Carnival! is a major holiday here in Cuenca.
Also called Mardi Gras in other parts of the world. It's celebrated during the long weekend right before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (And, Lent begins 40 days before Easter.)
Most shops shut down for a few days and traffic is light. Many families take the opportunity to leave town for vacation. The town was quiet!
One of the Carnival! traditions here is to throw water on passersby. When we were in Cuenca in 2008 (our first visit), it was in the midst of Carnival!. We thought Cuenca was a sleepy little town! Our guide for the day was a little chagrined that he'd forgotten to warn us about the water... One of the car windows was open just a little and a couple kids came out of nowhere with a water hose! We got drenched!
This year we were more vigilant about the water games... It's all in fun, but sometimes those water balloons hurt! A friend of ours ended up with a huge bruise on her arm. Another friend told us that he'd been hit in the face one year and ended up with quite the shiner... not good. A little kid in our building did get us with a squirt gun out the window... but, no hoses, no buckets, no foam or silly string, no cornstarch/flour!, no water balloons (even though Rich barely dodged a couple whizzing by), no bruises. We got lucky.
We passed a school early in the long weekend...LOTS of school kids were ready for the fun! Kids were NOT in uniforms, but instead, were dressed for the water! In beach outfits! Halter tops and shorts, flip-flops, hats and even slickers and umbrellas. Girls on one side of the plaza, boys on the other. A major collection of water sources, too, all ready to go! Stacks of filled water balloons, a water tank with several hoses, buckets, lots of cans of foam and silly string, squirt guns, too. We're sure the kids had a blast!
One of the evenings we escaped the water games and joined our neighbors, Nancy and Chuck, for pizza (ordered in). This was a special evening! We helped them celebrate their 1 year residency in Ecuador and their wonderful, newest art acquisition! Larry and Liza had just helped them hang the art! (For more on Liza's extraordinary mosaic art, click on the website... see sidebar of this blog). We had fun, oooh'ing and ahhh'ing!
Another 'escape' from being drenched was the fun potluck that Nancy and Chuck hosted for several friends (who also wanted to escape!). Food was absolutely delicious and company was really fun! About 20 of us all brought food, ranging from smoked salmon (home-smoked!) and smoked chicken, salads, chili, desserts, snacks, etc. (Rich made lasagna.) Here are some pics...you can also admire our hosts' apartment and their gardens...wish we'd gotten pictures of everyone...
This picture shows the Chinese gong that Chuck used to get everyone's attention when it was time to serve.
Yesterday we realized that SuperMaxi was open so we could get some shopping done. Not many shoppers, compared to other days, and some of the items we wanted weren't stocked. The shops were all closed around the market and the parking lot was half empty... a little strange, but the City seems to be back to normal today. The construction crews across the way are back to work, too.
Some of our regular readers may be wondering if we walked to town on Sunday, our weekly tradition with Chuck and Nancy... ummm, not this past Sunday. We didn't want to risk the water thing...BUT, we did all venture out on Monday (by taxi) to breakfast at Kookaburra, then walked on down the stairs from Calle Larga, and on to Solano...a short walk, but, still a walk. Not much traffic and no water 'hits'.
We decided that, since the workers were off for the holiday, it'd be a good time to measure for furniture at the Fragata apts. Nancy paced off the living/dining room combo area. Rich checked on the appliance placements and assorted changes he'd ordered. All still looks pretty good for the hand-over from the builder soon!
We're almost ready to place the furniture orders, if we can decide on the colors... and we want to be sure the furniture will fit in the room! We've also been looking at drop-leaf table options (will probably have it made). So, a few more details needed, and the shopping and ordering can begin.
Pictures and more details on the 2 units at Edificio Fragata soon.