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.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Little Excitement in The Hood!

The west wall of the Estadio Cashapata
wound up in the street Sunday afternoon
"Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down!"

O.K. it wasn't quite a biblical event even though it was Sunday afternoon but we did have some tumbling walls in our neighborhood this weekend.

We Yazells live about a long city block block away from the Estadio Cashapata which is a futbol (soccer to you norte americanos!) stadium housing the Club Liga de Cuenca.  It is surrounded by a 3 meter wall (9-10 ft) on top of which there is a chain link fence of about 2 meters (6-7ft).  On one side (west) the fence holds advertising signage.

A friend of ours lives in an edifico departmentos (condominium apartment building) about three blocks away and regularly comes walking her dog on our street.  Sunday afternoon, she calls after returning from her daily walk and asks if we've looked out our window toward the stadium (our house is on a curve so the upstairs window looks down the street with a clear view of the stadium's west wall!).  We looked and to our surprise  we saw a clear view of the field!

The entire street on the west side
of the estadio was blocked!
It seems the high westerly winds we had experienced during the day had caught the metal signage on the fence and proceeded to topple the fence and the upper portion of the wall with it filling the street on the west side of the estadio.  We, of course, had to walk down and take some photos.

Normally you have be inside to
see the play going on  at the estadio!

For the rest of the afternoon, our typically quiet dead end street was active with cars attempting to find a new route around the estadio only to discover there was no way out on Calle Eloy Abad (our street).

Workmen begin work on removing the signage from the fence.

The fence and signage got cleared by sunset
 but the bricks and debris won't be
out of the street until sometime Monday.

Roger, who was working that afternoon on clearing some overgrown brush on the lot next to our wall even got to talk with the policia who came by wondering if traffic could be re-routed through our neighborhood.  

Roger doing some clean up work on
what should have been
a very quiet Sunday afternoon!

Typically the neighborhood Ecua-volley game is the only neighborhood activity we get on Sunday there was a little more going on.  It made for a little extra excitement as we continue our retirement journey:  "juntos en el camino de la vida".

Friday, July 20, 2012

Time for more picks from The Wine Guy!

The Wine Guy

OK, we took time off from the hectic schedule of retiring (Boy...who knew that was going to be such hard work!!!) and headed to the coast for much needed R&R.  We shared some wonderful time with five close friends and got to do some beach combing and whale watching.  We'll share some coastal observations (and photos) later on in the week ahead.

Anyway, it's been a while since we made some wine recommendations, so here are three red and one white wine purchases that The Wine Guy has made and enjoyed recently here in Cuenca.  A couple of these wines have been reviewed in further detail on Roger's wine blog:

The wines are:

San Felipe Roble Malbec:  a nice smooth Argentinean Malbec with a long lingering finish.  I was lucky enough to find an older vintage (2005) and it had aged quite nicely.

Miguel Torres Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva:  Some great cabernets have been coming out of Chile and Argentina and for us in Ecuador, they make a more affordable alternative to the highly taxed imports from Napa Valley and Washington that we were used to in the states.  The Torres family are great worldwide winemakers in addition to being Spain (and one of Europe's) leading winemaking family.

Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere:  Carmenere has become Chile's signature wine grape for the simple reason that it grows so uniquely well there and the Chileans have learned how to make great use of it.  In this case, that great use is in rounding out an excellent cabernet sauvignon.

Santa Julia Fuzion:  A very nice white wine blend that adds Chenin Blanc to Chardonnay.  Try this refreshing white well-chilled with some grilled langostinos and you've got a real treat!

Hope you find these worth exploring.  I would welcome input from any of my Ecuadorian friends and readers on your wine discoveries here in the land South of Zero.  Email

Sunday, July 8, 2012

At Last...A Courtyard!

 Long time readers of our blog (or those who've explored the archives) are probably aware that the Yazells originally planned to retire to the central highlands of Mexico.  As twelve year residents of Arizona, we had many opportunities to visit, explore and fall in love with the culture and architecture of Mexico.   Also, as homeowners in a land replete with sunshine, we had come to appreciate the mixing of indoor conveniences and lifestyles in a semi outdoor setting.  We always thought that the ideal home would offer us the opportunity to create an open courtyard accessible from the main living/dining/working areas of the house.  Our new home in Ecuador offered us an opportunity to bring that dream to a reality.  As the realtor took us through a prospective house and bought us through the dining/kitchen area out to a plain and simple rear courtyard containing an Ecuadorian laundry and calaphon, Suzanne turned to me and pointed to the middle of the back wall and said "We can fit our chiminea very well here, don't you think?"  My reply was "Oh yea and won't our tile murals look great on these walls?"

This is what the back courtyard looked like when
we  first purchased our new home in Ecuador

Within a week of our closing, our architect-friend Marcello was looking over a photo of a chiminea on our laptop and we were sketching our thoughts on how we wanted this space in the rear to be developed.   Chimineas are, at best, uncommon here.  The fact was that Marcello had never designed one nor had his crew ever built one.  But he thought our idea was great so less than two weeks after that, we were cutting into the rear wall, inserting some rebar and getting ready to pour a semi-circle of concrete on a handmade elevated platform and mold.   Project Casa Yazell Courtyard was underway!

Here's a very brief photo journal of what transpired over the next several weeks:

After the concrete platform dried,
the masonry work began in earnest!

Adding the support base would enable the temporary
 table frame and support platform to be removed.
The space underneath would accessible from one side and
used for firewood storage.

Marco and his helper add the cement finish.
After that cured, there would be hand cut stone for the base.
We also had some shelves added to hold some of Suzanne's favorite Tonala pottery pieces.

The finished Chiminea as it is now seen from our guest bedroom.
A nice piece of first time work by our architect and his crew!

After our container arrived, the finishing touches were added.
Viva la courtyard!

Naturally we have to have a grill! (It came on our container)
 The window behind the grill is where our kitchen is.
Note the hummingbird feeder...we have guests every day!

Although the chiminea was the major piece of construction, there was also some other work involved.  We removed the Ecuadorian laundry sink, built a small wall, added cabinetry to enclose the calaphon and propane tanks.  Roger installed some ceramic light fixtures to replace bare bulbs, ran gas line extensions to our indoor laundry and for the gas grill.  The entire courtyard also got some fresh paint and an electric fence was installed on the top of the wall for security.  After the container arrival, it was also quite a chore to mount our tiles on the concrete walls.   We got it all done, added some plants including a wall mounted orchid (a housewarming gift from local friends).  The storage area under the chiminea now regularly holds two to three bundles of well dried Ecualyptus for firewood and our courtyard is utilized almost every day!

The courtyard even has a breakfast nook we enjoy almost every morning!
.  The simple wooden table and chairs was our sole dining furniture 
for weeks while we awaited our container arrival.

From an early morning coffee and a breakfast that includes hummingbird guests to a late evening glass of wine in front of the roaring fire, the courtyard at Casa Yazell has become one of our favorite places to be.  It's yet another dream come true as we continue "juntos en el camino de la vida!"