For the first few days in Cuenca we stayed in a hotel called Casa Ordonez, run by the Ordonez family. It had been the family home for generations. The father had spent his entire life there, until he passed away at 74. All the rooms were named after various children and cousins. The current manager is one of the sons, named Alberto, who came home to Ecuador to help run the hotel.
He told us that in the late 90’s the Ecuador economy was in shambles and there were no jobs. He went to New York where he got married and worked at various jobs including driving a taxi. Eventually he joined the US Navy which took him to Afghanistan and Iraq. We have learned that many Ecuadorians emigrated to the U.S. in the same time frame. Many of them are back in Ecuador now.
He told us a story to make a point that he doesn’t think the U.S. is always selective in recruiting armed forces members. During a trip on a ship that was delivering “ordinance”, another sailor, from Morocco, was banging on a bomb with a wrench. Alberto suggested he stop but he didn’t, so Alberto reported him to the commanding officer, who was a woman. The Moroccan didn’t take kindly to a woman telling him what to do, so he started fighting her. Alberto intervened. He was subsequently threatened with his life. Eventually the Moroccan was court martialed.
Chicken soup treatment at Casa Ordonez
Unfortunately a bad case of travelers sickness hit Char about the first day in Cuenca. She wishes she hadn’t eaten that salad! So Dan spent a little time on his own. One night he called Char on the way back from dinner to ask if he could bring anything. What Char really wanted was chicken soup, but she knew he couldn’t do that, so she said ‘crackers’. He returned with the crackers. But he started talking with Alberto’s mother, who knew Char was sick. She asked him if Char would like soup. She made the best chicken noodle soup Char has ever tasted! Now that’s a hotel with a personal touch!