Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Get Back Up

Have you ever dreamed about accomplishing a goal or made a life changing decision, that could alter your lifestyle and that of your family? I have and I am sure if you ask Kim she will tell you I have done this a few more times than she anticipated. There are times in your life when discussions arise to deviate or venture into an unknown area. For the majority of my life I have followed the traditional norm and provided for my family, as expected by society.

As most of you know, I have pursued a couple of concepts that have not suceeded. I have a multitude of acquaintances that have the same trait. You know who you are! We, from time to time have a thought or fundamental hypothesis that we know is going to be the next Ipad! The fleeting thought grows, festers and rumbles around and through our brain until we are compelled to take action and follow our gut.

I have had two such actions and the first as many of you know, resulted in a loss of the majority of our life savings and was basically a fiasco. The second was an urge to follow a dream and find an exodus to our country's drama and disregard for its population. We have a definitive split between the haves and the have nots in our great country and I do not see any actions that would alter my perception at this time.

Don't get me wrong. I passionately love our country and all the theories and philosophies it was founded on. I am enamored with the founding fathers undertakings and how moved they must have been, to leap into such an unknown territory. I applaud their courage and the risks taken.

At the end of the day I think my and that of my friends propensity to leap into projects, is a characteristic entitled being a "Risk Taker". This is high on the traits associated with very successful individuals and if you seriously evaluate the major thriving and prosperous businesses and enterprises, they were started or built by mortal human beings with an idea or concept that at first appeared, as off the charts in nature.

Each have a story and each have failed and failed miserably at some time in their lives. They will tell you though that at the end of the day they have a solid proclivity to arise after each failure and start a new venture. This action "Getting Back Up" is paramount to success. Each of the big hitters like Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Donald Trump will tell you, without trepidation that they are where they are in life because they were willing to take risks and got back up after each failure.

My recent escapade into Ecuador, was and may still be, such an undertaking. Kim and I love to travel and take adventures in our life. This is/was such an undertaking. Ecuador is really a wonderful place to retire (#1 in "International Living" magazine), has a ridiculous cost of living, wonderful food and a population that is friendly and with high ethics. My only issue is whether or not I can adjust to the altitude in Cuenca over time. I have to try again.

I have learned a few lessons from my trip and will "Get Back Up" from this endeavor and more than likely continue to take risks. Kim has told me many times that if I don't follow my dreams, I will be forever tainted by not taking the leap. I agree and hence my jump into the writing industry. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and there was a need for me to leave Ecuador prematurely and come back to Texas and begin a more serious approach to my writing career.

So I am back "up" and will concentrate on my writing very heavily. If I don't return calls, emails, Facebook messages or tweets, as fast any more, it isn't because I don't care. Its because I am jumping once again, off the cliff and diving head first into my writing career. I rarely use my cell phone or even keep it close. If you need to make contact please use email.

Now.....I am serioulsy making another life changing decision. Peace, God Bless and always, always "Get Back Up" when you fall.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cuenca Foods

Sorry, but I have been writing on my novel and haven't dedicated time to completing my Ecuadorian blogs, as promised. Omar and I are food aficionados and have experienced many excellent restaurants in our time, working and traveling together. I am not sure exactly how he will respond to this, but I found a smorgasbord of eateries in Cuenca and the surrounding areas, unparalleled in my life.

As mentioned in a prior blog, Alberto the manager and owner of Casa Ordonez, was instrumental in obtaining a reservation for Omar and myself our first night in Cuenca at Tiestos. This establishment is what many consider the premier dining experience in the city. Our first night was a Saturday and it is unheard of to obtain a last minute reservation, but Alberto in his wisdom procured one for Omar and I at 7:30 PM. That would seem the busy time of the evening to most of us, but the evening meal in Ecuador is usually served at 9:00 PM or after and this is actually a slower time for most restaurants.

Yet, when we entered our table was the only empty table. Immediately we noticed that the patronage was mainly Ex Pats from Europe and the US. We struck up a conversation with a group from Europe and they told us we had to order the Langostinos. There really wasn't a wait and we were seated almost immediately.

One of the details you will learn, if you visit Cuencan eating establishments, is that most serve small condiment offerings that are excellent and have amazing flavors. We usually had a tomato based "salsa" (not what you might expect if you are comparing with our salsas), but Tiestos was supreme. Additionally there is an eggplant condiment and various vegetable and spice combinations. They are unbelievable and sufficiently whet your appetite.

They brought a shrimp and potato soup that Juan Carlos Solano (chef and owner) recommended was exceptional and I am glad that Juan Carlos convinced us to order the soup. Our entree was the Langostinos recommended by the European group. The prawns were the size of small lobsters and had the same texture. I am drooling now thinking of the meal. It was a dinner I will remember the rest of my life. The secret is that we had this meal with tip and tax for less than $50.00.

Tiestos Shrimp and Potato Soup

Juan Carlos Solano with Omar and I

Tiestos Infamous Langostinos

Hopefully these pictures will assist you in your evaluation of Tiestos. If you are in Cuenca please stop by and you will not be disappointed. This is a link to the web site for Tiestos Restaurant:

The next night we ate at a place called Dorados I believe. It was one of the few places open on Sunday. As I stated above most dinners are eaten at 9:00 PM or later and after lunch most Ecuadorians take a two hour siesta from 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM and a great deal of the businesses close these two hours.

Dorados is located in a hotel and this is where we met Monica and Tom Mac Naughton. Tom and Omar had the trout which Omar literally cleaned to the bone. Monica had a beef entree I believe and she finished it. I had Paella as mentioned in a prior blog. It was so full of seafood that I couldn't finish the meal. First time for everything people. The bill for all four was right at $40 with tax and tip.

We had dinner one night at I believe La Vina which is an Italian place and I had a shrimp fettuccine. Omar had a risotto if I remember correctly. For appetizer Omar ordered a small pizza which La Vina is known for. The problem is that is was a large by our standard. He had a couple of slices and I had one and then could not finish my shrimp fettuccine. The food again was unbelievable and the bill with tax and tip was $35.

There were a multitude of places we ate at and lunches ran $2.50 to $7.00 and dinners were from $7.00 to $25.00 on the extreme high side. You can literally get by on around $15 a day for all three meals if you don't frequent high end establishments and eat out all the time.

The food is amazing, cheap and the service is beyond reproach. I would imagine over time that Cuenca will climb the "tourist trap" destinations and become very popular with the cost of living so cheap and the great food. It is already described as the number one place to retire according to International Living.