Sunday, November 28, 2010

Still Walking Cuenca but not on Census Day

Our traditional Sunday walk with friends didn't happen this week, because of the Census Day here in Ecuador.  Our Censo experience is at the end of this post.

To begin, here are some pics of our previous walks...just because we couldn't walk on Sunday, doesn't mean we didn't walk on other days...

Still exploring the barrios of Cuenca...More pictures of more neighborhoods. 

Here's Howard and Rich walking along, looking great in their hats.  Intense sun that day.  What you don't see is Barbara in her cute sun hat and Nancy with her sun umbrella.

You can see a wide variety of architecture, both old and modern/new.  Lots of flowers, too!

Nice repeating details on a very old building.

We love the street art! 

A landscape designer's business we'll have to visit again during business hours.

More interesting buildings...and a doggie!
You can see the reflection of the sky in this very modern, mostly glass, building.

Kind of an art-deco style.

Broken glass embedded along the tops of walls is for security...

Above the Broken Bridge area.

The Don Bosco area...a nice piece of land for growing food for the family...good dirt!

We'll have to try these burgers one of these days...the place was hopping!  Always a good sign.

Big park for the kids...with chickens!

A greenhouse business with lots of choices.
River is UP after the recent rains.

Watch the feet!  Always something to trip over.

It's mango season!  Some of the best fruit is sold by the street vendors.

A window display of various health tonics for sale.


The Census Day in Ecuador happens every 10 years.  This year it happened on Sunday, Nov 28.  The Ecuadorian Constitution calls for the counting.  Details were a little sketchy in the beginning, but it all came together in the last few days.  At first. we weren't all that keen on what the law called for, but we quickly got with the program and were ready to learn and participate.  After all, we are now legal residents in Ecuador and everyone who slept in this Country (tourists, too) Nov 27-28 were to be counted.  Our Ecuadorian friends told us it's a 'civic duty', and the law,  to comply.  And, we did.   We are mindful that we are guests in this Country.  We are not in the US any more.  As we are not Ecuadorian citizens, we don't get to have an opinion...we don't get to vote. 

The first major difference in the Ecuadorian Census Day (compared to the US Census experiences we were used to) was the 'lock-down' in the urban areas.  By law, no one could leave their house or hotel for the day.  Everyone was to be counted, sometime between the hours of 7am and 5pm on the Census Day. 
Airports, bus terminals, ports, borders, businesses, churches, schools were closed during these hours (with very few exceptions for essential services).  

We were able to get a preview of the census form so we knew what questions would be asked, about 74 questions, all to measure the quality of living and life-style (internet access?  how many land lines, TV's, computers, cell phones?  how many bathrooms, if you have you have a kitchen and do you cook with gas or?  what are your floors made out of?  languages spoken?    education levels?  And more...even down to how many and what kind of light bulbs are in our apt).  Over 350,000 high school students were tapped for going door to door.  We filled out the form ahead of time, so we'd be ready for the students.

How did it go for us?  Actually, pretty smoothly.  We had grocery shopped a couple days before, so we had food in the house.  We got a bunch of in-house chores laundry and cooking.  We read.  We took care of some business online, including researching  future trips out of town (more about that later).  Internet access was slow at times...we think just about everyone in Ecuador was online at the same time. 
A nice, peaceful, relaxing, productive! 'pause' in our busy schedule.  Not bad at all.

From our porch, we could see the day began with very light traffic on the roads, much lighter than a typical Sunday.   We saw just a handful of runners and walkers at the river, but they were all gone by about 6:30am.  Right at 7am, we heard sirens and we saw almost empty streets, just one truck.  Then, all day all we heard were a couple of car alarms, a few sirens, the roosters, a dog occasionally barking, a flock of parrots! and other birdsong, the rush of the river and the quiet...bizarre quiet, especially for our neighborhood.  No noisy traffic, no noisy construction, no church bells, no planes overhead, no little children singing the Barney song at the Day Care Center across the way...Our City of almost a half a million people felt deserted, we didn't hear many human voices either.  It just felt like a City waiting for something to happen...

...And, then it happened!
At 11 am sharp, we got a call from the building guard, telling us the student was on the way up.  She arrived at our door, a little nervous, but so were we.
She copied the information we had filled out earlier and we were done and counted.  No more than 25 minutes to half-hour, including mugs of decaf Nescafe (with French Vanilla Coffee-Mate and lots of sugar) and cookies.  We offered this snack, popular with some of our Ecuadorian friends,  and she seemed to really like it, too. 
Our student thanked us for our 'cooperation' and for being 'nice'.  She said not everyone had been nice to her.  (We can't imagine anyone not being nice to her today or any day!)  We gave her a little baggie of cookies for the road...a little more sugar to keep her energy levels up. 

 We enjoyed the opportunity of meeting a lovely, smart, polite and very sweet young woman, as well as taking part in an Ecuadorian Census Day.  A totally painless process! 

All those counted got a official sticker on the wall next to their apt door in our building...

We had heard that you could leave your house after you were counted...then we heard you had to stay in your house until 5pm, counted or not.  Didn't matter to us, we already planned to stay in...gave us a good excuse to watch some old movies and take a nap.

Our naps were interrupted by a torrential downpour, with thunder and lightening.  A little music in the neighborhood, too, with a few doggies singing along...and a crazy gardener down below trimming grass with a very obnoxious weed-whacker... 

Just another day in paradise!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our USA Thanksgiving in Cuenca

We woke up to a glorious day! 

 Sunrise in the Andes on Thanksgiving Day 2010.  Fog rolling in over the mountains and pink skies.

 The street lights below had just gone out.

An earlier shot.

(That's the Terrazza complex on the right.)

All sunrise pics were taken from our porch, with that first cup of coffee.

After a morning walk to town, we had a fabulous feast with our friends at the CA Kitchen!  The Evans family, who owns and manages the restaurant, really outdid themselves.  They made it all look so effortless and organized.  They even arranged for a pianist to entertain the group.  Over 100 people enjoyed their delicious home-style cooking.

We didn't get good pics of the event, but our friend Nancy Watson did...  go to her blog at

There are no pics of Nancy on her blog as she was behind the camera.  Fortunately, we got a good one of her to share!

We started our day with a walk to town because we figured we needed the exercise before the feast....and the morning was just too beautiful to ignore. 

 A cup of excellent coffee at the Kookaburra...  Chris is getting really good with the coffee art!

We walked through the Square and 'something' was happening...  lots of school kids in their uniforms and warm-up suits.  We heard later that the day was to raise the awareness of violence toward women, so maybe that was the reason for the rally, not sure.

Beautiful stilt-walkers who graciously posed for us.


For our friends and family...Here are some autumn pics of our ranch in Oregon.  A trip down memory lane...We always think of Thanksgiving as being in the colorful autumn season of the northern hemisphere, not in the middle of Spring!  (We're still getting used to the upside down seasons...)  Oooh, maybe this is a bit late...we've read that it's been SNOWING already in our old neighborhood!

We took these pics back in 2008, right before the ranch sold...which meant, at that point, we were officially 'Cuenca Bound'!  Our 2008 Thanksgiving was spent doing last minute moving and cleaning, with deli turkey and cranberry sandwiches for dinner, eaten between chores. 2009 and 2010 Thanksgivings in Cuenca were a whole lot more fun! (You can go back in our blog to 2009 Thanksgiving for some fun pics of last year, our first Thanksgiving in Cuenca.)

Thought you'd enjoy re-visiting the colors of the season, too.  The date stamp on the pics is correct, but the time stamp is obviously wrong.  We think we remember taking the pics mid afternoon. 

We miss the seasonal colors and the seasons!  but we're still so thankful we're here.
Hope everyone had a fun and relaxing 2010 T Day, too, with lots of family fun, lots of delicious food, sports and the Macy's parade!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Looking UP and USA Thanksgiving Greetings

As we walk around town, we try to remember to look UP to really enjoy the sights of our City. 

Sometimes hard to do, as we're usually looking DOWN to avoid all the cobblestone hazards.  But, we've learned to just STOP, look UP and around, then go on forward, watching our feet. 

We think we've just about memorized all the cobblestone, pitfalls and holes from here to downtown, but you never know when there will be new 'falling opportunities'. 

These first 2 pictures were taken at the Square.

The next 3 are also at the Square.

Lots of communication equipment.

Tree tops and a storm coming in.

Looking UP at one of the entrances to the New Cathedral.  Beautiful details.

This picture is near the Cuadras apts (where we first stayed when we arrived in Cuenca -- you can see the buildings in the background).  Taxi is a liquor store.

Looking UP a lightwell with interesting grill work.

Blue sky!

These next 2 pictures were taken from friends' 4th floor apt.  You can see the decorations and crosses on the tops of the buildings.

Some folks who have bought apts in this building have requested updated pictures of the construction. 

Here's a recent picture of the Terrazza building across the way, taken from our porch.  (We're 10 stories UP).  You can see some decorative stonework (white blocks).  At one point, there were a couple more colorful, almost mosiac decorations on the first floors, but those have all been replaced with the more simple white ones.
Not sure why, maybe the previous ones were more time-intensive or there was some other problem. 

Still looks nice, but we like the previous ones better!

Next walk along the river, we'll try to remember to take the camera for some river shots.

More UP pics as we explore new neighborhoods...

This is one of the 4 crosses of Cuenca (we think the crosses marked the boundaries of the City at one time).
You can see the 'chandelier' over this cross!

A real mix of building styles...
Below you will also see a curious ad display mounted on the front of a building...looks almost 3D.
The church top, with the statue holding the rosary, is one of our favories.

3 very cute doggies watching us.


To our USA friends and family,

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are remembering past Thanksgiving feasts with friends and family over the years....
Such fun with you all!  Way too much delicious food, too.   We're remembering Nancy's Mom's special gravy and stuffing (The Hamm family will remember the jello fiasco!).  Nancy's Dad carving the bird and sharing little tastes along the way...  We remember Rich's Mom's pecan pies!  Brother Jim and family...thanks for all the many, many nice Thanksgiving memories, too.

We still laugh with the memories of the zany, crazy conversations at Bob and Rox's spectacular Thanksgiving feasts in Oregon. Ruth, our mouths still water at the memory of your fruit salads...
We also remember the seasonal visits and fun with neighbors, Big Jim and Shirley, Lorie and her Mom, and the beautiful colored trees at the ranch! 
Thanks, Everyone, for all the happy memories of past Thanksgivings (even the ones not included here).
We will always treasure these memories.

Thanksgiving 2010 will find us with our friends, who have become our family here in Ecuador, at a feast at one of our favorite restaurants.  We will be sharing some photos later.  We're sure we'll have a wonderful time! 

As we're grateful and thankful for our new friends here in Cuenca, we're just as grateful and thankful for our friends and family back in the US.  We count all of our blessings each day, including all of you! 
Happy Thanksgiving to all across the miles! 

PS -- Remember the 'gobble gobble' song?  It's here, from last year's Thanksgiving post. 
A little fun to cook by...

or, direct:


Love to all,
Rich and Nancy