A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Huffing, Puffing, Developing Calves of Steel, in Search of Great Almuerzo!

As we enter week three of our Ecuadorian exploration, we continue to be blessed with making new friends as well as getting great advice and insight from some experienced Expadorians. Roger even got a chance to make a little profit at Texas Hold Em night (always nice to go home a winner!) but the greatest riches continue to come from our interactions with the people here, both Expadorian and local.

We continue to adapt to the altitude and are beginning to cope with that well. Of course, walking up to 4 miles a day probably has helped the adjustment. We spend a portion of each day exploring a new section of this city on foot. After getting a bus route guide downtown, we also are utilizing buses more. Often, we'll take the bus to a new area we've targeted to explore, then spend a couple of hours or more walking and exploring that part of town. Sometimes our return is a walk back, but as we venture farther away, a bus ride home has become more frequent. Both usually mean that we still have to tackle "heart attack hill". From the bus stop to our edificio is about a 1.5 block walk up what has to be a fifteen degree incline. We've seen some cars struggle to make this beastie! Our first attempt required three rest stops and we generally still take at least one. Recently, we did make it in one continuous trip. We would have done the "Rocky" victory dance at the top but we were too busy huffing and puffing for breath. Suzanne says Ecuador will either give us "calves of steel" or make us prime candidates for knee surgery. We are, however, getting in great shape learning this city and we're loving the process!

Since we are out almost every day, we frequently eat out for lunch or, as they say here, almuerzo. Many blogs have been written about the almuerzo specials available in this city. Most consist of a small bread, a protein dish (meat, beans, sometimes both), lots of rice, and a veggie dish or at least a little lettuce, tomato and avacado. A small sweet bread and and beverage are usually included. Some add or at least offer soup as well. (Ecuadorians generally excel at their soups!). It is almost impossible to walk more than 4 blocks in this city without seeing small cafes, cafeterias or restaurants offering these daily specials. If you spend more than $5 per person, you qualify as a ravenous glutton. We have even spent less than $5 for the two of us and have been pressed to consume all we were served. Does quality sometimes vary? Of course, but that's been part of the fun! We love searching for those gems that offer the standard dishes at competitive prices but where the quality of the ingredients and the preparation of the foods stands above the competition. A recent such find in the Centro may be of interest to our new friends locally since it only opened this June. It is Restaurante Cilantro on Juan Jaramillo (8-86) near Benigno Malo. Our almuerzo there began with an absolutely awesome creamy chicken/noodle/mushroom soup. The rest of the ingredients, while standard fare, was quite excellent in both quality and presentation. After reviewing this restaurant's regular menu and wine list, we're planning to return for dinner as well.

We'll report back in a future as to whether owner Marco Prado wows us as much with dinner as he did with his menu a la dia. His was probably our best almuerzo so far in Cuenca.

We do, of course, plan to keep looking for more great places to eat, to keep exploring this wonderful city and to keep developing those leg muscles as we remain: juntos en el camino de la vida!


  1. Roger & Suzanne, we found a place in Parque Calderon called El Cantaro that has a pretty good almuerzo. It was filled with Cuencans when we went there. The cost is alittle bit higher at $3.00 per person, but the food was very good. It is on the same side of the square as the Juan Eljurin store. Sue

  2. We've just talked about that spot as we were sittiing on a bench across the street in the parque. We were wondering if we should try it on our next trip down. Your reccomendation makes that an easy decision. Thanks for the comment.