Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fundacion Amauta -- my Spanish school in Cuenca

Once we knew that we were going to stay in Ecuador, I decided that it was time to learn some Spanish.  I asked our friend, Cathy Vicente, for a recommendation, and she suggested that I go to Amauta.  About 10 weeks ago I signed up for classes there -- three days a week, an hour a day, $8 an hour.  I like going to school there a great deal; in Spanish, "me encanta Amauta!"

The school is in the el Centro district of Cuenca.  (There are branches in Quito, Manta, and Montanita, as well.)

The school offers other activities as well -- on Tuesday afternoons, for example, they have salsa lessons.

The interior of the building is lovely.

When you walk in, you see this.

Here is the second floor.

This is a view from the bottom floor up to the skylight.

There is a kitchen area, with coffee, tea, and water available.  It is here that I first tried toronjil tea.  If you get the chance, try it!

The people here are warm and gracious.  They are very patient with me -- languages are not my strong suit, but I talk and they correct me, and I learn. 

This is Lily, who runs the place.

This is Tatiana, my first teacher and now my teacher again.  My second teacher, Adriana, was not there today when I took these pictures.

For more information

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New blog site.

Orginally this blog was started to keep friends and family updated on what we are up to in Ecuador and to that end it has worked well. As our new life unfolds and the Alphadog part of this family starts to get in gear it has become appearant that building projects will take over the forum and dominate the intended purpose of the blog - isn't that what a man does ?

In an attempt to keep that from happening and boring our friends and family to death, I will put most of the information about construction details on another blog ( ). If you're interested in this kind of stuff - check it out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A warm sunny day in LaPaz.

With the dry season coming the days in the mountains of southern Ecuador are becoming a lot clearer and warmer as a result. It is as close to perfect weather as I have ever experienced. The views of the landscape are just amazing, everywhere. We have been all over the place and once you get out of the cities life improves dramatically.

We have been working on the property in La Paz two days a week for a while now and have made some progress but it will soon be time to put more effort into getting things squared away for our move to La Paz in 7 months.

I was played out the other day, so Barb had to take over digging in the driveway. I really should have had a dozer clear the driveway but Barbara only has about 150 feet to go. She has picked out the final house site - I've given her such a hard time about it I'll be surprised if she tells me where it is.

On the lighter side of life, I have finally done it. I knew I would do it at some point in time, it was just a matter of time. Now that I have done it, I am not sure what to do about it. I bought a circular saw with a 20mm arbor and now I can't find a blade to fit it. I have had such good luck with tools here I never even thought about blades, there are all kinds of blades at every hardware store. That is true but the mounting holes are all 7/8th or 5/8th. In a world of meteric tools american standard saw blades.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Final site location - until it changes.

Barb has been  working on the house site now for a couple of days. Good southern exposure, the creek runs right behind it and there is access to power. It's within a hundred yards of the old adobie house on the property so there is an established pasture just to the south on a flat before the valley.
This is a view from the site looking due south. It's a nice site but I saw her heading into the brush north of here yesterday afternoon - from the driveway ( where I am working ) I can see everything to the south for miles.I think she maybe looking for a new location but won't say anything until she is sure.

I talked to her yesterday about her selection for a house site and how it won't be carved in stone until I bring in a dozer or backhoe to do the clearing. I have to add on to the guest house before I start the house, so she has a good 3 months to decide.

Another week or two and the driveway will be done, then the front gate and awhile on the addition to the guest house.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The start of the site selection.

Well, we've been working on the property and Barb has decided to start clearing what she thinks is the house site. She walks the southern half of the land, stops at a spot, looks around and thinks - this would be a good spot for the house. She has done this proceedure a half dozen times, I kinda hate to tell her the other half of the property is north of where she has been scouting for a house site. She is out there on hands and knees cutting brush with a pair of lopers - before it's done she will change her mind.

My task of clearing the driveway is slow going so I took a little break yesterday to see how hard the digging is going to be for the footers on the addition to the guest house.
That is some pretty nice looking dirt. I don't think we will have any trouble growing stuff here. The grass around the addition and the southern half of the property is Tussock grass as opposed to the 6 foot razor grass in the driveway and the northern half of the property - the difference being the composition of the soil.

We are still trying to get a transformer set on the pole 100 feet from the guest house, I suspect it will take as long as our residency paperwork did, with ever changing requirements and no one knowing anything about it. The project will progress, with or without electricity, someday when we least expect it they will show up to do the work.

On the Cuenca front - everything is good in Cuenca, Barb is getting pretty good at this spanish stuff. I have to take her with me to the hardware store to translate, there are some things that pointing won't get. Barbs cat is growing like a weed and is turning into quite a handsome lady.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Here we go

In the last two weeks I have made a half dozen day trips to LaPaz, to scout out supplies for the eventual building project on the property there. The hold up has been getting all the legal stuff done on our Ecuadorian residency - and now it is finally done.

When we visited here back in September of 2010, we were assured of a 10 day completion time on our papers provided we got all our proof documents apostiled in the U.S. before we came back to Ecuador. We did and even sent the, now official papers and document ahead of our departure from the U.S. so they could get a jump on the process. The day after we came back to Ecuador we visited our lawyer and were told everything was in order and the process would be complete in 2 weeks, no more. Now that the process is complete, I can tell you the process took exactly 6 months, no less. The moral of the story is this - the law doesn't change here but the administration of the law changes daily. Sometimes you get lucky and things work out - when we bought the car here it took 45 minutes, taxes, tags, registration and title - done. When I bought the land in LaPaz it took 2 days from the time I said I want it, to the time I was handed a clear title and water rights to the property. Things are done a little differently here but it has nothing to do with who you know or some other factors that are widely claimed, it has to do with who is messing around with the processing of the law.

Now that, that is all cleared up I can get down to business. The driveway to the house site on the LaPaz property is about a quarter mile long and grown up with razor grass about 6 feet tall.
The stuff with the fluffy heads is the grass I have to cut down with hedge clippers, then dig the roots up with a pick and hoe. I've got it about half done, a bull dozer would come in handy about now.

This is a view from the driveway looking due south. On a clear day there are a half dozen mountain ranges in the background. Once the driveway is cleared out and I can get some sand, gravel, steel and blocks delivered I can start on the Guest House. It really feels good to be working again.