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!

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