Another Week is Past

Hello everyone! A big welcome to the new followers of my blog and thanks to all of you for reading. Sometimes it feels a little lonely so, if you wouldn’t mind leaving a comment, I’d love to have a howdy from you!

Another week has gone by. We’ve now been in Ecuador 6 1/2 weeks and have 8 1/2 remaining.

The last two Sundays we have joined a small English speaking group for worship. The teaching portion of the service is via video cam because the pastor is in Tenneesse! We are two hours ahead of Pacific Daylight time so later in the day we tune into the webcast of our own denomination’s church services as well.

We are enjoying our down time and the weather has helped us to relax and take it slow.  It’s been very gray, lots of clouds, rain, thunder and in the low 60s. Between that, and the tummy issue I’ve been dealing with this week we’ve stayed pretty close to home reading and researching. Those of you who know me and my dislike for gray skies will understand when I say I wondered whether my tummy issue could be brought on by the weather!

It may be gray, but it isn't cold.  There are times when the sun peaks through.

This is a view from my desk.  It may be gray, but it isn’t cold. There are times when the sun peaks through.

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Many restaurants have a special 3 course lunch menu for as little as $1.75. We ate here Tuesday and I had the Carne Asada. We sat at a table outside and watched the passersby.  Not having to use each moment for sightseeing is a great advantage of slow travel.

Days are pretty much planned around food! We eat two meals a day and a snack. Most days we drink our morning coffee and make eggs or fruit smoothies for breakfast in our apartment unless we’re craving other breakfast foods and then may go out for breakfast. We are a lot choosier these days because we have more to spend thanks to the fact that our accommodation expense has dropped to $25 a day. Some days we eat local dishes and some days we go for Italian, Mexican, American and even had Chinese this week. Of course, this is the high point of each day and we want to choose wisely often returning to a favorite place, yet always on the lookout for new cafes as well. Many evenings we drink tea and snack on fruit, and bakery items we’ve picked up or guacamole and chips.

The $6 Menu del Dia was a shrimp pasta and a lovely salad with the tenderest calamari I've ever had, a lemonade and a little lemon mousse.

The $6 Menu del Dia was shrimp pasta,  a lovely salad and the tenderest calamari I’ve ever tasted, lemonade and a little lemon mousse.

We spoke with the chef and owner and learned he is from Modena, Italy and immigrated to Ecuador 2 years ago.  He makes his own yummy Italian bread, pastas, and sausages, but buys his cheeses from an Italian cheese maker in Quito.

We visited with the chef/owner and learned he immigrated to Ecuador 2 years ago from Modena, Italy.  He makes his own yummy Italian bread, pastas, sauces, and sausages for the restaurant and to sell for carry out, but buys his cheeses from an Italian cheese maker in Quito.

Monday we visited the little town of Baños a few miles from here – home to spas and volcanic water pools. The town was nothing to speak off and the first places we wandered around didn’t look inviting either. Piedra del Agua Spa (Water Rock Spa) looked stylish – was built into the red rock walls – and smelled great! They had a Monday morning “Two for One” special we took advantage of. Spas have a reputation for being a retreat for women so it felt odd at first being there with my husband, but it was fun.

We changed into our swimwear, were given robes, and told to take a one minute cold shower before sitting in a steam room for 15 minutes, and then repeat another 1 minute cold shower and an additional 15 minutes in the steam room. We couldn’t sweat it out for the full 15 minutes without stepping out for additional cold showers!

The Blue Mud pool

The Blue Mud pool

After another cold shower we were taken outdoors to a red mud bath where we soaked and used the mud to exfoliate our bodies. After another rinsing shower we immersed our bodies into a pool of blue mud which they instructed us to rub all over and let dry. My skin felt silky after rinsing off the blue mud. Next we entered a cavern lit only by candles and soaked in a hot tub until the attendant directed us to a second pool – a cold pool and made sure we immersed in the cold waters for a full 2 minutes. After the initial shock I did relax and enjoy it, but was happy to return to the hot pool once again.

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After another visit to the cold pool we were given a fruit infused drink and then directed to take a seat in what seemed like a medieval torture chamber, a wooden box with an opening for the head.  After this we were free to use the outdoor swimming pools but we were as limp as rags and just wanted to nap in a chaise lounge.

We had a major accomplishment this week. It only took two weeks but we finally figured out where to catch a bus that gets us home. Our apartment is a good 40-minute walk from El Centro on Gran Colombia, a one way street down here, but it turns to a two-way street closer in and then back to a one-way (but in the other direction!) There isn’t a true one way street heading into El Centro from here but we discovered where to catch buses traveling into El Centro. Buses are everywhere and traveling in all directions! The buses zig zag their way around the city whereas in Quito it was easy because they traversed the city via one long Avenida. The #100, #8, and the #16 buses rumble past us as we walk in to El Centro, but we have never discovered where to catch them!  By trial and error we discovered the #3 and it stops practically in front of our apartment building.

Still loving my coffee at Cafe Ñucallacta.

Still loving my coffee at Cafe Ñucallacta.

This city is so affordable! Bus fares are only .25 each, a taxi ride costs between $1.50-$2 and most museums are free!

14 responses to “Another Week is Past

    • The package cost $35 so on Monday we both got in for $35 and it included a 5% discount in their restaurant. If you only wanted to use the outsider pools it was less, but not two for one. I can’t remember if it was $8 or $10 now. The water in the pools looked cloudy (not appealing) but they explained that was due to the mineral content of the water.

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  1. Howdy Merrill! Still following…….We’ve enjoyed reading every one of your blogs. We’re glad you guys are having a good time. Life here is busy as usual……..think we need a spa treatment like you had. How relaxing!!

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  2. Hi Merrill; I am new to your blog; I was alerted to it by Jeanne Snyder, my travel buddy with Sports Leisure on some trips with you as our leader. I had wondered what had happened to you; you were one of our favorite tour leaders!

    Interesting “slow tour” you are on. Why so long in Ecuador? And, what is your purpose or hopeful outcome for this tour?

    Continued good tour; I’ll look forward to reading more.

    GeorgAnna

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    • Hello GeorgAnna (and Jeanne),
      Of course I remember both of you and thank you for your kind words.
      Slow travel is a less expensive way to travel, but is a life style choice as well. We no longer have jobs to return to. As to the outcome, the short answer is we are looking at places to see if there may be someplace we’d like to put down roots and stay awhile. This would depend on if it met certain criteria: lower cost of living, great weather, lifestyle, good internet, healthy food, adventure, and provided opportunity to do something meaningful. We started in Ecuador because for many years according to some lists it has been the number one best place to retire abroad.

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  3. So far Cuenca has been my “favorite” city in Ecuador as well! Justin & I want to visit! But mostly because it reminds me of Cajamarca, and I suppose we should just return there! 😉

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  4. It sounds like you are having a great time exploring. It sounds like a dream trip for me. I am still trying to see the 50 states. I have 7 left to see. Hopefully I can check off Montana and Glacier this year.

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  5. Congratulations on seeing the USA. There’s a lot of great things to see there too! I’m loving the trip – and the dreams of where we hope to go as well! Thanks for following!

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  6. Merrill,
    When Bob and I were on the Mercy ship in Africa, e-mail was wonderful to have, but it didn’t hold a candle to getting REAL mail on mail day. If I had an address, I would send some. I think of you both and pray for you.
    Dorothy (& Bob) Baars

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  7. Hi Dorothy,
    I don’t have an address – and sure don’t miss receiving bills and junk mail. REAL mail is a joy to receive – but so old fashioned anymore! I was amazed at how many people even sent their Christmas cards electronically last year. Thanks for reading and for your prayers.
    Merrill (and Steve)

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