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Friday, February 28, 2014

FOTO FRIDAY - 2/28/14

Dear Family and Friends,

Todays Friday Fotos were made here in Cuenca at a local nursery.





Love,
Nancy

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Military Celebration of the Battle of Tarqui

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday, I was in Parque Calderon and saw the miliatry band set up directly across from the new cathedral.  The band members were milling around and I figured something was about to happen.

I looked across the street and saw that the main entrance to the cathedral was open (which is rare during the week).  Not only was it open, there were military guards at the entrance.


I went in through one of the side doors to see what was going on inside the cathedral.

They were having a mass and the cathedral was packed with military people in their dress uniforms.



I went out of the cathedral, crossed the street and waited near the band.

Pretty soon, the mass was over and the military people were coming out.


About this time, the band started playing and it gave me goose bumps.




The big question for me was WHY?  Why was this mass and ceremony taking place?

I asked around and found out that today (February 27, 1829) is the day the Battle of Tarqui was won.

What was the Battle of Tarqui you ask?

Well, I will do my best to explain.

Before this battle there was Peru (which consisted of what is now Peru and Bolivia) and the Gran Colombia (which was made up of what is now, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela.)  Peru invaded the southen part of what is now Ecuador.  The battle took place near Cuenca.  The Peruvians came up the long Yunguilla Valley with their cannons and horses....several weeks of marching and pulling uphill.  The army of the Gran Colombia (made up of mostly military and volunteers from our local area) were waiting for them and defeated the attack from a mountain top at the top of the valley on February 27, 1829.

The next year, 1830, the Gran Colombia was dissolved and the countries of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela were created.  Also Peru was split into the countries of Peru and Bolivia.

These soldiers were across the street from me.  When researching about the Battle of Tarqui, I found out that they are dressed in the uniform that was worn during the battle.  Today, you will find military dressed in this uniform defending the presidential palace in Quito.


So, now I know what these uniforms represent and it makes me proud to know that they are still used today as the ceremonial dress.

Love,
Nancy



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Roses, Roses and Blue Roses

Dear Family and Friends,

One of Ecuador's major exports is roses.  Roses are grown in green houses and shipped all over the world.  The roses in the U.S. most likely come from here.

One of the nice things about living here is that roses are inexpensive compared to the prices we would pay in the U.S.  We can buy a dozen beautiful foses for $2 to $3 a dozen.

I was walking by the flower market the other day and saw these roses sitting on a bench.


On the other side of the bench I surprised to see these dark blue roses.


Roses in a bucket, sold by the each...


Look at these delicate blue roses....


I don't know how they grow blue roses, but I am glad they do.

Love,
Nancy

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crossing Below Avenida de las Americas

Dear Family and Friends,

Avenida de las Americas is a very busy street that circles around the city of Cuenca. (The translation is Avenue of the Americas and this road is actually part of the Pan American Highway)   It is anywhere from six to eight lanes wide.  In some parts of the street it is almost impossible to cross, for example at Fieria Libre (the largest market in Cuenca).

Years ago the city of Cuenca built an underpass so that people could safely cross the street.

At first I was a little reluctant to use it.  But after using it I found it to be quite safe.  I wouldn't use it at night, but during the day, when other people are using it, it seems safe.

Here are some pictures.

The entrance on the Fieria Libre side of Avenida de las Americas.


There is an elevator on each side of the street, but I don't know if they work.  I feel much safer taking the stairs like all the other people do.


Once you are underground, there is a nice passage with lots of shops.


Before you know it, you are ascending to the other side of the street.


It is odd looking, but it sure does the trick.


Love,
Nancy

PS:  Sunday was election day in Ecuador.  To find out how the voting system here is different from the U.S. check out Rich's and Nancy's Blog.  They did a nice job of explaining how it works here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Juggling Daddy

Dear Family and Friends,

I was walking the other day and saw a familiar sight here in Cuenca.

Many people entertain folks in their cars when they are stopped at a red light.  After entertaining them they pass by each car for a tip.

What really amazed me is that this was a daddy working to feed his family.  He had his two little girls sitting on the curb.  He was pulling double duty...working and baby sitting.


As I crossed the street, I looked back.  He was collecting money from the drivers.  I wonder if people gave money to him because of his juggling skills or because of his cute little girls?

Love,
Nancy

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thank You to all of our Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

February of this year marks the sixth year I have been posting to this blog.  Six years, where did the time go?  I counted the posts and as of today I have posted 641 posts.  My mom always said I was a talker....I guess I am proving her right.

Sometimes, I don't really have anything much to say, but then I look around me here in Cuenca and sure enough, there is something else to share.

To those of you who have stayed with us through these past six years, we send you a heart felt "Thank You."  Sharing with you about Ecuador, Cuenca especially, and other places we travel is my joy.

This is a picture of Chuck and I on our first trip to Cuenca seven years ago.


We fell in love with Cuenca then and still love it today.

Again, THANK YOU ALL for being our friends.

Love,
Nancy

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Never too Old

Dear Family and Friends,

Coming to Cuenca, Ecuador from the USA, I am always intrigued by seeing store fronts like these radio and TV repair shops.



In the USA we live in a disposable society.  Don't bother to repair...just buy a new one.

This made me think about humans.  In the USA old people are often put aside in nursing and old age homes.  In Cuenca old people live with their families.  Valued and loved.

When the repair shop owner saw me taking a picture of his shop, he pointed out his prized piece.  A 70 year old German radio.  He said it still plays.


This is one thing I love about the culture here in Ecuador.  And the older I get the more I like it.

Love,
Nancy











Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bus Babies

Dear Family and Friends,

Although I am doing more walking these days, occasionally I still ride the bus to town.

One of my greatest joys about riding the bus is seeing the adorable children with their parents.

Here are a few....I am sure you will agree.




Getting a smile from these sweet little ones makes my day!

Love,
Nancy

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Basket Weavers

Dear Family and Friends,

The other day I was in town and noticed some ladies across the street.  I went over and saw that they were not only weaving very small colorful baskets but selling them too.

It really makes me appreciate all the work that goes into the local handicrafts.






Happy Thursday.

Love,
Nancy

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Coopera Update

Dear Family and Friends,

A couple of months back I posted about a hunger strike that was taking place in our main park by investors in a local credit union.

Here is the link:  Coopera Hunger Strike

At that time I told you I report how the situation turned out.  People who had $30K or less in the credit union received all of their money back around September of last year.

We learned recently from Gringo Tree that the decision has been announced.

Here is how the remainder is being distributed:

Partial Payouts Announced for Coopera Members

Ecuador's Superintendency of Popular and Solidarity Economy (SEPS) announced Tuesday a third phase of payouts to members of Coopera, the failed Cuenca financial cooperative. Coop members with accounts ranging from $30,001 to $62,500 can collect most of their money at Cuenca branches of Banco del Pacifico until April 1.

Accounts with amounts of $30,001 to $40,000 will be repaid $30,000, while accounts with $40,001 to $62,500 will repaid at a 75% rate.

SEPS also announced that there would be a fourth phase of payouts for larger accounts but provided no details of dates or the amounts to be paid.

According to SEPS, the new phase of payouts beginning today will reimburse 368 members, leaving less than 300 large account holders unpaid. It is believed that about 60 North American expats are among the group of 368.

Attorney Gustavo Qutio, who represents unpaid Coopera members, said he was happy for those who will receive partial repayment but complained about the government's formula that penalizes large account holders.


As the late Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story."

Love,
Nancy











Friday, February 14, 2014

FOTO FRIDAY - 2/14/14

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I wish all of our family and friends a very happy Valentine's Day!



We love you.

Nancy and Chuck

*Photo courtesy of http://wallpaperforcomputer.net

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Motivation in a Small Package

Dear Family and Friends,

I have been working on my health and making progress I might add.  Drinking juiced veggies every day and taking walks is my program.

During the Christmas holidays I met an expat, Judy, that showed me her new toy.  It is a pedometer that she wears around her wrist.  She said that having it is very motivational for her to walk more.

The beauty of this gadget is that it syncs with an app on your computer.  It tracks how many steps you have taken each day.  Allows you to see how you have done over time.  It also tells you how many calories you have burned.  The goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Right after Christmas, good ol' Chuck ordered each of us a pedometer online from Fitbit.

He had them shipped through Club Correos and when we got back from Colombia they were waiting for us.

He ordered us the Fitbit Zip model.  This model clips on our clothes.

Saturday night I opened my Fitbit Zip and downloaded the app to my Mac laptop.  I also downloaded the app to my Ipod Touch.

So far, we think they are fantastic.  I agree with Judy, they are highly motivational.

Have a look:

This is the small pedometer.  I wear mine on my bra.  That way it is out of sight.


It holds snuggly with this clip.



This is the read out on my Ipod of how many steps I have taken today.  A few more to go to reach my daily goal.


Also, you can add friends so that you can keep track with how each other is doing.  That in itself is motivational.

Have a great day.

Love,
Nancy

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

FYI...Just So You Know.

Dear Family and Friends,

When Chuck and I moved here to Cuenca, over 5 years ago, we really thought living in the center of the historic district would be so much fun.  However, we ended up buying a condo outside of the historic district.

Since we have been here, I always marvel at the condos people seem to find that are right in the middle of the city.  They have been remodeled and are modern and up to date inside while blending in with the historic city on the outside.

As you walk the historic center you would never know little gems are behind those walls.

Last Sunday, Rich, Nancy, Chuck and I met our friend, Patricia, in Parque Calderon.  We were catching up on each other's news when she mentioned she had a condo for rent only a block away.  I asked her if she would mind showing it to us since it is empty.  She agreed and we walked about a block to her building.

We were all amazed at her apartment...it is nice and modern inside.  Who would have guessed from the outside?

Monday, Chuck and I went to the Colombian restaurant for lunch and who should walk in but Patricia.  I asked if she would mind if I made pictures of her apartment to share on this blog.  I explained that we would have jumped at a chance to spend our first year in Cuenca right in the center of things, but we just didn't know how to find a place.

These nice apartments become available and are snapped up so quickly.  That is what gave me the idea of posting about it here.

I guess you could call this a Public Service Announcement post.

She has a nice kitchen, modern with granite counter tops.


Nice dining area.

A living room big enough for having guests.


I love the open living area.


Her bedroom is huge.  The queen size bed looks dwarfed in it.


Sitting area in bedroom


A nice walk in shower in the bathroom.


And a view of the Iglesia San Alfonso from every window

 
Other than the fact that there is an elevator in this building, the best part is it is only a 3 minute walk to Parque Calderon.




This is what I know:
  • Patricia does not have this apartment listed for rent with any agency 
  • She is renting it furnished
  • She is not renting it for a vacation rental
  • She will, however, rent for as short as 3 months
I am just trying to help anyone who might be interested in renting in the historic area.  If you are that person you can contact Patricia direct.    ballardnow123@gmail.com

Have a great day.

Love,
Nancy








Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Home in Cuenca, Ecuador

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I arrived in Cuenca Thursday night about 8:30pm.  We were very tired, we came home and went to bed shortly after we arrived.

Friday, Chuck was his energizer bunny self.  I, on the other hand, felt like I had a hangover, my head felt like it had cotton in it.  That is what happens to me when I travel all day.  My body retains fluid and.... well, you don't want to hear the details.  The bottom line is that I didn't unpack and do laundry until Saturday.

By Sunday I was better acclimated to the altitude and had rested well from our travel.  This was a good thing because we have a standing date with Rich and Nancy to walk and have a nice Sunday morning breakfast together.

To be honest, this is always a highlight of our week.

Here we are in the central park, Parque Calderon, after our breakfat.  We walked all the way to town, up the stairs and ate at the California Kitchen.  We always like to mosey down to the park to check out everything.

Since we were doing a "do it yourself" portrait, Rich and I took turns handing off the camera.

This first picture I took.


This picture Rich took.


You will notice that Chuck is sporting his new Colombian hat.  Rich was disappointed that Chuck didn't buy the matching earrings to wear with it.

We really felt like we were home again after Sunday morning.

Love,
Nancy



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Our apartment in Medellin, Colombia

Dear Family and Friends,

As I have mentioned previously, Chuck selected all our apartments for this trip through Airbnb.com

It is difficult to know which apartment to select because although the pictures look good the apartment could be in an isolated location.  Our apartment in Bogota, although nice, was isolated from our tourist spots. Now that we have been to Bogota and know the fun areas we would select an apartment closer to our desired location.

Lucky for us, we selected the perfect apartment here in Medellin.  It is located out of the center of the city in a safe hillside neighborhood.  We have been able to walk to lovely park Lleras for dinner. It is surrounded by numerous restaurants.  We feel safe walking back home after dark.

As with our other apartments, this apartment is secure.  Guarded day and night by a private security guard.  No one can enter unless they belong there.

Link to our apartment.

Here is Chuck with our security guard, Edi.  Edi speaks English and was so helpful.  He gave us directions, called taxis and made recommendations.  He was so happy to be able to practice his English with us.


A look up from the front of the apartment....we were on the 15th floor.


Being that high made for some beautiful views from our balcony.


Looking straight down from the back of our apartment gave us a view of some private homes.  This is a neighborhood in transition.  At one time this was all upscale homes but as the condos are being constructed, homeowners are succumbing and selling to developers.


Just taking a walk in the neighborhood is a delight.  Although we didn't get much, it obviously rains here a lot.  The temperatures are so mild. The flora is abundent and large.


Here is a picture of Chuck standing by a tree.  The plants around him are plants we all recognize as houseplants.  Here, they grow outside becoming very large because of the mild year round temperatures.


The tree lined streets are lovely.


Nice shopping streets with good sidewalks.  It was a pleasure to walk...weather was great and the area is so beautiful.


Our apartment was near park Llearas that is surrounded by restaurants.  Many, many restaurants.  At night this area comes to life.  All the restaurants have outdoor seating.




As you are reading this post, Chuck and I are flying home to Cuenca.

We have had a great three weeks.  Having experienced Colombia, we see it in a different light.  We would definitely return.

Love,
Nancy