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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Walking Brings Rewards

Dear Family and Friends,

Over the past few weeks, Rich, Nancy, Chuck and I have begun a routine of walking into the center of the city on Sunday mornings. We get an early start and usually run into Brian and Shelley somewhere in the Parque Calderon. Of course, making it all the way into town calls for a well earned cappuccino break.

Last Sunday, Chuck suggested that we try a new restaurant located on Calle Larga, that is owned and operated by a couple from Australia. The name of the restaurant is Kookaburra Cafe.

They are open for breakfast and lunch. We had a very good breakfast from their varied menu. The best part was that their cappuccinos (which they call white espresso) are the best I've had here. We all had seconds on the coffee.

It is not the kind of place that you hurry in and grab a quick bite. It is a place to relax and enjoy your friends and the meal.

The restaurant looks and feels homey and comfortable. They have done a beautiful job of restoring the old building.

Yesterday, we met Rich and Nancy there for breakfast again. Larry Marler and John (a new expat to Cuenca) were having breakfast there also.

All six of us gathered around the round table and had a nice visit. I would not be surprised if this restaurant becomes a morning ritual for many expats to meet up and enjoy the wonderful breakfast and excellent coffee.

Here are the owners, Chris and Jenny Bluefields.

So, besides better health, our walking has rewarded us with a great new place to eat.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Family and Friends.....MERRY CHRISTMAS

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I send Christmas greetings of love and peace to all our family, friends and friends, who read this blog, that we have yet to meet.

Cuenca is a wonderful place to be on Christmas Eve. The tradition here is a parade of the children "paseo de los ninos." Every year, on this day, the children of Cuenca parade through the streets in all sorts of costumes. People come from all of Ecuador come to witness this great event. From my observations, people come from all over the world to witness this event. I saw many more gringos on the streets than usual.

The parade is huge, lasting from 10:00am until 5:00pm. It seems that every child in Cuenca participates. Proud parents work hard coming up with the right costumes for their children.

This year's parade pictures below:

Three Wise Men

Mariachi anyone?

A great costume....a shepherd boy with a lamb on his back.

Cowboys and Gypsies...Yeh!!

Amazonian costumes....

This little guy is so darling...

and so are these little girls.....

I love this wise man....he seems to be a cross between a wise man and Santa Claus...

A tiny senorita....with a Japanese paper umbrella.

A family of Santas...

An adorable angel....

These children are getting hydrated. It was a very warm day.

Daddy getting another senorita ready to start parading...

Some more gypsies...

This little girl was dancing right in with the older kids....

Here is a little clown in Daddy's arms...

There were tons of animals in the parade...

Here is a cow all dressed up...

And a horse...

We ran into our friends, Brian and Shelley and they had their little dog, Fredi, dressed up as Santa.

One last picture to leave you with...
I love this picture because this little boy reminds me of our grandson..

It was a wonderful Christmas Eve. We met our friends, Rich and Nancy at the square, had lunch together at a Mexican restaurant and ended the evening with Rich, Nancy, Charlie and Bruce at our place for Thai food.

Hope your Christmas day is blessed with love and gratitude.

Nancy and Chuck

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peace March - We Joined In

Dear Family and Friends,

Since we have returned from the Galapagos I have started exercising more. In fact, I have walked to town (about 2K) several times this past week. I've learned that if I get an early start (8:00 - 9:00 am) then the walk is more comfortable because on a sunny day it can get quite warm.

As you probably already know from reading this blog, Cuenca is a city of many parades. One of the rewards I have received from my morning walks is witnessing some of them.

Garbage Truck Parade

Last Wednesday morning when I walked to town, I arrived just in time to see the tail end of the new garbage trucks being paraded through the town center. These are fancy trucks, they have a place for regular garbage and a place for recyclables.

Last Friday the World March for Peace and Nonviolence passed through Cuenca on its way to a conclusion in northern Argentina. This march began in New Zealand Oct. 2, and has passed through more than 90 countries.

Several of us like minded gringos joined in the march. Rich, Nancy, Chuck and I went early to have coffee and watch the parade assemble.

Many school children joined in the march.

Here we are bringing up the rear.

We all felt good marching and showing our support for such a noble cause.

We send our hope of peace throughout the world.

Nancy and Chuck

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Galapagos Trip - Animals & Birds

Dear Family and Friends,

This post contains the reason we were so excited to go to the Galapagos. If there are rules for posting to a blog, I am sure that this posting breaks the rules.....too many pictures. Even with all these photos there are hundreds that space would not permit.


The first birds we saw were hundreds and hundreds of pelicans. They were living in the trees and we saw them fishing in the ocean. We saw two types, ones with brown heads and ones with white heads.

On our walk to the beach we saw this little fellow. I think he had an injured leg. It looks like he is saying "See my sore leg."

A gathering of birds. This one bird appears to be bragging to the others on the size of fish he caught.

This is one of the most famous birds of the Galapagos. It is a Blue Footed Boobie. This is the only picture I had of this bird, but you can see his blue feet.

Here are a couple of Masked Boobies.

and another Masked Boobie

This little fellow is a Darwin Finch

Sea Life and Animals:

We saw crabs.....this is the Sally Lightfoot Crab. Very visible because of the bright red color.

We watched the fishermen bring in their catch. They would clean it and sell it right on the dock.
Here is one fisherman's catch of the day.

We learned that the lobsters have to be caught by hand. The lobster season is about 3 months long and we were at the end of the season. A couple of close ups of the colorful lobsters.

We saw many sea lions and fur seals.

This little guy is supervising the cleaning of the fish.

We saw these little lizards everywhere. They are called Lava Lizards. They have a beautiful read throat.

We saw many colorful Iguanas.

Some were more colorful than others...

Here is a great picture of a sea lion, seal, iguanas and crabs all sharing the same dock.

And of course we saw one of the Galapagos most famous inhabitants...the giant tortoise.

We learned that when the female lays her eggs, that the eggs have to be rescued and incubated until they hatch. The little babies are then raised in orphanages until they about 5 years old. This is because of predator rats. The rats came onto the island from big ships many years ago and they have not been able to get rid them.

This turtle is the last living turtle of his speices....his name is Lonesome George.

When we visited the Darwin Center, we were surprised to find that we could walk among the giant tortoises.

Here is Chuck posing so you can see the size of these guys. They can live to be 150 years old. Some weigh as much as 500 lbs.

Some fun tortoise pictures....

This tortoise seems to be saying "Ralph, you know, life would be better if you would come out of your shell."

And another..... "Ralph, would you please get off my back?"

I will end with this guy saying "Goodbye."