Friday, June 3, 2016
It’s off to Popacuchu’s for breakfast and the internet. This little restaurant at the upper end of Primero de Mayo is owned by two gringos. Pete runs the front and does the serving while his wife Michelle does all the cooking. We often go for breakfast and usually end up buying a homemade loaf of bread or one of the dozen different types of desserts. She is a phenomenal baker.
We sign the lease on our new apartment at 11 am, and it is one block from this restaurant. Our realtor is Liza, a very well dressed and appointed Ecuadorian woman who talks a lot and seems to have one crazy thing or another causing her to be late for appointments. She is so nice though that it is hard to be annoyed with her.
Miriam is the woman who owns the building we will be living in. It is a three story red brick building with a wide tiled staircase that goes up to the third floor.
On all the walls inside this building are beautiful works of art, large drawings and paintings of horses primarily, that adorn the walls and catch the eye as you walk up the different levels.
This is a family owned building. Miriam lives on the first floor with her husband Stevan and adult son Pedro. Her daughter, who I haven’t met, lives on the second floor, and now we will live on the third floor.
Miriam is an artist. Her family is from Spain and they seem cultured and refined. Oh boy…how many tines does the salad fork have? In truth, my meetings with Miriam reveal a very warm and kind woman.
This building is surrounded by a green field on its left, a pasture with horses behind, and what was a pasture, now becoming a groomed park, on its right. It sits across the street from the Yanuncay river which we can clearly see from our windows and from our terrace, where we also hear the flow of the river. Muy tranquilo.
Our apartment is filled with furniture, interesting couches, chairs, tables, and armoires of different designs, shapes, and materials. The large room is arranged with two distinct conversational areas and a dining area, off the kitchen, that faces the terrace and the Caja mountains beyond. The red brick walls of this room have colorful art, oils and watercolors, hanging on them adding warmth to the room.
It is an older building and the bathrooms and kitchen are dated. They look good, are well kept, but have a 1950’s feel to me. I know the building isn’t this old, but the sinks and showers have an older, classic porcelain look to them.
This is the crazy thing about this apartment. We had seen it two hours before we signed the lease on the place we are moving out of. The realtor showing us this apartment called after being out of town and talked us into looking at it before we signed on the other. We did and we liked it, but we thought because of location and layout we would like the place we are now leaving better. Oh if only we had known.
We called that realtor back to help us in our current search of a new place to live. She explained that the apartment we had looked at with her was now available. It was rented to gringos who had an emergency and had to go back to the States. I declined to see it thinking it was further from El Centro than I wanted to be, and since we were moving we might as well get closer.
We found our third realtor Liza from a referral by a gringo we met in Popacuchu’s. When we called her she said she had the perfect place for us. Low and behold, it was the same apartment we had passed on…twice. This time though we chose to go in and look at it again.
After three weeks of looking at apartments and houses all over Cuenca and knowing the layout of the city better now after living here for a month, what we thought were deal breakers on this place weren’t any longer. Its location is farther from El Centro than I would like, but it is still manageable. The older fixtures in the apartment are in good working order and fit with the charm of the décor. As Easton says, “The interior has the look of what he thinks a home in the Andes of Ecuador would look like.”
For me I recognized that this place carried a charm that none of the other places we looked at possessed. On the practical points it has lots of closets and storage, does not appear to transfer sound well from the apartments below, does not have Zumba at 6:30 am across the street every morning, and is very well furnished. Where do I sign?!
We made arrangements with Liza and Miriam to return tomorrow morning to sign the contract. I have had to work through a lot of emotional attachments leaving Bahia and work to create a better mindset since arriving in Cuenca. It has been hard for me to find the right place to live here; a place that feels right in my body and vibrates the right energy when I am in it. I think this place might be it.