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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve in Cuenca

Dear Family and Friends,

Each year I post about the children's Christmas Eve parade in Cuenca.  And each year as I go through the pictures to decide which ones to share with you, it brings tears to my eyes.  I miss my grandchildren most at this time of the year.

Papa Noel (aka. Jim Stephens, our brother in law) was a big hit with the children.  He shopped all year for small toys and passed out over five hundred toys out to delighted kids.

Papa Noel and his elf helper Audrey.

The darlings of the parade.....


As I am posting this, the parade is still going on.  It lasts from 10 am until 5:00 pm.  Thousands and thousands of children...this is a wonderful tradition in Cuenca.

Chuck and I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Family visitors, Sick Puff-Puff and Hummingbirds

Dear Family and Friends,
First of all, thank you to everyone who expressed concern after Chuck posted that I was under the weather.  I was down with a cold for a few days but am feeling just fine now.

A couple of weeks ago, Chuck and I drove to Quito to meet Audrey and Jim, Chuck's sister and her husband. Before heading back to Cuenca we spent a couple of days at Bella Vista.

Bella Vista is located about two hours west Quito.  It is located in the cloud forest.  It is well known to bird watchers because they have so many different species of birds, especially hummingbirds.

It was a first time for all of us but Jim, who spent a few days there about 4 years ago.  He highly recommended that we all visit there since we were fairly close. 

Audrey and I spent one whole day in front of the hummingbird feeders...oohing and aahing.  We were right next to them and they didn't seem to mind at all.  We saw some amazing birds.

Have a look at the different species of hummingbirds.

It might be hard to see, but this bird's tail is about as long as his body.  A fascinating bird.

This guy's wings were flapping so fast, that you cannot see them in this picture.  He was a little bigger than a large honey bee.

We saw other birds as well.

We had a glorious couple of days there.

We headed back to Quito to pick up a piece of Audrey's and Jim's luggage that did not arrive in Quito with them.

About 30 minutes outside of Quito our car, Puff-Puff, started making a funny noise.  We limped in to our hotel in Quito with hardly any acceleration.

Chuck contacted the SsangYong dealer and took Puff-Puff in to be repaired.  Since this was a Friday afternoon, we opted to take a van to Cuenca instead of staying in Quito.

As it turns out, the turbo was bad and had to be replaced.  It took Monday - Thursday to repair. On Thursday Chuck got a call from the dealer that Puff-Puff was all repaired.

Chuck and I flew to Quito Friday morning.  As soon as we got off the plane we took a taxi to the dealership.  Puff-Puff looked so good to both of us. We have been lost without a car.  It has been especially unfortunate because we like to take our guests on a day trip to Gualaceo, Chordeleg, and SigSig.

Now that we have Puff-Puff all repaired we can make that trip on Wednesday before Audrey and Jim have to leave on Thursday.

Alls well that ends well.  Only our pocketbook is suffering.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Faroles at Santo Domingo

Dear family and friends,

Nancy is a bit under the weather, so I am filling in for her with this report on the display of faroles (paper lanterns) which covered several blocks of downtown Cuenca last night.
In Colombia, December 7 is the traditional day for turning on the Christmas decoration lights.  The first lights of the season are thousands and thousands of faroles. Father Gonzalo Su├írez brought this tradition to Santo Domingo church, here in Cuenca, five years ago. Each year the celebration has grown. This year 5,800 faroles were on display.

Eighty parishioners volunteered to set up the display, while the priests and nuns made final adjustments to the temporary altar.

The faroles had been carefully constructed by hand. Some were made from soft drink bottles, while most were cardboard cutouts with colored tissue paper windows.

When they were all lit, it was a  magical sight

We are off to Quito tomorrow to pick up my sister Audrey and brother-in-law Jim Stephens who are arriving from Santa Rosa, California.