Yesterday, we had a lunch date to meet Joe and Nora. This is our second home exchange in Cuenca where we will be living for the month of February. Joe suggested we meet at the Cuchara Magica (Magic Spoon) on Gran Columbia. Being early, we found the restaurant, but it was not between the cross streets that Joe had given us, nor was it across from the Hotel El Dorado as he mentioned. We were perplexed thinking it may a chain, we thought we may find another down the next two blocks. When we did not, we returned to where we were.
Looking around the restaurant, there is a magical ambiance with half a tree decorating one wall with lanterns hanging. If you happen to survey the rest of the surroundings, you will find decks of playing cards artfully stacked on a shelf over the bar and do wander in the next room to see the escape artist’s tank. Works of great traditional magicians decorate the walls including one famous Ecuadorian and of course, Houdini. As it turned out Cuchara Magica’s young owner is the son of the owner of the Raymipampa restaurant. Raymipampa owners are now in the second generation.
Joe and Nora then drove us to their apartment. We drove for what seemed like forever before getting there, but it may have been the one-way streets that made it seem eternal. They said it is a 20-minute walk to the city center. Being that we love walking twenty minutes is doable.
The apartment is HUGE by Ecuadorian standards. Joe told us it is 135 square meters or 1453.13 square feet. There is a living room/dining room combination with an open kitchen. The kitchen hosts a washer, dryer, and dishwasher. Down the hallway, you encounter three bedrooms, 3 ½ baths, but best of all, the building has an elevator. One of the four rivers in the city is the primary view out the windows; the gurgles of the running water can be heard creating a quite a soothing sound.
I have to say that Joe and Nora are more than gracious. We will live in their apartment for a month, but they are only planning to use ours for one to two weeks. Joe kept saying their “apartment is meant to be used”.
We are certainly going to miss where we are staying now and the people we met. Across town feels like cities away.
After being oriented and handed keys, they dropped us off at the Modern Art Museum. It was lovely with a great display. It reminded me of a California high school with a large open courtyard with entry directly into individual rooms from the outside. Not all salas were open, but those that were had interesting art.
Afterward, we walked to the park across the street. There were some trees in bloom with vibrantly yellow flowers. At one end of the park is a Belgium craft beer place where we stopped for a beer. They just opened 8 months ago. Next month, they will have different beers.
We walked home making it about half way when the rain came again. Still time, I had an umbrella.
It has been great fun and an adventure to cruise through the markets for our food and then coming back here to cook it. We have really stuck to basic recipes, so there has not been anything fancy. However, everything has had a special taste imbued by the surroundings.