Monday, March 09, 2015

Adiós Loja - Volver a Cuenca

On Friday night, we went the Loja Symphony Orchestra performance of works by Debussy, Beethoven, and Saint-Saëns. It was free entry and eventually it was packed. The conductor was a young woman from Europe who has won various awards as a conductor and had a list of accomplishments from around the world, as long as my arm.

Returning to the same theater on Saturday, there was a Women’s Dance Festival. Interestingly, the first performance was a 50-50 mix of men and women, all very youthful. Other presentations were
majority women, but others included men as well. After two hours, we skipped out. They charged $3 entry for this.

We were looking forward to this Loja stay. The description of our accommodation claimed it was a studio apartment in one area, but a one bedroom in another section. It is indeed one large room with a bed in the center of it. One of the best parts of our time here so far is having breakfast together each morning, sitting at the table. Here, the
table and chairs were not so giving.

The cooking area only has a gas stovetop, but no oven. For long-term stays, this really limits cooking options. There is no coffee maker, but a cloth sleeve used for making coffee; this is inefficient and not hygienic for multiple guests.

Neither the kitchen nor the bathroom has hot water taps.  The shower has the electric heating for water, but though brand new was not effective no matter how much playing with water pressure we tried.

Seeing the dog in the picture on AirBnB, we thought this was an added bonus. We love dogs and was
looking forward to having some doggie time. What we did not find out until our arrival was that there are three dogs. They are loose very early in the morning, barking continually until they are taken in at night or someone is paying attention to them. This made sleeping in later than 7am difficult.

James said the SuperMaxi supermarket was 10 minutes away, but we did a healthy pace walk there and it took us 35 minutes. We mostly did taxis to and from town, which cost $1.75 to $2 each way. Not a lot of money, but if you are coming and going during a day, it is a nuisance. I would rather have stayed closer to the downtown for easier access. We had the directions printed out for taxi
drivers as James said they would all know where the area and streets are located. Numerous times, we had to direct drivers who were totally clueless.

Sonia, the owner of the apartment we stayed in, claimed she could not get us a taxi by calling. We did succeed in getting one on our own. The driver had no idea where the shuttle place was, so Ron had to direct him. When he did not pay attention, we ran into major traffic, causing panic, thinking we would miss our shuttle.

The shuttle driver looked to be about 15 years old. He was so thin; his pants were hanging to his knees. His waist could not have been more than 24 inches. This is the person we risked with our lives
in order to return to Cuenca. Surprisingly, he was a good and safe driver. Being the drive was 4 hours, we stopped for lunch, which was a bladder blessing.

Prior to leaving Loja, we received this e-mail from our Cuenca accommodation.
“Dear Guest
We have your reservation.  We are waiting for you 8th 
Please let me know the aprox time of *Arrival,  by email or by phone. Dunia's personal number is 098886761
We offer a clean and orderly room when the new guest arrives to our hotel. 
For environmental reasons, we do not change sheets daily, 
We offer additional service room cleaning, if you need, please ask in reception
We have shared kitchen for guests
The breakfast is selfservice service
*To have these economic prices, we have a minimum Staff, for this reason we ask you the arrival hour, to wait for you.”

When we arrived, we immediately took a taxi to the Hostal a Casa Naranja. We arrived at 3:55pm. I had e-mailed her stating we would be there by 4pm. We rang the bell and stood outside the door for 45 minutes. No one answered. Ron had to go to a phone store to call the number given, but it went right to a message. After 45 minutes, we were tired of standing on the street with our luggage and found another hotel.

As it turned out, it was a redeeming feature. I found Hostal Colonial around the corner that was less expensive and included a simple breakfast. When I first went in to ask rates, I was told $50. This was $12 more than the hostel, but this place was open. When Ron arrived and the clerk looked the two of us, he asked “matrimonia”? We replied, why not? The price changed from $50 to $32. The place was clean, the room comfortable, and the staff was especially pleasing. As soon as we checked in, I Skyped to tell them what happened. They called the hostel and reported that the one staff member had an emergency, so had to leave before we arrived. I had them confirm, there would be no charges. Later I received this e-mail from the hostel.

“Dear dr Rayan James 
Unfortunately, we have no Staf all the time in casa naranja  for that reason we sent an email where we Ask  your arrival time. We will not charge you any fees. However you got an email saying that it has not been submitted to the hostel, this is just paperwork. I insist we do not charge any kind of fee.”

Frazzled, by 5:30 we were to meet Howard and Mike at their place. After a few false starts, guests who planned to visit them actually did arrive. They had other friends on two different occasions that planned on visiting and at the last minute cancelled out. It was fun to meet Richard and Michael. After a glass of wine and chatting, we moved on to Don Colon’s Restaurant. We had a delightful dinner, great company, a number of laughs and for Ron and the warm wonderful feeling of sharing time with Mike and Howard once again.

To work off dinner in a minimalistic way, we walked around the park. This was a prelude for having ice cream at the local shop. The guys walked us back to our hotel and we had long goodbye hugs.

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