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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chuck, The Magnificent

Dear Family and Friends,

Today, after our Sunday morning Rich and Nancy walk, we returned home to rest.  I retired to the patio and was minding my own business...well, I was minding my own business clipping my toenails.

Chuck started nosing into my business.  He said "Did you know I can read toenail clippings?"

"Get outta here." I said

"No," he said, "Really I can. Watch."

He ran inside, got a towel, put it on his head like a turban.  He then sat in my chair, leaned over and started doing some hokus spokus stuff.

He said, " I see travel in your near future."

Holy cow! He was right on!  We leave next Sunday to go back to the US for a visit.  (I'll share more about that later.)

This man has talent.  If you want a private reading....get out the toenail clippers and give him a call.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Horchata in Ecuador

Dear Family and Friends,

When we lived in the USA I enjoyed going to Fiesta Foods to shop because it was a supermarket that catered to the Hispanic population in our area.  I looked forward to having a cup of horchata.  It is a sweet white drink that was made from rice milk and cinnamon.

When we moved to Ecuador and I saw the horchata tea offered I was disappointed that it was an herbal tea and not the delicious white sweet drink I was accustomed to.

Well, my friends, I have been on a health kick lately and the horchata (herbal) tea of Ecuador has become a very good friend of mine.

Lourdes and I go to the market.  We buy the fresh herbs to make the tea.

Here is a closer look.

We bring it home and put it on to make tea.  We add some ginger just for a little more health benefit.

I drink this tea cold over ice.  I add a little Splenda and some lemon.  It is very refreshing and so much better for me than the diet soda.  I haven't completely given up on diet soda but when I am at home I drink this tea instead.

This is what it looks like in the pitcher.  The red color comes from the blossoms on the plants.

One other thing I want to share.  Our friend, Howard, gave Chuck some orchid plants a year or so ago.  We have them in the glassed in part of our patio.  Every so often one of them blooms.

We are enjoying this display right now....glad it waited until we returned from Spain to put on it's show.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Come with us to the Coopera

Dear Family and Friends,

We have been home a little over a week now.  The best part about coming home is hugging family and friends.  We missed everyone and are glad to be back home.

You must think we disappeared from the earth after we returned from Spain since we have not posted to the blog.  It was a fun challenge to post every day for six weeks during our trip.  Actually it wasn't that hard because we were having neat experiences each day.

Now we are back home.  Everything here is familiar so it is more difficult to find something new or interesting to post about.

Yesterday, Chuck suggested we walk to the Coopera (co-op) for some fruits and veggies.  I picked up my camera and documented our trip. 

Here is Chuck headed out of our building.  We live right on the river as you will see.

When we walk to the Coopera, we first have to cross the bridge.

When we cross the bridge, we always stop and observe the river and look at the people washing their clothes.  Today, the river is extremely high, I always cringe when there are people washing clothes in the river when it is raging.

Here is a closer look....

There is a long park that runs the length of the other side of the river.  Here is Chuck blazing the trail.

While we were in Spain, all the playground equipment has been refurbished.  A kiddie zip line swing was also repaired.  New plants have been planted.  Things are looking real nice these days.

After we crossed the street, we pass an empty lot.  It is always fun to look and see which animals are grazing.  Usually it is a calf or two or baby sheep.  Today it was a cow, and I think she is pregnant.  We told her "hello" and continued on.

When we got to the Coopera, they had plenty of crabs outside.  These are red crabs, a common variety here in Ecuador.  There is a restaurant in Cuenca called "The Red Crab" that serves red crab and other delicious seafood. 

Chuck grabs a cart and we go inside.

Here are some pictures I made inside.  I wasn't sure if I could make pictures inside, but no one asked me to stop so I followed Chuck up and down the aisles.

One of the first things you come to are the eggs.  You can get them in any color you want as long as it is brown.  They also have quail eggs.  A little further along they have yogurt, cheese and further on chicken, a small amount of frozen seafood and smoked pork and chicken.

They have a lot of grains and dried beans to choose from.

They have a very small section of jams and sauces.  You will notice that all the products are labeled with the Coopera label.  No brand names here...all locally made. 

There is a very large fresh fruit and vegetable section.  This makes up most of the store.

They have a large variety of greens, onions, tomatoes and peppers.

They have a small counter of fresh meat.  Except for the ground beef (which is extremely lean), I do not know what the cuts of meat are.

They have a small fresh seafood counter.

We bought several items but could not find what we went shopping for........fresh ginger.

Here is Chuck, patiently waiting his turn in line.

While we were waiting, I noticed a nun filling out slips of paper to enter a contest.  I teased her and asked if she was hoping to win the yellow moto.  She smiled and pointed to the car.  I hope she wins. 

Chuck finished checking out and we started back home.

We waved bye to the cow....she didn't even give us a nod.  

We have found the perfect place to rest if the load is heavy.... a nice big rock under a shade tree.  Today we were carrying light loads, but Chuck is demonstrating how to rest.

Just across the river is where we live.....just a short walk and we were back home.

Just an ordinary experience for us....but today it was a little more special because we had you with us.

Nancy and Chuck

Friday, April 13, 2012

Videos of the Semana Santa Procession in Cuenca, Spain

Dear Family and Friends,

I have downloaded a few videos I took in Cuenca, Spain of a Semana Santa procession.  I didn't want to say I would share them with you until I knew for sure that I could put them in the blog.

If you watch them, you will get a since of the sounds and solemn atmosphere of these processions. This was an evening parade and started at 8:00pm.  It is in the old part of the city with steep cobblestone streets.

Here are YouTube links if you can't get my downloads to work.

By the way, Chuck helped me climb a fence so I could video these over other heads.

We are back home in Cuenca, Ecuador now and so glad to be here.


A Long Day but WE ARE IN ECUADOR!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Our day started this morning in Madrid, checking our luggage at the airport.

After an extremely long day we were met by this smiling face in Guayaquil.  We were late....1:00am and he was there to meet us.  What a comforting feeling.  The Grand Hotel Guayaquil has never let us down.  That is why they are our hotel of choice when we fly into Guayaquil.

We fly to Cuenca tomorrow.  We are so anxious to get back home!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Royal Palace in Madrid

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning Chuck and I took the metro to town.  We are staying out near the airport so we usually have to change two or three times to get to our destination.  Our destination today was the Royal Palace.

We approached the palace from the back side so we saw the gardens first.  This is just a small corner of the gardens but you get the idea.

After we climbed the steps out of the garden, we saw this dome in the horizon.  It is a dome on a church and it not related to the palace.  I am just including it because I thought it looked so cool.

This is the entrance to the palace.  Not our (tourists) entrance....the real entrance for the King.

Our entrance was in the back.

We were fortunate when we arrived as there were no long lines of tourists.  We were able to purchase our tickets and walk right in.  By the way, they advertised a senior citizen price but refused to let us have it because it only applies to EU citizens.

Here is Chuck standing in the huge courtyard.  The backdoor of the palace is in the background.

Chuck volunteered as a palace guard, but they refused his offer because he didn't have a Basque hat.

We entered the palace and as we were making our way up the stairs I took this picture.  As soon as I took it (without flash) a security guard came to me and said NO PICTURES.  So my friends, this is all I can show you of the palace.

It was quite fabulous inside.  Way more ornate than when we toured the White House.

We are now back at our hotel, getting ready to pack our bags.  We fly back to Ecuador tomorrow.


Madrid From the Top of the Tourist Bus

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday, we took the subway into Madrid's tourist area, Plaza del Sol.  We bought tickets for the double deck tour bus.  This bus is very similar to the one in Cuenca.

Although it is difficult to take decent pictures from a moving vehicle, I took some to share with you.  These are just scenes from the tree top level of particular order or rhyme of reason... just things that caught my eye.