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.

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)

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 TanksCuenca Gas Truck Song Lyrics English Translation

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: CalefonesCalefon

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 PickupCuenca Ecuador Trash Rack

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.

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 SalesDoor-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!

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)Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Courtyard - Daisy

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!

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.

Watch Our Cuenca Ecuador Rental House Courtyard Tour



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JP Stonestreet
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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!

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