Piedra de Agua

You ever have a moment, day or days when you felt like you just wanted to be led by the hand and have someone else make the decisions for you? To be given all the answers before you even ask the questions? Then come to Piedra de Agua.

Between cedula business, our ministry, getting the apartment finished, getting to know our way around, i.e navigating on the bus system, and being sick with stomach illnesses (me, not Chet and that’s another blog entirely) we haven’t really been “tourists”. So we decided to take a couple of days and take a much needed vacation in our hometown and surroundings. Ecuador is approximately the size of Colorado but it packs a significant punch when it comes to diversity of things to see, do and experience with all your senses.

Piedra de Agua is a natural thermal spa about a 20 minute ride outside of Cuenca. We decided to take a taxi but you can take a #12 or #200 bus. The taxi was $5. I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves but let me just tell you that this was beyond relaxing! We chose to do the Wellness Package for two. The package includes a 30 minute relaxation massage, a steam bath, a soak in a volcanic red mud pool that is full of minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, calcium and potassium. Next a shower in a volcanic shower, then soak in the blue mud pool (manganese, gold, and quartz minerals) and again back to the shower. Next there is a soak in the contrasting underground thermal pools, yeah 10 minutes in the hot pool and a heart stopping, gasping plunge into the cold pool for 1 minute. Ahhhhh, ooooooh, yikes!! You do that 2x, my friend. For your reward you now get a treat of a fruit plate, some dipping chocolate and your choice of champagne, wine, or fresh juice. No, the pampering isn’t over yet! On to the steam boxes for 10-15 minutes, shower and back outside for the thermal pools, hot and cold, your pleasure. You can swim, float, soak, etc. for as long as you like. Altogether we spent 4 hours there and could have spent all day. We did not have to think about what to do next The. Whole. Time. they lead you where you should go next as smooth jazz plays in the background. There is also a beautiful restaurant on site for lunch or dinner.  Piedra de Agua is open from 6a.m to about 10p.m. I heard it’s absolutely beautiful at night, and there’s 2×1 some afternoons/evenings and on Mondays. Check it out when (not if) you come down here, you won’t be disappointed! Oh, and btw the package was $55 per person ($110 for 2 and you have to have 2 for that price). Yes, I’m serious it includes the delicious snack. If you are flying solo no worries, it’s $30 for all the pools and as much mud as you can play in. Massages are $20 extra.

Pictures coming right up. The last picture is of my first talk in Spanish last Wednesday. The friends said they understood it…they are so loving.

Piedra de Agua entrance
Piedra de Agua entrance
Massage room & table
Massage room & table

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Grounds of Piedra de Agua
Grounds of Piedra de Agua
Steam boxes
Steam boxes
Thermal pool
Thermal pool

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1st Spanish talk in Paraiso congregation
1st Spanish talk in Paraiso congregation

The blog to answer all emails

12:06 a.m January 1, the sound of explosions rouse us from a fitful sleep. The sky is on fire. Chet is happy to take my word for it and turns over. Ever curious, I wander outside. From our 3rd floor patio I look out on the most incredible scene of my 53 years, (ha! now you know how old I am! No biggie, right?).  From every window in the apartment there is the sound and sight of hundreds (no exaggeration) of exploding Roman Candles, Shells, Fountains and Repeaters over the city. The streets are lit up with firecrackers, sparklers and the burning of dummies that represent prominent people in the belief that they bring good luck for the New Year. These dummies are prominently displayed for sale along the streets as the last day of the old year progresses. Young boys in drag stand in the streets and pressure passing cars to stop and give them money. Our normally quiet street is a carnival, people dancing with masks and dressed in all manner of outlandish costumes. Halloween is no big deal here, but this pageantry exceeds that holiday in the States. We had our meeting tonight, they used to cancel it because of the hullabaloo but not anymore. I’m glad, although we had light attendance. A lot of the friends stayed home to escape the foolishness I’m guessing. Next year we will think about taking a vacation from the city.

Fireworks over Cuenca
Fireworks over Cuenca

I wanted to address a lot of the emails I’ve gotten asking for advice about life here in Ecuador and making the transition. We have been surprised and delighted and truly honored that so many friends are reading the meanderings of my wandering mind and are seeking to “step over into Macedonia”. Whether that is here or elsewhere. Questions regarding flushing toilet paper, bringing a pet, where certain congregations are, appropriate footwear, cost of living, etc. etc. are all valid and important questions. Unfortunately we are not able to answer them all. Our lives are busier than ever before and I am sure you understand our inability to get back to individual emails. With that being said, we will respond to 1 kind of email, if you need an attorney for a cedula, we have an excellent reference for a brother and sister here in Cuenca.

Otherwise, you may want to check out these resources:
1. Gringopost
2. Gringo Tree
3. Gringos Abroad (written by Witnesses for everyone)
4. jw.org (for meeting locations and times including sign language)
5. Cuenca Highlife
all of the above are blogs/websites that offer a wealth of up-to-date information, plus you can post questions with the exception of jw.org of course!
6. Living and Retiring in Cuenca, Ecuador, 101 Questions Answered-this is a book you can download for about $2.99 from Amazon.com it was very helpful to us at the beginning.
7. Go to spy out the land. Our coming here for 3 weeks before we decided to move was invaluable. We heard about rents through word of mouth and actually did not wind up looking for an apartment, it came to us. That won’t be everyone’s experience but talking to friends and taking the time to temporarily experience the life you will have goes a long way in “counting the cost” of your move on all levels.

Hope this helps and now I’m going to take a much needed siesta! Hasta Luego!

Chet captures a moment showing videos to some sweet kids in Parque  Paraiso, they took a break from working on their fruit wagon.
Chet captures a moment showing videos to some sweet kids in Parque Paraiso, they took a break from working on their fruit wagon.