Located in the Southern end of India, Pondicherry is a charming and small city. We chose to visit here because I was curious about a place called Auroville, its related ashram, and the city’s history as a French colonial base. I was not quite sure whether we would be staying for 3 months or 1 year so we decided to rent an apartment to get the best feel for the city.
As a single woman, travelling with 2 daughters and a young sister, I wanted to make sure our accommodations met the following standards:
- Secure and safe
- Clean and furnished
- Close proximity to the beach
- Close to transportation
We ended up in the beautiful and quaint Muslim quarter of Pondicherry, where yes, the majority of the residents are Muslim. Many are descendant from some of the original Arab traders who settled in the area. One of the perks of this neighborhood was that because of the religious requirement for cleanliness, street cleaners came through twice a day and the trash was picked up daily.
For $3oo rent we had a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, furnished apartment with a combined living /dining room, and a small kitchen. Unfortunately, in a late night rush to organize my pictures, I accidentally deleted about 500 of them. However, I did want to share some pictures of our road, which I took subsequently.
The cost of living in Pondicherry, compared to Cuenca (Ecuador), is slightly higher, but the experience of living and breathing India for a moment, was definitely worth it.
There is a movie that inspires me (and makes me cry) everything time I watch it, Pay It Forward. It is about a boy, who gets people to be kind to one another through the ripple effect of positive action. Our journey here in Cuenca has had that kind of feel to it and today was no exception. We have been really blessed to have met some many wonderful people, who have invited bus into their lives and made us feel at home. So to share the same feeling, we decided to make lunch for some of our new friends, namely Angie, Frank and their three sons. Having 7 people for an impromptu lunch is no easy feat, so we made a quick run to the local market and decided to make seasoned rice with a special onion/garlic sauce from Senegal (West Africa), fried fish, parsley/cilantro salad with tomatoes and fresh cheese, and fried plantains. A lot of food for a lot of people.
Food and sharing food have a wonderful ability to bond friendships and grow camaraderie. Over lunch we talked about our mutual Cuenca observations, laughed about our own quirks and found that we had so much in common with one another.
What also made this day special was the tour Angie and Frank gave us of Cuenca. The highlights were:
- A white tablecloth, tuxedo wearing waiters, restaurant with $2 four-course lunches
- What was described at the Cuenca version of Aldi supermarkets – best prices on key items
- Mercado de 9 de Octobre – an especially clean local market with a large plaza out front
- Gringo Alley – Otherwise known as Calle Largo, where a lot of the hostels and expat focused bars/cafes (and the accompanying expats and tourists) are found
- The woodcrafts and basket market – cheapest place to buy souvenirs and there is a traditional medicine market on the side, where you get smacked with flower bouquets by sweet, diminutive indigenous ladies.
- Cuenca tourist office – located in the center of El Centro, it is the best place to find out what free events are happening around town.
- Knowing how to get home from anywhere in downtown Cuenca
- It was a beautiful, very warm and sunny day. Not a raindrop or cold breeze in sight…until 8:30 pm
Our friends spent the entire day with us and created one of our favorite memories of our time in Cuenca.
Don’t be afraid to venture out in the world.
You will meet the greatest people on your journey.
Panama (the country for those you thinking about Florida) is truly a melting pot of cultures and peoples, which is evident from the moment you step off the plane into the airport in Panama City. From the Chinese family returning from a trip away, to the Pakistani family waiting to receive loved ones, to the African-American couple there for a weekend get away, the many faces of Panama reflect all parts of the world.
Meet your friendly Copa Airline Hostesses
Meet a Creole Grandma on her doorstep
See a little girl and her best friend
Similar to the Rain Man, this guy is the ICE Maker! (without him the seafood would begin to smell really unappealing)
What’s with the red hair? Watching too many old Wendy’s commercials?
The friendly force in black…keeping things safe and secure (Panama, like Costa Rica, has no standing army)