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Cuenca Ecuador Expat Living Day In The Life (Episode 113)

We share another typical day in our life in this Cuenca Ecuador Expat Living video. After my morning massage, we had a late lunch with friends, visited an organic shop in El Centro, walked around this beautiful city taking pictures and ended our afternoon at Zatua Miski for a peanut butter chocolate ice cream bar.

The next morning, we woke to a beautiful day during the rainy season here in Cuenca Ecuador, so we decided to take Daisy for a walk along the river. Little did we know that a pothole had my name on it.

Cuenca Ecuador Massage

Part of my Cuenca Ecuador Expat Living involves a massage every Friday morning at Jerri’s house. She’s another American expat living here in Cuenca and a very talented masseuse. She helps my back pain tremendously!

Back in Denver, I could only  afford one massage per month, but here in Cuenca I get one every week. Jerri charges $30 for an hour and $45 for 90 minutes. If you’d like Jerri’s contact info, please drop us a note and I’ll send an email introduction.

Massage Cuenca Ecuador Jerri

I especially like her heated massage table and the relaxing atmosphere. And she’s only a short walk from our house.

Massage Cuenca Ecuador Table

If you’re considering a move to Cuenca or Ecuador, you might find our Ecuador Expat Info videos helpful.

Special Lunch at Namaste India

Chinnu and Abin brought back some white lentil flour from India and invited the India crew for a special lunch at Namaste India. Chinnu made fresh dosa, sambar and coconut chutney, and it was AMAZING!!! Abin is going to gain 200 pounds from Chinnu’s cooking!

Namaste India Special Lunch Cuenca Ecuador

Dosa is an Indian pancake made with white lentil flour while sambar (pronounced samba) is a traditional southern Indian breakfast stew made with lots of vegetables. We ate this breakfast almost every morning during our time in Kerala India for Chinnu and Abin’s wedding.

However, we can’t get dosa here in Ecuador because white lentils aren’t available here. Additionally, Chinnu says it’s very difficult to make here because of the cool temperature and high altitude affect the batter somehow.

Namaste India Dosa Cuenca Ecuador

This was our first time eating coconut chutney, but it was equally amazing. It was very rich and spicy! We were very thankful, as always, to be invited for this special lunch.

Namaste India Coconut Chutney Cuenca Ecuador

Semilla Organic Shop Cuenca

Paul and Patrick go to Semilla often for their organic supplies. However, we had never been there before so the four of us walked down there after our lunch at Namaste.

We met the owners of Semilla (which means “seed” in Spanish) at a marriage celebration party for Chinnu and Abin last week so we were excited to visit their store. It’s located about 1/2 block north of Calle Larga on Mariano Cueva.

Semilla Cuenca Ecuador

They sell a large variety of organic foods and beauty products, including several from our favorite vendors such as Franco Organico, Panda Cakes Cuenca and Zatua Miski.

Several people have asked me about getting CBD Oil here in Cuenca Ecuador, and they also sell that. We’ve seen it in a few other stores around town, too. It helped a lot with the neuropathy in my feet and legs following my spinal cord damage and surgeries.

Semilla Cuenca Ecuador CBD Oil

Cuenca El Centro Photo Gallery

After we left Semilla, it was such a beautiful day that we decided to walk around El Centro in downtown Cuenca Ecuador. Rather than film this part of our Cuenca Ecuador Expat Living, I decided to switch over to photo mode and take some pictures. This city is incredibly photogenic! Click the photos to enlarge.

Zatua Miska Ice Cream Bar

After a loop around El Centro, we walked by Zatua Miski for a delicious ice cream bar. This is a relatively new menu item that we hadn’t tried yet. The folks at Semilla were raving about it, so Amelia was determined to try it. And the most appropriate word to describe it is “WOW”! We got the manicho, which is maní (peanut butter) and chocolate. O-M-G! You have to try one!

Zatua Miski Helado

The Fall

The next morning, we woke to a beautiful day so we decided to include a walk along the Yanuncay River in this Cuenca Ecuador Expat Living video.

I had my camera mounted to my gimbal, which is a pretty heavy contraption, but it makes for some really amazing and smooth motion shots. We were waiting to cross the street near the Yanuncay River trail when a motorcycle pulled up to the intersection. It started to turn right heading away from us, so we stepped off the curb into the street.

Where I Fell Cuenca Ecuador

At the last second, the motorcycle driver changed his mind and turned left in front of us. I took a half step sideways and stepped on the rim of a pothole. My ankle rolled and I hit the ground like a sack of potatoes on top of my camera and gimbal.

Laying flat on my stomach in the middle of the street, all I could think about was my camera! I checked it first to make sure it was ok. Then I realized I was in a lot of pain. My elbow was throbbing from where it hit the pavement, my bloodied right hand was smashed between the gimbal and the street and my left palm had sand embedded in it and my left wrist was also hurt.

But those were minor injuries compared to my left ankle. I tried to stand up, but couldn’t put any weight on it. Amelia had to help me get to the curb. After sitting for a minute, I was able to stand up and Amelia told me to walk it off. That’s her motto for every injury!

After a few minutes, it started feeling better so we decided to continue our walk. In retrospect, that was a bad idea. The endorphins and my nerve damage were masking the pain and the extent of the injury. When we got back home, I took my shoes and socks off. That’s when we realized it was a lot worse than we thought.

We took these pictures the next day and the swelling had already gone down a little. My ankle was the size of a grapefruit when we got home from our walk.

Thanks to my anti-inflammatory vegan superpower, my injuries are already a lot better on day three. The swelling has gone down a lot and I’m able to put a little weight on my left foot. I should be back to normal in a week or two.

The moral of the story is to ALWAYS look where you step! This could have happened anywhere and had nothing to do with Cuenca. That pothole was in the right place at the wrong time. I’m just really thankful my camera is still working and only sustained a few scrapes of its own.

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 Salsa Dancing + Allpafest 2019 (Episode 111)

This was an unexpected Day In The Life video! We planned to meet Olesya and Johnny for some Cuenca Ecuador Salsa Dancing lessons in the afternoon, but we didn’t have much else planned for the day.

Before lunch, we wandered down to the Allpafest event near Parque de la Madre for a quick look, but we ended up staying quite a while. Usually, when we go to popup ferias, we only stay a few minutes, but Allpafest was great! We saw lots of friends and ate some delicious vegan goodies!

Fans of Amelia And JP

On our way into Allpafest, we heard someone yell “JP” from behind us. It was Ivan and Mauricio who are fans of our YouTube Channel!

They’re both from Cuenca, but they have lived in New York for the past 15 years. Now they’re thinking about returning home to Cuenca to open a business!

Ivan and Mauricio Cuenca Ecuador

And they’re vegan, too! Ivan told us he had some serious health issues that prompted him to go vegan. He lost 30 pounds and all his health issues cleared up! We hear that all the time! The human body’s natural healing power is unbridled when you fuel it with healthy, plant-based foods!

Ivan and Mauricio mentioned a few of our favorite places in the video. Here are links to our videos of them:

It’s nice to meet people in real life who watch our channel. Now that we have over 100 videos, mostly about Cuenca Ecuador, more people are starting to recognize us on the street and in stores. It’s still a bit strange to meet complete strangers who know us so well and reference interesting things that we caught on film.

If you see us out and about, feel free to stop and say hi!

Allpafest by Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador

We’ve been to lots of ferias during our time in Cuenca Ecuador, but Allpafest by Allpa Feria Holística was by far the best one yet. We normally only stay at the ferias for 10 or 15 minutes, but we were there for almost 2 hours!

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador

Jewelry from the Amazon

I managed to convince Amelia to pass by the shoes only to come to a screeching halt at a booth selling handmade jewelry from the Amazon jungle (de la selva).

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Amazon Jewelry

We’ve seen this Amazonian indigenous woman at several other ferias here in Cuenca. Her facial tattoos are quite striking! These are common among the Amazonian people.

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Amazon Lady

Amelia bought this necklace for $10. You’ll probably see it in a future belly dancing video!

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Amazon Necklace

Amelia’s Chakra Alignment

Our next stop was to get Amelia’s chakras aligned. As a man who appreciates science-based evidence, I’m not a big believer in this practice, but Amelia came out of it feeling very relaxed and peaceful. We have no way of knowing if it was the crystal waving or perhaps the meditative state combined with the aromas sprayed into the air.

Regardless, she was able to quash a hot flash before it overtook her for the first time. She may look like she’s in her 30’s, but she’s almost 51 and she’s going through early menopause like her mother did.

Thanks to our vegan whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet and Dr. Rosy’s awesome cruelty-free skin care treatments, Amelia is aging in reverse! People from all over the world are searching for the fountain of youth and we found it in our WFPB diet!

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Chakra

Cuenca Ecuador Music Scene

Cuenca has quite the music scene. There are lots of very talented musicians that play in clubs, concerts and ferias around Cuenca. Allpafest featured several different musicians and bands.

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Singer

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Guitar Player

Vegan Food at Allpafest

We are constantly surprised at how many vegan options we have here in Cuenca Ecuador. When we moved here, we had no idea Cuenca was going to become the vegan capital of South America!

Panda Cakes Cuenca

Pao and Pietro from Panda Cakes Cuenca are vegan friends of ours. They are the sweetest, nicest people you’ll ever meet. You may remember Pao from our Cuenca Ecuador Fitness video. Pao wasn’t there when we filmed this video, but we got to see her later in the day when we went back with Olesya and Johnny after our Cuenca Ecuador Salsa Dancing lessons.

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Panda Cakes Cuenca

You may remember Pietro from our Rock Climbing in the Rain at Cojitambo Ecuador video. In addition to helping Pao make delicious vegan desserts and snack bars, he also climbs mountains! He was very surprised to see Amelia’s new hairdo.

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Panda Cakes Cuenca Pietro

Kiosko Vegan

Kiosko Vegan is a vegan food kiosk that sells veganese, sausages and falafels here in Cuenca Ecuador. We were too full after eating Pao and Pietro’s delicious desserts so we’ll have to try out their vegan food on a different occasion.

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Kiosko Vegan Owner Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Kiosko Vegan

Lupuna Organics Soap from Khatu Organic

I have very sensitive skin so I like to use this Lupuna Organics soap that can be found at natural stores around Cuenca, including Khatu Organic. We filmed their store through the window when we went to lunch at Yuraveg. We still need to go back again when they’re open.

Allpa Feria Holística Cuenca Ecuador Lupuna Soap Khatu

Cuenca Ecuador Salsa Dancing with Salserios

Yes. It’s true. I did, in fact, agree to take salsa dancing lessons. WHYYYY????!!!! 😩

When my friend Stephen came to visit before our trip to India, we took him to a Cuenca Ecuador salsa dancing hotspot and Johnny was there cutting a rug with his mad salsa dancing skills. That’s when Amelia gave me a couple drinks and tricked me into taking salsa dancing lessons when we got back from India. She’s very sneaky!

You may remember Olesya from our Yoga In The Park video. She’s also a dance assistant with Johnny, helping him teach his salsa dancing classes.

Cuenca Ecuador Salsa Dancing Johnny Olesya Amelia

Olesya and Johnny are hosting a retreat in Vilcabamba on June 28th, 2019 and we wanted to help them promote it. It’s called Retiro de Yoga & Baile and will be a combination of yoga, dancing, hiking and relaxing. It’s at a small retreat hotel so there are only a few spots available. If you would like to go, please contact Olesya through the event page on Facebook.

Dance classes start this week! Wish us luck! If you watched the video, you know I really need it!

Cuenca Ecuador Salsa Dancing

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 Yanuncay River Walk // Day In The Life (Episode 107)

We’re back to business as usual here in Cuenca Ecuador after are 4 week trip to Miami, Amsterdam, India and back. This day in the life video gives you a good taste of life here with a Cuenca Ecuador Yanuncay River walk, organic markets, belly dancing and delicious Southern Indian food.

Cuenca Ecuador Yanuncay River Walk

We like to take Daisy for walks along the rivers here in Cuenca, Ecuador. She loves the smells and we love the sights and sounds.

Yanuncay River Trail Cuenca Ecuador

In this video, we ventured south from our house to the Cuenca Ecuador Yanuncay River Trail, then West toward Cajas. At Av. Solano, we crossed the bridge and walked on the south side of the river. We had only walked on this trail one time when we first arrived in Cuenca. We got lost on our way back to Apartamentos Otorongo from Mall Del Río. But the three of us liked it so much on this walk that it’s going to be part of the regular rotation from now on!

We saw this same flowering tree in India! It really is a small world!

Yanuncay River Trail Cuenca Ecuador Flower

Tutto Matto Organic Popup Market

There are several different organic and miscellaneous popup markets (or ferias) that appear on Saturday’s around Cuenca. We videoed the Bumba Market and the Sabatino’s Artisanal Market quite a while ago. Today, we filmed the Tutto Matto Feria that’s a short walk from our house on Solano y Alfonso Moreno Mora.

Tutto Matto Cuenca Ecuador

Franco Organico

We featured Franco Organico in the Sabatino’s Artisanal Market video, and we were happy to see him again today. He sells a variety of delicious organic foods, like peanut butter, vegan fudge brownies, nuts, coffee, fruits, veggies and more. On this trip, we bought peanut butter, fudge, lemongrass, citronella and a few sweet lemons.

Amelia is smelling the citronella (or lemongrass?) in the picture below. We boil them to make tea.

Tuttu Matto Cuenca Ecuador Franco Organico

We both tried Franco’s sweet mint and it was amazing. It had a subtle mint flavor, but it was very sweet. He compared it to stevia, which is native to South America.

Tutto Matto Cuenca Ecuador Franco Organico Sweet Mint

Kelbert from ArteSana Panadería

Kelbert’s wife makes a variety of delicious vegan breads. We also featured ArteSana in our Bumba Market video.

Kelbert ArteSana Panaderia

We’ve been buying their bread for a LOOONG time. Some of these aren’t vegan, so be sure to ask which ones are.

Kelbert ArteSana Bread

The Tribal Fusion House – Tribal Style Belly Dance

Amelia has been Tribal Fusion belly dancing with Julio at The Tribal Fusion House for over a year. It’s neat to see how much she has improved during that time. She hasn’t been practicing because of our trip to India so she’s a bit rusty in this video. She has several new dances to master before the Hafla next month!

Julio is an amazing instructor (to quote Amelia who says it all the time). He teaches in both Spanish and English, and he offers beginner to advanced level classes. If you would like to give it a try, they’re always looking for new tribe members. The best way to reach Julio is through The Tribal Fusion House Facebook Page.

The New Cathedral in Cuenca, Ecuador

On our walk from The Tribal Fusion House to Namaste India, we stopped to take this picture of The New Cathedral. The recently finished refurbishing the domes and they look FANTASTIC!!! Sometimes it’s hard to believe we live in a city with such incredible architecture.

New Cathedral Cuenca

Dinner at Namaste India

This was our first time back at Namaste India here in Cuenca since we got back from India. We’ve been eating our clean vegan cooking at home to help our bodies recover from a month of eating at restaurants and all the oil-heavy foods. Akhil was very happy to see us. He’s Basil’s brother…see the resemblance?

Agil at Namaste India

We had the Aloo Mutter, which is Potato and Peas in Onion Tomato gravy. We also had plain naan and steamed rice. We typically order the same entree because they make them special for us without oil.

Namaste India Cuenca

Hopefully you enjoyed our Day In The Life video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum + Lunch at Origami Sushi + La Chakra Mercado Natural (Episode 91)

The Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum (Museo del Sombrero) is a nice place to model some Panama hats, learn their history and see how they’re made. It’s also a great place to drink a cup of coffee while enjoying the view of Cuenca.

Several people have asked us about organic or natural stores here in Cuenca, so we show you two of them in this video. Plus, we had some delicious vegan sushi for lunch at Origami.

As a reminder, we’re leaving for Amsterdam and India in a few days so our posting schedule will be a bit erratic. Please sign up for our newsletter and I’ll do my best to let you know when we’re going to post our next video.

La Chakra Mercado Natural

Our first stop was at La Chakra Mercado Natural on Doce de Abril near La Universidad de Cuenca and next to Samsara Yoga. They have all sorts of natural food and beauty products. They also have a La Chakra Facebook Page.

La Chakra Cuenca

We bought a bag of organic, locally sourced maca powder that we put in our breakfast oats. We also bought a protein snack bar from Panda Cakes Cuenca. My vegan rock climbing friend, Pietro, makes those and sells them in natural stores around Cuenca. Amelia also bought some cruelty free natural deodorant, which is quite a bit more expensive in Ecuador than back in the states.

La Chakra Snack Bar

Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum: Museo Del Sombrero

Our second stop was the Cuenca Ecuador Hat Museum, Museo Del Sombrero, to get my hat repaired. It got really wet while Stephen was rock climbing, which caused the band to come loose. We love our panama hats and it’s really nice that they keep them maintained for free.

Museo Del Sombrero

Amelia and I tried on several hats while we waited just for fun.

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca Amelia Hat

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca JP Hat

While these hats are commonly known as Panama Hats, they originated in Ecuador. The Cañari indigenous people who originally made the “paja toquilla” or “straw hat” still wear them today.

Pauto Mercado

We also went upstairs for a cup of coffee and beautiful views of Cuenca.

Museo Del Sombrero Coffee Shop

Museo Del Sombrero Cuenca View

This is just one of many museums in Cuenca that are worth a visit.

La Primavera El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

There are several La Primavera stores around Cuenca. They carry a variety of health foods, like protein powders, nuts, seeds, vitamins, etc.

La Primavera Cuenca El Centro

Our friends Jimmy and Sharon told us the one on Mariano Cueva y Calle Gran Colombia sold Mate de Coca or Té de Coca, which helps with altitude sickness.

La Primavera Cuenca El Centro Map

Sometimes I get a little light headed and short of breath when the weather changes, and this tea helps alleviate the symptoms. Unfortunately, they were out of the tea so we’ll have to try someplace else.

Mate de Coca

Origami Japanese Kitchen and Sushi Bar Cuenca Ecuador

We like going to Origami Sushi in Cuenca because they have a lot of vegan options and it’s far less expensive than Noe Sushi. Origami is located on Calle Larga y Mariano Cueva. They have a tiny storefront that’s easy to miss. Just look for the Origami sign on the door.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Door

They have an entire page dedicated to vegetarian (it’s actually vegan) sushi rolls and options. Plus, their Miso Soup is also vegan and they don’t use oil in any of the rolls or the soup.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Miso Soup

We ordered the Yasai Combination plus a Mango Roll.

Origami Sushi Cuenca Yasai Combo

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!

Expat Life In Cuenca Ecuador – Lunch at YuraVeg + Shopping at Sukasa in Gringolandia (Episode 84)

Today, we’ll give you a taste of Expat Life in Cuenca Ecuador. Let us know if you’d like to see more of these Day In The Life videos. They’re a lot of work to film and edit, but we really enjoy making them.

In this video, we walked over to YuraVeg for vegan lunch and then on to Gringolandia and Sukasa. We hope you enjoy the beautiful scenery and the interesting people we see along the way.

Amelia’s Bruises

I wanted to get this out of the way first! No, I’m not abusing Amelia! She started taking pole fitness classes again at Samsara Pole & Yoga, which gives her bruises from head to toe, but especially on her arms and thighs. We’ve already had some friends comment about them. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Amelia is a total kid-at-heart. She loves to play, even if it gives her bruises 😂

Amelia Bruise

Vegan Lunch at YuraVeg

Our friend Olesya recommended YuraVeg for some delicious, low/no-oil vegan food so we decided to give it a try. It’s about a 25 minute walk from our house in the Sucre neighborhood near Loja y Remigio Crespo Toral.

YuraVeg is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant so be sure to tell them no queso, no huevo y no mantequilla.

YuraVeg Sign

We had the Arepas Veganas, and they were AMAZING! For $5 per plate, we each got two arepas with 4 different sauces. Yum! We will DEFINITELY be adding this place to our regular rotation!

YuraVeg Arepas

Helado Vegano en Fratello (Vegan Ice Cream at Fratello)

It seems that a day in our life wouldn’t be complete without some helado vegano en Fratello! Clocking over 20,000 steps (that’s 10 miles) really works up an appetite! Although we don’t need an excuse to eat Rene’s delicious vegan ice cream 😋

I had the helado fruta rojas and Amelia had the helado chocolate, as per usual.

Helado Vegano 1

Helado Vegano 2

Shopping at Sukasa Cuenca

We were hoping to film inside Sukasa, but the guard at the front door said they have a store policy against it. I told him it would be promoción gratis (free advertising), but he said it wasn’t his call. El gerente (the manager) makes that call. Oh well. Their loss.

Sukasa

We did find the queen-size mattress cover Amelia was looking for. The price on the package was $28, but it rang up en venta (on sale) for $18. What a bargain!

Believe it or not, that’s not to protect the mattress from me. I rarely sweat. Amelia, on-the-other-hand, is experiencing hot flashes and night sweats. She’s only 50, but her mom also went through this phase of life early.

Sukasa Mattress Cover

Sukasa is located in the same stripmall next to the Supermaxi in Gringolandia.

Supermaxi Gringolandia

Cuenca is a Big Little City

Every time we leave the house, we bump into someone we know. That RARELY happened in Denver. That’s one thing we love about Cuenca: it has all the amenities of a larger city, but it still has a small city feel.

Pam (on the left) and her husband were the previous renters of our house. Amelia met Susan doing Belly Dance at The Tribal Fusion House.

Pam & Susan

Samara and Samantha are Xavier’s wife and daughter. You met Xavier in our Apartamentos Otorongo video.

Samara y Samantha

Watch Where You’re Walking!

Expat Life In Cuenca Ecuador can be dangerous! Ecuador is not a safety minded country. They follow the Jeff Foxworthy philosophy of “Let ’em break a bone! They’ll learn!”

There aren’t a lot of handrails in Ecuador and the sidewalks are a walking hazard. You ALWAYS have to pay attention when you’re walking.

These post holes were on a relatively new sidewalk in Gringolandia near Sukasa. You could break your leg or ankle if you stepped in one of these!

Holes

The retaining walls on the sides of bridges rarely have rails, so you could easily step off one of them and fall 15 or 20 feet, sometimes into a raging river.

Tomebamba Bridge

Other Stuff from the Video

Dog Wash

For a lot of people, expat life in Cuenca Ecuador also applies to our beloved pets. You may have noticed the Dog Wash in our video. It’s located on Calle Federico Proaño, La Salle 2-21. We took Daisy there a couple times before Jessica at Maxi’s Pet Care started offering grooming services. We were very happy with Daisy’s bath and it was very affordable. The sign says a wash starts at $6, but that’s for small dogs. I believe Daisy was $10.

Dog Wash Cuenca

Cuenca’s Bike Lanes

One of our regular viewers asked us about bike lanes in Cuenca Ecuador. You’ll notice a LOT of them in this video. Cuenca has been adding them throughout the city for several years as part of a health and environmental awareness campaign.

Cuenca Bike Lanes

Pacha Kuna Organic Market

Pacha Kuna is an organic market located next door to YuraVeg. It’s closed on the weekend so we’ll have to go back another day to give you the full tour.

Pacha Kuna

Chakana Coworking

Expat life in Cuenca Ecuador is retired life for most expats. But if you’re still in the job pool, coworking spaces are very popular here. Chakana Coworking is located in the same building as YuraVeg and Pacha Kuna. Ecuador is a bit behind the technological curve, but they’re working hard to catch up and I’m guessing coworking places like this are helping.

Chakana Coworking

Cuenca Fashion

We video a lot of clothing storefronts to show that Cuenca and South America is a modern city with modern fashion. Weddings are also a huge thing here, so there are lots of bridal shops. I can’t find a website for this one, which is common in Ecuador. Most places at least have a Facebook page, but I couldn’t find one of those either.

AD Bridal Cuenca

Street Performers

Most major intersections in Cuenca have entertaining street performers. You’ll see everything from guitar players to firebreathers to jugglers with clown noses. And they’re extremely talented!

Juggler

Juggler 2

First Tranvía Sighting

We don’t live near the new Tranvía rail system here in Cuenca so we haven’t filmed it in operation until recording this video. We’ll take a ride on it at some point to give you the full experience.

Cuenca Tranvía

Gas Truck Sighting

We’ve talked about the gas trucks in a few of our videos, but we were able to record part of the song today. If you’re curious about the song lyrics, I spent several hours one day translating them: Cuenca Gas Truck Song Lyrics & English Translation.

Gas Truck

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!

Caught In The Rain + Organic Food Shopping at Tienda Néctar Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 23)

Today we ventured down to Tienda Néctar Cuenca located in El Centro, one of our favorite organic food markets. They carry a few things like tahini, dates and organic soaps that can be difficult to find. They also get Braggs Liquid Aminos on occasion.

After Tienda Néctar, we came back home for lunch and then left again for Jungle Gym back in El Centro on Calle Larga. On our way back home, we got caught in a rainstorm. We waited for about 10 minutes in the ATM kiosk at Banco Pichincha and then under the awning at the Valgus Hotel.

Tienda Néctar Cuenca Ecuador

Tienda Néctar Cuenca Ecuador

There are lots of little organic markets in Cuenca Ecuador, but unlike some of them, the owners at Tienda Néctar Cuenca speak fluent english. That means they can help you find things more easily, and they’ll even special order some things for you.

They offer a variety of organic products, from nut butters to soaps to wine. It’s not a vegan market so they do carry a few animal based products, but not many. They also offer therapeutic massage and juicing protocols, if that’s your thing. You can learn more about them on their Facebook page.

Chinnu from Namaste Indian

Unlike back in Denver, we run into people we know on the street nearly every time we leave the house. Since everyone walks here, it’s much more common to pass someone on the street. That means we actually get to interact with people a lot more.

Chinnumol from Namaste India Restaurant Cuenca Ecuador

Chinnu is the hostess at Namaste India Restaurant on Calle Larga y Benigno Malo, one of our very favorite restaurants in Cuenca. And one of the reasons we love going there is Chinnu’s happy demeanor and infectious smile. She always makes us feel right at home.

Recipes on LottaVeg.com

Beets Radishes Cuenca Ecuador

Our other website is LottaVeg.com where we post our plant-based, vegan recipes and meal plans. I mentioned two recipes in the video: Ginger Vinaigrette Beets and Sauteéd Radishes. They’re a very tasty way to eat veggies that a lot of people don’t like. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our trip to Tienda Nectar 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.

Sabatino’s Artisanal Market in Cuenca Ecuador + Belly Dancing & Music Festival (Episode 4)

Today, we visited Sabatino’s Artisanal Market here in Cuenca Ecuador to get some organic peanut butter, vegan fudge, bread and other stuff. Then we stumbled upon a music festival at Otorongo Plaza celebrating 80 year anniversary of a local music conservatory. We ended our day in the life at Fratello for a delicious lunch and belly dancing performed by Academia Profesional de Danza Clásica “Tersícore”.

People & Places

Yo Soy Groot (I Am Groot)

Tomebamba Graffiti Cuenca Ecuador

American pop culture is very, well, popular here. American TV commercials, movies, music, billboards, fast food restaurants and even graffiti art can be found everywhere, just like this tribute to the loveable Guardians of the Galaxy character, Groot. Even Yoda and Darth Maul can be found brandishing their infamous lightsabers.

Yoda Graffiti Cuenca Ecuador

Graffiti is a prevalent blemish on an otherwise clean city. In an effort to cover some of it, graffiti artists (probably the same ones responsible for the unsanctioned graffiti) are hired to paint large murals like this one. Most of these murals have remained untagged so it appears to be an effective deterrent.

However, if they really want to curtail the non-artistic graffiti, they need a national registry for spray paint, and a minimum age to buy it.

Tomebamba River Walk Cuenca Ecuador

Tomebamba River Walk Cuenca Ecuador

The Tomebamba riverwalk in Cuenca, Ecuador is one of the most beautiful cobblestone paths on the planet. It’s lush and green, and lined with flowering trees and bushes. It follows the Tomebamba river from Otorongo Plaza on the west side of El Centro to Parque Paraiso on the east side.

There are also several restaurants along the path with amazing views of the river and patios that are perfect for people watching.

Bike Lanes a Plenty in Cuenca, Ecuador

Bike Lanes Cuenca Ecuador

Bike lanes are being added all over to make the city more bicycle friendly. They want to encourage more people to ride their bikes to work and school. The main reason for this initiative is to reduce the increasing traffic congestion and pollution, but also to improve people’s health.

Like most developing countries, Ecuador is seeing a rise in diet and exercise related health problems as people transition away from their traditional starchy fruit, vegetable and whole grain diets with minimal meat, to the western diet that’s high in processed foods, fast foods, sugar, salt and animal products.

With economic growth and easier access to cars, motorcycles, smartphones and TV’s, Ecuadorians are also spending less time walking and exercising. As a result, “Over the past decade, Ecuador has experienced a higher burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, ischemic heart disease and pneumonia, which are now the leading causes of death. Overweight and obesity are widely prevalent across all age groups.” [source]

It’s additionally distressing to hear unhealthy gringos doling out nutrition advice. Ecuadorians are being told to eat less of their traditional low-fat, starchy diets that have kept them lean for millenium. Instead, they’re being told to replace their traditional foods with more meat, dairy and eggs…the very foods (along with processed foods) that have already created a health epidemic in western developed countries.

The “diseases of affluence” like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc., are largely due to the increase in saturated fats and calories from animal products, combined with a more sedentary lifestyle. The best advice we gringos could give the Ecuadorians is to ignore the western nutrition advice and go back to the way they used to eat. Oh, and put down the smartphone and go for a walk.

Magnolia Café in Otorongo Plaza

Magnolia Cafe Cuenca Ecuador

Magnolia Café in Otorongo Plaza (Plaza del Otorongo, en español) on the east side of El Centro has a descent veggie burger, delicious papas fritas (French fries) and reasonably priced Club Verdes. They also have a really nice covered patio with a good view of Otorongo Plaza that’s perfect for people watching.

Be sure to ask for your papas fritas “sin mayonesa,” which means “without mayonnaise.” Most of the restaurants that we’ve been to in Ecuador serve papas fritas with mayonnaise instead of ketchup, and it’s usually served in little bowls so it gets thrown out if you don’t eat it. Ketchup is called “salsa de tomate” and mustard is called “mostaza” so ask for that instead.

Sabatino’s Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador

Sabatinos Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador

Sabatino’s Artisanal Market occurs on the first Saturday of the month and it’s at Tutto Matto on Ave. Solano on the third Saturday of the month. You can keep track of the popup markets on GringoPost.

These popup markets aren’t vegan, but they do have lots of vegan options, like bread from ArteSana and organic peanut butter and vegan fudge from Franco Orgánico.

Franco Orgánico at Sabatino’s Artisanal Market in Cuenca Ecuador

Franco Orgánico Cuenca Ecuador

One of our favorite vendors at Sabatino’s artisanal market is Franco Orgánico. He sells the most delicious natural organic peanut butter, vegan fudge, sweet potatoes, vegan crackers, coffee, squash and other things. He’s fluent in English and loves to tell us about his foods. He also sells in Loja and Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador.

Franco Orgánico Peanuts Cuenca Ecuador

Franco’s peanuts come from an ancient species of peanut that look and taste different than what we’re used to in the states. They have a different shape, they’re softer and they have a milder flavor. He makes his peanut butter by grinding the peanuts without any other ingredients. No preservatives, oil or other mystery chemicals. It’s all natural and delicious!

Fresh Bread from ArteSana

ArteSana Kelvert Cuenca Ecuador

Our favorite bread vender at Cuenca’s popup markets is ArteSana Panadería y Pastelería (bakery and cake shop). Not all of their products are vegan, so be sure to ask. But most of their bread is vegan, like their delicious sourdough bread and chia seed loaves. Tell Kelbert Amelia And JP sent you!

Music Festival at Otorongo Plaza

Accordion Float Cuenca Ecuador

As we were leaving Sabatino’s, this single parade float was passing by so we followed it to Otorongo Plaza. Ecuador has over 500 holidays a year, so it’s common to see small parades and festivals on the weekends, as well as during the week.

The music festival at Otorongo Plaza was celebrating the 80th birthday of the Conservatorio José María Rodríguez here in Cuenca. The sign on the float reads: 80 years – The accordion area pays homage to the conservatory. Accordions are a popular instrument in Ecuador, and you’ll often see them being played on street corners for tips (propinas). These are teenagers playing them on the float.

We’re pretty sure this float was part of a larger parade up the hill from Otorongo Plaza in El Centro because a lot of people and marching musicians came down the stairs while we were watching.

Music Festival Otorongo Stairs Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia and her Café at Magnolia

Amelia Cafe Magnolia Cuenca Ecuador

We decided to grab a seat on the patio of Magnolia Café to watch the festivities and enjoy una taza de café Americano (a cup of Americano coffee).

Dancing at the Music Festival

Music Festival Dancing Cuenca Ecuador

Unfortunately, the video and the pictures of the music festival came out blurry due to an equipment malfunction. We were really disappointed because the dancing and dancers were so beautiful in their vintage dresses. 😔

Taxi Ride Back to Fratello

Taxi Ride Cuenca Ecuador

After we left the music festival, we walked across the river to Fratello, but it had started to mist and the temperature had dropped so we went home first to get some warmer clothes.

We normally walk everywhere, averaging more than 5 miles per weekday and 10 miles on the weekend. But to save time, we took a taxi back to Fratello, which is about 1.5 miles from our house.

Taxis are very affordable here. As you can see from the little yellow and green meter on the dashboard, we were almost to Fratello and it only cost $1.37. It was less than $2 with tip for a 10 minute cab ride. We’ve been told it’s common to tip 10 to 25 cents, but we usually round up to the nearest cincuenta centavos (50 cents).

We also like to practice our Spanish with the cab drivers. It’s a good use of time and they usually like talking about their city and lives in Cuenca. Don’t be surprised if they ask you personal questions, like how much money you make, if you’re married, have kids, how many kids or why you don’t have any kids. Children are a central part of the Latin culture and it’s common for Ecuadorian couples to have 3 or more kids, so a lot of the conversation revolves around children.

Fratello Vegan – Cuenca’s Only Fully Vegan Restaurant

Fratello Vegan Cuenca Ecuador

Fratello Vegan is one of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca. They have delicious vegan comfort food, like pizza, burritos, empanadas and ice cream. It’s a little off the beaten path, so you probably won’t stumble upon it by accident. However, it has a beautiful view of the Tomebamba River from its outdoor patio.

While the patio area is covered and they have heaters, it can get a little chilly there on an overcast or rainy day, so be sure to dress in layers and take a jacket.

Helado Vegano (Vegan Ice Cream)

Fratello Vegan Ice Cream Cuenca Ecuador

Helado (ice cream) is extremely popular in Ecuador. You’ll often see lots of people walking down the street eating an ice cream cone, and it seems like every street has una heladería (an ice cream shop). However, while most heladerías have at least one vegan option, Fratello is the only fully vegan heladería in Cuenca.

And they make the most amazing vegan ice cream! I had the chocolate mint ice cream and it tasted just like a peppermint patty. Amelia had the wine ice cream and it was delicious, too.

Belly Dancing at Fratello Vegan

Fratello Vegan Belly Dancing Cuenca Ecuador

Fratello also hosts a variety of cultural, health and vegan related events. Today, we were treated to a belly dancing performance by Academia Profesional de Danza Clásica “Tersícore”. The woman on the right is the instructor, Caterina, who teaches classes in the ATS style of belly dancing.

Amelia is taking belly dancing classes from Julio at The Tribal Fusion House, a different instructor who is part of the Tribal Fusion style of belly dancing. I’m not qualified to discuss the differences, but both look fun and beautiful to me.

Fratello Vegan Belly Dancing Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia Enjoying a Belly Dancing Class at Fratello Vegan

Fratello Vegan Belly Dancing Class Cuenca Ecuador

After the kids and professionals performed, Caterina taught a class and Amelia was very excited to participate in it. It’s the first time I’ve seen Amelia belly dance and I was really impressed, especially since she’s only been taking lessons for a short time. You can watch the full video below.

And she’s almost 50 years old! After 2 years of eating a plant-based, vegan diet, she has really rolled back time!

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our adventure to Sabatino’s Artisanal Market, the Music Festival at Otorongo Plaza and Belly Dancing at Fratello Vegan 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

yo soy Groot – I am Groot
orgánico – organic
¿Cómo se dice? – How do you say?
Panadería y Pastelería – bakery and cake shop
sin mayonesa – without mayonnaise
salsa de tomate – ketchup
mostaza – mustard
papas fritas – French fries
80 años: el área de acordeón rinde homenaje al Conservatorio – 80 years: The accordion area pays homage to the conservatory
propinas – tips
una taza de café Americano – a cup of Americano coffee
cincuenta centavos – 50 cents
Vamos al restaurante Fratello – We’re going to the Fratello restaurant
Está a la derecha un poco más lejos. – It’s on the right a little further.
¿Sabe Fratello? – Do you know Fratello?
helado – ice cream
una heladería – an ice cream shop
¿Cómo está la empanada? – How is the empanada?