Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Pics -- Thanksgiving Party

These pictures are courtesy of Bruce and Charlie, more great shots!
See previous blog entry for pics from Nancy W, too.
Thanks to all of you for sharing...

Fast Visits, New Friends

Carol, Patty and Michael passed through Cuenca recently and we had the pleasure of enjoying their company.

Carol, sister-in-law of our friends' Chuck/Nancy, spent 2 weeks here. She's from WA state. Patty/Michael spent a week here 'to see if they liked Cuenca'...and, guess what! They like it so much they are planning to move here soon. They are from TX.
We're hoping Carol decides to relocate here soon, too.

We had alot of fun getting to know them all.......we joined them in dinners around town and even managed to eat some ice cream (no surprises there!).

We think they brought the rain, too! One night we were caught in a total deluge, wet to the bone, but it was all good....... the river is UP and roaring at a pretty good clip.

Safe travels, Folks, and hurry back soon!

Thanksgiving in Cuenca

We had one of the BEST Thanksgiving celebrations EVER!

A couple restaurants offered T Day menus, but we elected to invite several friends over instead. We did it 'potluck' and, we think it was the best food in town!
What a feast! Everyone brought a dish, so we had lots of choices... snacks, salads, veggies, desserts, o my!

Our Ecuadorian friend pointed us to a rental place... so we were able to arrange tables/chairs, dishes, glassware, etc for all 25 of us.

The rental folks are professional, patient, calm....highly recommended. They arrived the day before to set up and the day after to 'strike the set'... We will definitely use them again. (We'll add the name/address/phone number when we find the receipt later.)

And, the Punto bakery/deli cooked the turkey, complete with a good bread dressing (the chef made it to our recipe).

These pictures are courtesy of Nancy W:

We lost all the pics on our camera (not sure how), but we do have this one to share... it's 'after the fact'... you can see we had a pretty good time!

Thanks to our new friends for making our first Thanksgiving in Cuenca so special.
We will remember it always.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble Gobble!

An old time favorite!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Love, Nancy and Rich

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Progress on the rentals

For those following our construction projects (the rentals), here's the latest update...

For the Adobe:

New beds arrived (1 queen, 2 twins):

Most furniture have arrived, blinds/curtains are up, new appliances are working (stove/oven, refridg, washer/dryer -- microwave coming)...linens were purchased yesterday for the beds and more shopping to do for the kitchen and the bath. We're targeting early December for the place to be online and ready. We're in the process of working through the details now... hanging lights, getting TV/internet service, touch-up paint and other little jobs done. It's all coming together nicely!

For the 2 units at the Fragata building:

Kitchen cabinets and some doors are almost done and the legal/deed issues are now clear and done. We're targeting those units (both wheelchair accessable) to be ready to go at the time we get Occupancy... about March next year.

Awnings on the upstairs porch are done, too.

We think the locations of all the units are pretty darn good!

The Adobe is right across from a new walking bridge over the river. Stairs take you up to the historic area, Calle Larga, and then a short walk to downtown. Always something fun to see... here is a concert being filmed/taped... the group was singing Christmas Carols. What a delight!

(Pictures taken from one of the bedroom windows.)

Fellow Master Gardeners will appreciate this picture of Nancy in the courtyard...she couldn't help herself and just had to do some weeding...

Edificio Fragata is about a block away from Mount Sinai Hospital and a busy part of town for shopping and eating... lots of services and lots of fun things to see and's right next door to the Ital-Deli!

More pictures, more progress later.

Sun and Sunday

We've had some really glorious sun and warmth here...but no rain.

The river is down to just a trickle. Even so, folks seem to find that trickle to do the laundry. Not sure how they do, but they manage.

It's been hot, feels like around 90 degrees, during the day and very chilly at night...maybe a swing of about 50 degrees.

We've learned to get organized and out of the apartment EARLY in the day if we want to take a walk without feeling fried. When the sun gets going, it can be rather intense and we like the early morning coolness...
Tourists and residents are out and about and enjoying the wonderful weather.

Last Sunday we decided to visit the main square...there always seems to be something interesting going on and often we run into friends for a coffee... Nancy heard somewhere that the catacombs of the New Cathedral were open to the public only on Sundays (enter through the side door?), and this information gave us 'direction' for the day...

When we got to the Church (which can seat over 9,000 at one time), there was Sunday Services in progress.....actually, standing room only. TONS of people!

We did go through the side entrance, but didn't see any clue on how to go downstairs; could be it's accessible after the Services...we'll have to return another Sunday.

Not sure if this large attendance for Sunday services was 'typical', maybe it was a special Saint's Day...a small parade passed by as we were leaving the Church.

A military band lead the way and some folks were carrying a life-sized statue ...and a crowd followed, displaying pictures of a saint (?). What surprised us the most was the number of pet doggies, on leashes, in the crowd!

What we think we saw was a parade celebrating a black priest of South America...

We enjoyed catching up with our friends, Brian and Shelley, for a 'cuppa', too. They sure look dapper in their new sun hats!
Fredi was as cute as ever, too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Drought and power outages

Yes, there is a drought in Ecuador. We've read that it's the most severe drought in over 4 decades.

There are rolling electical outages in the country, as the government is conserving power. One of the largest hydro-electric plants is outside the town of Paute...and you need water/rain to make electricity. The outage schedule has been posted in the local newspapers, and we hear the outages could be ongoing for the next couple months, depending on the weather.
Note to Patty and Michael (and others headed our way soon): pack a flashlight!

We have a generator in the building, so we're not affected much.

The only irritation/frustration we've had with the outages is that we couldn't use some power tools at the adobe building to hang up some blinds...... we just had to wait for the power to come back on. Obviously, no big deal. Our attorneys downtown didn't have power for awhile and it delayed some computer work, but, again, no big deal. Also, our local bank was closed for a few hours while the power was out and the ATM was down. Still, not a huge deal.

We haven't had much rain for a few days, and our river is almost dry. Take a look.

Cuenca is smoky! We've heard from our Ecuadorian friends that several fires are burning in the Andes. They think it has to do with some of the native farmers setting fires to bring on the rain.

Hope it helps soon, we really need the rain!

Today, the smoke is thick! Smells like the forest fires we used to experience in Oregon. We can't see the surrounding mountains at times, depending on the winds. We also hear from our Ecuadorian friend that he's seen ash in a couple towns outside of Cuenca. We haven't seen ash here though.
Fortunately, the winds usually come up in the afternoons and help blow out the smoke a bit. A good thing!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cuenca's Independence Day!

Cuenca celebrates her independence from Spain on Nov 3 (1820). It's an Ecuadorian-wide holiday. Some businesses close for the entire week.

When the 2 other largest cities, Quito and Guayaquil, celebrate their independence, it's a national holiday, too.

We missed the big military parade, but we did enjoy the other one that passed downtown past the main square. It showcased floats, marching bands, dancing, lots of native dress. We think each area of Ecuador was represented.

Crowd at the main square awaiting the parade.

This group stopped right in front of us and performed a 'hunting' dance/skit. You can see the 'deer' in the center. The dancers tied him up with their colorful shawls and carried him away at the end.

So many bright colors and wide variety of hats and clothing.

The crowd was several deep along the route and, at one point, the crowd spilled into the street and stopped the parade. No one seemed to mind. No barriers to keep the people out of the way. (A couple of police barriers blocked traffic from side-streets.) A nice blend of the parade and the people. You can see the native hats in the center of the pictures.

It wasn't raining, folks used the umbrellas to shield from the hot sun (it's summer here, about 80 degrees... which feels alot hotter in the sun).

On stilts.

Decorated floats on the back of flatbed trucks and pick-ups.

Each float celebrated their region's bounty.

Bunches of bananas on this decorated truck.

This last float carries the beauty pageant contestents.

During this several day celebration, we also attended a mariachi band concert with friends at the fairgrounds. Good music and a party crowd! The later it got, the more dancing, singing, celebrating. When we left about 10:30, folks were still coming in...and the party was just getting started. The crowd was doing the 'wave' and the macarena, just like at sports events in the US. Each time someone on stage would say (something) Cuenca, the crowd roared. (We think the missing word was 'viva!') A lot of City pride!

On the night of Nov 3, we were in the main square downtown to see the fireworks. We didn't have the camera with us, but we did get to see President Correa at a distance. He and other dignitaries were sitting on a balcony overlooking the square. We waved! Of course, when he waved to the crowd, we just *knew* he was waving at us!

We think he gave a speech before we got there and he was waiting for the firework display, like everyone else!

Fireworks are a favorite here. They are launched at every opportunity to celebrate.... weddings, birthdays, other special events and, probably, just 'cause they can!

At the concert, they were shot right over the crowd. We've never been so close to fireworks before. Looked right up into them. At the square celebration, there was a free-standing 'structure' loaded with explosives. When it was lit off, it went nuts! Fireworks and rockets shooting all over the place! It was smoky, stinky, very loud and, actually, quite thrilling!
Cuenca is getting back to her 'normal' routine after this multi-day holiday. That is, until the NEXT celebration!!