A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Cuenca, Ecuador...time goes by quickly!

Wow, we've only blogged three times since the beginning of November and it has been over eight weeks since our last posting!    When they said this was a busy season in Cuenca, they weren't kidding!

We may have to apologize twice today.... once for our inattentiveness to this blog.  And then we'll do so again for the length of today's posting.  I'll be making an awkward attempt at recapping what's been going on in our lives at Casa Yazell during this very hectic season.  As a result this posting may encompass a little bit of lengthy rambling.  Hopefully, we can catch a lot of our stateside friends up on what has been going on in our life here south of the equator and hopefully, it will be of some interest.

Suzanne in the catacombs beneath
Catedral de la Immaculada Concepcion
Here goes:

Traditional  pastry and beverage
for Day of the Dead celebrations
The rush probably began in late October/ early November.  We observed Day of the Dead by visiting the crypts in the Cathedral as well as the old cathedral museum.  Things really kicked into high gear on Tres de Noviembre (3rd of Novemeber).   That marks the city of Cuenca's Independence Day and a week long celebration that includes a major arts and crafts festival featuring artisans from all over Latin America.  (We bought some artwork, a Peruvian sweater for Suzanne, a Bolivian jacket for me and bunches of other stuff!)  There were, of course, the obligatory Cuenca fireworks, music concerts and more activities than you could shake a stick at.

Lots of different activities take place in Cuenca during the week 
We squeezed in a number of personal social activities, including a great sausage making party with a group of our friends:

Roger's ability at feeding the meat grinder draws a crowd of
admirers during a sausage making party!
Suzanne did her usual great job
 with holiday decorations!

During this time period Orquesta Sinfonica Cuenca, the Cuenca Symphony, was finishing their 2nd season of 2012 and we always enjoy their performances.  However, the one celebrating their 40th anniversary was a most enjoyable event.  We also helped some friends celebrate a birthday, went to at least two open houses and a fund raiser for a local animal shelter.   We started decorating our new home for the holidays (we posted about that in November).

We attended two dinners over the the Thanksgiving holiday period, and then we hosted our own holiday open house...our first big gathering in our new home.  We attended several more parties, open houses and even a fund raiser for a local animal shelter.  It was during this period that Suzanne, her friend Toni and friend Monica organized and began the Cuenca Ladies Dominoes Tourney for Charity.  Their first event raised over $500 for a children's orphanage and their second event will be held this coming week.

Immediately after our open house, workmen showed up to start the repair and remodeling project on our front patio.  They began by creating an awning over the walls between our front patio and our neighbors to the north (the Ordonez-Crespo family) to take care of moisture seepage during heavy rains.  Near the completion, we decided to add planter boxes and have some custom wrought iron furniture made. After that, we decided I could paint the exterior and patio walls to give it a whole new look.  All this extended an eight day project into several weeks that straddled Christmas, New Year's and Carnaval...a typical Ecuadorian timetable!

Our front patio as it looked
when we moved in last year.

Work begins on the wall! 
Let's add some planter boxes!
Even a little rain didn't delay work.
Before we continue on with the saga of the hectic season, here's a look at our front patio today and how it looks after nearly all the work is done:

Ok, back to all the activities of the hectic season! By now we're intermingling all this with some physical checkups (doing well, thanks for asking!), some Christmas gift shopping (I got a tiesto, Suzanne got a Peruvian nativity).  We, of course, enjoyed the plethora of activities and decorations that were all over town for the holidays.

A 15 ft lighted modern art nativity
in one of the plazas. This was just one of
the many decorations for the holidays!
A very, very special highlight was the annual Pase de Viaje Nino on Christmas Eve Day in Cuenca. It is Latin America's largest.  The speculation is that there are more participants in the parade (tens of thousands) than there are spectators.  It went on for about 10 hours!  Suzanne and I watched for two hours, ate a long lunch and came back to watch two hours more!  Here's some scenes:

Part of the parade crowd.

Any parade with animals, especially a large one will
leave its mark on city streets!

Slipping a lot of stuff (visits to friends, poker nights, trips to nurseries for plants, etc) let's go right on into New Year's Eve.  Two parties here:  Our friends Bill and Dean hosted a birthday dinner party for a neighbor that included a fun look at everybody's wedding pictures (she discovered it was also our 42nd anniversary).   There were going to be NO cabs after 10pm and we had planned to burn an effigy in our our street at midnight.  (It's an Ecuadorian custom to burn all the regrets and troubles of the previous year and prepare for a new start by doing this).

As a result we left that party and returned home about 10pm.  Fireworks were already begining and we sat on the front patio with a glass of wine (and our dummy) awaiting our appointment with the bonfire.  Our Ecuadorian neighbors summoned us across the street (they already were planning their own fire along with some of their guests).  We mingled with the mixed crowd of guests (Canadians, Ecuadorians, Columbians and us).  We danced, drank wine and then, at midnight, jointly set the viejos ablaze as fireworks from ALL across the city ringed the horizon as far as we could see.
Suzanne and her effigy!
The viejos (old year effigies) going up in flames.
The crowd cheers as we burn away the bad things from
the previous year (By the way, Suzanne was holding my
glass so I could take this shot).
The next day Suzanne and I took an anniversary trip to the Cajas Mountains and stayed at Dos Chorreras Lodge.  It was cold and rainy most of the time we were there.  But we did manage a hike, some horsebacking riding, some terrific trout dinners as well as quality time in front of our cabana's fireplace.  We had a great time!

The Dos Chorreras Lodge

Suzanne during a tour of an old mountain village
There's always some spectacular scenery in the Cajas!

Roger just before a rainy
horseback ride in the mountains!
The fireplace came in real handy, it was rainy and chilly!

Suzanne made a friend while we were there!

So far, you've gotten the highlights:  We've passed over a lot of events and stuff:  i.e., two friends moved in new digs during this time period, we went to a one man show on Ernest Hemmingway at DiBacco's Restaurant...oh and three more restaurants opened in town....two friends remodeled their terraces...a friend had surgery and recovered.  The symphony has even begun another season...there have been at least six new museum exhibits in town to see. We even got to attend a special preview of what's ahead for the city presented especially for expatriates by the Cuenca Alcaldia (Mayor's office).

We've also been skyping more with friends back home.  We've  celebrated carnaval and have had a national election. (If you haven't heard, President Correa was re-elected).   This week we get to pay our Ecuadorian property taxes (we've now passed our first year mark as residents!) We even learned we have two visitations coming from the states to get ready for.  

I've rambled a lot but we just wanted all our readers and friends in the USA to know that our life is full and rewarding here for us in Ecuador.  We feel blessed as we continue our journey "juntos en el camino de la vida".

We'll blog again soon...I promise...meanwhile, I think I need a good nap.  We are, after all, retired and supposed to be taking life easy!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the photos and great updates. It's so wonderful that you are so happy!