Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cuenca, Ecuador for one year now and still loving it! Christmas & New Years 2013

Birthday's - Holiday parties - Christmas and New years! My one year anniversary in Cuenca and still loving it!

December 1st marked my first year living in this beautiful city of Cuenca, Ecuador. It also was my 64th birthday!

I am very happy also to still be friends with Bryan and his whole family! They are truly wonderful happy people and have been very accommodating to this ole' gringo.

The parties started on November 16th with Bryan's birthday, which we celebrated with his family and friends.

Bryan cutting up the cake 

Ana, me and Chino

It is always a good time when this crowd gets together, we danced to computer music, what ever happened to those disc players?

December 1st was next with a surprise birthday for me!

I had plans with some gringo friends to have dinner up on the hill in Turi at a great restaurant Fogo, but they called to cancel at the last minute.

 Ana showed up with a cake and Bryan with a Chef and a great catered dinner. Along with Bryan's family and my gringo friends we had a great night of fun and dancing!

We started the night with a great dinner by one of Cuenca's best Chefs.

Me with Val, Stephen, Geri and Juan

Then the dancing began

And lets not forget Debra's big 60 at La Esquina Restaurant, an excellent meal.

Well I had a 22 day break from celebrating until Stephen and Geri's Christmas party. Geri and Val spent a few days cooking and preparing for the party. Everything was delicious! 

The food included shrimp, deviled eggs by Val, bacon wrapped chicken, BBQ wieners, great Swedish meatballs and fantastic deserts.

Our friend Ronald tasting the deserts. Ronald is a great guy, he is in his 80's and has lived in Cuenca for 3 years. He is originally from Trinidad, but moved to NYC in the 50's. He also lived in Panama for awhile. One of the fun things about living in Cuenca is meeting people from everywhere and they all have unique life stories.

Here's Bryan filling up another plate while Sumana, Cuenca's food critic for Cuenca High Life is sampling the food in the background. Sumana is another interesting expat, originally from South Africa she has lived in the USA and Mexico. She has traveled extensively and has called Cuenca home for 7 years now.

Here is my new friend Jadwiga, newly relocated to Cuenca from Indiana. She is originally from Poland and is a retired educator who also speaks 7 languages.

Here's Geri relaxing with Stephen after many days of preparing for this great party.

  We can always count on Jimmy to bring young beautiful girls to a party with him.

Juan selecting the music on the computer while Roxy and Ana warm up for dancing. Another great party finally over at 2 am minus several bottles of wine and 3 bottles of whiskey!

Jimmy's annual Christmas Eve party

Only a couple of days had passed and off we went to Jimmy's for his Xmas party. Ana, who is Jimmy's sister prepared the dinner which was turkey and pork roast with great sauces. Christmas Eve dinner in Ecuador is served at 11 pm followed by handing out the presents. I really enjoy how much fun the kids have.

Jimmy with his family and their kids. I wanted a picture of them in front of the Xmas tree and they are, but can't see the tree! Ha!

Ana with her son-in-law and beautiful daughter! Guess where she gets that!

Me with Ana

Val with Stephen toasting to Holiday Cheer

Ana's grandson thanking me for his new truck.

Geri and Bryan dancing while Christian and Jimmy look on.

It was another great night of celebrating the Christmas Holidays, but we called it an early night, 1:30 am! Because the following Christmas day was dinner with Bryan's Mother, aunts and cousins on their farm outside of town.

Christmas day

Bryan's Mother, brother, two cousins and three Aunts live on the family farm about 20 minutes from Cuenca. From what I gather the land was purchased by their Grandfather in the 1930's and divided up between his family members.

They raise  organic chickens for the eggs, have cows for milk and grow corn. His Uncle who lived in the US for many years returned and built a beautiful two story house on the land. Guess while he is away the ladies of the house do the farm work, or even when he is here they all pitch in.

Bryan's brother and Mother picked me up for dinner about 7 pm and drove me out to the country.

Bryan's brother on the left, me, Bryan's Mother, Bryan and his three aunts and cousin.

Dinner was great! Prepared by Bryan, we had orange turkey, rice with a red wine sauce and a carrot salad.

Christmas dinner with the Vidal's was a real treat and I look forward to next year with them. And of course dinner at my house for all of you too!

Cuenca did have its usual Holiday parades downtown with over 60,000 people lining the streets. For great photos goggle Cuenca, Ecuador and click on images.

New years Eve 

It was time to bring in 2013 and about 9 pm we headed down the street to Stephen and Geri's condo, which being on the 11th floor facing downtown offered a great view of the fireworks at midnight and of course before.

Geri and Val prepared some great snacks, chicken wraps and shrimp! We watched the fireworks and the traditional burning of the dummies, which is Ecuadorians way of putting unpleasant times or people from the past year out of their minds and starting out the New Year on a positive note.

We brought in the New Years with a couple of bottles of champagne and enjoyed a fantastic display of fireworks. They really enjoyed it being they don't allow this kind of fireworks display in North Carolina where they lived.

Well its the end of one great year in my new home Cuenca, Ecuador. I am feeling much much better since my arrival here a year ago. Down 35 pounds and breathing much better. 2013 goal in minus another 20 pounds and the gym 3 times a week, plus my Rio walks 3 times a week. I seem to just sit around the condo on Sundays. Guess I deserve one day of doing nothing in a week.

I hope everyone had a great Holiday Season and that we all have a fantastic 2013!


  1. Loved reading this... wish I were there!!!!!! the "family of Ecuador is the best love u all suecq

    1. Sue,

      We wish you were here too! Everyone says Hi! And they want to know when you will return? My sister Wanda might come next year for a month! Enjoy your up coming cruise and take care of yourself!

  2. Gary... you have done a lot in just one years time. Good friends for some take a lifetime. You had new friends and family just by introducing yourself. Very cool. Have a great trip to the Amazon and maybe we will take a trip there once we are established... Stay well my friend. George

  3. WOW! Looks like you have made great friends. The food looks to kill for, how did you lose that much weight eating like that. You LOOK spoiled. Congrats on the move and many move Christmas partys to follw. Keep in touch.

    1. Lots of walking and the FOX gym! I have not been to so many parties all in one month for years! I think I am still in recovery.
      I also enjoy keeping up with you on FB!

  4. Gary:

    I will be coming to Ecuador in Sept 2013 and Cuenca 10th, leaving the 13th in AM. I'm comng from No CA to check out retiring in Ecuador and would love to be able to chat with you while in the area.

    I'm not on FB, so can only communicate via email. Let me know.


    1. Sharon,

      Just let me know when you are here and we can meet for coffee.