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Friday, December 8, 2017

Festival of Lights

Dear Family and Friends,

Last night, Chuck and I went downtown to see the 5,500 luminaries set out to honor the Vergin Morenica del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary.)  The history behind the virgin is very fascinating.

The charter for the city of Cuenca was drawn up on April 12, 1557. The following year, a friar goes to Spain and asks King Charles V to donate three images of Our Lady of the Rosary.  One to be sent to three cities, Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca. The king commissioned the best craftsmen in Seville to make the three statues.  In 1559 the Cuenca statue arrived.  

After many hundreds of years of strong devotion to the virgin, because of her beauty, her reputation of being the oldest virgin statue in Cuenca, and her reported miracles, the citizens decided in 1928 that they would like to make her the Queen of Cuenca.

Permission was granted by Pope Pius VI for a crown to be made to adorn her head.  Due the the world wide depression that began in 1929, there were no funds to create a crown befitting the Virgin.

The people of Cuenca donated their personal jewels and objects of gold to be used in making the crown. Her crown was completed in 1933. The crown is so precious that it is not put on public display for security reasons.

Every year, since 2007, Cuenca has honored the virgin with luminaries on the eighth of December.  Each year the number of luminaries lit for the Virgin have increased and each year the popularity of the event has increased.

Last evening, at 6:30pm, a service was held at Santo Domingo church to bless the fire that would be used to light the luminaries.  

We arrived about 8:00pm and the luminaries were lit and there were so many people that we could hardly make our way through the crowd.

The virgin was on display in front of Santo Domingo church.  Her crown is not the precious one, but the virgin is the real one.



She has been well cared for and it is hard to believe that she is 458 years old.



Here are just a small amount of the luminaries lining the streets for many blocks.





After just one block of inching along, we decided to try and make our way to Parque Calderon (the main plaza in Cuenca) via streets that did not have the luminaries.  

The downtown streets have Christmas lights across them.



Parque Calderon is beautiful, decorated with lights.  This is the Glorita (bandstand) decorated for the season.  The luminaries were even being displayed in the park.  

We decided to walk down to the river and see the Christmas lights there. There is a nice, well lit, paved walking path along the river.  The blue lights stretched across the river go for about a mile.  



Here is a light display of an indigenous woman washing her clothes in the river. One of my personal favorite displays.



Another display.  A boy fishing in the river.



This is a view of the buildings across the street from where we waited to get a taxi home.

And, here are our plants, lit up for the season, in the front of our condo building.



We got some good exercise walking around the downtown and along the river. It was so much fun to be there for this one, special night of the year.






Friday, November 3, 2017

Craft Vendors come to Cuenca for our Independence Celebration

Dear Family and Friends,

Every November 3rd, Cuenca celebrates it's independence from Spain.  This year they are celebrating the 197th year of independence. This is a national holiday in Ecuador.

This is a big deal in Cuenca. The celebration lasts for about a week with the heavy duty celebrating lasting for 5 days.  There are concerts, performances of all types, fireworks, and craft vendors who come to Cuenca from all over South America and even the world.

Chuck and I went to check out some of the craft vendors yesterday.  It would be nice to have a million dollars in your pocket because there are so many things that are so unique.  We bought a couple of items but then our pockets were empty.  I will share some of the crafts and the people we saw with you in this post.  

This beautiful lady is from the jungle in Colombia.



I met this U.S. looking Indian in the park.  He said he was from Mexico.  



Retro dressed kids handing out brochures for another event.  Love the guys' suits and shoes.



Cuenca brought in artists from Indonesia.  Here is one of the ladies in costume.



A flock of sheep in roped wool.  Cute idea.



These knitted hats were so colorful.  



A carved wood unique nativity scene.  I'm not sure if the kitty is supposed to be in the scene, but I like it.



Some colorful carved Madonnas with child.



A wooden box with a scene.  The scene seems to be a tavern.  This vendor was from Peru.



He was also selling colorful vases.  Boy, we really liked it and considered buying one of them but then we asked the price.  



Some vendors from Japan teaching local children how to do origami.



Here is some beautifully crafted jewelry from Argentina.



Also, from Argentina, was a vendor who makes moveable wooden toys.



An Ecuadorian lady was selling masks she makes from paper and paint.  



Another vendor was also selling masks from paper.  These masks were two sided.  Very artistic.




And of course, it wouldn't be a craft fair in Cuenca without Panama Hats.



There were plenty of street artists hoping to make some money too.



Another lovely lady from the jungle in Ecuador.



A booth selling Ecuadorian chocolate had a plate of cocoa beans on display.



Some religious art.



I'm not sure about these two, but they sure were handsome.



Below are some puppets from Indonesia.



Some food vendors had made a Nordic ship out of watermelon, grapefruit and large shrimp.



This was my favorite item.  It is a large peacock made out of anodized copper.  It would look so beautiful in our garden, but once again when we asked the price...$6,000, we decided we our garden is happy like it is.



Some handmade musical instruments.



This sampling of what we saw is only about 1/1000th of what is available.  

We could not see it all, the vendors are in various locations all over the city.  We were in just one of those locations.

We have missed this event for the last three years due to traveling.  I am so happy we are here this year.

Love,
Nancy

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Our last day in Wales

Dear Family and Friends,

Our last day in Wales looked pretty much like this picture.  It was rainy, windy and sometimes even foggy.  We went on our third tour with WhereWhenWales.com  I keep adding a link because they are the top day tour company out of Cardiff and they do an excellent job.



I am adding this photo because we saw more than one butcher shop that provided fresh game.  Also, it appears that rabbits and hares are not the same according to their sign.



Yes, it is an Amazon warehouse off the freeway.  We never saw one Walmart.



Our tour took us south of Cardiff to Swansea.  Swansea is on the coast of Wales and is the second largest city in Wales.

In Swansea, we went to the National Waterfront Museum.  Great rainy day activity.

Below is a very early bicycle built for two.



This car was designed and built by Rolls Royce.  Maybe the first one.



In the gift shop I eyed this chocolate bar.  It says NOMNOM Proper Welsh Chocolate.  Well I know they are right because the chocolate is from Ecuador.  To me, the best chocolate is Ecuador chocolate.



As I pointed out in an earlier post, you still find memorabilia from WWII in the gift shops.

This is a reproduction of a poster encouraging people to knit clothing for the Royal Air Force.  I really took this picture to share with my friend, Karen Kimbler, but I decided to share it with you as well.



Reminds me of the Uncle Sam poster the USA used during WWII.



After our stop at the museum, we drove to Gower Peninsula.  We stopped at Langland Bay and Caswell Bay.

Despite the rain, wind and cool weather there were people out surfing.  Of course they were wearing wet suits.  



Here is Chuck reading about the Caswell Bay area.


Nice views in spite of the weather.


We then went to Rhossili Bay.  Rhossili Bay is known for a dramatic stone causeway that looks like a huge whale to me.  It is called Worms Head.

If you look at the picture below you can see the whale shape.



Lucky for me, as we were at the bistro in the Wormshead Hotel, it started raining again.  This made perfect conditions for photographing these folks out on the bluff. 



We really enjoyed our tour in spite of the weather.

Our whole British Isles vacation was awesome.  

We are staying home in Ecuador through the Christmas holidays.  In January we head to Tucson to visit family.

It looks like I will need to add a photo or two of Ecuador between now and then.

Love,
Nancy