Saturday, October 29, 2011

San Sabastian to the Square and a Parade

Back to sharing pictures.

We walk this path often from San Sabastian to the Square.  San Sabastian plaza is where the Museum of Modern Art is located.  It's also where the San Sabastian Church is, along with the 'Humiliation Cross' from the old days.

We are stunned (and pleased!) by the speed and size of the roadwork project in this area.  Real progress each day.

One day the road is all torn up, the next day that chunk of work is done and the crew has moved to another area.

Walking toward the Square...

An artful collection of license plates on a fence.  (We're assuming it's 'art', only because we don't know if there is another purpose in the display.)

We got a feeling that 'something' was happening when we spotted these balloons outside the New Cathedral. 

We followed the balloon ladies to the Square.

We found the staging area for a parade! 

Here are some pics of the participants and the crowd.  Lots of school kids. 

You can also see the buses for their transportation and musical instruments.

This is the only sign we could find in the crowd besides school signs with the students.

(Translation = 'A way towards the freedom, because now we are part of the society.'  With reference that the VP supports its work.  We think it's related to Ecuador's VP's program in support of the disabled.)

You can see the big silver-colored drum.  This drummer was busy practicing, right along with all the other
musicians.  It was loud, chaotic and pretty much fun to watch.  But, our ears will probably never be the same. 
It was LOUD!

You can see more balloons along the parade route.

Hanging out, getting ready.

This day we ended up at the California Kitchen for lunch with friends.  What a gorgeous flower display!

Here's an update on the Edificio Amazonas, right across the street from our apt.

The construction barricade has been removed so now we can really see the progress.  Nice!

When we got home, we heard alot of singing children and looked down from our porch.  A neighborhood Halloween party was in full swing. 

Lots of princesses!

These are the times we wished we had one of those fancy cameras to really get a good, clear, close-up shot.  The children were adorable!

Another eye-popping, heart-stopping sunset!

Stay tuned for more pics later.  We'll be out and about attending several of the festivities this weekend and throughout next week. 
We're excited!!  Viva Cuenca!!!

For Your Safety and Security

We feel compelled to write this blog after hearing about some events recently.
Might save someone some grief and pain.

One story is especially heartbreaking.  A single gal, who had planned for over 2 years to make the move to Cuenca finally arrived, but she didn't stay long. She is now back 'home' in the US.  She had the ugly and painful experience of having her long, dangly, sparkley earrings ripped off her ears.  She also felt she was a gringa target for pickpockets and 'latin men'.  (Debatable...gringo men can be targets, too.)

Another gal had her necklace ripped off her neck by a thief and she was knocked down in the process. 

So, here's the message...  Ladies, DON'T wear flashy, easy to grab jewelry on the streets!  Why be an easy target for opportunistic thieves?  Leave your expensive and costume! jewelry in the hotel or apt safe or don't bring it.  Thieves don't know the value and you can get hurt.  We are amazed that new folks still wear their diamonds on the street...Replace your wedding rings for simple silver-colored bands from the market (or don't wear them).  You don't want to lose a finger.

We hear about cell phones, purses, laptops, money, you name it, all being stolen.  Be careful!  Take the same precautions you would in any large city.  If you don't want to lose it, then protect it or don't carry it.  Nancy's shopping bag has nothing particularly valuable in it...hats, water, kleenex, umbrella, maybe fruit from the market.  She would be annoyed if someone grabbed it, but it wouldn't be the end of the world.  Zippered or velcroed pockets are the way to go for cell phone, money, keys, camera.  You can also pin the pockets shut to slow down the opportunity.

Be mindful of your surroundings.  If you feel the little hairs on your neck go up, get out of there!  One gal wanted to walk by herself in a secluded and peaceful area of the river.  She had a backpack loaded with goodies. She didn't pay attention and flee when some  kids approached her, even though she didn't feel comfortable.  Yep, she lost her backpack to the thieves, including her passport.  (Carry copies of your passport or other id, leave the originals in the safe.)

We hear about stolen items from vehicles all the time.  Don't leave your camera in the glove department, or your luggage in the back,  unless you want it to disappear.  Lock your car and only park in safe, secure areas.  Your car could be towed or broken into.

Remember...Cuenca is a big City, even though it feels like a small town.   Take precautions you would in, say, New York, Chicago or San Francisco.  Ask yourself, as you head out into the day:  Do I really need to carry this purse today?  Do I really need to carry all this money and credit cards?  Do I have a secure pocket for the camera, cell phone and keys? 

Be mindful and smart when you pack for the trip here.  Don't pack valuables you don't want to lose in your checked luggage.  Pack your cash, jewelry and other valuables in your carry-on.  You don't want to be surprised and sad that treasures are missing when you arrive.
Guns are not common here, but knives are...One gal, walking alone at the river at dusk, was held up by knifepoint.  There are reports of stabbings, too. 

Be sure to check taxis, restaurant tables and park benches for your things as you leave.  If your cell phone, sunglasses or Kindle is left behind, chances are you'll never see it again.  Keep your head in the game.

We love this City and we don't want to scare anyone.  We love walking these streets and seeing eveything on foot.  But, we try to be cautious and careful, just like we were in our days in big US cities.

Our upcoming holidays, starting this weekend, will bring in another 30-40,000 visitors.  More people everywhere and may be an uptick in crime, too.  But, don't let that stop you from all the fun!

Just be extra careful, pay attention, protect your stuff and stay safe! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

More Pics for the Families

Periodically, we post pics of friends for the families who miss them.  Thanks for reminding us!

It's been awhile, so these pics span several months.  You will recognize many of these happy faces!

(Some of these pics are 'out-takes' from previous blogs.)

A HUGE Happy Birthday shout-out to the Watsons who celebrate this month and to family members who celebrate in October, too.

It may look like all we do is eat here, but, honestly, we all do more than eat and make merry!

More fun at the Square.
Great shirt!
New friends Luke, Charlie and Barb.
New friends, Rod and Christine.

 New friends, Velma and Mark.

Up in the Andes.

We'll post more pics of friends later so stay tuned.

A sweet treat for the birthday kids!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Fast Visit -- Bob, Rox and Coquita

Bob, Rox and Coquita blew into Cuenca for a few days.  They got more shopping done for the Kid's Christmas Party on the Coast.  Always fun to see them and catch up on all the news.

A good morning on the porch.

A little chilly for Senorita Coquita in the evenings.

Coquita wore herself out playing and looking cute.

(Bob is taking a pic of the flower arrangement above.)
We love their new car!
 Loaded to the brim with all the Christmas goodies for the children.

All packed up and ready to head on out...

We had to check the weather...looks like a good day for travel for them over the Cajas.  (Pics from the porch.)

We're looking forward to one-more-visit before Christmas for all the last minute shopping.

 A 'touch of family' is a good thing.


For pictures of this shopping trip, go to: