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Friday, April 22, 2016

Heavy Hearts

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are in the United States visiting family and friends.  After spending several days in Seattle we traveled to Richland, WA to visit family here.

It has been almost a week since we heard about the tragic earthquake in Ecuador. We have heard (either via facebook or email) from most of our friends.  They all seem to have escaped injury.  We are very thankful for that.

I could be posting some pictures I have taken over the last week or so, but somehow I just don't feel like I want to share them in this post.

There have been some news clips on U.S. television, but not very much.  Thanks to our facebook friends living in Ecuador we have been able the to get a sense of the devestation.  Our hearts are warmed by the out pouring of love of the Ecuadorians living in the other parts of the country, in the form of fresh water, food and much needed supplies that are being transported to the region.

Viva Ecuador...a country we are proud to call our own.

Nancy and Chuck

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Boiled Peanuts, Catfish and Collard Greens....I must be in Georgia

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I are in the USA right now.  We come back here every year at this time to pay our taxes, vacation with Matt (our son), and to visit family and friends.

I left Ecuador about two weeks before Chuck so I could have a nice long visit with family in Columbus, Georgia.

Here I am with Aunt Opal.  She and I had lunch three times while I was there. She is doing great and looks as pretty as ever.  Here we are at the Red Lobster.

Going home always involves eating the food I grew up on.

For example:  Fried Catfish...

Or a plate of vegetables...(collard greens, black eye peas, cole slaw, baked sweet potato and corn bread are the veggies I picked this time)

Speaking of southern eating...there was a lady outside of Walmart selling these two items to collect money for a charity.

I stayed with my sister, Mary Anne, and brother-in-law, Larry.  We had a grand time together.

They took me to Pine Mountain, Georgia for breakfast one Sunday.  This is the Country Store, outside of Callaway Gardens.

Here is Mary Anne and Larry eating a good ol' country breakfast.

Since the azaleas were out, we went inside the gardens to enjoy them.

We also visited the butterfly center there.

and we went to Birds of Prey show in the gardens featuring this handsome owl and other birds.

It is not unusual to see cows on the highways in Ecuador, but when I saw this lady on the freeway I dropped my jaw.   So funny.

Every day was full of shopping and meeting with friends and family. Just before I left, I met some of my cousins for dinner.  Some I had not seen in a long time. The older I get the greater the joy connecting with family.

This past Friday I flew to Seattle to join Chuck.  He had spent a couple of days in Minnesota with grandkids on his way to Seattle.

The flowers here in Seattle are beautiful and the weather has been outstanding.

We will be visiting family here before driving across the state to Richland, WA. to visit family and friends there.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Cafeyate, Argentina

Dear Family and Friends,

We rented a car in Salta so we could drive to Cafeyate.  Although it was a two lane road, it was very nice with wide shoulders.  The best thing is that the drivers were very respectful and drove safe.

Although the drive is a little under 120 miles, the scenery changes drastically.  It was a most beautiful drive.

We followed this truck hauling a trailer with tobacco.

It wasn't too long and we came to some awesome tobacco fields. The tobacco growing with the mountains in the distance was breathtaking.  We were just getting started, the real beauty lay ahead.

I took this picture from the car.  What else should we expect, after all we were in Argentina.

After awhile, the scenery changed.  The landscape was much more arid.  This old adobe building reminded me of something I would see in an old western movie.

This man was carving flutes out of wood.

Here is a lady selling tortillas by the side of the road.

The scenery changed again.  We drove into the most magnificent display of giant red rock formations.  It reminded me somewhat of Sedona, Arizona.  We stopped multiple times to walk around and admire the beautiful scenery.

Here is my honey enjoying the view.

This stovepipe rock reminded me of one I have seen in western U.S.

This rock formation was called the castles.

Walking into yet another rock formation.

When we got inside it almost took our breath away.

Not too much further and we were in Cafeyate.  We stayed just out of town in a vineyard.  Beautiful scenery here too.

Chuck was impressed with how high these grapes were off the ground.

Here are some pictures inside the small town of Cafeyate.

This picture is of the central plaza.  I love this tree.

The sidewalks around the plaza had a lot of outdoor restaurant seating and the usual tourist vendors.

Chuck bought yet another hat.  Actually he looks mighty fine standing by this old wagon outside the wine museum.  We toured the museum and learned quite a bit about wine making in this part of the world.

This is a fun, funky building across the street from the museum.

Chuck thought he had died and gone to wine heaven.  He had a real hard job deciding which wines to bring back to Ecuador.  We were allowed two bottles each.

The people who live in Argentina can just buy it by the jug.

We had a delightful dinner (steak again...what else?) outside.  The weather was fantastic.

I will end this post with a picture of the church across from the plaza.  It was so beautiful all lit up.

We had a wonderful trip.  We saw more than we even imagined we would.

We arrived back in Cuenca to the task of moving from one condo to another.

As we are starting to get settled in, we are off again.  We are going to the U.S. to hug family.

I hope to be able to post to the blog as we go.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Salta, Argentina

Dear Family and Friends,

Our friend, Sumana, who lives here in Cuenca, spent several months living in Salta, Argentina a few years back.  We were intrigued when she shared how much she loved the city.

Since we were in that neck of the woods (well, the same country) we decided to tack a week on our trip and check out Salta and the surrounding wine country. Before Sumana went there, I had never heard of this town.

We spent a couple of days in Salta.  The first day we spent walking around the main plaza.  Here are some pictures to share how nice it is:

This government building is built in the French Baroque style.  With the sidewalk cafes beneath it, you certainly get a French experience.

This church is on the plaza.  It is painted in pink and cream colors.  It is quite beautiful.

The main park is quite a bit larger than Parque Calderon, here in Cuenca and while we were there appeared to be used just as much as ours.

I was fascinated by this blossoming tree in the park.  I don't think I have ever seen these blossoms before.

Here is a close up.  Maybe someone can provide the name.

There is a gazebo in the park, just like in our park.

Here is another interesting building on the park.  We had coffee in the restaurant there.

After our walk around the center of town, we walked back to our apartment.  I was intrigued with this man and his dog.

Here is a typical tourist shop window.  What appears to be silver is something they called Alpaca???

The second day we took the open air tourist bus to see the sights of Salta.

We found that they have many, many lush, well kept parks.

Here is a convent....not sure how old but very interesting.

I was intrigued with how many fine homes they have.

We didn't see any indigenous people like we see in Cuenca.  I guess they have been absorbed into the main stream culture.  They do have this monument though that honors the past culture.

Just like when you take the tour of Cuenca, the bus took us into the hills and we were able to see Salta from above.

A beautiful blue church..

The domes on top were spectacular.

The last stop on the tour was a very nice tourist shopping area.  Fine quality items to buy.

Chuck shopped while I walked around and admired the building.  Here is a beautiful cat that I guess lives there.

When it is time for siesta everything closes.  Even the dogs find a shady spot and snooze away.  These guys tickled me.

That evening we went to a restaurant for dinner.  We ordered steak, of course, because we were in Argentina.  We could not believe the size of the was enormous and absolutely melt in your mouth tender.

 After eating the steak we shared a banana split..  

My next post will be about our trip to the wine producing region of Cafeyette.