Sunday, January 30, 2011

Summertime and The Living is Easy

The weather has been so great I have finally shed my wool socks and am running around in my sandals only.  Well actually more than sandals, but on my feet anyway!  In my efforts to conserve space and weight when we moved I only packed two pair of SAS sandals, wool socks, and my hiking boots.  My dad used to kid me about my Oregon Socks (Smart Wool) and California Shoes (sandals).  Not sure what the Ecuadorians think of my footware choice but it works for me!  Our front yard seems to know it is summer and the park across the street if full of folks enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Our rose bush, one of many

Not roses but colorful

Park with unknown camera hog

Rufous Collared Sparrows enjoying breakfast
Jack teases me that I am becoming the bird lady of Cuenca.  These little sparrows have come to expect breakfast each morning and are a kick to watch.  The greedy adults chase the immatures away when they get too close.  Next I have to find a hummingbird feeder and a good sized bird bath.  

First Day Intermediate Class

I have been keeping very busy preparing to start English lessons for some of the staff at UNSION TV.  I have four classes of four to five students once a week.  With the thousands of web pages about learning and teaching English, I have been a little lost.  As a commercial on US TV before we moved talked about information overload, I am there!  Things have settled down a little now and I think I have a plan....but suggestions are always welcome!
For those of you thinking you might want to move to Cuenca or anywhere outside your home country, Edd Stanton, expat, writer, community activist, and great guy, wrote an article for Cuenca High Life about looking before you leap.  It is a very good article, well thought out, and worth the read.  You should be able to click on the words "good article" and get to it.  Life as an expat is truly not for everyone and we have already met folks who are heading back for various reasons.  But, if you feel the call and can live the unwritten beatitude of "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break!" it's a great life.

The Cuenca River across the street from our house
 Thanks for following.  More to come! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two Weeks Into the New Year!

The weather has been so beautiful I have forgotten to sit at the computer and share the great adventures we are having!  The last three days have been picture postcard days with clear skys and warm days. We have been working on getting things arranged to get medicine shipped from the US and have found Club Correos will work! The first two shipments were delivered right to the door!

Now to catch up.  last week we had a great trip to some nearby towns, Gaulaceo and Chordeleg.  We have visited these areas when we were here in August and wanted to see the orchid greenhouses Ecuagenera.  They are as spectacular as in August.  To repeat myself:  There are over 4000 species of orchids in Ecuador.  Ecuagenera works not only to propagate and sell orchids but to study orchids of Ecuador, develop new varieties, and preserve threatened  species. 

The tour begins here

The orchids spend around 8 months sealed in these bottles

The tiny orchid plants are removed from the bottles and washed to remove all the auger before transplanting

Depending on the variety it can be years to grow an orchid to maturity

Monkey Faced Orchid

These bloom from the bottom and grow out doors here!

We next visited the weaving family near Gualaceo.  I even got a turn at the ancient loom used to create beautiful shawls...yes I got lovely poncho.

They also raise guinea pigs here Cuye, a local delicacy.
We had a local lunch - sorry no picture we eat it fast, and then on to Chordeleg, known for its silver shops.  We on the other hand were looking for pottery and I found a great pot for my parrot beak plant.  The pot was $3....

The church in Chordeleg still decorated for Christmas

There are still lots of firecrackers going off and parades.  Today on the way to church we saw three parades.  It seems that this is the custom between Christmas and carnival.  Today's were special to remember the "Innocents"  the children killed by King Herod after the birth of Christ was told to him by the wise men.  Herod ordered all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two killed in an attempt to eliminate the King of the Jews. There are bands, horses, and lots of costumes.  When I figure how to get the picture off Jacks camera I will share them!  This one was a block from our house and not a very good picture but consider it a place holder!

This next week I begin teaching English to some of the staff at UNSION TV.  I am so looking forward to meeting new friends.  Jack and Iggy will hold down the fort for two hours on Tuesday and Thursday...I can only guess what they will be doing...  BTW if figured how to get the spell checker to work correctly . . I have to use a USA IP address then it thinks I really mean to type in English!!!

Take care and enjoy the NEW YEAR.  The old one is gone and the past is just that . . past, that's why today is called the present . is a gift.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

It seems I want to start each blog with WOW.  Learning new things and meeting new people seems to be the life we live in this beautiful country.  We just started to recover from our first Christmas in Cuenca and then the preparations for New Years (Ano Nuevo) got underway.  Ecuador is unique by having a ceremony to say goodbye to the Old Year. All throughout the country on the 31st of December, young people and old go to extraordinary efforts to maintain one of the magical traditions of Ecuador.

Symbolism is rife. The Old Year, or “Año Viejo” is represented by various creations. A model house is made of branches and burnt to ashes. Life-size dummies, made of sawdust and dressed in old clothes, are sold in the streets. Ornate masks are sold for adornment of the dummies.  The idea is to represent an individual that had a negative impact on you in the old yearJust down the block from us several vendors had their creations for sale.

We planned to have our usual guiet, stay home New Year's celebrtion.  After dinner I started on a project that seemed appropriate  to start the New Year, cleaning the chandeliers!  I was up on the ladder when Noshy and Alfredo called to see if we were home and if they could bring some cherries I wanted from the market and share their manaquin to burn.  So a party was created.  As the children are young we did not want to wait 'til midnight.  Gary and Sue came to share in the festivities.  There was a large party in the park just down the street but we did not venture that far, our little event was enough.

Alfredo, Gary, Ruben, Matthew, and Sue lighting sparkler from the burning man.

At midnight all the celebrations broke loose.  The night sky was full of fireworks, bottle rockets, and fire crackers.  Poor Iggy, not his favorite night.

New Years day we planned to take a bus trip to see the city but discovered unlike Christmas Day, the buses did not run.  Took a cab downtown for Pizza and then sat in the park for a while before going home to make cherry jam.  Sure wish I had packed the antique cherry pitter!  Need a little adjuctment to the jam making process . . I have three jars of cherry syrup but boy is it good!

Today the buses were running on a reduced schedule so hopped on the #16 and rode it to the end of the line. Got off and back on to another #16 for the return trip home. All in all it was a $1 for the two of us for a two plus hour tour.  What a beautiful day.  It is now 4:30 and the afternoon thunderis rolling in, glad we did our tour this morning. 

More Later!  Chao for now, and our best wishes to each of you for a New Year full of love, good friends, and dreams that come ture....