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Monday, March 31, 2008

Neighborhood Potter

Dear Family and Friends,

A Visit with the Neighborhood Potter
While Judy and Brad were here we took them to the potters' studio across the street from us. The potter has a gallery in downtown Cuenca on Calle Large. However, my choice is to visit the studio and see the pottery being made.

The studio is located on Mariscal Lamar. We walk because it is so close, but you can get there on buses 11, 4 or 6. There is no off street parking and as you can see in this photo, the front door opens right into the street.

Depending on what is happening when you visit, you may see the artist at the pottery wheel, kneading the clay, firing the pottery in the kiln or even polishing the pottery.

Below is a picture of Judy watching in amazement as the potter is finishing off the clay at the potters wheel using the side of a plastic lotion bottle to get the desired results.

Besides seeing tons of pottery ready for finishing work, you can also see a small select amount of finished work in the gallery. In the past, we have been fortunate enough to purchase pottery directly from the studio.

Here is Brad examining a piece of finished pottery.

While visiting, you should keep your eyes open and look around thoroughly, there is pottery being displayed that is such a joy to discover. Here is a pottery bird hanging in the rafters.
They also have real animals, including a couple of very well behaved dogs, a backyard goose and below is the parrot of the house talking for his Mama.

Judy and Brad headed back to the USA on Saturday. Chuck and I are enjoying the quiet time and spending special time together. Tonight we watched the movie Gandhi. I had not seen it before. If you have not seen it, or even if you have, I highly recommend it.

Nancy and Chuck

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chilcatortora Tour - Part I

Dear Family and Friends,

(A blog from Chuck)

The other day, while Nancy and Judy were shopping, Brad and I took a one day tour to the countryside to visit an indigenous community, called Chilcatortora. The tour started at the Casa de Mujers on Plaza San Francisco, and cost $33. We traveled by taxi about 45 minutes up the Tarqui river to the community. Their language is Kichwa, which does not look or sound anything like Spanish.

There was a brief introduction and exhibition of traditional music, followed by a tour of the cheese factory (which will be featured in another blog).
Then we were handed off to another guide, Blanca, and embarked on a lengthy hike around the community. What a contrast to the cobble stone streets of Cuenca.

We walked down hill.

And then we walked back up hill.

Meanwhile, the ladies prepared a feast for us. There were many fresh locally produced vegetables and, of course, roasted cuy (which we call guinea pig).

The food was served in a traditional style, all spread out directly on the table cloth, they call this "Pampa Mesa". (If there are too many people for the table, the cloth is spread on the ground.) We ate the cuy with our fingers and the vegetables and rice with a wooden spoon.

After all that hiking and feasting, we were encouraged to take a well deserved nap in the sunshine.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday was Easter and Chuck and I were surprised that many of the stores and restaurants were open for business.

We now have the keys to our new condo, so we invited our neighbors, Bill and Christa, to see our new place. We walked over and enjoyed the beautiful weather along the way. After we were through we walked to a restaurant and had a terrific lunch.

Today, I will share pictures I have made of our condo. You will need to use your imagination because it is empty. We will just lock it up when we return to the U.S. in April. We will wait to furnish it when we come back to Ecuador next December.

This is the front door. It opens into the dinning area. This is quite common in Ecuador. For me this will be a decorating challenge. The door to the left goes into the kitchen. The floors are ceramic tile, which is also quite common in Ecuador.

I don't think you can tell from this picture, but the kitchen has no appliances. In Ecuador, when people sell their homes, they take all appliances with them. So we will need to buy a stove and refrigerator.

We have two patios, one which is visible and accessible from the living room. The other and larger one is accessible from the kitchen and the master bedroom. Each of the patios are enclosed by at least a 20 ft. wall, which makes them very private. Chuck will have a wonderful time landscaping these patios. The larger patio, off from the kitchen has a nice barbecue. The patios sold the house to us because Chuck loves to garden.

This is one of the bedrooms that open to the patio. We have three bedrooms, but will use one as an office for our computers. Of course the other bedroom will be a guest bedroom. All of the bedrooms have hardwood floors.

This room was the selling factor for me. A nice big tiled bathroom with a soaking tub and a walk in shower.

Our condo is on the first floor. Unlike where we are renting now, we will not have a view of the mountains. We will only have the view of our patios. The weather is so pleasant here year around we think we will get much pleasure from them.

We have great neighbors at our new home. And we are so appreciative to have found such a comfortable place.

Last night our friends, Judy and Brad, arrived from the U.S. They will spend the week with us enjoying Cuenca. I will share pictures of our adventures with them in our next blog.


Nancy and Chuck

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday


Last night we went to see the procession held on Good Friday. It was not like others we have seen. For one thing, it was done at night. It was a procession of the people. Chuck and I and a couple of other tourists were the only onlookers.

It was very somber. The people were carrying candles and there were loud speakers broadcasting the priest from the cathedral. He was telling about the death of Jesus.

There were several thousand people. They walked very slowly and prayed in unison. It was mass humanity for about five solid blocks.

There were two icons being carried. One of the Virgin Mary and the other of Jesus on the cross.

Chuck and I stepped up a couple of steps into a doorway or we would have been swept along with the crowd.

I am glad we went. It was an awesome sight to witness.

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On Easter Sunday our new guests, Judy Keplinger and Brad Stokes, will be arriving. We are looking forward to seeing them and sharing Cuenca with them.

Nancy and Chuck

Friday, March 21, 2008

Seeing George & Ruby Off

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning, our guests, George and Ruby will depart to Quito for a couple of days, before they begin their trip back to Washington state. Last night they treated Chuck and I to dinner at an Argentina style steak house. We had a wonderful meal with two wonderful people.

This afternoon, about 5:00 pm, Chuck and I will head to the Cafe Eucalyptus to meet up with friends we have made while in Cuenca. Each Friday evening, the Cafe Eucalyptus is a meeting place for English speaking expats and tourists. If you are living or visiting in Cuenca, it is a great place to get information about almost anything.

Click here to see Cafe Eucalyptus website.

Today is Good Friday. There is a procession of the stations of the cross, scheduled tonight about 8:oo pm, starting at San Blas and ending at the cathedral. We hope to be able to view this event and I will photograph the best I can, as it will be dark and we will keep our fingers crossed for good weather as this is the rainy season. If I can get any pictures, you can bet I will share them with you.

Nancy and Chuck

Monday, March 17, 2008

Palm Sunday

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I walked to the main plaza (Parque Abdon Calderon) about noon yesterday. We wanted to discover what the fancy woven palms, shared with you in my last post, were being used for.

We got to the plaza just in time to witness this group doing a Palm Sunday Parade/Reenactment.
(Click on pictures to view larger image)
(see video clip of this parade at the bottom of this post)

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The next event we saw was a procession of a religious figure to the Church of San Francisco.

This was a great event. It was made up of children and adults. The little ones lead the procession. They were all dressed as biblical and religious characters: priests, nuns, Roman soldiers, and even several Christs. There also was a band, a float and of course the religious icon.

Here is a picture of the smallest Christ. He is carrying his cross and is accompanied by Roman Soldiers with duct tape helmets.

Here is a closeup of the little guy.

Here is the adult Christ. The Roman soldier would hit him with the palm reed (whip) periodically.

This is the religious figure being carried.

The band.

Here is the float (on the bed of a pick-up) We think it is of Pontius Pilot washing his hands.

The procession marched about 10 blocks. It started sprinkling about a block from the church and a lady opened her umbrella and held it high over the religious relic to keep it dry. Right after the procession went into the church it started a down pour.

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We discovered that the fancy palms were mainly for people to carry to church on Palm Sunday. Here is a picture of people exiting the new cathedral with their palms.

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Here is the video clip of the first event.

Nancy and Chuck

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday Eve

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday (the day prior to Palm Sunday) we learned of an interesting custom in Cuenca. While we were downtown we saw the side of the new cathedral lined with palm leaves and women. The women were sitting among the palm leaves weaving elaborate creations. The weaving ranged from tall elaborate pieces to small easy pieces to carry in one's hand.

Here is a lady weaving small palm ornaments. I do not know yet why this is done, other than tomorrow is Palm Sunday. I don't know how the decorations will be used.

The lady below is weaving a much larger ornamental palm piece.

Here is a close up of some of the larger, more elaborate palm weavings.

These customers are taking their purchases with them as they stroll down the street.

Across the street is the Carmen de la Asuncion Church. This is where the newly refurbished womens' flower market is located. It looks beautiful as you can see in this picture.

The city repaved the whole corner and set up permanent stalls for the flower ladies. It will take a little getting used to because the colorful umbrellas are no longer there, but I am sure the sellers love the new flower market.

I observed this man in front of the Carmen de la Asuncion Church. It was quite a touching observation.

Nancy and Chuck

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sunrise over Cuenca

Dear Family and Friends,

The other morning as the sun was rising, the view was so inspiring. I want to share it with you.

Have a wonderful, peaceful, loving day.

Nancy and Chuck

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Goodbye to Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

I was downtown the other day and spotted this lady. She was dressed differently from the other Black Hat people I have shared with you, who live in the Andes north of
Cuenca. Notice that the top of her black hat is rounded and she has on an elaborate necklace. Her cape is held in front by a large ornate stick pin and her black skirt is long and has many pleats. I am not sure is she is from near Cuenca, from around Quito or even somewhere south of here. I am so intrigued with the culture of these original people of Ecuador.- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here is a scene that is very typical in
Cuenca. The indigenous women washing their clothes in the river. They wash their clothes using one of the large boulders on the river’s edge for scrubbing. After washing and rinsing their laundry they lay it out on the grass to dry. As you can see this makes a colorful display. It is a tradition that apparently is unique to Cuenca.

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Meanwhile, at "Camp
Cuenca" everyone is having a great time. We had dinner at home the other evening and the kitchen was full of activity as the meal was being prepared. Everyone pitches in and makes themselves at home. This was the last meal together before Vicki and Jeannie started their journey back home to North Carolina.

Below is a picture of all of us, sans Chuck, the photographer. Thursday George and Ruby head out for a
Galapagos adventure.

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Today is my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Mary Anne!

Nancy and Chuck