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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Arts, Crafts and Entertainment Week in Cuenca

Dear Family and Friends,

I have been posting lately about the parades and festivities around our city. The excitement has been building for the last couple of weeks. This Tuesday, November 3, is Independence Day for Cuenca. Cuenca declared their independence from Spain on November 3, 1820.

Since yesterday, there have been parades, symphonies, art exhibits, arts and crafts fairs, a rodeo, a circus, a carnival with rides, and much more happening all around town. It is quite challenging to decide which events to attend.

Yesterday and today, Chuck and I went to some of the arts & crafts shows. There are multiple venues and we only went to as many as we could handle.

We started out this morning on the number 3 bus and got off at Plaza San Roque where there was a Peruvian arts and crafts display. Here is Chuck discussing some colorful knitted socks with this lady from Cusco.

They had all of their things displayed on blankets on the ground. Mostly, small items they could bring from Peru. A lot of sweaters, purses, socks, gloves and small animals and dolls.

I love their dress. I am including this picture of a Peruvian man from Cusco so you can see the men have remained true to their customs also.

The Madame bought a hat embroidered by Peruvians.

We then walked down 12 of April street to La Plaza de Artes. This is quite new and a great place to buy art year around.

They had women demonstrating weaving.

We continued up the river to Cedap, a cultural museum. There were exhibitors all over their parking lot. Here is Chuck admiring metal work from Riobamba.

Wonderful ceramics. I may have to go back and buy something from these folks.

Across the river from the museum is a nice shady park. This park was full of paintings and what Chuck and I call "hippie jewelry."

A colorful display of earrings.

I bought a painting from this artist. Our picture is not in the photograph but I will post it later.

After buying the painting, we had to take a taxi home. I photographed just some of the booths lining the river, across the street from the park. Maybe we will visit them tomorrow.

We came home and looked at the painting in our house. YES! we did good. It looks great!!

I then settled down for a nap.

Now we are on our way to the Banco Central auditorium for a Tango performance.

More tomorrow...everyday through Tuesday. Will share more as it happens.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Nancy and Chuck

Monday, October 26, 2009

Visit to Giron .... No Bull

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck had read in the local paper that Giron is in the middle of a weeks long annual celebration involving bulls. According to the article, festivities occur daily. Yesterday, we went with our friends, Brian and Shelley, to check it out first hand.

We met Brian and Shelley at 8:00am at the Fiera Libre market in order to catch a coop bus to Giron. It was a small bus, but we were some of the first to board so we had seats in the front.
It took about an hour to get to Giron and it cost us $1.00 each.

After we arrived in Giron, we wandered around getting oriented. We asked some folks on the street what the festivities for the day were. When I mentioned bulls they seemed a little confused. Finally, they understood enough of our questions, to tell us that there would be a procession coming down the street at 11:00 am.

Since it was only 9:35, we searched for a place to have coffee and juice. While we were in the cafe, were surprised to find that several people spoke to us in English. We enjoyed chatting with them and they seemed very genuine in welcoming us to Giron.

I hope that the influx of English speaking foreigners, that are arriving monthly, are people that respect and are able to accept Ecuador's culture, people who can adapt their comfort zones to the way of life here....not people that want to change Ecuador into "what they left back home."

If we gringos, remember that even though we live here, we have been given the gift of residency and if we accept that gift with gratitude and leave our "fears and egos" where we came from, I believe we can always be welcomed here.

After our refreshment stop, we went back to the main plaza to people watch and wait for the "happening."

Brian, Shelley and Fredi..

Fredi was a great ambassador for us. People would stop and chat just because of Fredi. Here she is meeting a new friend.

Chuck enjoying the park.

About 10:30 we heard a band and the procession coming down the hill.

I kept looking for a bull. But the closest thing I could find was a child dressed in a reindeer costume dancing through the parade. (He is the little guy in the bottom right of the picture.)

There was music, dancing, horses, and religious icons. A wonderful Sunday morning mix.

They ended the procession by going into the church. Everyone except the musicians, dancers and the horses.

Afterwords we set out in search for something to eat. The restaurant, that was recommended to us by a local, was closed so we went to the market in search for some food.

After eating, we wandered back to the coop bus. While we waited for the driver, we chatted about our blogs and the possible effects of many gringos relocating here.

We enjoyed our scenic ride back to Cuenca.

A fun outing with adventurous is good!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Giant Puppets

Dear Family and Friends,

Here are some pictures that I took yesterday morning at Parque Calderon, the central plaza in Cuenca.

We are getting closer to Cuenca's independence day - November 3rd and there are many activities most every day leading up to the big week of celebration.

Today we are headed to Giron with our friends, Bryan and Shelley. A celebration is taking place there having to do with bulls. If we come back intact, I will share pictures with you.


Friday, October 23, 2009


Dear Family and Friends,

It seems that every time we turn around we are reminded just how different things are in Ecuador than back in the USA. Chuck read in this mornings paper that the city bus drivers and the taxi drivers are on strike until 2:00pm. This has a huge impact on the city. Most people here (including us) do not have cars and depend on public transportation. The schools were closed because the students could not get to school.

One thing I find interesting is that there was no warning. It just happened. And the other thing I find interesting is that the strike is scheduled until only until 2:00pm.

The bus drivers are striking because the courts said that they could no longer use the turn styles because it discriminates against the handicapped and pregnant women. The bus drivers depended on the turn styles to keep people honest and make sure that the fare is paid before people sit down.

The taxi drivers are striking against unlicensed taxis.

Ossie, our UK friend, Chuck and I all have birthdays within one week of each other. We decided to celebrate our birthdays together at one time. We looked at the calendar and the best date for us was on Chuck's birthday which was yesterday.

I sent out emails inviting anyone who would like to join us for lunch to meet us at the restaurant Oro Mar. Oro Mar offers a strictly seafood menu and their prices are very reasonable.

The restaurant is located on ave 3 de noviembre, behind the modern art museum. We had a nice time with many friends, old and new.

Brian and Shelley, our Canadian friends, had just returned from the Galapagos and it was fun hearing all about their adventures. We sat around and chatted on the deck of the restaurant for 2 or 3 hours before we all wandered away.

Here are a few of us....more were there but not in picture. I counted about 16 of us gringos.

I'm glad the bus and taxi strike was not yesterday. We would have been in trouble as none of us have our own cars.

Friday night Chuck and I went to see yet another parade. This was a parade to show off the contestants for this years Queen of Cuenca contest. We were informed that it started at 4:00pm. Chuck and I took the bus downtown and walked around to find that by 4:30 it was still very quiet. It gets dark here in Cuenca by 6:30pm and I wanted to take some pictures so we decided to walk to iglesia San Blas, where the parade was being staged.

I took some photos and I am glad I did because the parade did not start until after 6:00pm.

Here are some pre-parade photos:

A carriage for carrying some of the contestants in the parade.

When I took this picture, I thought these were the contestants, but when I saw the parade I discovered they were not. The lady in the center, however, is the current Queen of Cuenca. I am not sure who the other ladies are....just pretty girls to us.

Some of the Cuenca police had on their dress uniforms and their horses decorated for the parade.

Here are some ladies dressed up and waiting to join in the parade.

Another picture..

The lady on the left has roses and the lady on the right has cuy (cooked guinea pig) both are easily found in this area of Ecuador.

Chuck and I walked back along the parade route and tried to find a good place to view the parade. It was quite crowded so we pondered until we looked up and saw a window on the second floor of a restaurant. We decided to go there, order something and view the parade from there.

You can see from this picture how difficult it was to find a good place to see the parade.

By the time the parade got to where we were, the sun was almost set. So I will apologize up front for the quality of the pictures.

The first in the parade was the police band. Following the police band were the young ladies I photographed earlier.

Then came the angels on stilts. There were several angels, there were three wise men and even Mary and Joseph....all on stilts.

Then came a band of angels....

The angels were followed by the ladies dressed in costume that were pictured earlier. And then the floats and carriages carrying the contestants.

It was a fun night.

Today, Hugo is painting our fireplace. Chuck thought it would be nice to have it a contrasting color and to pick up some of the color in the tile. I think it is going to look great.

The buses should be running later this afternoon and we plan to go to ex-pat night to meet some friends at the Eucalyptus cafe.

I will share more about that in our next post.


Monday, October 19, 2009

PARADES - Saint and Llamas

Dear Family and Friends,

Last weekend when we went to Machala we felt torn about the weekend get-away because we would be missing the parade for Father Damien. Father Damien was born 169 years ago. He was a Catholic missionary in Hawaii. While he was in Hawaii, many people became infected with leprosy. The king established a leper colony on the island of Molokai. In spite of the risk, Father Damien volunteered to go live on the island so he could minister to them. He dedicated his life to caring for the lepers until he, himself, contracted the disease and died of it.

This past week, Father Damien was made a Saint by Pope Benedict. This parade was to celebrate this occasion.

We found out from our friends that the parade did not happen on Sunday as was announced. Several of our expat friends went to town to see it, but it never happened.

This past Saturday, I had to go to town to pay for our drapes. I got to the center of town about 10:00 am and saw the parade. Yes, it was 6 days after the parade was scheduled. Here are some photos:

This band was supposed to be playing Hawaiian music, but they seemed more like they were from Cuba.
Rows of their uniforms. I can't swear, but their school is probably named for Father Damien.

There was even a float depicting the life of Father Damien. It had lepers and you can see Father Damien in the upper left hand corner.

Chuck had read that there was to be a parade of llamas on Sunday, yesterday. We decided to try and catch it. He had read that it started at the Museum of Modern Art at 2:00pm and would go through town.

We wanted to be where the parade originated so we could get some close up photos of the llamas. The llamas and participants did not show up until 1:30pm.

As we took photos, it was starting to rain. We heard the people say that they were going to postpone the parade until 3:00pm.

We walked to the park for some ice cream and to wait for the parade. All we actually got was a down pour. It rained very hard.

By 4:00pm we guessed that the parade would not take place. We came home and were glad that we at least got to see the llamas.

This morning, Chuck saw a picture of the parade in the paper. They did have a parade, but instead of going through town and ending at the Banco Centro as announced, they went around the block of the Modern Art Museum.

Here are some photos of the llamas and parade participants:

This is cuy. Cuy is a cooked guinea pig. He is all decked out with an Ecuadorian flag waving out of his behind and surrounded by boiled eggs. Yummy!!!!

I think these are alpacas.

All dressed up for the parade.

The parade participants were from Ingapirca. This is a small town just outside the ruins of the same name. This man is dressed in typical clothing of the Canary people.

Cuenca is starting to gear up for the big celebration of their independence which is on November 3rd. There will be a whole week or more of festivities.

We will keep you posted.

Nancy and Chuck