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Lino Ramirez, USA trained electrician

I would like to highly recommend Lino Ramirez for the following reasons: Lino speaks fluent English, offers free estimates, he is on time as agreed, explains the repair process and offer options, will ask you to inspect the completed work for your satisfaction, cleans up after the work is completed and is honest. Lino is very personable and his pricing is very reasonable. I will be using Lino's skills again in the near future for electrical projects at my house.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: linoramirez2000@yahoo.com

Recommended by Julian G:  myplc4jg@gmail.com

Centro Ecuestre Bellavista, horseback riding

If you have the slightest inkling of riding horses this is the place to go. Sebastian is very kind and will only give you a horse as to your ability. And even if you are not sure he will tell you what each horse will or will not do.

I went there with my adult daughter and three grandchildren ages 8, 11, 14. The two older boys have ridden for only about 45 minutes in the States. And the 8-year-old had never ridden before. Matter of fact as according to Sebastian he was shaking when he got him on the horse. We went on a leisurely two-hour ride. A few of the horses galloped towards the end of the ride. But that was because the two older boys and daughter wanted to. Everyone had fun and thoroughly enjoyed the ride, scenery and Sebastian. We thought the kids would be hurting the following day, but no, they wanted to go again.

Best to make reservations so Sebastian can have the horses ready. And you will not have to wait if there is a large group before you.

Address: Tarqui, Pan. Sur Km 7.7

Contact information: centroecuestrebellavista@hotmail.com 099 415 0643

Recommended by Nathanael Jackson:  jackjajunk@gmail.com

Mike at Bodyworks, massage / stretching

Huge recommendation for BodyWorks.

Bodyworks ran a special last week that I took advantage of.

I was wanting to try the stretching because of the normal everyday aches and pains seem to last longer as the day wares on. I had a stretching session followed by a fantastic massage.

I was a bit apprehensive about going but once everything was explained to me why I was having the pains that I had it made perfect sense.

It’s been almost a week and I can’t believe how good I feel.

He said that this type of therapy is permanent that I will have new neuromuscular memory, he was right, I now get out of bed without hurting, I also sleep better (my arms don’t fall asleep any more).

Go try it. You will be happy you did.

I will definitely be going back for one of the best massages I’ve had in a long time.

Thanks again Mike.

Address: Fernando de Argon and Don Bosco

Contact information: dobodyworks@gmail.com 098 379 7226

Recommended by Bell Flanigan:  bellfastclass12@gmail.com

Juan Antonio, JEP employee

The JEP at the Mall del Rio has a wonder and patience speaking employee named Juan Antonio. So good to have him there to help with banking.

Address: Mall del Rio

Contact information:  07 413 5000

Recommended by Wanda Canon: 099 822 8698

JD’s Muebles, Craven Ian, Cuenca used furniture

The best experience ever in Cuenca. We bought a washer and dryer. Ian took me by surprise. He constantly whatsapped me to make sure if I had the right outlook. If the gas was on. what type of connector etc.? He arrived on time with delivery and installed both appliances and waited till I tested them to make sure that all was good.

I would go to Cuenca Used furniture again if I needed to buy anything for my home.

Address: Ave 1 de Mayo 3-73 y Felipeli

Contact information: iancraven45@gmail.com 097 919 1839

Recommended by Kash Sabir:  kashmira@ksitadvisor.com

Priscila Alvarado, Hairsytlist/cosmetologist

How fortunate I am to have found Priscila. On the first try she did wonders with cutting my hair and highlighting it. I have thick, coarse hair and she knew just how to handle it. Her delightful personality makes it a joy to spend time with her. In addition, she studied cosmetology in England and goes early in the mornings to to put on make-up for the TV personalities. You'll also have an opportunity to practice your Spanish with Priscila. My Spanish is not that good, however, I was able to make my desires known. Other friends I have sent to her, have been very pleased with the results they had with Priscila doing any kind of request with their hair. Make an appointment soon with Priscila. You will be happy you did.

Address: Padre Aguirree 11-15 y Mariscal Lamar

Contact information:  095 924 3314 / 07 283 8208

Recommended by Luisa Nelson:  lnelsonjoy@yahoo.com

Teresa Hermida, Spanish tutor

I highly recommend my tutor and friend, Teresa Hermida, to all those who have a sincere desire to learn to speak Spanish. Teresa is patient, organized, encouraging, professional, and knows how to adapt her teaching style to your specific needs. Her rates are very reasonable. She will hold lessons at her house or come to you.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: tere.hermi@gmail.com 099 286 8940 or 07 282 2838

Recommended by Rose Richtmeyer:  roserichtmeyer@gmail.com

Ruedas Criados Yproducidos, organic chicken

Patricio delivers organic chicken to your home. Whole chickens cost between $10 and $12 depending on the weight. The chickens are always well cleaned and very tasty. Everyone on my block buys from him. He speaks English. Call 099 909 2418 or 095 877 1433.

Address: 4225 Oceanside Blvd, #H-349

Contact information: 099 909 2418

Recommended by Anne Howard: anne@howardfamilylaw.com

EcuaTouring Team, English-speaking drivers, tours

I highly recommend Pablo Mena and Amanda Mena (brother and sister) as English-speaking drivers and tour guides. I arrived in Ecuador one week ago and don't yet speak Spanish. Due to unexpected circumstances, I found myself needing a driver to pick me up in the outskirts of Quito and provide assistance with getting to an ATM and purchasing bus tickets to Cuenca.

Amanda and Pablo exceeded my expectations in their customer service. Understanding my situation in traveling alone without knowing the local language, they escorted me to the station and stayed with me until my bus arrived. Along the way as we drove into Quito, Pablo pointed out places of interest and gave some history of the Quito area.

Amanda responded quickly to my initial response for assistance, providing clear communication in working out the details, and offering a price quote. Their rates are very reasonable. They were prompt, conscientious and courteous.

I will certainly be contacting them when I return to Quito to see the sites. They provide personalized tours, covering all parts of Ecuador.

Address: Quito

Contact information: info@ecuatouring.com +593 99 519 8944

Recommended by Kathleen Stilwell:  kas_dreamer-4@yahoo.com

Dr. Gabrelia León, general dentist

She speaks good English. Very nice office on bus 16 line. Professional, kind and very reasonable. I had to have a few extractions. Dr. Leon made me feel at ease and explained everything. Dental cleaning was excellent.

I am thankful that I discovered her.

Address: Avenida González Suárez. Odontomax Dental Clinic on maps.me. South of airport.

Contact information:  099 666 4459

Recommended by Mary Ann Troxell:  maryatroxell@aol.com

housekeeper and Spanish lessons

I want to highly recommend Sara Teran for housekeeper and Spanish teacher. She will clean up all the mess on your house or apartment and teach the basic Spanish lessons and all you need to know about Ecuador. Also she can make all the bills payments and works for you like as facilitator, Please call for appointment. Thank you,

Address: Sara Teran

Contact information: sara.teran@outlook.com 099 650 0845

Recommended by Christian Ordo;ez: 099 573 4584

Trajes Principe, custom tailor shirt makers

I have lost 15 pounds since I have lived in Cuenca and went to Jerry to alter my pants which, on some, included the waist as well as the legs, etc. Jerry did a great job and now I look well-dressed again. He alters for both men and women. Give him a try. His prices are reasonable for the quality of work that he does.

Address: Sucre 13-19 Y Juan Montalvo

Contact information:  099 896 3504

Recommended by George Fedyna:  gfedyna@yahoo.com

Gabriela Leon, dentist

I have been very impressed by the medical community in Cuenca. The dental practitioners especially seem worthy of accolades. I had opportunity to be treated by Dr. Leon this week. I was scheduled on one day notice, had an x-ray done onsite, had a bad cavity under an old resin filling tended to and had my teeth cleaned while waiting for the anesthesia to kick in. Dr. Leon speaks English, is very patient and thorough. She can be flexible in scheduling and the  pricing is not "adjusted" for gringos. I've already made appointment to have more restorative work done that I'd deferred back in the States. You literally cannot afford not to go.

Address: Gonzalez Suarez and Paseo Milchichig ( Monay)

Contact information:  099 666 4450

Recommended by Doug Cutler:  dcutler@mundaca.com

Xiao Cocina International, restaurant

We had lunch at Xiao's yesterday and it was simply the best almuerzo I've had in a long time. The food was really fresh, perfectly seasoned, and very well presented. The decor is open and inviting. It was also very affordably priced. If you haven't had a chance to go yet, I recommend you put it on your list of places to try soon. Check out the photos of what we had, simply delish.

Address: Simón Bolivar and Vargas Machuca

Contact information:  099 706 5115

Recommended by DeLisa G:  princessmimzy@gmail.com

Celso Guaman, taxi/long distance rides

Long distance or local driver: When you want safety and reliability along with a reasonably priced, pleasant and fun experience - I strongly recommend Celso Guaman, a Cuencano native with 9 years driving experience, for all your local rides or for seeing more of Ecuador. 

I don't know about you, but when I wanted to explore Ecuador or get a ride from the Guayaquil or Quito airports, I wanted someone that, most importantly, exhibited safe driving habits and who offered private transportation, in a newer, well maintained and comfortable vehicle. Celso Guaman met that requirement with flying colors. I also hoped to find someone that was pleasant and fun to talk to given the hours of driving, knew something about the area and the culture, was flexible and preferably fluent in English. Once again, Celso Guaman fit the bill. If this is what you are looking for, don't hesitate to contact Celso at (cell) 096-929-9378, (email) celso3515@yahoo.com; (from the USA) 612-287-5077. He is also reachable via WhatsApp. I know he'll go the extra mile for you.

Address: Hermano Miquel 4-36Y, Calle Larga, Cuenca, Ecuador 010150

Recommended by Ardis Zidan:  ardiszidan@gmail.com

Shara Schilling, shopping tour

Shopping to cook at home – 3 hour tour

Perfect for those who have recently moved here or are visiting with the possibility of moving here.

Tour includes spending time at SuperMaxi, an open-air fruit and vegetable market, and smaller stores nearby to familiarize yourself with:

- what ingredients you can purchase and where
- what ingredients are not available
- what you will need to make from scratch
- common food items translated
- adjustments for baking at high altitude
- and most importantly, how to save money.

We had to learn the hard way. You don't have to.

$25 per person
$20 per person if you bring 2 friends

Email with questions or for reservations and meeting location.

Shara Schilling: shara.schilling@yahoo.com 098 335 9769

Address: Cuenca, Ecuador

Recommended by Mary Ann Troxell:  maryatroxell@aol.com

Tifozzi, restaurant

Tifozzi is a combination of Argentinian and Italian food. It's delicious. I have been twice now, and am so happy to have found such a gem of a restaurant. I can't recommend this place enough. The menu was huge with lots of options. The pizza menu was two pages. There are options for vegetarians and people who are gluten free. Overall, one of my new favorite places in Cuenca.

Address: Av. Remigio Crespo 1−34 Cuenca, Ecuador 010150

Contact information:  099 876 8598

Recommended by Jen Maneja: 099 281 3678

Taste of India, restaurant

My wife and I visited here last week and had a wonderful experience. Taste of India is located in the new containers. Park along with 10 other restaurants. It is close to the Stadium off Solano. The selection of different foods is great. Not to mention everyone, but there are gourmet burgers, Mexican, Lebanese, seafood, Indian, wings and more. The atmosphere is very casual as it is a covered and open-air setting. A great place for a group gathering.

We spoke with several of the vendors and wound up choosing Taste of India. The food and service were outstanding and the owner especially accommodating to our tastes. We had a very spicy chili beef, a large portion with rice and naan on the side and his chicken lollipops, four large drumsticks coated with a dark wonderful sauce along with rice, naan and a tasty cucumber yogurt dipping sauce. We felt it was very reasonable for the quality and quantity at $6.50 for each dish. There is a large central bar with beer, wine and cocktails.

We will certainly return soon and continue to work our way through the many choices offered here.

Address: Avenida Florencia Astudillo across from Parque de la Madre

Contact information:  099 709 7488

Recommended by Richard Griffin:  rgforfood@gmail.com

Mike Patella, chiropractor

I got out of my shower on Saturday morning, reached for my towel and displaced something in my neck that pinched a nerve. This was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced and I needed help right away. Although the clinical was closed and it was his day off, Mike agreed to see me that day. He adjusted my neck and back, resulting in immediate relief of my pain. I have been a patient of Mike's for two years now and he is amazing. His equipment is state of the art and he is a gifted and caring healer. I recommend him whole-heartedly.

Address: Raphael Maria Arizaga

petella@juno.com
Phone 099 577 9533


Recommended by Greg Jones:  cuenca.kcups@gmail.com

APAY, organic produce delivery

I would like to highly recommend a small group of farmers who work to produce organic vegetables.

I have been getting deliveries now for a few months and the produce is always fresh picked, delicious and good value for money.

Their name is APAY.

They take orders by Sunday or Wednesday to make deliveries on Tuesday and Friday to homes or departments in the mornings. You can contact Gerardo Alvarracín and he will supply a produce list.

They also have a Facebook page you can follow Apay Barabón.

If you don´t need a delivery, there are two farmer´s markets.

One is near to the veggie bar, across the river opposite Puertas del Sol bridge (Av Victor Manuel Albornoz) Mondays and Saturdays at 9.

The second one is near to the stadium in Roberto Crespo 3-56 y Luis Moreno Mora Tuesday from 9 AM. In "Dos Sucres Restaurant".

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: geryta83@hotmail.com 098 433 3715

Recommended by Becci Farley:  becci27479@hotmail.com

Julia Patiño, bird guide

Julia was described to me as "the best bird guide in Mindo" by the owner of my hotel. Julia arrived promptly at 6:30 AM with her Swarovski telescope in hand. We drove to the mountain area she deemed most populated by birds. In particular, she looked for macaws, and made many bird calls to summon them. At first the macaws were elusive, so we looked at other species. Julia's telescope was far more powerful than my telephoto camera lens, and she was able to lay my iPhone onto the lens for great closeup movies. During the course of the morning, we did see and photograph several species (Julia's range of bird calls is remarkable), including a few macaws. Later we went to a spot with hummingbird feeders and swarms of hummingbirds flitted about a couple of feet away from us. Julia has a very upbeat and friendly personality, and I enjoyed the time we spent together. She also rents guest houses in Mindo, but I have not seen them.

Address: Mindo, Ecuador

Contact information: juliaguideofbirds@gmail.com 098 616 2816

Recommended by Lisa Lloyd:  lloydxx@aol.com

Wilson Muñoz, furniture builder

Wilson was recommended to us by some friends who had him make a kitchen island and a bookcase. They were happy with his work so we gave him a chance.

Wilson made several pieces for us - a large loft bed with bench seating underneath (from just looking at a photo I sent him), a nice wood bathroom cabinet, a small cabinet to hide the DVD player and remotes, two side tables and a guitar holder. He also fabricated some ceiling hooks for hanging our bicycles and installed them for us.

Most recently, we collaborated to create a work table that also can be re-positioned to make it into a desk half the size of the table and accommodate a full-size mattress. The cubes can be rearranged to lower the platform for a bed, or make it high for a work table. I designed it in Google Sketchup and Wilson was able to execute it perfectly. I could not be happier with the work.

Gloria Esperanza, house/apartment/condo cleaning

I have been hiring cleaning persons virtually all my life. Some last a day, some last years. House cleaning is just something I have chosen to avoid. However, that does not stop the need...

The very best cleaning person I have been privileged to hire is Gloria Esperanza. She absolutely knows what to do to keep a house clean and functional. There is no need to tell her what to do as she knows her stuff. She takes initiative and cleans things without being asked but, remains respectful. She is also open to suggestions and resolves them without complaint.

If you are looking for a trustworthy professional to help you with cleaning needs, look no further. Gloria is available and her rate is very reasonable. You will not be disappointed. Ahhh, when I think of what I paid Stateside, and what I got, there is no comparison. She only speaks Spanish but, I am usually able to cobble together enough Spanish, accompanied by gestures, to make myself understood. And, she is patient with me.

Gloria Esperanza
093 988 0352

Address: Cuenca

Recommended by Jari Buck:  jari@majesticwolf.com

Dr. Gabriel Tenorio, geriatric specialist, primary

For all you Bellgenica users, Dr. Tenorio was our Primary Care doctor thru Bellgenica. He speaks great English and is a great doctor. His manner is wonderful and he spends time with you and he cares. He was very good with all of my health problems and referred when necessary. His office is in the building on the corner of Solano and the street that Daniel Cordova Toral (the same street as Hospital Santa Inez.

Address: 2322 W. 22nd Ave

Contact information: 099 314 2153

Recommended by Paula Robertson:  energizeddiva1@gmail.com

Aileve Martinez, house cleaner

Aile worked for us as a cleaner for nearly one year, from July, 2016, until the end of May, 2017. She is a young, energetic cleaner, who works fast and with initiative, always looking and seeing what needs to be done. Most of all, she is friendly, reliable (always on time), and 100% honest.

I have no hesitation in recommending Aile to anyone needing a cleaner.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: ailevemartinezc@gmail.com

Recommended by Joanna Gillan: joanna.gillan@live.co.uk

CleanSystem, professional cleaning service

I contracted with this company to clean all the windows and screens in our condo. They arrived on time, were very neat and pleasant and did a wonderful and thorough job. They were very reasonable as well. I would highly recommend them without hesitation.

Address: 10 de Agosto 2-36 Cuenca

Contact information: 099 991 6331

Recommended by Bill Dick: mr.bill924@gmail.com

Jonathan Mogrovejo, website design development

I would like to recommend Jonathan of GoBig Web Development. Although I just started working with him he has already begun to produce some lovely work. He designed an outstandingly classy logo. The site he's begun working on is looking fabulous. I expect to be the best site of my genre on google. He seems very creative for an excellent price.

His info is:
GoBig Web Development
Jonathan Mogrovejo
098-482-2495
info@gobig.ec

Tell him Michelle sent you.

Address: Cuenca Ecuador

Recommended by Michelle Faber: 099 868 0868

La Rapida, repair services

I have a travel jacket with multiple hidden pockets that I love, but the zipper broke. Prior to returning to Cuenca, I had it fixed in the US, but it broke again. I also had a zipper come off the track on one of my travel compression sock, and the elastic in the sleeves in a second jacket needed replacing.

I have been to La Rapida on previous visits to Cuenca, so I knew of their work. They replaced the 30cm zipper in the jacket, put a new zipper in the sock and completely replaced the elastic in the jacket sleeves for $10.25. Each piece of work looks incredible and no one would know it was not the original work.

Then I challenged them with something more complicated. AeroMexico had broken one clip of four that hold the handle on my brand-new suitcase. I had the outer clip and hoped they could do something with it.

They looked over the plastic and after some investigating, the woman helping me called a man out from the back. He discovered that the back piece to the clip was still within the lining. He had the woman cut the zipper and the seam to get to the back plate. He then showed me why it broke off. A tiny piece of the back plate had broken, so it would not hold the outer piece securely. I suggested they sew the handle to the suitcase on one side. That way the broken piece and its neighboring clip are securely attached, but I can still undo the other two clips to get into the top of the suitcase.

I went to pick it up today. If I did not know better, from all appearances, it is perfect. They made it secure and it looks like new. They even did some cleaning of the outside. The charge was $5.

I love this place and the work they do. They have 9 locations all over the city.

Address: Tarqui 6-38 y Calle Larga

Contact information: larapida@recordcalza.com 284 5901

Recommended by Ryan James: drryanjames@gmail.com

Freddy Astudillo, computer fix

I ignored the signs that my declining iPad gave me until it would no longer turn on. I walked around town to find a computer repair shop and happened upon Scala Cell Change. The owner, Freddy, spoke great English and gave me some possibilities of what could be wrong. He gave me a receipt for keeping it while he worked on it.

Unfortunately, he said there was nothing more he could do for it. When I asked how much he said, no charge since he couldn't fix it.

I can't remember the last time I wasn't charged for a worker's time, even if they couldn't make the repair.

I highly recommend Freddy's work ethic, in his modest El Centro shop.

Address: Padre Aguirre 9-95 y Gran Columbia, Cuenca

Contact information: 099 256 5899 or 099 927 6595

Recommended by Madelaine B.: imfortune8@yahoo.com

Boneito, custom food items

After seeing Matthew and Debbie at various food fairs, we finally sampled some of their products at the last fair we ran into them.

Deciding to take a chance, we ordered organic bone broth, chicken meatballs, peanut butter truffles, and Keylime cups.

I used half of the broth to cook a roast in the slow cooker. The meat was incredibly flavorful and very tender. The meatballs made a quick dinner one night, being a perfect portion for two with a salad. Being a lime and lemon lover, I was over the moon with the Key lime pie cups. They were perfect portions. What really had me doing cartwheels were the peanut butter truffles. I will gladly eat anything with peanut butter, but these were so incredibly delicious, I would never think of a peanut butter cup again that they did not make.

If we lived here full time, Boneito would be on my speed dial.

Contact information: boneitocuenca@gmail.com 096 951 7977

Recommended by Ryan James: drryanjames@gmail.com

Elvia Guzman, housecleaning

My recommendation is for Mrs. Elvia Guzman. She is a good person. She works at the hotel Santiago de Compostella and clean houses from Monday to Sunday in the afternoon, is honest, sincere and she is an excellent worker. Your house will be clean and in the best care.

Address: Sayausi

Contact information: 098 996 9612

Recommended by Elvia Guzman: 098 996 9612

Pablo Marca, laptop computers

Several days ago I bought an HP 245 G5 laptop from this young man, Pablo Marca. New in the box for $400, which I know is way less than they typically cost here.

The computer works fine, and Pablo spent the extra time to make sure I knew how to use it, and he changed the internal language to English for me.

I would definitely recommend this young man if you are needing a new laptop and don't want to pay import prices.

I have included his email here.

Any questions, please email me.

Contact information: pablo.marca@outlook.com

Recommended by Andrew Coonce: acoonce02@yahoo.com

Oscar Pitiño, transportation

I used Oscar for transportation from my Cuenca home to the airport in Guayaquil. It cost $80 one way. And, when I returned, I used him for the return trip. What I really appreciated was that he was a very safe, courteous driver. At no time, was I frightened by his driving. He was also very thoughtful, asking if I needed a rest stop, turning on the A/C after asking if I would like it used, etc.

He was very prompt. He picked me up at home when scheduled. He arrived about 5 minutes after our scheduled meeting time at Guayaquil, but he called to let me know. So, I have confidence in his reliability and punctuality.

He can take multiple people and lots of luggage for the same rate. His rate for Cuenca-Quito is $250.

He does not speak English, so if your Spanish is poor, I’d suggest making arrangements using google translate.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: oscarpatino@outlook.com 097 936 7243

Recommended by Monte Montana: monte.montana@gmail.com

Fabian Mancero, remodeling/construction

Fabian is my landlord and I am recommending him as an excellent construction professional. (That should tell you something.) He remodeled the home I live in and does detailed, professional work. He is qualified not only for regular construction, but also for patrimonial work. (historical preservation work like in downtown).

If you need something done, reach out to me and I will connect you. Two thumbs up for this guy. He does great work.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: fabianmancero@hotmail.com

Recommended by Darrell Forte: dforte0368@me.com

Maria Morocho, housekeeper

Maria, has been with us for four weeks. She works up a sweat every week getting the house clean, like she likes it. You had better stand out of her way, Very little English but call Emilio Morocho, her husband and who speaks perfect English. You don't need to talk to her as she takes over and cleans.

Address: Cuenca

Contact information: 098 699 5694

Recommended by Andrew Jordan: 096 943 6858

Ruben Morocho, carpentry

Ruben Morocho lived and worked in the USA and is a carpenter who speaks some English and is very reliable and responsible. Please call him for any carpentry work you may have for him.

He may be reached at 098 567 8768.

Address: Cuenca, Ecuador

You may also call me for more information

Recommended by Karen Sueetta Joyce: sueettajoyce@gmail.com 098 849 7587

Roger Ramirez, computer maintenance

I wanted to recommend Roger Ramirez for help in getting my old laptop and desktop up to speed, I feel like I just got brand new machines, without the ticket cost. Roger can format laptops and PCs, install hard to get programs or antiviruses, or simply help optimize your computer to get it running much faster than before. Roger can also help in installing electric or internet cables at your home to connect your devices. Roger is offering his services at a discount as he will be here a limited time. Don´t miss out on this opportunity.

His contact email: mduchicelar@gmail.com

Address: Cuenca

Recommended by Rumi Duchicela: rduchice@hotmail.com

Luis Gonzáles/Terra Diversa, tour guide

I would like to recommend Luis González to you. We hired Luis for a tour with visiting friends around Cuenca. We had a wonderful day. and new experiences at San Bartolomé, Chordeleg, and Gualaceo. We have lived in Cuenca for 2 years and had visited Cuenca for five years prior to our moving but one of our visiting friends was here for the first time thus the tour. Luis arrived promptly and immediately began to surprise and delight us. He speaks excellent English and has a wealth of knowledge about Cuenca and the surrounding areas which he shares readily.

We had asked to see San Bartolomé, the home of the handmade guitars; Gualaceo, famous for its leather stores; and Chordeleg, known for its jewelry stores and filigree. We were immediately surprised and delighted that Luis took the southern route through El Valle, which none of us had seen before to go into San Bartolomé where we visited the local church, tried tortillas at the local market, and Omero Ullawari, the last surviving craftsman who hand makes guitars, explained and demonstrated his craft. He still makes guitars totally by hand and inlays all the designs piece by tiny piece.

From there we headed to Chordeleg, where we visited Rosa de Loja, who creates a wide variety of ceramic figures, pictures and other art work. She demonstrated how she makes the tiny figures from clay, which is then dried, kiln fired and painted. (We couldn't resist buying some pieces.)

Next, we visited Jorge Lituma a handsome Cañari, who demonstrated how his filigreed jewelry is handcrafted (which he also designs). In our other visits, none of us had seen these wonderful crafts people.

We had a wonderful lunch at Casa Grande and then visited Ecuagenera, Orquideas del Ecuador.
Unfortunately, the tour was not available, but we were able to purchase some of their wonderful orchids.

Next we visited the IKAT Casa Museo de la Macana, where we watched the owner's daughter make various colors of dye from a crushed beetle; weave and tie shawls and make yarn from alpaca wool. This should have been the end of a wonderful day, even though Mother Nature had conspired to make it a little too wet. But on the way home via the northern route back into Cuenca, we had to pass through El Descano, where water run-off from the mountain had created a pond over the roadway. Fortunately, Luis our guide and very prudent driver was up to the task and got us through about 2 feet of water and home.

Overall, a wonderful day. Luis tailored the day to our wants and desires. What more could one ask?

Address: TerraDiversa, Calle Larga

Contact information: shadow_gonzales@hotmail.com

Recommended by Holly Shrader: shraderh@gmail.com

Pablo Restrepo, businessman

I'm very happy with the purchase of a Land in Tarqui,and without the help of Mr. Pedro Mejia, it would have been impossible to have done it. I bought beautiful land in Tarqui at a great price.

Thank you Mr. Mejia (093 948 4780).
He still has 2 more pieces of land in Tarqui to offer.

Address: Sucre 6-60 Edif. Bolivar, office. 403

Contact information: lamariaempanadacolombiana@gmail.com

Recommended by Wilson Piedra: 098 093 8688

Car Service Express, mechanic

I have to recommend Daniel, a professional mechanic who speaks good English. Daniel immigrated to Ecuador from Caracas, Venezuela with his beautiful young family.

While travelling together, Daniel noticed that my Tucson was very slow to start. He quizzed me as to what repairs had been performed recently. He offered to run some tests for me. It was determined that the fuel pump was very weak. I told him to go ahead and change it and voila, he has another satisfied customer.

He shared with me his business plan to provide a Car Service Express service here in Cuenca. Since I had such a good experience, I want to put out the word for you to check him out. I can guarantee that he is totally professional and will not take advantage of the consumer.

Address: Nicholas de Rocha y 200 meters from Las Americas near Coral Centro

Contact information: 096 792 8968

Recommended by Percy Densmore: 099 862 2956