Friday, August 26, 2011

Dental Care in Cuenca

Dental care in Cuenca is excellent, but you need to shop around, not only for the best dentist, but for prices.

Mark chipped his tooth last month which meant he needed a root canal and a crown! We did the Ecuadorian thing and got three “presupuestos” (estimates) regarding the cost. It was rather sobering to find out that the price tags varied considerably ($200 to $1,200).

August is not a month when you want to have something go wrong—especially in the dental department. Just like Europe, August is a month reserved for vacations and that means your regular dentist may not be around!

It’s comforting to know that dentistry is more modern than you might imagine. All the offices that Mark visited had ultra-modern equipment, including a flat screen TV that allowed you to watch your dental work being performed or you could switch “channels” and watch your favorite TV program, movie or just listen to music. In the States, I just got to listen to the sound of the drill, which wasn’t all that comforting.

After gaining information, getting recommendations from friends (Ecuadorian and American), we chose Dr. Richard Rodriguez who is located in the Monte Sinai Consultorio (Suite 611). Dr. Rodriguez specializes in dental aesthetics (cosmetic dentistry), but provides a full array of dental procedures, including root canals. He has an entire team, including an endodontist that performs root canals or more complicated procedures.

Today Mark received his permanent crown and the final result is absolutely perfect! And the cost was one-tenth of what we would have paid in the States. Dr. Rodriquez and his staff are friendly, personable and extremely competent.

If you’re looking for a dentist, we highly recommend Dr. Rodriguez.

Until next time…keep smiling!

Dr. Richard Rodriguez A.
Estetica Dental
Av. Solano y Miguel Cordero
Monte Sinai Consultorio, #611
Cuenca, Ecuador
Phone: 245-5483

Technorati Tags: dentists in Cuenca, Ecuador, endodontists, dental aesthetics. root canals, dental aesthetics
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Birthdays in Cuenca

Mark says I’m the only person he knows that can stretch a birthday into two months (or more!). I think he’s exaggerating a tad bit, but I have to say it started last month (middle of July) and it’s still continuing!

I’m in good company because there are more birthdays in the month of August than any other month (says Hallmark Greeting Cards). And I think that trend is continuing with all the pregnant tummies I’ve seen around Cuenca (including our neighbor—due any second). It's a girl ('s a secret).

My family started sending packages last month, which was a wonderful surprise. They sent a “coastal care package” which came in handy for our trip to the Puerto Lopez (beach bag, Bath and Body products and new clothes). And we celebrated my 56 candles at the Mandala with coconut ice cream instead of cake!

The one and only coconut ice cream Mandala style!

Recently we went out to the Victoria Hotel (El Jardin Restaurant) for a dinner with friends. Leeann and John are here for a month overseeing construction on their new home and it was their third anniversary, so we made it a grand celebration. Jim and Selene coordinated with the restaurant to have a cake with three candles delivered to our table for a combined birthday/anniversary celebration! By the way, if you want a lovely place to enjoy a special occasion, El Jardin is the place. The restaurant has a gorgeous view of the Barranco area (window seating) and the service is impeccable, complete with servers wearing suits, ties, and white gloves! The last time anyone served me with white gloves was on our 25th wedding anniversary cruise ten years ago.

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Leeann and John!

Hotel Victoria on Calle Larga
 And then yesterday, the security guard stopped me and said, “Tengo un sobre para Usted!” (I have an envelope for you!). It was actually a package/envelope with memories of my Paris trip two years ago with my dear friend, Katerina. She even included a new Bath and Body fragrance “Paris Amour.” Can you tell we’re lacking Bath & Body products here in Cuenca? If someone wants to start a franchise in Ecuador, I’ll be your best customer!

Dos Amigas: "Katerina & Concetta"

We don't have the Eiffel Tower in Cuenca, but we have the Church of Turi all lit up at night!

Oh, the Paris pastries....(but Cuenca comes pretty close).

Later this week friends are taking us to the Yunguilla Valley for more celebrating and dinner at Bambu. Since Mark starts teaching “full-time” at CEDEI in September, we’re trying to get in as much celebrating as possible. Lots of blog readers are in town this month and more are due to arrive in September…so let the festivities continue.

Maybe this will be the year that I celebrate my birthday all year long!

Until next time…hasta luego!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Iguana Park

Parque Seminario is often overlooked on a visit to Guayaquil, but I suggest that you don’t miss it. My little critter friends will be waiting for you at the Iguana Park!

Right across the street from the park is “Catedral de Guayaquil” (Cathedral of Guayaquil), which is simply breathtaking with its graceful spires. You can catch some of the history of Guayaquil, see a statue of Simon Bolivar or play with the iguanas in the park.

The iguanas hang from trees, sunbathe in the middle of the sidewalk, and even pose for pictures—if you ask! The only thing you can’t do is feed the little creatures. As tempting as it might be, they are well cared for by the “park rangers” who don’t take kindly to the fact that you want to share your ham sandwich with them.

The park and the cathedral were all decked out with wreaths and flowers when we were there (July 25th) which was “Founder’s Day” for Guayaquil. It wasn’t great timing on our part to be “alone” with the iguanas, but they didn’t seem to mind all the fanfare, crowds and parades.

Iguanas blend in so well with their surroundings that they can sometimes creep up on you, so be sure to watch your step!

Until next time…hasta luego!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Riding the Bus -- Ecuadorian Style!

Cuenca Bus Terminal
We’ve received a lot of e-mails during the past two weeks regarding our trip to the coast and (specifically) how we got there. Most expats prefer to take a van to their destination; however, I’m slightly claustrophobic and like the idea that I can stand up, move around and use the restroom. We decided to take the bus!

The cost from Cuenca to Guayaquil was $8.00 and with that price we enjoyed comfortable reclining seats, his and her bathrooms, free movies, free snacks and air-conditioning. Of course, we rode on one of the newer buses (Super Semeria), but there are a lot to choose from. Our favorite seat was the “bulkhead” seat with a spiral staircase down to the bathroom. It was like riding in first class!

Many folks wanted to know how we got from Cuenca to Puerto Lopez. The bad news is there are no direct “flights,” so you will have some bus transfers. You only need a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish to get around in bus terminals, so don’t let that stop you. The good news: it’s probably better than any recent flight you have taken!
Guayaquil Bus Terminal

Here’s what we did:

Cuenca to Guayaquil via Super Semeria (newer bus line). Cost: $8.00. The San Luis bus line is also nice. We went to the “terminal terrestre” in Cuenca, bought our ticket and we were on our way in 15 minutes. Buses leave every 20 to 30 minutes to Guayaquil. Total travel time: 3-1/2 hours.

The “terminal terrestre” in Guayaquil is a modern three-story building with a food court, including McDonalds and Sweet and Coffee (Ecuador’s version of Starbucks), and a shopping mall! Since we were there for the July 25th holiday, there were a variety of bands playing. You must buy your tickets on the first floor and they will direct you to your designated gate.

Shopping Mall at Bus Terminal in Guayaquil

Terminal in Guayaquil

Terminal Terrestre -- Guayaquil

Movie on Board the Bus

In Guayaquil we hopped on a bus to Jipijapa (cost $3.50). Again, another great “flight”; I slept most of the way, but I do remember going through a lot of sugarcane fields before I nodded off. Total time: 3 hours.

At Jipipapa, which is a much smaller bus terminal, you can catch a bus to Puerto Lopez (cost $1.50) and it took us approximately one hour and 15 minutes, including stops to pick up a few folks along the way and a crate of baby chicks despite the warning sign “no animals” on the bus.

Once you arrive in Puerto Lopez, there is no bus station, but all the buses seem to congregate on the same street. We took a mototaxi to our hotel “Hosteria Mandala” which was $1.00. Puerto Lopez is a small fishing village that makes its living on fish and tourists, so if you go during the months of June through October, the town will be booming with folks from around the world to see the humpback whales. Puerto Lopez is the jumping-off point for Isla de la Plata (Poor Man’s Galapagos) and Los Frailes. There’s a lot to do in the area, including Agua Blanca, Isla Salango and the Machalilla National Park. 
Hampton Inn in Guayaquil

The return trip was basically the same route: Puerto Lopez to Jipijapa and then Jipijapa to Guayaquil and back to Cuenca. We broke up our trip by spending the night in Guayaquil at the Hampton Inn which put us a view blocks from the Malecon (boardwalk). You can, however, do it all in one day, but it might put you in Puerto Lopez after dark and if you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing, it might not be your best option. Of course, there are other ways to get to Puerto Lopez (Ruta Del Sol – coastal highway route). It tends to be a bit more scenic as you will be traveling along the coast, but it’s about an hour and half longer.

My favorite part of the bus ride was going through the Cajas Mountains from Cuenca to Guayaquil. Be forewarned that there are two ways to get to Guayaquil and you definitely want to take the Cajas route and not the Riobamba route. If you tend to get “car” sick, then be sure to take Dramamine or the Ecuadorian version (Mareol).
Cajas Mountains
Happy trails to you!

Until next time...hasta luego!

Technorati Tags: Guayaquil, Puerto Lopez, Los Frailes, terminal terrestre, Malecon
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Under Construction!

It’s hard not to notice all the new condos under construction in Cuenca. We live on the north side of town (Gringolandia) and new buildings are cropping up all over the place. If you miss a week, it’s already built (almost!).

When I walk Mocha we usually head to our usual place along the river, but sometimes we venture down some of the side streets and I have to wonder, “Where did all these buildings come from?”

Last week, there was a flyer in the newspaper which listed all the new construction sites that now offer financing over a ten-year period. Some of the buildings I was familiar with (like the Rosenthanl), but the others I had no idea where they were located.
One of the questions I receive a lot is: “Should we rent or buy?” I really can’t answer that one for you! As long as our rent stays at $200 a month, we’ll be renters. Over a year’s time, it ends up being about as much as the price tag for my root canal back in the States. And we enjoy not having to take care of all the problems, like the leaky faucet that happened today. In ten minutes, the Oro Verde plumber was on our doorstep fixing it. Our cost: zero dollars. For once in our life, we’re enjoying not having to pay for all the “fixins”!

For those of you who would like to invest, there are a lot of opportunities. Some of the larger projects like “Las Praderas de Bemani” are entire communities within a community. And the building projections look a tad bit like a university campus. I’m partial to the Old Cuenca, so I’m slightly disappointed that “urban sprawl” has started to take over. It’s almost as if the architect handed out plans in small, medium, large and “super-size” it!

Here’s a partial list of what’s “constructing” in Cuenca:
Las Praderas de Bemani: Click here to see YouTube "virtual showing."



La Verbena: Houses (3 and 4 bedrooms); Condos (1, 2 and 3 bedrooms); 30 percent down and 70 percent financed.

Condominio Orillas de Yanuncay: Av. 27 de Febrero. Information: 09-005-9385 or 08-551-7801.

Rivera del Carmen:

Edificio Asturias: Starting at $42,000 (one bedroom, one bath); 25 condos, 7 penthouses, six suites (four floors), parks, shops, centralized gas, elevator and common area. Av. Iro de Mayo y Av. de las Americas. Tel: 09-849-3868.

Some of the projects are so new, they don’t have websites yet: Conjunto Miravalle, Torres Alhambra, Terrazas del Parque, Edificio Los Fresnos, and Edificio El Ejido. As more information is available, I’ll pass it on.

Construction is part of the landscape of Cuenca and I’m afraid that it’s not going away! The good news: you’ll have a lot of choices when you arrive.

Until  next time...hasta luego!

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