Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Courtyard Tour

We cover lots of stuff in this day in the life video. Amelia will show you how to cook a veganized version of a traditional Ecuadorian dish called Locro de Papa Soup and I’ll give you a tour of our Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Courtyard. I’ll also explain how hot water and trash pickup work in Ecuador, and show you an example of door-to-door sales.

I also painstakingly translated the Cuenca song played by the gas trucks. You can find both the Spanish and English lyrics below.

Plant-Based Locro de Papa Soup

For lunch, Amelia made us some Locro de Papa Soup. This is a traditional Ecuadorian dish that’s usually made with dairy milk and a bland white cheese. Amelia veganized it by replacing the cheese with tofu and the milk with almond (or soy) milk. You can find the full recipe on our sister plant-based recipe website:

Vegan Locro de Papa Soup

When we first came to Ecuador on our exploratory trip, we ate Locro at a restaurant thinking it was vegan. The waiter assured us there were no animal products in it. We later learned that we needed to be more specific because lots of people in Ecuador don’t think of milk, eggs, cheese or fish as animal products; just mammal meat.

We’ve been told that none of the cheese in Ecuador has much flavor. The cheese in the soup we had was so plain and bland, we thought for sure it was tofu. It had no cheese flavor whatsoever, which is why tofu makes such a good substitute in this dish.

If you make this recipe, please let us know what you think in the comments!

Hot Water, Trash Pickup and Door-to-Door Sales in Ecuador

Lots of things Americans take for granted work quite differently here in Ecuador.

Cuenca Gas Delivery (It’s Propane)

Cuenca Gas Truck Song Lyrics English Translation

Ecuador doesn’t use natural gas for energy. Rather, propane is used for hot water, ovens, stoves and heaters. Delivery trucks drive through the neighborhoods playing music like ice cream trucks do back in the States. The propane trucks used to honk their horns instead of playing music, and some still do.

For those who are curious about the words in the song played by the gas trucks, I pieced together an English translation of the Cuenca Gas Truck Song Lyrics (Cuenca’s Anthem)…

Propane Tanks

If you have an empty tank and you hear the music, you run out of the house as fast as you can to wave them down. They bring in the new tank (which is VERY heavy) and remove the empty one. We have a couple of spare tanks so we never run completely out.

As of January 2019, one tank costs $2.50. A hot water tank lasts about 2 to 3 weeks for two people (without a dishwasher). We replace the oven/stove tank about once every 2 to 3 months. That means we spend about $7 to $10 per month on propane (we’ll do a full cost of living review in a future video).

Having propane tanks for hot water is a big pain when you’re in the middle of taking a shower and your tank runs out! Amelia just yells downstairs to me and I go change it, but I’m not so lucky. I have to get out of the shower, dry off, get dressed, go outside, change the tank, and then resume my shower…usually accompanied by lots of profanity. ???

On-Demand Hot Water: Calefones

Our oven and stove have their own propane tank. The tanks in the video and the photo above are only for the hot water heater, which is called a calefon. All the hot water heaters that we’ve seen in Ecuador are on-demand; they don’t have hot water tanks like we’re accustomed to in the States.


We lived in our rental house for over a year with really poor hot water. Sometimes it was hot; most of the time it was warm. We had a plumber look at the calefon, but his advice was to install a bigger one, but we didn’t want to deal with that hassle or expense. Eventually, the calefon broke completely and the plumber who came to repair it showed me how it worked.

When you turn on the hot water, the water flows through the calefon creating pressure on a little rubber plunger that pushes a pin up, which opens the gas flow. The amount of hot water pressure affects the volume of gas and the size of the flame.

In our calefon, that rubber plunger had a tear in it, which caused a reduction in the pressure on the pin and a lower flame to heat the water. That’s why we had such poor hot water for a year!

Eventually, the tear in the plunger grew so large that it no longer pushed up the pin to trigger the flame so we had no hot water at all. Now that the rubber plunger has been replaced, we have truly hot water and it’s a glorious thing!

The rubber plunger part cost $8 and the labor cost $15, although I’m pretty sure those were gringo rates. I doubt the plunger cost more than $1 and since he was only there for about 15 minutes, the labor probably should have been lower.

However, it’s all perspective. In the states, a plumber’s minimum rate for a house call usually starts at $100, so paying $23 for a plumber to fix our hot water heater is a pretty good deal, even if we did get gringoed.

Trash Pickup

We talked about trash pickup in an earlier video, but in case you missed it, here it is again…

Since there are a lot of street dogs in Ecuador, they use trash racks mounted on the walls to keep the bags out of reach of the dogs. They’re made to fold up out of the way when not in use, but most people (including us) seldom put them up.

That means you have to be really careful walking down the street to avoid hitting your head on them while you’re watching for holes in the sidewalk or objects sticking out of the ground.

Cuenca Ecuador Trash Rack

In our neighborhood, trash pickup is on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, even when one of those days falls on a holiday. They don’t bump the pickup day for holidays. In other neighborhoods, trash pickup is on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with Wednesday being recycle day.

Thursday is the recycle day in our neighborhood. That’s when we put out our blue bags containing all our recyclable items except for glass (or vidrio en Español). We take our glass recycle to special containers located in several of the parks around town.

Door-to-Door Sales

Remember when people used to go door-to-door selling things in the States? Well, that still happens here. You can buy everything from clothes to trashbags without leaving home!

Door-to-Door Sales

Most of the time, they ring our bell at our gate, but some walk down the street yelling what they have for sale, like this guy selling brooms. I thought it was odd that he asked me if I wanted a broom EXACTLY like the one I was using at that very instant, but I guess it never hurts to ask. ?‍♂️

Our Beautiful Cuenca Rental House Courtyard

Living in a tropical environment means year-round lawn maintenance for our Cuenca Rental House Courtyard. We’ve hired landscapers to maintain our courtyard before, but the last guy who did it seriously gringoed us so I told Amelia I would do it myself next time.

Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Courtyard

The first guy we hired charged us $15 to trim all the plants and haul away the debris, which was a pretty good deal. The next guy told us it would be $20, which we still thought was a good deal considering how much work there is to do.

However, he wanted to put down fertilizer, but we told him no. After he finished, he told us he put down the fertilizer anyway (which killed one of my favorite plants), along with some fresh topsoil, and told us the total bill for labor and supplies was $95! That’s ridiculous by Ecuadorian standards!

He still comes to our gate wanting to maintain our yard, but he shot himself in the foot by gringoing us. We’ll never use him again!

Getting “gringoed” is a real thing in Latin American countries, at least all the ones we’ve been to. But it’s also a thing in the States, especially if you’re a woman with a car at the auto mechanic.

Some people, regardless of their location in the world, will try to take advantage of other people for their own personal gain. It’s human nature to be selfish, greedy and short sighted, just like it’s human nature to be on guard against people who try to take advantage of you.

Villainy in the Vines (or Daisy’s in the Dog House)

While I was trimming the vines and plants in our Cuenca rental house courtyard, I made a gruesome discovery, which is why Daisy’s in the proverbial doghouse!

Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Courtyard - Daisy

We knew she killed a baby bird because she left it on the porch for us. But we didn’t know there was a whole nest of baby birds and she killed all of them! The smell was so awful I almost vomited! Those parent birds did NOT pick a good spot to build a nest!

Daisy is normally a very sweet dog, unless you’re a foreign invader in her territory. Then she goes vicious… Kinda like some humans we know ?

That’s it for our Cuenca Ecuador rental house courtyard tour and cleanup. Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!


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Video Transcript

>> JP: Hola veggie lovers.
I’m JP with Amelia And JP and

Amelia is currently in the kitchen.

She is preparing to make us
a veganized version

of a traditional Ecuadorian dish
called Locro.

It’s like a potato.. the traditional dish
has cheese in it

and we didn’t know that when we
first came to Ecuador.

We ordered some at a restaurant

because the waiter assured us
it was vegan.

And then we found out later that the
little diced

cubes in it were cheese.

Since they didn’t have any flavor

and looked just like tofu,

we just assumed it was tofu.

But it wasn’t. It was cheese. Yuck!

So anyway we just make ours with tofu

and it tastes the same to us.

So while she’s doing that though,

we need to do a little bit of yard work

so I’m going to do some trimming
in our courtyard.

So I’ll give you a tour
of our courtyard, too

and explain our gas situation here.

They don’t have natural gas here.

They use propane.

So I’ll show you how all that works.

Alright, let’s get started.

[Upbeat Music]

>> Amelia: Today I’m going to make my

vegan version of the Ecuadorian soup:
Locro de Papa.

It’s a traditional soup that’s
typically made with cheese, dairy milk

and of course potatoes or papas.

But I make mine with tofu,
with non-dairy milk.

My original recipe I use soy

but today I’m going to use almond milk.

And we use nutritional yeast to get that
cheesy flavor.

It’s actually really easy and quite tasty.

The first thing I need to do
is peel the potatoes.

So let’s get started.

I’m heating 2 tablespoons of veggie broth
in my pot.

And to that I’m going to add the onion

that I chopped and the minced garlic.

About a tablespoon of minced garlic.

And I used two little bitty onions.

I also have one teaspoon of achiote powder

and one half tablespoon of cumin

and this is going into our pot as well.

And I’m going to sauté these until the
onions are translucent.

So that should just take a couple minutes.

>> JP: That smells good.

>> A: I know. I know how much
you love your cumin.

So the achiote powder is important too

because it gives the soup
the proper color.

While my onions are sautéing

I’m going to quarter my potatoes.

You don’t need to cut the potatoes
into really small or bite-sized pieces.

We are going to cook them
until they’re very soft

and then mash them with a potato masher,

but we still want a little bit of chunks
in there.

I’m going to add my potatoes to the pot

and continue to cook them in the spices

for about another 5 minutes.

So we’re gonna kinda toast everything
a little bit.

If you run out of liquid,

if it starts sticking
to the bottom of the pan

you can just add maybe a tablespoon
of water or veggie broth.

You wanna toss these to coat

the potatoes with the spices

and just let them cook.

I’m going to add 6 cups of our homemade
veggie broth.

Of course you can use store bought.

Just make sure it’s oil free.

And we just need to let that simmer

for about 45 to 60 minutes.

As I mentioned earlier, we want to

cook this until the potatoes
are nice and soft.

>> JP: While our Locro de Papa Soup
is cooking

I’m going to do some yard work.

I’ll give you a tour of our courtyard too.

With my little handy sheers,

I’ll trim up all these overgrown bushes.

This is our courtyard.

I LOVE this courtyard.

Especially these Dr. Seuss plants.

I think these must be a member
of the allium family.

But I’m not exactly sure what they are.

And these ferns are really nice too.

And then we have what I call
a muppet plant.

It looks like one of those
muppet characters.

Obviously it needs to be trimmed up.

Daisy loves it out here too.

She stays out her almost all the time.

I need to trim all the dead buds
off of that.

And we have a Calla Lily
that blooms regularly

and it’s beautiful.

It’s not.. we only have one bloom
right now, but..

it is very pretty.

And then we have a palm tree

and I need to trim this bush that’s
under it.

Oh and this is our table and umbrella
that we bought here.

We got the umbrella I think for 120 bucks
at a store that’s near here.

I think the table and chairs
were not very much.

They were like $80 I think.

And we love this vine.

This vine has completely grown over this.

This is a door, like a garage door

that you can park a car in here

and it’s completely covered that since we
moved in.

Then we have another one of these with
a lot of dead stuff.

And there’s another Calla Lily.

Need to trim off those dead things.

And this is our hot water heater.

Now this is something,
if you’re in the States

you might not know what this is.

It’s called a calefon, here.

And it’s an on-demand hot water heater.

And those are the tanks.

Everything runs on propane here
not natural gas.

So if you need to refill your tank

there’s always somebody driving through
the neighborhood

and they play a song that’s about Cuenca.

I need to look up the lyrics for it and
see what it says.

But it’s basically.. it says
“that’s why I love Cuenca.”

And they just drive through
the neighborhood.

It’s kind of like an ice cream truck.

You hear the music and you run out
and wave the guy down

and they carry a tank in

and they carry away the empty one.

So that’s how you get your propane here

and the propane runs the hot water

and the stove and the oven.

Alright, now it’s time to get to work.

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

Now I have to trim up this pretty purple
flowering plant that Daisy smashed.

There was a baby bird, a bird’s nest
over here in our bushes

and she completely destroyed

this beautiful bush, plant,
whatever it’s called

getting at the baby bird

and she killed the baby bird

and left it on our doorstep for us.

As vegans, we did not appreciate that!

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

Ah. Gross. GROSS! AHHH!


Alright this is really gross!

There are dead baby birds

and they stink horribly!

Ahhh. Gross! Ahhh. I’m going to throw up!

Uhh. I can see two of them

and they smell awful and I don’t have
any gloves.

Daisy! You are in the DOG HOUSE!

I am very mad at you right now!

Very mad!

This is gross!


In lieu of gloves,

I’m gonna use a plastic bag

and pick up these dead baby birds

like they’re dog poop

which really BOTHERS me!

This is gross and I don’t like this!

Yeah! Returning to the scene of the crime!

Gross Daisy!

Aw God they smell awful!

Ahh. This is what you did!


You destroyed this bush too!

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

I am not at all happy
with little miss Daisy.

Ahh. Those birds were gross!

I’m done inside, now I’m gonna go outside

and trim these vines are growing
over the wall.

And I got mad at my neighbors..

on New Years Eve they lit a monigote

on.. leaning up against our telephone pole
outside our house

underneath this vine.

I got mad and yelled at them.

I feel a little bad about that, but still

everybody else burns them in the middle
of the street

and for some reason our neighbors

decided to light their monigote on fire

underneath our overgrown vine.

I guess it’s my own fault for
not trimming it sooner, but

anyway, hopefully they’re not too

upset with me for yelling at them

to not burn things in front of my house.

But, they told me it was tradition.

I’m not sure if they meant tradition

to burn things in front of your neighbor’s
house, or

they were just referring to the
burning of the monigotes

or the Años Viejos.

If you are curious about what that is

watch our New Years Eve video

or the New Years Eve prep video.

We go into lots of detail about monigotes.

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

Alright so you’re gonna see
where they burned it.

See this vine right here?

This is dead because they burned

their monigote right here
in front of my house.

Oh well. We survived.

Gotta let it go!

Find my inner peace!

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

Let’s move around to the other side now.

As you can see,
this is very much overgrown.

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

Man this was really overgrown.

Oh and you might be wondering,

if you haven’t watched any of our
other videos,

what this tray is here.

This is where you put your trash.

They uh.. since they have a lot of
street dogs here

they keep their trash up off the ground

and you put your trash up on those racks

and they.. in our neighborhood

they pickup every Tuesday, Thursday
and Saturday.

And Thursday is recycle day

so you put out your blue bag
with all your recycle in it on Thursday.

Alright, I gotta finish this.

Amelia says it’s time to eat.

[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

Alright. I’m going to take a break
and go eat.

And then I’m gonna pick up

all this debris and I’ll show you
the finished product after that’s done.

>> A: My potatoes are nice and soft

so I am going to mash them

with my potato masher.

Or you could use a fork if you don’t
have one of these handy gadgets.

And as I mentioned earlier

it doesn’t have to be smooth

we want some little chunks of potato
goodness in here.

That looks really good.

Now that our potatoes are mashed

it is time to add some more ingredients.

So I have one cup of
unsweetened almond milk.

You can use your favorite
unsweetened milk.

Although I wouldn’t use coconut milk

since that has a pretty strong flavor.

One quarter cup nutritional yeast.

That’s gonna give us that cheesy flavor.

For my additional spices, I have

one teaspoon salt which you could
certainly reduce or leave out

if you’re watching your salt intake.

And then one tablespoon of dried cilantro.

And we’re gonna let this simmer
for a little bit longer.

Just a few minutes.

And while this is simmering

I need to drain my tofu, pat that dry

and then cut that into cubes.

It’s time to chop up our tofu into cubes.

The traditional soup is made with
some sort of cheese

they use here, which is cubed.

>> JP: And white.
>> A: And white.

And this will go into the pot

at the very end because it really just
needs to be heated through.

And it’ll absorb some of the
delicious flavors.

We are just going to let this simmer

for a few more minutes.

3, 4, 5 minutes, until the tofu
has absorbed the flavors

and it is nice and warm.

Looks good, huh?
>> JP: Mm-huh.

>> A: Smells really good.

And now it is time to eat.

It looks really yummy, doesn’t it?

Hardy and delicious.

Time for the taste test.

Hopefully it’s not too hot.
I don’t want to burn myself.

Mmm. Ooh! It’s really good!


You can find the recipe on our website:

Let us know if you decide to make this
dish. I’d love to hear your feedback.

>> JP: Lunch was delicious.

I really love Amelia’s
Vegan Locro de Papa Soup.

It’s so tasty.

I already picked up everything.

All of the leaves and debris
from my yard work.

And I’m tired now.

It was a lot of work.

While I was outside sweeping up
all of the leaves on the street,

and the sidewalk.

A guy went by selling brooms.

>> Broom Guy: ESCOBAS!!!
[Brooms in Spanish]

>> JP: A lot of people go door-to-door

selling things here,

but I found it very strange that he
offered to sell me a broom

while I was using a broom.

And it was pretty much
the exact same broom,

only in a different color.

I thought that was really strange.

I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask, does it?

The worst you can say is, “No.”

Alright, let’s do the tour
of the finished..

cleaned up..


[Soul Music – Grow Remix by Gloria Tells]

That looks a lot better
and I’m glad it’s done.

Amelia is in the kitchen cleaning up
from our lunch.

And man I’m tired now.

I’m gonna go take a break.

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