Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas in Cuenca 2010

 It's all about the ninos!  The big Christmas Eve parade of parades for the children goes on for hours. It's hard to capture all the colors, music and have to be here!  We love a parade, and so does everyone else in Cuenca.

This little Sweetie Pie was twirling her skirt for us.

On Christmas Eve, we headed out bright and early this year.  We wanted to see the staging areas.  Just about every vehicle in Cuenca, including military trucks, were lined up and ready to go along Calle Gran Colombia and some of the side streets.

Some of the cars and trucks were already decorated, some were in process.  We had seen the military trucks lined up the night before, so folks must have been decorating all night.

Some of you will recognize the Cuadras complex in the background.  We stayed here when we first arrived in Cuenca.

A party atmosphere!  Music, food, more garlands...  Mostly men, of all ages, still decorating, watching their vehicles, eating, playing cards, or just hanging out to pass the time. 

We are guessing most of the little children were with their Moms at that early hour, probably still dressing up, eating breakfast, or getting that extra sleep for the long day ahead.

(Some have asked what folks do with all the fresh food that decorates the 'floats'...we hear it doesn't go to waste!  At the end of the parade day, the families share the bounty with those less fortunate.)

Along the way, we did see and enjoy a mini-parade while some bands and children practiced up and down the side streets. 

At San Sabastian, where one of the 4 Crosses mark the original boundaries of Cuenca. 

We've written about this Cross' history before.  This is the Humiliation Cross where criminals were tied and beaten before they were banished from the town, long ago.  Nice to see a marching band and a balloon vendor instead!

We walked the staging area, that went on for blocks toward downtown, then ended up at the Kookaburra Cafe for breakfast. 

Here's a typical picture of Rich enjoying the coffee.
Look familiar?

Looking out the window at the Kook,
a woman sweeping the sidewalk in her high heels!  Another woman awaiting a delivery.

Busy doing chores, even on Christmas Eve.

After we enjoyed our visit with Chris and Jenny at the Kook, along with a cup of delicious coffee and wonderful food, we headed to the Square. 

The crowds were gathering...and then the Parade! 

Music and  adorable children in their Christmas outfits, some on foot, some on donkey or horseback, some riding on those vehicles we'd seen earlier.   Sheep and cows and horses and llamas! The crowd spilled into the streets, so there was a good mix of parade participants and spectators. The hard-working street cleaners followed the animals in the parade, too, so the children could march in (sort of) clean streets.

Doting parents walked along, most also in colorful outfits, and kept a devoted eye on their little ones.

The police and military did a good job in (gently) pushing the crowds back to let the parade continue.

Fruit and other goodies for sale along the parade route.
Here's a proud Gramma showing off her family.  The littlest one was especially taken with Nancy's sunglasses.  He kept wanting to  grab them.  Nancy and the little boy played pattycake instead (which kind of worked as a diversion from the sunglasses.)  Gramma tried to get the kids to sing for us, but they were too shy.

All so sweet!  We love those unexpected, so sweet moments.  Our Spanish is better this Christmas and we were able to talk more with the children.  A very special treat for us.  It's also easier to take pictures of the kids and families during the Holidays than at other times.  Most proud parents will encourage you to take pics of the kids and themselves all dressed up.  During other times of the year, not so much.

Everyone was decorated for the parade, even the doggies.  We also had to smile with the babydolls on many of the little girls' backs.

Since we're at the middle of the world, and our seasons are the flip-flop from the North, it was warm in the morning, with bright sunshine.  Lots of hats and sun umbrellas.  But, it did chill down and rained a bit in the afternoon, complete with thunder and lightening.

Did the parade stop?  No way!  The show went on until all the children could paricipate.  All the sun hats and sun umbrellas, just became rain hats and rain umbrellas.  Everyone was flexible!  Everyone loves a parade!

Pony and llama rides for the kids.

We caught up with friends and took a lunch break, knowing that the festivities would continue for several more hours.  After the break, we headed back to the Square and some of the vehicles/floats were done with the parade...and serving as transportation for friends and family, headed for home. 

We took about a gazillion pics...we're only able to share a few here. 

For last year's pics, go here:

Be sure to check out other blogs for more parade pictures and stories as well.

Families in Cuenca celebrate Christmas Eve until the wee hours. There's the parade, then there's Midnight Mass, then a family dinner of traditional food and music. Our neighborhood rocked with loud music and fireworks!

Christmas Day is traditionally quiet, as the City rests and recovers from the festivities of the day before. Our neighborhood's church bells that ring each morning  like clockwork, at 6:20 am, rang at 8:30 am on Christmas Day -- probably to give the families more sleep time.

We took a walk through quiet streets on Christmas Day.  This picture was taken right outside the busy 10 Aug market...little kids feeding their beautiful horse. 

Everyone needs to eat, even on Christmas Day, and the market was doing a brisk business.
Many families shop for food each day, so the people's markets are always open (except on Census Day, when everything shuts down for a day, every 10 years.)

Another picture from the walk...a manger scene in front of one of the big crosses that mark the boundaries of old Cuenca.  Looks like some of the animals are tired out and taking a nap...with Hello Kitty fabric!

The flower market was can also see the huge (red) banner on the church.  It is celebrating the Traveling Christ Child (the theme of the big parade of the children).

We ran into yet another parade! Horses and llamas, music and more adorable children. The parades actually go on for days! A perfect opportunity for all the children to continue to wear their outfits for the Season.

We've been thinking of past Christmas Seasons, pre-Ecuador, with friends and family.  So many traditions, so much fun.  We're remembering stockings, cutting down the perfect Christmas Tree and  a yule log playing on the TV, too.  Thanks for the treasured memories! 

Wishing all of you a Very Happy Holiday Season, with Peace and Love and Joy.

Another gorgeous sunset to end the day...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Brother Bob!

Wishing you the very Best of Birthdays, Bob!

You're looking GREAT and *younger* each day.
(How do you DO that?!)

Here's to you...the biggest banana split, just like this one...we'll make sure you collect next trip to Cuenca.

* ¡Feliz CumpleaƱos! *  

Have FUN today and see you soon!

Love, Rich and Nancy

For our Readers: 
Bob, Rich's bro, lives with Rox and Coquita at the Coast.  You can read their blog here

One more pic of the Birthday Boy...

More Pics of Friends

Periodically,we post pictures of friends for the families and friends who miss them...Yes, we're all still having fun here!  These pictures are for all the Moms and our friends' children who read our blogs...thanks for reminding us that it's time to share another photo medley.  Fun for us, too.

New friend, Barry.

Bill and Loretta.

Rhonda at the Park one Sunday.

Skip and Tony.

Bob with Nancy and Chuck.
Barbara and Rox at CA kitchen for US-style breakfast.

Howard, Charlie, Holly and Bruce.
Bob and Charlie, Patty and Michael.
Jim, Susie and John.

 With Lenny and Sharon at the Square. 

Toasting all of you!

Yep, still having FUN!

We'll post another collection next month or so.