Monday, June 27, 2011

Where Have All The Dollars Gone?

After a long and not very comfortable overnight flight to Guayaquil, an exceptionally long wait to process through immigration and customs, a short flight to Cuenca and a short taxi ride to our hotel we exited our cab and stepped into a gray, drizzly day. But I got my first pleasant surprise. I asked the cabbie how much I owed him and couldn't understand his reply but thought he said $15 so I gave him a $20. He shook his head and pointed at a five dollar bill I had. He accepted that and gave me a large silver coin and two old smaller bronze looking ones. I gave him the silver coin for a tip and he seemed happy.

Then I got to wondering, they use United States currency, what were the coins? Well, the two bronze looking ones I had were old dollar coins, the ones with the Indian lady on them. The silver one I gave him must have been a fifty-cent piece. I guess Ecuador is where all the coins we never see in the United States end up.

Oh, and the first pleasant surprise, the taxi-ride from the airport was just $2.50, including the tip. Can't beat that. You can take a taxi anywhere in town for only $1.50 and the bus is only twenty-five cents.

There were more pleasant surprises to come. The hotel staff came out and got our bags and hauled them up to our rooms and the hotel manager, Roberto, showed us around. The hotel is a lovely old place too.

Casa Ordonez
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Our hotel is two stories and we were assigned two rooms on the second floor, kind of at the end of a hall and making up two sides of a cozy little sitting area.

Our Cozy Little Sitting Area
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It even had a fairly large screen television, although I haven't tried it yet. I wasn't able to get the one in my room to work, but I think that is because I don't understand the controls.

All The Comforts Of Home
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And the rooms themselves are quite nice. The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I got the slightly larger one that has a desk and a little settee or whatever you call them. And a nice old bed with a down comforter.

Our Room
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After we got settled in a bit we went around the block to a lovely restaurant for a delicious and inexpensive lunch. It cost $80 for the three of us, but that was with a $29 bottle of wine and included and unnecessarily large tip.

GODA Restaurant, The Metal Menu
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I opted to have an octopus salad that was served on a half a papaya. Now normally I do not care for papaya, but the ones here are exceptionally sweet and don't have that slight smell of vomit that I associate with them.

Me And My Salad
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I also had a very good fish cerviche to go with it.

The Combo Special, Bar Man style
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The Mysterious Ones both opted to have the paella, and quite a dish that turned out to be.

More Than They Bargained For
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For desert the Mysterious Ones had a creme bulee and I opted for a peppermint chocolate martini.

Me And My Martini
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Now before you get all excited and accuse me of violated my standards regarding martinis, this was strictly an ice-cream desert served in a large martini glass. And it was quite delicious.

And again, without the wine and unnecessary tip we are talking about a bit over $40 for the three of us. Still, more than the $7 we paid for lunch for the three of us today, and that included a beer. But you will have to wait until tomorrow to check that out.

Then, after not getting much sleep on the plane and because it was still kind of gloomy we headed back to our hotel for a nap. The sound of gunshots woke us up later in the afternoon and we found out there is a week-long festival of some sort taking place at a park about two blocks away. And they weren't gunshots, just fireworks. We headed over there and took a stroll around. The rain had stopped and it was just pleasantly cool.

The festival seemed to be primarily food vendors, mostly selling sweets. There were also some people selling handicraft items, a couple of jugglers, and some comedy skits going on as well. Everyone seemed to be having a grand old time.

Pictures Of The Festival
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The Mysterious Ones want to go exploring a bit so I need to quickly take a shower before we head out. We did have a nice complimentary breakfast this morning: a bowl of fruit, papaya and pear, a glass of passion fruit juice, fresh cruousiants, scrambled eggs, and most excellent coffee.

And, of course, I shall have more to post about today's adventures. So far everything except the weather has been great. But then we are up in the mountains and cool weather with frequent showers is kind of the norm here. And, because we are much nearer to the equator than at home the days are pretty much the same length all year around so it gets darker earlier here now than back in Brooklyn. The sun comes up shortly after six in the morning and goes down a bit after six at night.

This hotel has free wireless internet service, so that is nice. Also, I bought a Logitech keyboard/case combination for my iPad which has made my life much easier when it comes to posting the blogs and doing my email. I got the Zagg and it doesn't add much size or weight to the iPad. Although the keyboard is smaller than standard, I don't seem to have any problems with it.