Saturday, January 14, 2012

Retired in Cuenca, Ecuador - Road trip to Gualacco and furnishing my apartment!

I was very happy to have found a great condo within just a week and for now I would to stay at Marcia's, until I could find some furniture.
And being it was Sunday and everything is closed I was invited by Jimmy, Bryan and Mayra to go with them to a small Village, Gualaceo. It was a short 22 mile bus ride east of Cuenca for 50c each way, it was nice to get out of the city.
Cuenca turned out to be bigger then I had imagined about 600,000 people and lots of traffic! Amazing enough as crazy as they drive here I have not seen one accident. And I understand in order to get a drivers license here you must go to driving school for two weeks and then pass a written test. I am happy enough for now to leave the driving to them. And with buses being 25c - half price if you are over 65 and taxi fare around $2-$3 to get to centro or across town it  is cheaper not to have a car here.
When we arrived to Gualaceo we made it to the Centro Market where most of the Village go to eat on Sundays.

When you arrive to the Market just outside you will find people roasting whole pigs, chickens, calf's, Argentina style and the countries favorite guinea pigs! Think I will pass on those for now!
Inside the market are lots of food concessions serving a variety of different dishes and they all call out to you to eat with them. We decided on some roasted pig.

                   Mayra's daughter Pulpo (octopus) Domenica!

This women did not know how old she was but knew she wanted $1 for the photo!

                           And another $1 for the three of us!

Before our ride back to Cuenca we stopped by the Rio Santa Barbara

                      Mayra with the youngest daughter Bianca.

And we made it back to the Bus just in time for a down pour!

    And crudo Jimmy in need of a cold cerveza on the ride home!

Well it is Monday and as usual Bryan arrives at Marcia's early so we can get started looking for furniture. First I need a bed so we dropped by a store that Mayra had suggested and after trying out several mattresses I picked the softest one of course.
The salesman at the store never stopped talking the whole time we were there but Bryan managed to get in a word or two about the price. After it was all done I ended up with a pillow top bug resistant mattress and box springs, headboard and two bedside tables for around $600. They did deliver the bed the next day but the furniture is a whole different story!

Here is the store keeper still talking! I told him that I needed a sofa, dining room table and chairs. A computer desk and two TV stands, I even showed him drawings and what size they should be. But he just kept talking and showing us a list of furniture he could have made along with very high prices. I finely told Bryan just to have him bring what we had agreed on and that would be all we need from him! About three weeks later instead of one week here comes the rest of the bedroom furniture. Not what we had agreed on, so I sent it back and a couple of hours later I got what we agreed on. Lucky for me this was the only business guy I had a problem with.

Now I have a place to sleep and I even brought my own sheets! Because I read that quality sheets are expensive so I packed a set of 800 threat count sheets from Walmart! And glad I did, can't get 800 threat count here and other good quality sheets are over $200.

So off we went to see Jimmy at the appliance store where he works to purchase a stove, refrigerator, washer/dryer, microwave and a TV.
Jimmy gave me a great deal, accepted a US check and delivered the same day. Anyone looking to buy appliances here let me know and I will hook you up with Jimmy, he will give you the lowest prices in town.

I did buy a made in Ecuador refrigerator for $800 instead of a much more expensive US brand and same with the microwave which is much higher here at $145 but all come with warranty!

Washer and Dryer: Whirlpool made in the USA $850! And it is so great to have them instead of trips down to the Rio to wash the clothes! Ha! I always see clothes drying in the sun on the grass along the river.

And a small four burned stove for $250 and a new fan hood for $140 wasn't bad! The stove, dryer and hot water tank are propane which cost about $5 a month to operate and the water bill is around $6 a month. Electricity runs about $22 a month.

I love the view from the kitchen and have lots of light shinning in all day!

And the LG 42" TV was $1050! Much higher here then the US.

And now I am moved in and sleeping great on my very comfortable bed!

In order to get cable and Internet here you must have a National Bank account and in order for an Expat to get one we need our Cedula's ( Residency Card). The reason being is they set up the monthly bills as auto deduct from your account. So for now I will use Bryan's Bank account.
And Internet runs $26 a month and it is pretty fast and I have had not problems with it so far!

Now that I have kitchen appliances to cook on its time for a trip to Coral to buy dishes and pots n' pans. Coral is a large store like Walmart. There are two of them here so we went to the one at the new Mall Del Rio, which is like walking into most US Malls complete with KFC and Burger King and lots of clothing stores, offering lots of skinny clothes! Hard to find Gringo sizes here, if you are planning to move here be sure to bring lots of clothes with you and a couple of sizes smaller is advised if you are a large Gringo like me! Just being at 8400 feet contributes to a lose of appetite and walking here seems to burn off lots of calories. And consuming organic fresh fruits, vegetables and meats is a plus!


Now that the kitchen is complete we took a walk through El Centro and stopped by a furniture store and found a dining room set and a sofa I liked at a reasonable price. It is hard to find furniture here that is already made that doesn't cost a fortune! Turns out this   one furniture store is a family business and Bryan knows the owner, so his son Wilson took us home along with his meter stick and he looked over my drawings and took measurements.
Back at the store we or should I say Bryan haggled prices and we agreed on $1900 for everything. I wrote them a US check and three hours they delivered the dining room set and sofa. They said it would take a week to make the other things including a chair to match the sofa. It did take two weeks but the furniture was even better then I expected.

And now still looking around for paintings, wall hangings and some throw rugs!

Until next time! Buenos Dias!


  1. I liked this update...YOur place is looking
    sensational! How does the altitude affect your
    asthma? Well thanks, and keep on sending your
    Oh and one more question, do they have Time Share there? lol

  2. No Time-Share sales here but the are a coule of Resorts you can trade into on the Beach.
    My asthma is about the same! When I first got here I had to climb up five flights of stairs to Jimmy's apartment and had to stop five times to get my breath, but last time I made it up all the way without stopping! If I continue losing weight and walking I will be just great up here.
    Please excuse my mis-spelling, even with spell check I manage to get it wrong. Still that dyslectic thing going on after all these years! Ha!

  3. Hello Gary,

    Tay here from Texas. Just discovered your blog via South of Zero, and had read the interview with you on GringosAbroad. I'd like to thank you for your information and beautiful photos. I appreciate the upbeat tone of your writing, and I will add your blog to others I read on Ecuador. Thank you.

  4. Yo, Gary!

    It's Scott, again. You're really freaking me out with this talk of altitude. Do you find it that hard to breathe? I spent a year in Gardez, Afghanistan (approx. 8400 ft.) and I struggled to breathe the entire time. I had forgotten about it until I read your blog! Might have to consider another location. What a shame. Your place looks beautiful and I've already done a significant amount of research on the area!


  5. 8460 ft. here - 21% less oxygen! Yes I do get winded easily up here, stop for breathers often. Some people can't take the altitude here. Low humidity though average 40 percent.

  6. There is nothing cheap about any of the furniture you bought. I shop thrift and second hand stores and did my whole house for under $2000.

    1. It's not the best wood and it is varnished, but I am happy with it and satisfied with the custom pieces as well.