Settling In

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
El Barranco Apartment

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, April 26, 2012

Having finally sorted out our six month visa, we're now back in Cuenca.  Our apartment is right on the River Tomebamba, near the famous steps up to the old town.  The views across to the Caja mountains are breathtaking, with rain clouds swirling down from their peaks towards the town.  We've had a lot of rainy days lately and it's been getting cold at night, but luckily the mornings have usually been ok and we've been able to get out and walk around the city again.

Most of last week was taken up with house hunting; four hours or so every day, checking out various apartments of all shapes and sizes, but none of which really hit the spot.  Apart from one which had spectacular, panoramic views to the Cajas but which was priced at $165k which was just a little bit too expensive for us.

On one of our walks we spotted a first floor apartment with a 'for sale' sign in the window and, having already told our agent of another apartment for sale in the same block, she managed to get us in to see the first floor property the next day.  It has a lovely big lounge area, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen and lovely terrace which runs down the side of the property.  It was the best we'd seen and the great thing was that while it was on a fairly busy road, the river runs by just across the road and behind are the Inca ruins!  We've put an offer in for the place and found that the owner is presently living in the UK and so were able to negotiate without the help of our agent.  We agreed a price and are now in the process of becoming property owners here in Ecuador.  Exciting!

The process of purchasing a house here is very different from either the UK or Australia and is comparatively quick, some four weeks or faster if there are no problems.  We've found a really good lawyer, Nelson and his wife Grace, who are working on the purchase, carrying out searches and when the property purchase is completed, will then organise our residency for us.  Grace speaks really good English and translates for Nelson, although I'm sure he also understands much of what is being discussed.  It's a real family affair and Nelson's sister Priscilla is also involved in the business, acting as a co-ordinator/facilitator for those of us coming to Ecuador who are unable to manage the language too well.  Priscilla went with us yesterday and assisted us in opening a bank account, quite easy with help but we'd have struggled if we'd tried to do it on our own

We've also started looking around at furniture and kitchen equipment; we've found some really shops that are offering really good discounts for cash and one electrical appliance shop in the centre has given us an amazing deal if we purchase everything from him.  We also found a furniture shop with some stylish pieces but they also make to order, I provide the picture and dimensions if possible, and they then provide a quote to make the furniture here in the city.  The prices they quoted for ready made furniture was very competitive and we'll probably go back to them for most of our immediate needs. 

Items I've not found yet include saucepans with handles!  All the pots and pans (apart from frying pans) have the little grab handles, not the long handles I'm used too, but the search continues!  We went by bus to the Feria Libre last Saturday; the place is as big as four or five soccer pitches put together and goes for miles and miles, little alley ways leading from shoes to clothes, mobiles, vegetables, fruit, meat and fish.  At the back there's also an area where they sell woven baskets and wooden ladels, plus there's an area selling all sorts of animals, cats, dogs, chickens and I even spotted turkeys and guinea fowl.  It's an amazing place to wander around for a few hours.

There's a good supermarket nearby that sells a lot of western food, but I've not found any pickles or chutneys.  So I've attempted to make my own and although I say it myself, it's amazing!  I bought tomatoes, apples, raisins and onions plus some cider vinegar, and sugar, cut everything up and cooked it for a while; it's tangy and really tasty.

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