Saturday, February 25, 2012

"But, What Do You DO All Day?"

Starting out with walking pictures...

Along Av 3 Nov, lots of construction. 

We took these pictures a couple weeks ago, so there is probably much progress since then.  We'll have to check later.

Fixing another old building.

New sewer lines going in.


Nancy talked with a family member in the US recently.  The big question:  "So, what do you guys DO all day there in Ecuador??"
We always smile when we get that question.  Maybe it's hard to comprehend if you're not here but, we do pretty much what we used to do back in the US.  We walk (not just the ranch, but a whole, vibrant City!), we read, we get online.   We visit with friends, we cook, we shop.  We fill the day with fun activities and we're not bored.
We welcome each morning from our porch and watch the sunsets, back on the porch, each evening.  Just like we have done almost every place we've lived.  With little twists and turns, we're pretty much the very same folks, with all the same interests and foibles, we were in the US.
But, we don't worry about the weather in hay season or yet another farm repair, like we did on our ranch in Oregon.  We don't worry about good, available and affordable medical care or the variety of other US-style expenses that we don't have here.  We do still worry about our friends' health and well-being, here and there.
Yes, we're still eating our veggies, but they actually taste like something here!  Tastes just like those from our garden in Oregon, home grown. 
Yes, there are horses here, too, and llamas, cows and goats, birds, kitties and doggies.  We enjoy them all and we still fret if they don't seem happy and well.
Yes, speaking Spanish is probably one of our big challenges, but we're prodding along, getting better each day.  We are a little miffed at ourselves for not paying more attention to Spanish 'there', especially since we grew up in California...But, we're stretching our old brains and it's sinking in.  Spanish is so much more useful here than French or Mandarin, Inuktitut or Farsi.  (Spanish is probably easier to learn, too.)
We think our lives are easier, much more simple and even more fun (if that's possible!) here, than 'there'. 
Our computer counter tells us we've been in Ecuador now for almost 1100 days!  'Guess you could say we're liking it here just fine. 


Fun art in a restaurant.  Kitties and crows for Mom.

Our beautiful river.
One day this week we headed out to meet friends for lunch.  We decided to explore another route to town this time.  We walked through a neighborhood near the Feria Libre (huge people's market), on to Av. Loja, to Av R Crespo, on to the Stadium. 

The Loja neighborhood is the latest area to be added to the historic designation, with several old adobes and historic buildings. 
A long and often too hot walk, late morning.  But, by the time we hit the restaurant, it was clouding over.  Halfway through the meal, it was raining hard and cold.  As we were leaving the restaurant, rain had stopped and the blue skies had puffy, white clouds.  Another typical weather day at this time of year.

These are pics from this route (took us about an hour of walking from our apt.)

Along a side street in the Feria Libre neighborhood.
Pretty church in Av. Loja neighborhood, pink flowers to go with the pink marble.

Lots of new-to-us fun street art.
Our favorite fun car on Av R Crespo.
You can see the changing skies from these to almost rain, all within the hour walk.

We're looking forward to our traditional Sunday walk with Chuck and Nancy soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carnaval! 2012

This has been our 4th Carnaval celebration in Cuenca.

The first time was during our first visit.  We got drenched through an open car window.  Kids saw the opportunity and just pushed a hose through.  Kind of chilly on a chilly day!  But, it didn't dampen our high spirits much that day.  We loved Cuenca on first sight!

The 2nd and 3rd years we knew all about the water tradition and laid low, with lots more taxi rides than walking.  And, alot of luck, no water balloons hit us, but some were very close.

This year it was more of the same, except we were able to enjoy a very fun parade!  We were at a cafe, window seat inside, warm and protected.
We had a great view.

 This parade was full of happy kids, escorted by police on motorcycles.

 No water!  Lots of foam and confetti instead. 

The kids had a blast!  So did we! 

Cuenca celebrates Carnaval for several days.  One day, the weather was (mostly) beautiful and the families were all out enjoying the holiday. 

More police and military presence in the parks and along the streets.  Tourists were out and about, too.
 Many families head to their country homes or elsewhere out of town for the holiday.  Schools and most shops were closed.  Monday/Tuesday felt like an early Sunday morning...not much traffic, but still some loud music in the neighborhood in the evenings as families party'ed on. 
No workers working in the neighborhood during the days...ghost-town quiet.  Just a few workers at the round-about road construction.  We could even hear the birds, way past the usual birdsong early mornings.  Bird songs are usually replaced by construction noise and loud bus traffic as Cuenca wakes up.

An Ecuadorian friend tells us that one of the radio stations has been promoting safe Carnaval.  A DJ names names and announces license plates of those who throw water and water balloons toward unsuspecting passers-by...which is illegal.  Apparently, some kids were freezing the balloons and the resulting injuries were up, big-time, at the emergency rooms in past years.  Throwing a water balloon at full force, frozen or not,  can put out an eye or break a bone.

Happy to report, we didn't see even one episode of water balloons in all our walking during the Caraval season!  Not to say there weren't any, we just didn't see them. 
We did see kids filling buckets and throwing water at each other, but these were usually supervised events.  We did pay attention though. 
 If we saw a group of kids with buckets and hoses, we either turned the corner or crossed the street, why tempt fate.

The worst water episode we experienced this year was some kids passing in a vehicle with water guns and good aim!  Weapon-of-choice was usually the sticky colored foam, a nice, safe change from past years.

Picture of some enterprising folks selling foam and kiddie pools.

A very cute doggie watching the fun.
Tomorrow Cuenca goes back to work, so we expect the City to return to its usual busy, noisy place. 
We'll probably see folks going to Church for Ash Wednesday, too.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Update on the Round-About and Weather Report

This post is not only for those who have been watching the construction progress along with us, but also for the Watsons, our walking partners.  Chuck and Nancy are traveling, so we thought we'd post the latest progress for them.

Major progress!  Not a day of rest for the continues around the clock.

Our SuperMaxi will be open again next week, according to this sign.

Looking forward to walking again with the Watsons soon!

Some of our readers have asked about the weather here...

Our weather lately has run the gamut, but it's been mostly cold.  We saw our breath on the porch early this morning.

Typical days lately run like this:  chilly in the morning, then sunny and warm with blistering, intense sun, then cooler with afternoon rains, then downright cold at night.  We've had some heavy downpours, complete with loud thunder and lightening.  Weather can change suddenly.  One minute it's too hot, then the next minute it's clouding over with heavy rain.  After the deluge, the sun is back.  It's always wise to carry an umbrella or rain hat at all times.  It doesn't snow in Cuenca, but sometimes it sure feels like it might!

If you are coming to Cuenca, pack layers, so you can peel off or add as the weather changes.  You can buy warm blankets, wool sox, sweaters and umbrellas in the markets if you forget to pack them.  Heaters in apartments, hotels, houses and most buildings are not common.  If there is heat, it will be a fireplace or space heater, no central heat.

In other parts of Ecuador, you will find warmer weather, but not in Cuenca.  Generally, the lower the altitude, the warmer the weather.  (Cuenca is at 8300 ft, Quito is at 9500 ft.)  The higher the altitude, the colder it is.  Just because we're at the equator, doesn't mean all of Ecuador is tropical and hot and steamy!

Cuenca doesn't have much humidity, but you will find humid weather in some parts of the Coast and the jungle areas.

Hope this helps as folks pack and plan for their visit.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

St Valentine's Day and More

We walked some more this week with more pictures to share.

Lovely light fixtures.

Took a break and enjoyed these works of art!

Salmon!  This was a first:  The server asked how we wanted the fish cooked.  Medium turned out almost sushi.  Hmmmm...but nice presentation.
More fun street art.

One day we walked along the river.  This stretch is right across the street from the Military Hospital, Medical History Museum and our Adobe rental apt. 

Valentine's Day celebrations (in the super commercial sense) are fairly new to Cuenca.  Lots of things to buy for your Sweetheart, all over the City.
This enterprising young man was selling his balloon for a $1...
Road work continues.

The round-about work closed the entry to our SuperMaxi. Empty parking lot.

Progress on the new building in front of La Cuadra complex.  View from Av. LaMar.

Fun Carnaval outfits!
This shop also sells the colored foam that the kids love to spray on each other. 

More Carnaval celebrations later.