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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Making Aji in Cuenca

Dear Family and Friends,

After returning to Cuenca we had a very empty refrigerator because I had cleaned it out a couple of months ago before we started traveling.

One thing I really like about living in Ecuador is the aji.  Aji is a hot sauce made from tree tomatoes.  The aji I like the best is made by Lourdes.  She agreed to let me tag along and photograph the process.

 We walked to the market to buy the ingredients.

Lourdes selected the produce and we came home to start production.

Here are the ingredients:

Tree tomatoes (as far as I know these are not available in the U.S.)
Tiny peppers
Green onions
Red Onion (not in picture)

The first thing she did was washed the produce.

Then she put the tomatoes de arbol (tree tomatoes) to bring to a boil.

She covered them and removed them shortly after they came to a boil.  The reason for this is to make them easier to peel......just like real tomatoes.

While she waited for the tree tomatoes to heat, she thinly chopped some purple and green onions.

She did not chop the peppers, she set them aside to be put in the blender with the tree tomatoes.

She removed the tree tomatoes from the stove and peeled them before putting in the blender.

She added the peppers and blended on high.

She used a strainer to get any pulp out of the mixture.

She added chopped cilantro and stirred it in.

As a final step she added a little salt.

And there you have it....Aji Lourdes style.

Lourdes just checked this post out and said that everything is correct.

Keep it refrigerated until you use it.

Nancy (and Lourdes)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Time Out for Art...A Visit to Bo's and Betsy's Studios

Dear Family and Friends,

My cousins, Bo Bartlett and Betsy Eby, invited my brother, sister and me to visit their studios that are located in a renovated old cotton mill in Columbus.

Bo's studio is large and has incredible lighting supplied by the sun.

He shared a glimpse of his current project which is a very large painting that will be over the bar in a hotel in Aspen, Colorado.

Here he is standing in front of a recently completed painting.

Betsy's studio is located just steps away from Bo's.

Her studio is larger than Bo's and again has wonderful light.

She shared her art technique with us.

She works with wax to make incredible art.

Here are Bo and Betsy in front of one of her recent pieces.

They are an incredible pair.

Please check out their websites:

Much love to you both and thank you for an incredible morning.


Friday, October 25, 2013

FOTO FRIDAY - 10/25/13

Dear Family and Friends,

Here is a little critter we saw when we were at Providence Canyon (Little Grand Canyon) last week.

Happy week end.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

More about Georgia Family!

Dear Family and Friends,

Before Norman and I arrived in Columbus, my sister put the word out.  We all (the Powers clan and a few of the Day clan) met up at Ezells Fish Camp.  We had a great time stuffing ourselves with catfish and hushpuppies.  The only problem for me is that I just didn't have enough time with everyone.  I guess we had 25 or so folks together.

I was so busy eating and yapping that I did not bring out my camera.  I am so sorry for that because I would love to have a picture of all the Powers clan that was there.  When we return in April maybe we can do it again and this time bring out the camera to document.

On Sunday, Aunt Opal's cousin Sandy, had us to her farm for lunch.  Sandy and Otis live about 30 miles north of Columbus.  They raise horses and granddaughters.  We enjoyed seeing her new (to us) house and visiting with her family.

Here is a picture of Aunt Opal, me, Sandy, Bo and Betsy.  Sandy and Bo are Aunt Opals children and Betsy is Bo's wife.

This is a very special picture for me.  Sandy, Linda and I grew up together, three little cousins that loved spending nights over and playing paper dolls.  Sandy and I took tap dancing classes together as very young children.  You all know who we are surrounding.....sweet Aunt Opal.

Bo and Betsy invited us to come see their studios on Monday.

I will share about that in the next post.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Chuck!

Dear Family and Friends,

What a special day!  Today is my best friend's birthday.

Happy birthday Chuck.....I love you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trip to Georgia - Little Grand Canyon

Dear Family and Friends,

We no sooner returned from our trip to Europe when I booked a flight to Georgia.  Chuck stayed home (well sort of)   He stayed in Ecuador.  While I was in Georgia he went to the Amazon jungle.

My trip to Georgia was short but very nice.  My brother, Norman, drove from Texas to join my sister, Mary Anne and me for a family reunion.

We all piled in at Mary Anne's house.

The first day we were there we kidnapped Aunt Opal and drove to Providence Canyon, known locally as the Little Grand Canyon.  It is less than an hour drive from Columbus.

In this first picture you will note...Norman has a walking stick, Mary Anne has a cane, but Aunt Opal..nada.  She left us in the dust as we tried to keep up.

It was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect for this trip.

Believe it or not this canyon is less than 200 years old!!

What caused this dramatic change from rolling hills to this beautiful landscape?  It all started in the early 1800's when farmers settled this area, cleared all the trees and plowed up and down hills instead of across. They unintentionally encouraged erosion gullies to form.

Since this part of Georgia is subject to thunder storms and torrential rains it was a given that once the top red clay was gone, the sand underneath was easily washed away.

Norman and Mary Anne.

Aunt Opal.

We had a great time.  Aunt Opal shared stories with us about when she and Uncle Bill came down over 60 years ago and climbed up the sides.

For those of you who have asked lately, Aunt Opal is doing great!!!

More about my trip back to Georgia later.


Friday, October 18, 2013

FOTO FRIDAY - 10/18/13

Dear Family and Friends,

It is not often that I want Chuck to get behind the camera and photograph me.   On this occasion I was so excited about this butterfly that seemed to want to spend the afternoon with me.  He stayed with me for a long time.

This picture was taken in Paraguay at Iquazu Falls, in 2007.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Girona, Spain - getting back to our work

Dear Family and Friends,

After an aimless, do nothing day in Girona, Spain, we got out the guide book and went back to working touring.

We headed out early for our trek up to the cathedral.  We wanted to get there by slowly climbing up to the gardens, viewing the ramparts and approaching the cathedral from the rear.

The old stone walls added to the beauty of this lovely garden.  It reminded me of the pictures we saw in Sunday School of biblical gardens.

We approached the cathedral from the rear.  In the next picture you will see why we chose to ascend slowly through the streets.

Yep, this is how you approach it if you enter from the front.  The cathedral is named the "Cathedral of Santa Maria of Girona."

The cathedral is located just inside the old city walls.  This portal leads to the plaza below the cathedral.  

A short walk away is the Church of St. Felix.  The spire is very unique with it's sawed off top.

Here is a view of both the cathedral and church just beyond the river.

Here is another view of the buildings along the river.  It sort of reminds me of the barranco in Cuenca along the Tomebomba river.

We enjoyed our last good meal in Girona.  After several weeks of good wine, bread and cheese we had mixed feelings about leaving.

Here is a sample "set lunch menu".  This was our main meal of the day....actually it served as the only meal of the day since we just nibbled in the evenings.

Packed up, ready to head to the train station.

Girona is only 60 miles from Barcelona.  We took a short train ride into the heart of Barcelona.  From there we took a taxi to the airport.  Chuck had found a hotel inside the airport...(it reminded me of Snowden in Russia).  The room inside the airport came in real handy because we had a 6:00am flight out of Barcelona.

After we had all our bags packed and were in the Barcelona airport hotel, the excitement of returning home to Cuenca really kicked in.

Because we were following the sun, we were able to fly from Barcelona to Amsterdam, to Quito and into Cuenca all in one long day.

It is so good to be back home.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Girona, Spain - catching our breath

Dear Family and Friends,

After four days in Avignon and surrounding areas, we got back on the train.  This time we headed to Spain.

We only had three days left before we had to fly back to Ecuador. Our plane left from Barcelona.  We love Barcelona, but since we were just there visiting 18 months ago, we visited another city instead.

We went to Girona, Spain.

Girona is a lovely city with a population of about 100,000 people.

Before going there we were pronouncing Girona using an "H" sound instead of the "G" sound.  We are used to using the "H" sound when pronouncing Giron, which is a city in Ecuador.  Since we were in Spain we just made that assumption. 

We quickly learned that Girona is pronounced with the "G" sound.  Why?  Because the people in this part of Spain speak Catalan.  Catalan is similar to Spanish but we noticed a lot of French terminology being used.

We felt comfortable getting along with our Spanish but learned we were better off speaking in English.  Why?  Because the Catalonia region is seeking independence from Spain. The Catalan government intends to hold a referendum on independence from Spain next year, 2014.

Their desire for sovereignty is so intense that you can actually feel it in the air.  We never saw a Spanish flag anywhere in the city.  They do not refer to themselves as being part of Spain, but as being part of the Iberian Peninsular.  Anything you would associate with Spain (flamenco, castanets, bull fighters, etc.) is obviously absent in their souvenir shops.  Because of this strong sentiment, we found we fared better when speaking English. 

Almost every house and business had the flag for Catalan displayed showing their support for independence.

It will be interesting to see what happens next year at the referendum.

On our first day in Girona we just wandered around and enjoyed shopping and soaking up the ambiance of the city.   We took the day off from being tourists.

Believe it or not, being a tourist is almost like having a job.  Every once and a while you need to just relax, ignore the guide books and replenish your travel energy.

The following pictures were made as we strolled the city.

We found a store that was selling Panama hats, made in Ecuador.  I almost dropped my teeth when I saw the price.  These hats were 99.00€ each, which would make them about $135.00 each.  Geez, if we had only known we could have stuffed a suitcase full of hats and sold them on the street....maybe pay for our airfare.

While we were walking we saw this moving truck.  This system was new to us.  We watched with amusement as the motorized platform moved up and down the ladder.  People in the apartment would load the platform and people at the bottom would unload the goods into the truck.  Wow, what a back saver!

Wonderful hams.  I wish we could have put one in our suitcase. 

Being a southerner I am always intrigued when I see black eyed peas in other countries.  They are sold all over the world.  We see them in almost every place we visit.

We enjoyed our down day just aimlessly wandering around.

Next post will be about getting back to being tourists.