Some of you have asked if there is a kitchen in our new apartment. Yes, there is. I just didn’t get pictures of the kitchen prior to my last post.
Our apartment was rented unfurnished, which in Ecuador means sans appliances and any other furniture. Partially furnished will often come with some or all of the major appliances and maybe a piece of furniture or two. Fully furnished will come with appliances (cooktop, fridge, microwave minimum) and maybe even an oven, washer and dryer, and enough other stuff to move in including beds, furniture, linens, kitchen pots and pans and utensils, etc.
The kitchen is very similar to an American kitchen. This one has lots of counter space, a double sink with drain board, room for any size fridge, room for a free standing gas range, and lots of cupboards. It even has a small table, though there really isn’t enough room to comfortably sit at it and have someone use the kitchen at the same time. In addition, there is a small bathroom with smaller shower, a large (80 square foot) room with no window, which could be used for storage, small bedroom, pantry, etc., and an area for laundry – washer/ gas dryer and laundry sink. This whole area is separated from the living/dining area by a swinging door.
The calefon (instant water heater) is the white box on the wall by the bathroom door and uses propane.
A few things that are a bit different:
1. There are no screens on the windows. At 8200 feet, there are few flying insects.
2. Everything is gas – propane. There is no ubiquitous gas delivery to every building here as there is in towns and cities in the United States. Propane is cheap. They told us to expect a monthly gas bill under $5.00. In houses, gas is delivered by truck vendors in bottles. You flag down the truck and they swap out your bottle – about 4 gallons of propane – and you pay the man about $3.00. The price is subsidized and set by the government. For our Edificio de Apartamentos (apartment building) there is one large tank the association fills, each apartment is metered and we pay for what we use every month.
3. 98% of places in Ecuador do not have heaters or air conditioners. With average temperatures between 40F and 70F, there is no need. For those who are cold blooded, there are blankets and layers. Electric space heaters, electric water heaters, and electric clothes dryers can push your electric bill over $50.00 fast. There is no insulation in most buildings and windows are mostly single pane. The Ecuadorian government is trying to get new construction to put in new induction type electric cooktops and ovens as they are pretty energy efficient.
4. Many washers and dryers are outside on patios. Most people hang their clothes on lines so they don’t have the utility expense. It doesn’t freeze here so that makes sense. Our apartment doesn’t have patios so our laundry is in the kitchen.
5. Electricity is expensive and totals most of the utility budget. Even really nice apartments and houses don’t often have nice light fixtures or even very many fixtures. Many ceiling lights are simply a socket hung by a wire with a bare bulb. This apartment has quite a lot of ceiling lights and all are recessed or fixtures. I am going to have to look for LED bulbs as the halogens are going to be expensive to use. Our entire apartment is powered with two 20 amp 120 volt breakers and two 30 amp 120 volt breakers. Sufficient as we have gas appliances so they only power the outlets and the lights. No adaptors needed here, the power and outlets are the same as in the United States.
6. All large items include free delivery. They know many of their customers have no way to move large items. There are also Mixto delivery drivers all over the place. You can use an app to call one, get a number for a good one from a friend, or flag one down.
There are many sources for furniture in Cuenca. There are “garage sales”. We went to a Gringo garage sale this morning and picked up some kitchen storage jars, an electric hand mixer, a fan, and a small table for $21.00. The fan alone would cost $24.00 new here. Yesterday we responded to an add for a fridge for sale from a Gringo who is moving – $300.00, retail about $550.00. We now have a fridge, just have to arrange to move it. Facebook Marketplace and Gringopost.com are two good places here to find things for sale.
There are Tiendas de Muebles (furniture stores). We visited several before finding one that has chairs we liked. We were able to choose our colors, our fabric, the type of wood and the color of finish for the wood. Their Fabrica (factory) will make the furniture and deliver it to us. We chose two chairs and had the chair style stretched so we could also have a two seater sofa. We bought a mattress from this store which they will deliver separately. Mattresses have price ranges from $150.00 to over $2000.00 same as anywhere else. Some are imported and many are made here. We will see if the one we chose is comfortable.
Used stores are everywhere. You can pick up lightly used furniture, often that brought down by other Gringos from Europe, Canada and the US. A lot of it is good quality but very inexpensive.
Carpenters and furniture makers. There are a LOT of craftsmen here. You can have furniture made for you. Just give them a picture or drawing, agree on the type of wood, finish and fabric and they will give you a price. 2 to 4 weeks later your furniture appears. We met with one carpenter who is making us a cat tree for los gatos. We gave him dimensions for a dining room table, 4 chairs and two nightstands and are waiting for a price.
We are still in our temporary rental as we don’t have enough furniture to live in the new apartment and technically don’t take possession until the 10th, though we have the keys. We have been moving small items in over the last few days. A lot of walking – we are tired este fin de semana (this weekend).
Adios for now.