure of meeting many interesting individuals. I met Colon Campos recently when I ate at his restaurant, the Don Colon  in Cuenca Ecuador. I even wrote a blog describing one of my experiences, entitled Don Colon Rules. Today I received a thank you and an email urging me to come back and he then advertised my post on his restaurant blog. I was blown away.

 

Most restaurants acknowledge they like your posts, but rarely does one go out of their way to this extent. This gentle man understands that service is key to success in any business and he is genuine about your relationship. He really does want to engage with you and learn your story. If you find yourself in Cuenca Ecuador, at the Parque Calderon or the New Cathedral, you are across the street from his restaurant.

 

Stop in say hi and tell him the Nomadic Texan sent you. He will talk with you and then serve you an excellent meal, at a very economic price. Well worth the $4.00. Colon I can’t wait to get back and stop in and surprise you! You are a friend for life! Saludos mi amigo!

Photo of The Day #36

Australian Tree Ferns Growing in the Wild

Australian Tree Ferns Growing in the Wild

 

I have always loved flora and fauna and have several plants I am most partial to. One such species is the Australian Tree Fern. I travel extensively, but have never been exposed to so many ferns. I am most partial to this particular plant as a result of its lovely umbrella of fern leaves, branching out from its trunk. It strikes me as an anomaly of the fern species and has a grandeur more regal than any other fern in my book.

 

Baby Australian Tree Ferns

Baby Australian Tree Ferns

 

 

As you drive between Guayaquil Ecuador and Cuenca, a little above sea level, at the base of the Andes, you run into about a 15 mile stretch, where the ferns grow wild in forests and the sight is absolutely beautiful. I have only seen them as potted plants in Texas. I have never been able to photograph this brilliant parcel of the highway. Fortunately this time I was able to capture a few photos from the car. Enjoy nature’s bounty!

 

Australian Tree Ferns on Side of Mountain

Australian Tree Ferns on Side of Mountain

 

“Here and there a tawny brook prattled out from among the underwood and lost itself again in the ferns and brambles upon the farther side. Save the dull piping of insects and the sough of the leaves, there was silence everywhere–the sweet restful silence of nature.”

~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr. (May 22, 1859-July 07, 1930)

Photo of The Day #35

Hostal in Cuenca

Posada Del Angel Hostal in Cuenca

 

If you travel to Ecuador, there are a vast array of Hostals located in and around Cuenca’s old town. This one is one of the more attractive and clean ones in the city. It also has a Cathedral down the street if you are so inclined. Right at six blocks from the center or Parque Calderon on Calle Simon Bolivar. Saludos.

The Best Damn Pizza in Cuenca

I have sampled pizza at many places over the years on my trips to Cuenca and some have been great and others well, not so great! This trip I started eating pizza at a new place. The name of the restaurant is La Fornace and they had an extensive menu that might surprise you. Its filled with massive amounts of true Italian food. I tried a pizza “La Fornace” and made a few changes. No pimiento (green peppers) or Salchicha (Hot Dogs). I added more chicken.

 

The La Fornace Amended

The La Fornace Amended

 

It was spectacular and I have eaten three of these when I needed a quick meal in Cuenca. Their oven must have a very high temperature as it only takes around 5 minutes once you place your order. They absolutely know what they are doing.

 

Vladamir (cook) and Santiago (Chef)

Vladamir (cook) and Santiago (Chef)

 

Immediately when you enter they are at your table and ask for your drink order and if you are ready take you food order. I had a wonderful young man last night that treated me like a king. He kept me in business!

 

Pablo My Server with the Cashier

Pablo My Server with the Cashier

 

They serve desserts, but most people opt for their ice cream cone, as an end to the meal. They positioned the dip station up front, so that people passing by can purchase a cone and keep going. Apparently they have quite an ice cream business, as this young lady prepped cones with napkins the entire time I was eating. She must have done 150 cones or more.

 

Lady Bussy Prepping Cones

Lady Busy Prepping Cones

 

If you find yourself in Cuenca and have a yen for a pizza I promise you cannot go wrong at La Fornace! Just remember you don’t eat the pizza with your hands like we do in the US. That is considered very ill mannered. You must use your fork and knife! FYI! Saludos mi amigos.

 

Photo of The Day #34

The Old Cathedral Steeple at Night

The Old Cathedral Steeple at Night

 

As I walked Cuenca last night, I inevitably had to pass through Parque Caldron. I saw this dramatic photo just waiting for me to shoot and had to take the picture. Cuenca has become like a second home to me and I love the architecture, the people and definitely the food!

 

I have mixed emotions about leaving and going back home. I am confident, regardless of what some may say, that Cuenca will never lose its charm or appeal. Hasta Luego mi amigo.

Photo of The Day #33

Woolen Hats

Woolen Hats

 

I have been debating purchasing one of these hats with the tassels, while I am staying in Cuenca. They are quite popular across all age groups here in Ecuador. They appear to really be a heavy wool and have great flaps to keep your ears warm.

 

I am just afraid that if I wore these back in Texas I would get a plethora of adjectives hurled at me. You know I love #Hats, but this might just be a little too much. Guess I will hold off until my next trip! Saludos!

The Last Generation

One of the charming factors about being in Cuenca is the Indigenous People and the various and sundry apparel they wear. Each area has a traditional costume and appearance right down to the hat color and style. You can stand near the Parque Calderon on Saturdays and see a myriad of color explosions scurry past as they seem to always be in a hurry. Lately I have noticed though that the majority of these individuals are female and of a more mature status.

 

Indigenous Couple

Indigenous Couple

 

The traditions are at serious risk, as the majority of the males and especially the younger generation have turned to western garb. I also think that the locals associate specific stigmas against the Indigenous peoples and cast them in lower income jobs such as street pedaling of fruits, candies and plants or flowers.

 

Indigenous Lady Weaving Straw Baskets

Indigenous Lady Weaving Straw Baskets

 

It is sad to think that this colorful and creative garb will soon be a thing of the past. One can’t help but express remorse at this prospect. I would guess that 80% of the Indigenous women that still maintain the appropriate wear and clothing are older than 50. Some are resorting to begging, as I am positive they cannot find employment and left to fend for themselves. I have seen only a couple of men that dress in their historical garments and they are mostly from the same clan.

 

Indigenous Man

Indigenous Man

 

I sincerely hope that the Ecuadorian people can address this situation and begin to help these endangered sects of people. It may already be under way, but I have not heard whether it is a funded program or not, at this time. I truly hope that before its is too late someone or some agency steps in and helps these people out or it will in fact be the last generation and I would guess at the end of 30 years this attire will be a thing of the past.

 

Ladies Looking at Goods at The New Cathedral

Ladies Looking at Goods at The New Cathedral

 

A Younger Indigenous Lady

A Younger Indigenous Lady

 

A Mature Lady Banking

A Mature Lady Banking

 

 

Hopefully you can experience this wonderful tradition before its too late. Take a trip to Cuenca and I promise you will see many Indigenous women dressed in their traditional apparel. Saludos mi amigos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street-Walking in Cuenca

One of the true pleasures of Cuenca, is walking the streets of Old Town. I never get tired of performing this activity and it is a great form of exercise for individuals. Each time I go out I have no plans and just start walking in one direction or another with no agenda. Its amazing that over time I still keep finding architectural treasures that I have never seen. In addition, I run into people of all walks of life and tourists. The tourists are not hard to spot as shown in these photos.

 

Male Gringo Tourists

Male Gringo Tourists

 

 

Female Gringa Tourists

Female Gringa Tourists

 

There must be several Catholic Nun orders, as I have seen a plethora of various dress. As Catholicism is such a large portion of the population, I find that I see Nuns all over, shopping and taking care of their needs. It is quite different than where I live in Texas.

 

Catholic Nun

Catholic Nun

 

Although a great deal of the population uses cars it is never odd to see bicycles being used to transport items needed for everyday use. A large portion of the condos and apartments are fueled by propane tanks and this gentleman is pedaling his wares! Sorry I couldn’t help myself!

 

Bicycle Mode of Transporation

Bicycle Mode of Transportation

 

A favorite sweet item is this kind of marshmallow substance that the vendors place in ice cream cones and since it is very economical the vast majority of the population eats these cones. You will always see them eaten in any type of weather cold or hot. The Ecuadorians love this treat!

 

Soft Serve Cones

Soft Serve Cones

 

Another common sight is the scooter parking areas where as many as ten or more can be seen together. Scooters are a great way of navigating through the increasing traffic and getting to places cars cannot. This time the amount of scooters has tripled since the last time I was here. I think maybe the gas prospective cost increase may have something to do with it also.

 

Scooter Parking

Scooter Parking

 

This Mom and daughter are sharing a great moment talking with a vendor. School just recently started back up and as you can see each school has its own uniform. I see all kinds of school dress as I walk and the various color schemes are very snazzy.

 

Mother Loving Her Daughter

Mother Loving Her Daughter

 

The lady in the black outfit gave me a fairly intense stare down, as I prepared to take this photo. She finally went in the building. Perhaps it was her store. Anyway I thought the sign was comical as it states the hair used is 100% human hair from the head of a human. Where else would it be from?

 

Authentic Hair Extensions

Authentic Hair Extensions

 

My last photo is also comical to me. I find the uses of words and how they translate hilarious at times. This states one would think The Palace of Joys. In actuality the translation is The Palace of Jewels. Had to think about the name, especially given the pictures.

 

st

Palace of Joys

 

I love Cuenca. One of these days I hope to come back again. Until then, if you visit, please do a little Street-walking and see the sight! Saludos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #32

Street Fruit Vendors

Street Fruit Vendors

 

 

One of the common sights one sees when walking the streets of Cuenca, is the fruit vendors selling their wonderful items from a wheelbarrow. I think the wheelbarrow business would be a good business, as the vendors are set up almost every two or three blocks. Mostly locals purchase these items, but occasionally I see tourists buying the fruit. It is so cheap and so good looking that one has to avoid temptation, unless they have the materials needed to cleanse the fruit appropriately.

 

 

I have learned over time that fruits and vegetables grown by root source (like potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, etc) must be soaked thoroughly in the cleansing treatment or one will have a visit from the Grand Amoeba and trust me that’s not fun. The tree fruits and vegetables are safer, but still require a good cleansing. Ecuador has a bountiful supply of fruits and veggies, but I would urge you to make sure you treat them prior to consuming! Saludos!

Photo of The Day #31

Toilet Paper Vendor

Toilet Paper Vendor

 

One of the more strange things you run into on the streets of Cuenca are toilet paper vendors. They have large baskets and simply walk from store to store or even sell to passers by, if they are in need. Most of the public restrooms are not equipped with toilet paper and I would guess people walking buy the rolls for safety!

 

 

The store operators obviously use it in their facilities. It is a very common sight to see these individuals rolling along, selling their paper. The first time I saw this I was taken back, but I guess door to door delivery saves walking and gas!

Don Colon Rules

I have been to Cuenca several times and have always wanted to eat at Don Colon’s restaurant. For one reason or another I have never had the pleasure of dining at this establishment. So when I saw that Don Colon was relocating right off the Parque Calderon I was ecstatic. Construction went on all weekend and they opened Monday.

 

Don Colon Sign

Don Colon Restaurant

 

I couldn’t wait to try it out Don Colon’s the first day at their new location. I was not disappointed, as I had a bowl of great potato soup, pork chop with rice and hominy along with a dessert. In addition a fresh juice is served which was Mora on Monday. The meal was topped off with a fried dessert stuffed with apple filing. This came to a whopping $4.00 for this multi course meal. I was astonished and could not believe the quality of the food.

 

Monday's Lunch Special

Monday’s Lunch Special 

 

Being a suspicious type person I ventured back today Thursday to try the lunch again. I had my choice of liver and onions, a tipico Ecuadorian meal and a Chimichanga with chicken and cheese. I chose the latter, even though its probably not the most healthy. First course again was a delicious soup and the my entree with black beans and rice, salad and the Chimichanga.

 

Thursday's Lunch

Thursday’s Lunch 

 

Afterwards I was served a fantastic fried Sopapilla with banana inside. The juice of the day was Papaya. I was blown away again and could not believe how great it tasted and how full I was after a huge lunch.

 

Desert

Desert

 

I had the pleasure of meeting Colon Campos who owns the restaurant and is the namesake. He greeted every customer himself personally today. Given the low end pricing, the quality of the food and the fantastic customer service I don’t see any reason this restaurant won’t thrive in its new location. Oh by the way, he has Fish and Chips tomorrow and I will be back!

 

Don Colon and the Nomadic Texan

Don Colon and the Nomadic Texan

Photo of The Day #30

Desserts for Sale

Desserts for Sale

 

 

One never finds a shortage of desserts in Cuenca and it amazes me that more of the Ecuadorians are not obese, like we find in the US. I guess its a result of all the walking. Every day when I go out and roam the streets of Old Town, I run into (sometimes literally) so many people, its staggering.

 

 

I have no idea where they are going and in most cases they are walking at a rather fast gait. I guess this helps shed the sugar and the bread calories. Heladeria’s, Panesa’s and eating establishments abound. Its very tempting and you can eat until you can’t breathe, but you also can always walk it off the next day. I love it!

Photo of The Day #28

Streetwalking in Cuenca is Always Exciting

Streetwalking in Cuenca is Always Exciting

 

I ran into this young man helping a store advertise on Saturday. I am continually amazed at how easy the Ecuadorians handle themselves on stilts. His partner was a “Mime” and was on my side of the street. As I approached, he offered a flyer with all the store’s promotions.

 

 

It seems there is always a parade or some type of event going on in Cuenca and I love streetwalking in Cuenca. You never know what you will run into when you turn the corner.

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