Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Smiling in Cuenca

Parque Calderon, looking at Nuevo Catedral in Cuenca

Today I find myself smiling a lot.  It is a pretty normal day but I find myself feeling joy at every turn.  For one thing, I am finally feeling like myself again with good energy and interest in projects. Whatever that flu bug was, it was a sneaky one.

Today began when a friend came over to fix a couple of household things we did not know how to repair.  Len and I are in the bottom 1/3 of people in the world who are seriously "repair challenged". So it was great of this friend to take his time to do a few things for us.  While Bill worked on "the list" we had some nice conversations going.

I decided to wash the curtains in the living room while we had the curtain rod down being repaired.  I washed them in the kitchen sink because I feared the washer might tear them up.  We rented this place furnished.  I know the curtains are only about 2 yrs old, yet the water was dark brown from all the - well whatever it is.

The buses here are diesel and pour out a ton of black smoke.  Although no buses travel on our street, the air must have a lot of pollution. Come on, Cuenca! Get this changed to keep your gorgeous, magical city looking that way.

But some of the joy is that the city IS magical. The weather would not  be ideal for some - it rains way more than I expected and there is nothing balmy about most evenings here. Yet there is a fresh  crisp feel to the morning air each day.  The Rio Yanuncay tumbles by, carrying off the rain that came overnight. It is fun to see each day how high it is running.

Today we went for almuerzo (lunch) in the heart of the historic district. Nectar is an organic vegetarian restaurant that uses only...well, nectar...to sweeten things.  Lunch was great but what made it interesting was that there were several people we know at other tables.  The owners of Nectar are Yanni and Tania, a charming couple who work very hard to assure that this restaurant is successful.  It is located on Benigno Malo near Gran Colombia.  The building is painted a deep red shade, go upstairs to find 3 rooms decorated in wonderful intense shades.

I love going to Nectar because I know that Tania will take care of me regarding being gluten (wheat/barley/rye) free. If the soup has barley in it, for example, she tells me and we discuss what she may substitute.  It is very cool to feel relaxed that most food items on the menu will be safe for me to eat. Also the food is prepared in imaginative ways, organic and delicious.

Life today is very difficult for many people all over the world.  I am so fortunate to be in Cuenca where my health is better and every day is an adventure.

What an incredible gift my life has become: to have the pleasure of living in Cuenca, Ecuador. Learning about a new culture. Trying new foods, meeting other people from the US who have elected to live out their years here. Learning from Ecuadorians about the history of South America.

So many things are unfamiliar here. And yet, I can say that a lot of my joy is related to the natural beauty and warm nature of Cuencanos. Many of the people of Cuenca, as I've mentioned before, are generous, kind, shy about speaking English, humorous and helpful.

I love life here every day.  Thank you to my wonderful esposo Lenny Charnoff who generously gives me photos whenever I ask. Check out his new blog,   cuencatechlife.wordpress.com

I hope some joy oozes out of this brief post and expands your day.



  1. Glad you are feeling better, Sharon. Is the apartment building at the top of your blog your apartment? Do you have a terrace view of the Rio is that photo? Do you sit outside to listen and look at the Rio? I am interested that you said you were renting. I'd love to find a place by one of the rivers so I can sit and listen and watch it rolling along. Thanks for the photos and your appreciation of your environment. Twila Pickrell, Lubbock, TX

  2. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for such a positive post. All of us are really about as happy as we decide to be.

    Thank you also for bringing up the bus pollution issue. One thing I've learned in my time in Ecuador is that bus drivers are a powerful union. If something happens that they don't like, they not only stop transporting passengers, but also block the streets so that you can't get by in your own car or a taxi. That is why I think it is difficult to see any movement on this issue. Politicians are afraid to take on the drivers.

    It seems that many Ecuadorians have a real antipathy towards bus drivers, not only because of the strikes that stop transport, but also because they have had experiences with rude bus drivers somewhere along the way.

    The pollution issue is a big thing between my wife and myself. She is from Quito, and has all of her family there, so it would make sense for us to live in Quito long term. However, I'm not sure that I could take the smoke from the buses in Quito long term. I believe it is a worse problem in Quito than in Cuenca. We talk about this often.

    I looked up the pollution laws in Ecuador once, and they do exist, but I have to wonder how well they're enforced. There are environmental activists in Ecuador who are aware of the problem, and who have publicized the effects of diesel emissions on children, but there is a long way to go still as far as effecting change.

    Oh well, to get back to where I started, thank you for a positive post. Ecuador really is a great place to live, and like anywhere, you have to accept the things that you don't like and enjoy the things that you do.


  3. reading this made me smile, and made me want to eat at Nectar too! ;o)