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 Hotels.com 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.