Two Birthday Parties + Salsa Dancing in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 87)

We had a busy Tuesday with two birthday parties and my friend Stephen’s arrival in Cuenca Ecuador from the states. On Thursday, we went to Café Libre for dinner and then Salsa Dancing at Verde Pintón y Maduro.

Be sure to check out our next video. Stephen does some crazy adventure sports here in Cuenca that Amelia and I would never do!

Abin’s Birthday Party at Namaste India

We’re leaving for India in a couple weeks to attend Chinnu and Abin’s wedding, but today was Abin’s special day! He turned 30 years old and we celebrated with him at Namaste India.

Abin Bday

It’s a tradition in India to celebrate birthdays at midnight on the “morning” of the actual birthday so we left home around 11:15 PM to walk down to El Centro. It’s also tradition to smear cake all over the face of the birthday boy or girl.

Abin Cake Face

In addition to cake, they made lots of delicious Indian food for the party. They’re so thoughtful – they made several vegan dishes that everyone enjoyed.

Abin Bday Feast

Stephen’s Arrival from the States

That afternoon, my old friend Stephen arrived from the States and he stayed with us for several days. Our next video will feature his wild and crazy antics. He took a buseta from Guayaquil with Operazuaytur for $12.

Stephen Arrival

Olesya’s Birthday Party

It was also Olesya’s 30th birthday on the same day as Abin’s! We have two friends born on exactly the same day: one in Russia and one in Southern India! What a small world!


Olesya stays with an Ecuadorian family who was happy to host her birthday party and welcome us into their home.

Olesya Bday Party

You may remember Olesya from our Food With Friends video or her Yoga in the Park video.

Dinner at Café Libre

On Thursday, we went to Café Libre for dinner with Stephen before going salsa dancing. As always, the food was AMAZING!

I had La Especial de la Semana (the special of the week), which was pasta in a cashew cream sauce covered in veggies with a side salad.

Cafe Libre Especial

Amelia had the Raw Lasagna with a side salad.

Cafe Libre Raw Lasagna

And Stephen had the Jack ‘n Jack Gua Bao. YUM!

Cafe Libre Gua Bao

Salsa at Verde Pintón y Maduro

After we ate dinner at Café Libre, we walked a few blocks over to Verde Pintón y Maduro for some Salsa Dancing. Amelia and I didn’t dance but we’ve decided to take some lessons when we get back from India. Stephen loves Salsa so we mainly went for him, but we thoroughly enjoyed watching all the incredible dancing!

Stephen Dancing

They dance several different styles of Salsa here in Ecuador: Kizomba, Regular Salsa, Cha Cha and Bachata. I couldn’t tell  you the difference, but they’re all very beautiful styles.

The venue had a $3 drink minimum, and the drinks ranged from $5 to $8 so the minimum was easy to hit. We spent about $35 on 5 drinks.

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!

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights + Delicious Indian Food at Namaste (Episode 44)

After our delicious and relaxing dinner at Namaste India, we went for a walk along the Tomebamba river to see the Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights. We ended our walk at Otorongo Plaza, which is the location of the giant Christmas Tree of Lights.

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights on the Tomebamba

It’s hard to believe this is our second Christmas in Ecuador. The Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights over the Tomebamba River that runs through the center of Cuenca were the same last year, but the tree in Otorongo plaza was quite different. It was the same structure, but the lights were bright Christmas colors last year. This year, they were all white. It was very pretty both ways.

See More: Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Parade: Pase del Niño (Episode 45)

Namaste India Cuenca Ecuador

Namaste India is one of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca Ecuador. Cuenca now boasts at least 7 vegan or vegetarian restaurants and we frequent several of those, but Namaste has two full pages of vegan/vegetarian options in the very front of their menu. Plus, they cook without oil or coconut milk for me as I continue my battle with high cholesterol.

In addition to amazing Indian food, we love the atmosphere in the restaurant, the Bollywood videos on the TV and the staff! Chinnu and Abin are wonderful hosts and they make us feel like we’re part of the family. We look forward to our Sunday evening vegan dinners at Namaste every week.

One thing to note is paneer isn’t vegan. It’s some sort of tofu looking cheese. A few of their vegetable dishes have paneer so don’t order those if you want to eat vegan.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

The Half Moon Can’t Tell Time + Sweat Inducing Indian Food Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 24)

This is a fun day in the life video! We took a short walk to some neighborhood shops to start the day, but we ended the day with some sweat inducing Indian Food in Cuenca Ecuador.

In the afternoon, Amelia went to Tribal Fusion for belly dancing class and we ended up at Namaste India for dinner. We had planned on grabbing a pizza para llevar (for takeout) at Fratello, but Amelia and I miscommunicated our plans and they were closed by the time Amelia finished up with belly dancing.

People & Places

Panadería Del Día – El Vergel – Cuenca Ecuador

Panadería Del Día Cuenca Ecuador

Panadería Del Día was a relatively new panadería (bakery) in our neighborhood (El Vergel). It was only a few blocks from our house, but now it’s closed. That’s a common occurrence here in Cuenca Ecuador. Several food related businesses have come and gone in the short time we’ve lived here.

Buns at Panadería Del Día

Déjame Que Te Cuente Chocolatería – Cuenca Ecuador

Déjame Que Te Cuente Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia always likes to have some chocolate in the house. And Déjame Que Te Cuente Chocolatería (chocolate shop) near our house has amazing vegan chocolate, like these Ecuadorian Leyenda Chocolate bars.

Chocolate Déjame Que Te Cuente Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia loves these vegan marzipan chocolates, but at $1.30/piece, they’re a little pricey for my taste.

Vegan Marzipan Déjame Que Te Cuente Cuenca Ecuador

Look At the Gringo!

Gringo Minority Cuenca Ecuador

On my way to meet Amelia at her belly dancing class, I was spotted by a group of Ecuadorians. Despite Cuenca being home to roughly 10,000 gringos, we still get lots of looks. As a white male from the US, it is a bit odd to be a minority for the first time in my life.

Amelia is 5 feet tall with dark skin, dark eyes and dark hair. She could easily pass for an Ecuadorian. Me? Not so much. I’m 6 inches taller than the average male, bald head, pale skin and blue-green eyes. I feel like I’m on display everytime I walk somewhere.

Tomebamba Riverwalk – Cuenca Ecuador

Tomebamba Riverwalk Cuenca Ecuador

This cobblestone path along the Tomebamba River is what sells a lot of people on Cuenca when they come to visit. It’s lush and green with lots of blooming flowers year-round.

It’s common to see beautiful young couples snuggling on the grass embankment or kissing on the benches. It’s a little bit of paradise running through the center of Cuenca.

Universidad de Cuenca

La Universidad de Cuenca Ecuador

La Universidad de Cuenca is now over 150 years old. It’s located on Doce de Abril across from the Tomebamba River. Lots of young Ecuadorians can be seen running to and from the campus at all hours. This is where our tour guide, Wilson, went to school to learn Ecuadorian national tourism. You met him in our 3-part vlog about San Bartolomé, Chordeleg and Gualaceo.

The Tribal Fusion House – Cuenca Ecuador

Tribal Fusion Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia takes belly dancing lessons at The Tribal Fusion House here in Cuenca. Like most things in Ecuador and Latin America in general, time is flexible. Her class often starts late and always ends late.

Amelia and I had discussed grabbing a pizza from Fratello Vegan after her class para llevar (for takeout), but I guess I misunderstood her. I was supposed to go get the pizza before they closed and wait for her there. Since her class ran 35 minutes late, Fratello was closed by the time she got out….

While I was waiting, I did get some good pictures and videos, though. Like this shot of the street outside The Tribal Fusion House. Doesn’t it look like a photo from a history book?

Old Buildings Cuenca Ecuador

This tiny compact car pulled up while I was waiting and 8 people got out of it. EIGHT PEOPLE! Two kids in the very back, 3 people in the middle and 3 in the front. It was like watching a clown car empty!

One thing that’s a lot different here in Ecuador are the traffic laws…or at least how people follow them. It’s rare to see a carseat and children often ride on their parents’ lap in the front seat, or stand up in the backseat. You know, like how we used to roll as kids back in the 70’s and earlier.

Loaded Car Cuenca Ecuador

Namaste India Restaurant – Indian Food Cuenca Ecuador

Namaste India Cuenca Ecuador

Namaste India is one of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca. They have a large “vegetable” section on their menu and most of the items are vegan. Just make sure to tell your server that you’re vegan and ask them not to use any animal products. They’re happy to oblige.

Chinnumol is the hostess and server at the restaurant. She is so sweet and helpful! Part of the reason we love Namaste India so much is because of Chinnu and the other people who work there. They’re all so friendly and happy that we always leave in a good mood. Plus, they have Bollywood music videos up on the big screen and they always elicit a smile!

If you go to Namaste India, be sure to tell them the vegan gringos Amelia And JP sent you. They have the best Indian Food in Cuenca Ecuador!

Chinnumol Namaste India Cuenca Ecuador

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We hope you enjoyed our adventures in Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Spanish Words & Phrases

la mantequilla – the butter
Sí, cuatro – Yes, four
Buenos días – Good morning
Muy picante – Very spicy
Muy delicioso – Very delicious
¡Dios Mío! – OMG! (Oh my God!)
Chocolatería – Chocolate Shop
Déjame Que te Cuente Chocolatería – Let Me Tell You Chocolate Shop
Muy raro – Very rare/strange