We visited a couple parks with friends. Parque Inclusivo has equipment handicapped children can use too. That’s a big step since Cuenca has poor access for the handicapped. The other park is Parque Paraiso.
Posts Tagged With: Cuenca.
I’m going to miss exploring this city by foot. Lots of packing to be done. We’ll be heading back to the USA next week.
Cuenca is a city with a rich history. It boggles my mind to think of how old some of the structures are here. Bear with me as I’m not a historian but from what I have learned from my trip through the Museo del Pumapungo (Museo del Banco Central) and the wonderful Wikipedia (eye roll), the Cañari were a major inhabitant of the area from around 500 AD. The museum thankfully has translations in English, but with a toddler there is barely enough time to read one sentence unfortunately. I end up taking photos of the descriptions in hopes of reading them later. The Cañari were defeated (actually they peacefully surrendered) by the Inca empire. The Inca commander, Tupác Yupanqui, then built a magnificent settlement, Pumapungo (Door of the Puma) in what is now the city of Cuenca. It was rumored to be quite a glorious sight, filled with golden temples and other magnificent structures. It rivaled the Inca settlement of Cuzco in it’s beauty and may have been the mythical city of gold, El Dorado, the Spanish conquistadors sought. But by the time the Spanish settled here, Pumapungo had been destroyed during the civil war (1529-1532 Ad) between Tupác’s two grandsons, Huáscar and Atahualpa. Therefore, by the time the Spaniards discovered the area, Pumapungo was in ruins. The Spaniards used much of the stone to construct the early buildings of Cuenca.
On the western outskirts of El Centro (historical Cuenca) lies the ruins of Pumapungo and the museum. The museum offers a look at Ecuador’s vast history and the inhabitants of the different regions of this diverse country. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the costumes and customs of the different groups. Photography is not allowed inside the exhibits so I can only say that you will see the colorful costumes and customs of the people of Ecuador. There are glimpses into the life and history of it’s people. It is free admission and a must-see while you’re here. Without children, I’d suggest about 2-3 hours to explore. If you want to see the ruins too on the same visit allow another 1 1/2 -2 hours. We broke it up into two visits as the children did not last but an hour and a half in the museum. There is a snack bar within the grounds of the ruins, near the aviary in case you want to get lunch while visiting.
The ruins were magnificent. There is a beautiful garden of indigenous plants, a peaceful lake and an aviary full of local birds. It is such a peaceful place in the midst of a bustling city. There were numerous places to stop and take in the serene views, my favorite was under the cover of trees alongside the lake. Whatever you do, if you visit Cuenca, do not miss this gem!
Oh how I’m going to miss the fresh fruit here!
We’ve been told several different things about the rainy season here. I was told, October, December, February by 3 different people. Well, how about January? It’s rained every day this week, sometimes quite heavily. The Tomebamba river is higher than we’ve seen it since we got here. So what is one to do when it rains so much? Cook! At least that’s what I do. I took some photos of the outcome so I’ll share a few recipes with you since it’s been to rainy to explore and photograph. Here’s what to expect:
I’ll post the recipes as I write them up. You’re welcome!
Hopefully I can make my Blueberry, Coconut, Banana Batido (Smoothie) and some more Homemade Granola to add to the photos and recipes. They are definitely recipes worth repeating too!
Christmas morning Miss E woke to find Christmas gifts galore under the tree. Most of them were from their grandparents. The big hits were a stuffed bunny from my mom, a bike my dad got Miss E that he left at his apartment in Houston, and a shirt Cory’s mom embroidered a Princess Merida on. Both girls really liked an activity cube we got for Miss P. Miss P has learned how to get very vocal about her big sister stealing her stuff! I am sad to say I cannot seem to find any photos from Christmas. Luckily, Cory got some video. I guess my camera ate the photos or I was taking pictures without a card or with a full card? Who knows but it makes me sad to have lost some good photos!
We went a little stir crazy after being in the house all day on Christmas Day so we took a walk downtown one day and another day we met Miss C at the park, getting our Vitamin D. We explored some streets of el Centro we’d never seen before and enjoyed lunch at the Wunderbar. Miss P had a blast at the park, crawling all over the place and making plenty of attempts to eat the acorns, rocks and bits of trash she found. The girls enjoyed the bubbles Miss E received for Christmas.
We spent the New Year holiday in Cuenca…post to follow soon.
Edit: The lost Christmas photos were found after I decided to look one more time. They were somewhat blurry because our living room light is not working. The end of the memory card also included some photos from our walk.
¡Feliz Navidad! While Christmas is a bit sad without our families we enjoy experiencing the holiday in a foreign country. Retailers have been capitalizing on the holiday for a couple months now so in that aspect we feel right at home. While they have the normal Christmas decorations, Santa, reindeer, snowmen, lights, and trees, the major focus is a Christian one. There are many special masses held and most every home has a nativity, some being very large and ornate.
The Christ child is the most important part of the nativity, as He should be. He is often much larger than the other members of the nativity scene and always ornately dressed. In fact, since Christmas items have been up for sale in Cuenca I have seen many a shop or stand selling wooden cribs or ornately decorated clothing for the Baby Jesus.
The events leading up to Christmas culminate in a parade, El Pase de Niño Viajero, on Christmas Eve. The main attraction of the parade is an 1823 sculpture of the Christ child. The sculpture was taken to Rome in 1961 to be blessed by the Pope and since it’s journey there has been an annual Christmas Eve parade. The parade includes Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, angels, as well as Santa (or Papa Noel as the jolly elf is known here) and his elves. The parade is an all-day affair with people coming from all over the country to watch and participate. People come dressed in their finest and the children play a major role, dressed as angels or in extravagant indigenous clothing. It really is a spectacular site and I’m so glad we went. The temperatures rose to about 80 with a very intense sun so we only lasted for about an hour before taking a scenic stroll back home, complete with a stop at the cathedral and then for ice cream to cool off.
Miss E is off from school for two weeks. She had a Christmas program at her school last Friday. It is apparently very traditional here to have Christmas programs at the schools where the children learn songs and dances and perform. Parents were asked not to stay since the teacher felt we may be a distraction to the children but our friend, Rich, filmed the production. Miss E has been singing her own version of Campana Sobre Campana. I love hearing her sweet little off key voice making up words to the song.
My father came to visit for about a week. His luggage didn’t quite make it with him but a couple days later we went to the Cuenca airport to pick it up. Thankfully it did arrive as it contained Christmas gifts for the girls and birthday stuff for Miss P’s party next month! We enjoyed my dad’s brief stay. We tried a Spanish restaurant (El Mesón Español) Cory and I have passed several times, stopping to drool over the menu and reminisce about our trip to Barcelona. The food and drink were phenomenal. We enjoyed a jarra of sangria and a rich and creamy potato and chorizo soup as well as a very large paella. I was so inspired by our visit that I went to Pinterest to find sangria recipes. I have tried twice to make it in the past and it always tasted like red wine to me, not the sweet, refreshing drink I fell in love with in Barcelona. I found a guide for making sangria and came up with this recipe that has since changed my mind about homemade sangria. Daniel, the owner of El Mesón Español, explained the basics of sangria to us: a little vino tinto, Fanta, whatever fruit you like and un poco magico (a little magic). Well, I think I discovered the magic!
1 bottle (or box) red wine (you can also make this with white wine or champagne or even sparkling cider)
1/2 cup of juice (I used orange, but pomegranate, grape, or blackberry juice would be delicious too)
1/4-1/2 cup Triple Sec and 1/4-1/2 cup rum (omit if making a spiritless version, but you may want to increase the juice added if that’s the case
1-2 cups fruit (apples, strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, berries,etc. I’d stick with fruits that aren’t too soft since they may dissolve)
1/2 cup sweetener (sugar, honey, stevia, agave)
1/2 to 2 cups of lemon lime soda
Mix all the ingredients except the soda in a pitcher and allow it to set overnight. Add chilled soda just before you are ready to serve. Pour into glasses with ice. Be careful, these can be super dangerous!
Well, the cookies have been left for Santa and he has come to drop off gifts for the girls. I’m not sure how well we will all sleep as it seems tonight will be a night of singing and fireworks. Miss E is super excited about tomorrow and I must say, Christmas is even more fun now that we have children!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
This past week we took another walk around the city, exploring some places I’d not seen yet. We found a beautifully mosaic staircase some interesting art and a Panama hat shop. We also joined some friends on Saturday to celebrate Miss C’s 5th birthday. I’ll let the photos do most of the talking on this post.
An unfortunately common site of a baby, this one about a year old, on a motorcycle. Her mother had just stepped out of the photo after catching her from falling off. Baby will end up sandwiched between the two parents when they are ready to go. Notice mom’s helmet is cracked.Miss E and the birthday girl, Miss C.
Usually when I go someplace new I immediately like to take a guided tour but it’s taken us a month to go on one here. Saturday, after what seemed like hours of dressing and feeding kids, changing diapers and packing bags with diapers and water we finally made it out of the house! We walked back to the new cathedral and found the double-decker tour bus stop. We bought a ticket for the next tour. After incessant prompting from Miss E, we headed across Parque Calderon to get ice cream while we waited for the bus. We were delayed some because we stopped to enjoy a parade heading through town. There were dancers in traditional costume and bands playing music. It was so much fun to watch, but I wish we’d had more time to enjoy it.
We got our ice creams and headed back to the tour bus. It was a beautiful sunny day, but perhaps a touch too warm. Thankfully, they supplied umbrellas to help shade us. The bus took us by the major landmarks and up to Turi, overlooking the city. I showed some photos from there in my post Christmas in October. The narration was in Spanish and English (albeit a bit broken). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take a bunch of photos of our tour because it was difficult to photograph and hold/nurse Miss P, hold the umbrella and snap photos. Fortunately, Cory took some for me.
The night before our bus tour we met some friends for a park date and dinner. They have a daughter at Miss E’s school, Miss C and will be joining us at the farm to celebrate Thanksgiving. The second we arrived at the park, the local girls swarmed us, ogling over the two girls. An older girl, Marina, took a special liking to Miss E and took good care to keep her from falling into the fountain. She even gave her the last of her ice cream (maybe that’s why Miss E has a cold now…). Marina kept coming up to me and asking, “¿Come se dice?” (how do you say). Most questions were about how to say ‘be careful’ or ‘you have beautiful shoes and hair’. What a sweet child she was!
After the park we headed to eat dinner at a fabulous pizza restaurant. Miss E even ate spinach pizza! The child that is afraid of anything green ate spinach pizza and LOVED it! So did we. Rich, what was the name of the restaurant so the blog world can know about this fabulous pizza? Oh yeah, and Fridays are 2 for 1 Margarita night. They weren’t fabulous, but 2 for $4 it’s hard to complain about!
So I know I’ve been lax on posting since moving to Cuenca. Truthfully, we don’t do a ton during the week other than cleaning and laundry. Plus, we now have Netflix so I’ve found something to suck all my free time. I promise to post at least once a week though!
So last Saturday was Cuenca’s Independence Day and Dia de Difuntos/Muertos/Santos. While Americans were celebrating Halloween thousands of Cuencanos were visiting the graves of their relatives. We did not visit any cemeteries as we were busy playing at a park and checking out an art festival but we did eat guagua de pan. I totally forgot to get som colada morada to drink with it. These are both traditionally consumed on the Day of the Dead here in Ecuador. Guagua is a Quechua word for baby and pan means bread. They were made to represent the children that have died. Colada morada is a sweet, dark purple drink made from fruits and spices. It reminds me of sangria without the wine. Our guagua de pan was a mildly sweet yeast bread with a delicious chocolate filling. It came with icing packets so we could decorate it ourselves. Please don’t judge my decorating abilities. The icing was thick and difficult to work with and Miss E was more interested in sucking it directly from the packet. That was fine with me since it distracted her while I found the yummy chocolate-filled spots.
This week we took a couple walks, exploring the city a bit more. We walked to the store and on the way back took some lovely photos of a church, the city, a small park nearby, and our snack, salchipapas. Salchipapas are a popular, cheap food here. They are fried hotdogs (salchichas) and French fries (papas fritas). A lady that lives across the street from our apartment sets up a little sidewalk cafe every weekday afternoon and sells salchipapas. That container cost us $1.25! We need to try her weekend lunches of roasted chicken and pan de yuca. I’ll be sure to let you know how they are.
Another day we decided to walk a few blocks and try out a place called Chatos. The serve chocolate dipped fruit. Miss E had marshmallows and strawberries while Cory tried the bananas. It was quite good! Miss E even had a chocolate facial. 😉
This weekend we walked over to the old town (El Centro) to see The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. I have admired the blue-tiled domes from afar and was excited to see the rest of the church. To be honest, I appreciate it’s beauty from afar much more than up close, but it is still a lovely cathedral. Building of the cathedral began in 1885 and took nearly a century to complete. The domes are adorned with tiles of blue and white from Czechoslovakia. We stopped and had brunch across the street from the cathedral and strolled through the nearby Parque Calderon. On the way home we stopped to sample (and buy) some local cheese. They just happened to be set up near an heladeria (ice cream shop) so we, of course, had to have some too. Miss P thought she might like some but big sis was not interested in sharing! My final photo is proof that Miss E does eat other things than chocolate. It amazes me that she will not touch any other green vegetable but broccoli! She is not, however, as enthusiastic about it as she is about chocolate.
This week was Halloween. It seemed strange to be in a country that does not ‘celebrate’ the holiday, especially with two young children. The larger holiday this weekend is Cuenca’s Independence Day. The weekend here is full of concerts (Mark Anthony, being the main attraction), fireworks, traditional dancers and artisan markets. I did dress the girls up on Halloween night in themed PJs though.
The weather here has been beautiful in the earlier day, while Miss E is at school, with rain nearly every afternoon foiling any plans to visit the many beautiful parks in the area. But this Friday the weather was perfect ALL day. So I asked a few friends if they wanted to meet at a newly redone park, Parque La Madre. We had a nice walk there and the kids enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit and playing on the playgrounds. Miss P had an admirer, a sweet young girl that loved her ivory skin and blonde hair. We also were treated to some traditional music and dancing. We had a little pizza for lunch and then strolled through some of the artisan’s booths across from the park. They had some lovely jewelry, toys, ceramic ware, leather goods, etc. I really need to head back with a Christmas shopping list in hand! We couldn’t have asked for a better day!
I made some Andean Horchata this week. I wish the photos did it justice. It looks as pretty before you brew it as it does after. It is a tea made from many different flowers that becomes a lovely shade of fuchsia when brewed. It can be enjoyed hot or cold. It is not to be confused with the Mexican (and Spanish, I think) Horchata that is a rice milk. Funny that they both have the same name.