Posts Tagged With: South America

Ten Things We Won’t Miss When We Leave Ecuador

10. The Lack of P-Traps
The P-trap is an easy to install, simple invention meant to allow drainage of waste water into the sewer and prevent the escape of sewer gas back out. Apparently, these don’t (or rarely) exist here. So because of this, our social/guest bathroom smells like the entire 4 floors of the apartment defecated in there and didn’t flush if we leave the window and door closed. It probably wouldn’t smell so awful if we regularly used the shower, but we opted to use it for storage since there were exposed electrical wires on the shower head and our landlords left it rather dirty and I didn’t feel like scrubbing/disinfecting two showers. Even a tile placed over the drain doesn’t keep out the stench. Gag!

20140301-095840.jpg
The stinky drain. Notice the landlords didn’t bother cleaning it before we moved in.

9. Noise Pollution
Of course, this is mostly an issue in the city. People seem to have no concern for making noise at any time of day or night. They honk their horns, blare their music, shoot off fireworks any time they wish, wear high heels and tap, tap, tap on the tile floor upstairs, let their dogs roam the city, barking, etc. Car and house alarms go off round the clock. The gas man drives by multiple times every day honking his horn. Also, every morning around 4:30 or 5 the street cleaners roll their garbage cans along the uneven streets. My personal favorite, probably because they seem to schedule their drive by our apartment according to the nap schedules, are the trucks that drive by selling fruits and veggies or offering to buy your junk. They blare out advertisements from megaphones atop their trucks, “mandarinas un dolar!”

20140301-072143.jpgOkay, this noise pollution isn’t awful. I would get excited when one of these small neighborhood parades would promenade by. But I have heard that in some neighborhoods the bands may practice at 5 am. I would not be so delighted to hear them that early in the morning!

8. Air Pollution
Diesel fuel is commonly used here. The buses, and they are a frequent form of transportation here, are all diesel-fueled. The fumes are heavy in the air, especially in the city center. You will often see people walking around with scarves wrapped around their faces. There is a permanent black dust present on everything, including our floors.

20140301-071628.jpgBuses are a big polluter and they are also a good reason I hate driving here. In this photo he’s cutting us off.

7. Tile Floors and Having to Constantly Sweep and Mop
See number 8. We have to sweep at least daily and mopping must be done at least twice weekly because a black dust from the diesel exhaust fumes settles on the floors. Plus, tile floors and a new walker are not so fun. And the women here love wearing heels and apparently find it unnecessary to remove them once home, particularly the woman upstairs from us. The call them tacos because they tack, tack, tack on the hard floors.

20140301-071355.jpg

20140301-100040.jpg
My daughter’s filthy socks. We could’ve just mopped and they’d look the same!

6. Overpopulation of Dogs
One of the reasons we’ve decided to head back to the states is it appears that veterinarians are not used very often for what we have been trained to do, treating and preventing illnesses and injuries in animals. It seems very few people neuter their pets or keep them indoors, let alone confined to their property. Because of this, we have seen numerous pets roaming the streets, limping along on a previously injured leg. The veterinary clinics seem to be nothing more than a dispensary and feed store. And even if they are doing an ok business treating animals if the dentist only charged us $25 to clean our teeth, I shudder to think of what measly salary we would make here. I know the cost of living is lower here, but I’m not sure it’s that low.
Also the rampant breeding and freedom of these dogs only adds to the excess noise of the city.

20140301-103140.jpgJust after this photo we met another VERY friendly street dog that kept humping Cory’s leg.

5. Fumbling Through My Spanish
Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the opportunity to become more fluent in Spanish. I studied the language for a total of six years in high school and college and grew up in Texas where the Hispanic population has surpassed the Caucasian population. But it has been many years since my last Spanish class. My Spanish has improved since moving here and if I didn’t have the girls I would’ve loved taking lessons to improve my comprehension even further. I envy those that can fluently speak more than one language. But for now it is exhausting having to constantly try and understand what people are saying to me. Often I get the gist of what is being said, or I finally realize what they meant five minutes after they’ve said it. I do have a great appreciation for people that speak slowly and clearly and use their hands to help me understand. I hope I am the same way when speaking English with people that do not speak English as a first language.
I would love to continue learning Spanish once we return. It is a beautiful language and becoming fluent in it is definitely on my bucket list. There are no photos of this but I’m certain I have written many texts and email messages recently that sounded like a drunk 3 year old speaking Spanish.

4. Driving (Jessica)
Cory has grown to love the seemingly lack of road rules, winding mountain roads and aggressive driving. I, however, am quite happy allowing him to drive us everywhere. The one time I drove to Loja was quite enough Ecuadorian driving for me. I find it difficult and hair-raising enough being a passenger.

20140301-071945.jpgOn second thought, driving here is totally safe…just kidding.

20140301-100759.jpg

20140301-100806.jpg
This was an accident a block up from us, one of at least 3 we’ve seen at that intersection in our 5 months here. Most certainly it was because some idiot ran the stop sign, or because the person without the stop sign didn’t warn the person with the stop sign that they were coming through with a courteous honk.

3. Lack of Seasons
While I adore the mild temperatures it is odd not having seasons. Having been in the Southern US most of my life, I am used to having an extra long summer with shorter springs, autumns and winters, but there were still signs of them, even if they only lasted for a couple of weeks.

20140301-071245.jpgIt’s perpetually Spring here.

2. Men Urinating in Public
It is very common to see a car pulled over along the road with a man walking back to it zipping his trousers up, or someone facing a tree, transformer box, or the river, relieving themselves. I even saw a tot at the produce market run out hurriedly, pulling his pants down to urinate in the drain.

20140301-070717.jpg Ok, this is not a man, but it is my child urinating in public. I wasn’t too interested in taking pictures of strangers urinating. It may not have ended well.

1. Lack of or Expense of Certain Products Easily Obtained in the US
Cost of living is rather cheap here. There are many things that can be obtained quite inexpensively. We’ve found that the Coral Hipermercado (basically their equivalent of Wal Mart) had many inexpensive products, most likely things that were rejected from the US. The mis-translated English words on the packaging are entertaining. Some cheap wall decals we purchased for Miss P’s birthday advertised that they were laser flavor. Yummy!
On the other hand, if you want to purchase something like electronics, automobiles, or name brand items (basically any quality items imported from the US) be prepared to shell out a lot of dinero. For instance, a brand new Toyota Hilux (Tundra) with 4wd, and non-power windows will cost you 40K, a set of Igloo coolers, $90, a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter, $6 and a large jar of Nutella, nearly $11. But gas is $1 a gallon for diesel, fruit and veggies cost pennies, and a very filling lunch at a restaurant may cost as little as $3.

20140301-100244.jpg
We’re so thankful my dad came a couple times while we lived here and brought us some goodies from the US.

20140301-100438.jpg

20140301-100450.jpg
A couple products I suspect were US rejects. Look how excited that kid appears to have Electric Blocks and I like to call that Barbie (and each one of them looked the same), ‘Go Home, You’re Drunk’ Barbie.

A few others to mention are
Scorpions and their cousins, the giant spiders, at the farm.
Coins, dollar bills are rare here.
Choclo and Mote. These large and white kernel, nearly tasteless corn (similar to hominy) are served alongside and in many dishes here. We definitely look forward to enjoying it’s US cousin, sweet yellow corn.

20140301-102747.jpg

20140301-114807.jpg
Now that I’m looking at the photos I won’t miss the large haba beans either. They’re kinda like lima beans but worse.

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Park Fun

20140225-233140.jpg

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.

20140225-232734.jpgSeñor J. Isn’t he a cute little guy?

20140225-232813.jpgMiss E’s favorite part of the playground. She loves construction sites.

20140225-232828.jpg

20140225-232842.jpg

20140225-232857.jpg

20140225-232918.jpg

20140225-232938.jpg

20140225-232950.jpg

20140225-233008.jpg

20140225-233022.jpgSeñor J and his mommy, Catty. They’ll be having a baby girl in the next few months. I’m sure she’ll be beautiful like her mommy.

20140225-233032.jpg

20140225-233046.jpg

20140225-233108.jpg

20140225-233118.jpg

Categories: Ecuador, family | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ll Let the Photos Do the Talking

20140225-231752.jpg

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.

20140225-231547.jpg

20140225-231602.jpg

20140225-231631.jpg

20140225-231653.jpg

20140225-231715.jpg

20140225-231809.jpg

20140225-231840.jpg

20140225-231854.jpg

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baños de Agua Santa

20140221-222713.jpg

Miss E always refuses to look at the camera for family photos!

We decided on one last trip in Ecuador before heading back to the US. Baños is in central Ecuador and is named after the hydrothermal mineral springs located around the city. There are many waterfalls nearby and the active volcano, Tungurahua, is a majestic site when the clouds are not enveloping it. It is also close to the Amazon River allowing access to the jungle, which we did not get to see this trip. There are many activities available for tourists in the region, including, but not limited to, canopy tours, mountain climbing, hiking, biking, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, ATV tours, therapeutic mineral springs, waterfall viewings, bungee jumping and bridge swinging, and jungle tours.

20140221-225620.jpgBaños is also known for meolcocha, a type of taffy made from cane sugar. You can watch them stretch and pull it on the wooden hooks in the doorways of the shops. We tried some but I didn’t care much for the extremely sweet, chewy candy.

20140221-225704.jpg

20140221-225720.jpgA couple of the animals encountered while exploring.

20140221-225755.jpg

20140221-225814.jpg

20140221-225826.jpg

20140221-225832.jpg

20140221-225843.jpgLa Iglesia de La Virgen de Agua Santa. Notice the volcano and waterfalls play a very important part of their religious worship. It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared nearby a waterfall, La Virgen, in the city.

We stayed at a lovely eco-hostel called La Casa Verde. For $50 a night (kids under 5 are free) we stayed in a 4 bed room (a double, single, and 2 bunk beds). Guess who slept in the double bed. Yup, Miss E! Our stay included a wonderful breakfast of fresh, local fruit salad, yogurt, granola, fresh made juice (mandarin, blackberry, maracuya, banana smoothie…), homemade bread, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, different varieties of jams and honey. I also had a relaxing hot stone massage for $25. The owners and everyone that worked there were super friendly and very helpful directing us to appropriate activities with the children. They also offered dinner at an extra cost of around $6 but we opted to eat dinner in town while we were there.

Our first day we decided to do the ‘short hike’ up to Bella Vista where there was a nice panoramic view of the city of Baños. The hike up to the view point was basically a climb up the mountain. That’s quite difficult without kids, but downright strenuous with them. I wore Miss P the entire time and Cory had to wear Miss E for a large portion of the uphill climb. I told Cory I was taking it like childbirth, 20 steps at a time then resting in between. The paths are not well marked and we had to ask some farmers where the view point was. They kindly pointed us in the correct direction. They wondered why Cory wasn’t carrying Miss P and I told them because he had been carrying Miss E. After reaching the view point we asked a hiker where another trail led and she told us, Baños. We decided to take it back down. It was a a bit slippery and steep, but no worse than they way we’d come. There was an encounter with an unfriendly dog, but Cory and I were able to keep the family safe while he made his way around us, darting down the trail. After that I wasn’t sure if my legs were shaking from fear or exertion, though I suspect the latter.

20140221-223048.jpg

20140221-223059.jpgWalking on her own didn’t last long.

20140221-223114.jpg

20140221-223130.jpgLa Chamana Falls from a distance.

20140221-223125.jpg

20140221-223145.jpg

20140221-223150.jpg

20140221-223203.jpgTomate de arbol tree.

20140221-223212.jpgPeeling a tomate (de arbol) a kind farmer gave us. It did not taste very good. It is normally used to make juice. The juice is sweet and has a hint of tomato flavor.

20140221-223226.jpg

20140221-223245.jpg

20140221-223251.jpg

20140221-223310.jpg

20140221-223317.jpg

20140221-223436.jpgThe view of Baños from Bella Vista.

20140221-223443.jpg

That same evening, after resting, we drove up to the La Chamana Falls, a short distance from the hostel. The falls were beautiful and there was even a little path leading down to the base of them. We drove up a little ways from the viewing area and stopped at a hotel/restaurant, Finca Chamanapamba. The place was quite impressive, with lovely natural wood details, stained glass, mosaic floors, terraces. We had a small meal and enjoyed chatting with the owners’ son. They are from Germany and he was born in Ecuador shortly after they came to the country. The menu included some Hungarian cuisine, of which we tried, and enjoyed, the goulash. Miss E and P loved the puppy, Anya. We then headed into town to the La Virgen thermal bath, completely unprepared. Apparently you need towels, soap, shampoo, and a shower cap. But you can purchase or rent these things. So if you find yourself there, take those things with you. The girls enjoyed the pools, but the coolest of them (think hot bath) was rather crowded. If crowds aren’t your thing you may want to skip it or find out when they are not so busy.

20140221-225023.jpg

20140221-225036.jpg

20140221-225045.jpg

20140221-225052.jpg

20140221-225118.jpg

20140221-225140.jpg

20140221-225151.jpg

The following day we headed up to see if we could see the Tungurahua Volcano. It is notoriously shrouded in mist but we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it with an ash plume on our way into Baños. And that was the best view of it we had the three days we were there. We attempted viewing the volcano twice our second day there. On our second attempt we arrived at one of the most popular viewing spots, La Casa Arbol, a tree house and swing, just before sundown. A minute or so after climbing up to it the clouds again enveloped the top of Tungurahua. But we did stay for a little while and Cory and Miss E enjoyed swinging over the edge of the mountain for a bit.

20140221-222528.jpg

20140221-222735.jpg

20140221-222841.jpg

Our final dinner we had in a restaurant called Casa Hood. I was not a huge fan of the Pad Thai but Cory really enjoyed the Mediterranean plate and we were delighted by a lovely French-Canadian band, Tcha-Badjo, that stopped in to play a few songs before heading up the street to play at a local pub. Miss P was happy enough to bounce along to the beat.

20140221-224837.jpg

After three nights we checked out of the hostel and took a little drive in the opposite direction of Cuenca. There were a couple more waterfalls to see. If we hadn’t had our bags in the car and it wasn’t so rainy we may have taken the cable car across the river. We were very glad we decided to make the long trek to Baños. It is a beautiful town with so much to offer the traveler. Many things are difficult with young children, but not all are impossible. For now, I don’t mind having an excuse not to bungee jump anyway.

20140221-231241.jpg

20140221-231248.jpg

20140221-231310.jpg

20140221-231329.jpg

20140221-231341.jpg

20140221-231348.jpg

20140221-231405.jpg

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pumapungo

20140217-225715.jpg

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.

20140217-225746.jpg

20140217-225812.jpg

20140217-225831.jpg

20140217-225901.jpg

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!

20140217-230129.jpg

20140217-230354.jpg

20140217-230405.jpg

20140217-230411.jpg

20140217-230426.jpg

20140217-230434.jpg

20140217-230442.jpg

20140217-230450.jpg

20140217-230458.jpg

20140217-230507.jpg

20140217-230522.jpg

20140217-230534.jpg

20140217-230543.jpg

20140217-230550.jpg

20140217-230604.jpg

20140217-230620.jpg

20140217-230631.jpg

20140217-230823.jpg

20140217-231653.jpg

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

El Cajas

20140213-201652.jpg

So we’re coming down to our final month here in Ecuador and we’re trying to fit as much into this last bit as possible. We had a leisurely visit to the farm last week and then Monday we took a trip out to Parque Nacional Cajas which is a scenic 30-40 minutes from Cuenca, heading toward Guyaquil. We had been mesmerized by it’s beauty on our way from Guyaquil our first day in Ecuador and again we admired it’s majestic landscape, covered in mist as we drove to the Pacific Coast.

We drove to the information area overlooking a large glacial lake. There are several hiking trails throughout this large park. We saw one on the map in the information center that looked fairly easy until the information woman told us it was a five and a half hour hike. Yeah, that ain’t happening with two young kids! So we decided to hike around the lake. I had read reviews about hiking here, that it was difficult even for seasoned hikers, so I figured it best to stay near the visitor’s center. The two hour hike was a bit challenging, especially when carrying a one year old, and even worse if you have to carry a three year old (poor Cory). There were some soggy areas, difficult to find paths, steep climbs and descents, and areas loose dirt making for some unsure footing. Ms. E slipped several times, but all in all we did fairly well. I especially loved the beautiful paper trees as is evidenced by my many photos I took of of them.

After our hike we rewarded ourselves with lunch at Dos Chorreras. The beautiful atmosphere made up for the mediocre and somewhat pricy meal. I wish I hadn’t been too tired to take pictures of the inside, but you can see some on the provided link. It would be a nice hotel to stay at if you were to visit the area.

Our visit to the farm. We love the hammock we got my dad for Christmas!

20140213-201314.jpg

20140213-201332.jpg

20140213-201343.jpg

20140213-201350.jpg

El Cajas

20140213-201534.jpg

20140213-201544.jpg

20140213-201557.jpg

20140213-201603.jpg

20140213-201618.jpg

20140213-201628.jpg

20140213-201643.jpg

20140213-201659.jpg

20140213-201707.jpg

20140213-201713.jpg

20140213-201744.jpg

20140213-201756.jpg

20140213-201823.jpg

20140213-201835.jpg

20140213-201846.jpg

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Feliz Año Nuevo

20140105-214953.jpg

We decided to head to my father’s farm for a more tranquil New Year’s celebration than the city could offer. With the amount of fireworks in the trash, I think we made the right decision. Our friends joined us again and we had a great time.

We arrived a day before our friends. Luzbia invited us into Oña where they were having a bit of a celebration. They had piñatas made of clay pots filled with treats and toys. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we missed that, but we did get to see a wooden car race down the Oña mountain road, a kids’ bicycle race and even a dog race. Well the dog’s were on leashes, so really a human race. Miss E enjoyed sitting on the donkey. When we arrived Tulio was driving away with everyone but Luzbia stayed with us. Miss E was heartbroken and began to cry because she wanted to see Elkin. The others returned before the wooden car races and she was so delighted she held Elkin’s hand for as long as he let her.

20140105-215137.jpg

Rich, Jen and Miss C arrived the next day. The girls were very excited to see each other and Elkin was happy to have some play mates. I think he enjoys having the attention of the two girls. We scheduled an excursion to see some waterfalls in Oña the following day. We met the guide in Oña and he took us on a bit of a bumpy drive past many indigenous farms to the river. We then had to hike along the river through some brush to get to the falls. The first falls was a fairly easy hike but to get to the second was a bit trickier. The guys headed up the tougher route. Cory said it was fairly steep and he slipped a couple times. The women and children headed along the water. Our route was also not easy. There were some hairy moments for me hiking with Miss P in my pack. In fact, on the way back, a piece of rock broke from the guide’s hand while navigating our route, and he plunged back first into the river. Thankfully, he was okay. It was terrifying to watch it happen! The second falls was in a beautiful spot. We stopped and picnicked and soaked our feet in the frigid water. Miss E got a little bit daring and fell in one of the icy puddles, getting her pants wet. She decided it was the perfect opportunity to strip to her birthday suit. She is her father’s daughter!

20140105-220314.jpg

20140105-220333.jpg

20140105-222459.jpg

20140105-222526.jpg

20140105-222544.jpg

20140105-222826.jpg

20140105-222843.jpg

20140105-222910.jpg

20140105-222936.jpg

20140105-222956.jpg

20140105-223007.jpg

20140105-223044.jpg

20140105-223056.jpg

The rest of the stay was relaxing. We ate good food, enjoyed each other’s company and savored the quiet country atmosphere. The mist would come in the evenings, completely enveloping the surroundings, then slowly retreat after the sun rose. It was rather mystical to watch but not so great for drying clothes on the line. The mora (blackberries) were ripe and plentiful and the garden was full of green beans and cauliflower. This country is a gardener’s paradise with a constant growing season. I love it!

20140105-223631.jpg

20140105-223748.jpg

20140105-223826.jpg

20140105-223838.jpg

20140105-223854.jpg

20140105-223904.jpg

20140105-223934.jpg

Well, Feliz Año Nuevo. May 2014 be a wonderful year for you and your family. I know, for us, it will be hard to top 2013!

20140105-215027.jpgI’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever have a family photo where E actually looks at the camera!

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cuenca Life

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.

20131229-222054.jpg

20131229-222116.jpg

20131229-222106.jpg

20131229-222126.jpg

20131229-222134.jpg

20131229-222147.jpg

20131229-222141.jpg

20131229-222214.jpg

20131229-222203.jpg

20131229-222220.jpg

20131229-222231.jpg

20131229-222241.jpg

20131229-222251.jpg

20131229-222306.jpg

20131229-222313.jpg

20131229-222323.jpg

20131229-222329.jpg

20131229-222337.jpg

20131229-222348.jpg

20131229-222406.jpg

20131229-222418.jpg

20131229-222427.jpg

20131229-222434.jpg

20131229-222440.jpg

20131229-222447.jpg

20131229-222501.jpg

20131229-222453.jpg

20131229-222513.jpg

20131229-222521.jpg

20131229-222526.jpg

20131229-222537.jpg

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.

20140102-224936.jpg

20140102-224943.jpg

20140102-225007.jpg

20140102-225026.jpg

20140102-225032.jpg

20140102-225044.jpg

20140102-225051.jpg

20140102-225055.jpg

20140102-225100.jpg

20140102-225112.jpg

20140102-225117.jpg

20140102-225123.jpg

20140102-225128.jpg

20140102-225133.jpg

20140102-225137.jpg

Categories: Ecuador, family | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feliz Navidad

20131224-215026.jpg

¡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.

20131225-001918.jpg

20131225-001930.jpg

20131225-001937.jpg

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.

20131225-002730.jpg

20131225-002743.jpg

20131225-002755.jpg

20131225-002807.jpg

20131225-002815.jpg

20131225-002819.jpg

20131225-002829.jpg

20131225-002835.jpg

20131225-002840.jpg

20131225-002846.jpg

20131225-002852.jpg

20131225-002858.jpg

20131225-002908.jpg

20131225-002915.jpg

20131225-002941.jpg

20131225-002949.jpg

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.

20131225-002356.jpg

20131225-002413.jpg

20131225-002152.jpg

20131225-002207.jpg

20131225-002232.jpg

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!

20131224-234434.jpg

20131224-234520.jpg

20131224-234527.jpg

Sangria
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!

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fiesta!

20131219-162354.jpg

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.

20131217-221302.jpg

20131217-221310.jpg

20131217-221315.jpg

20131217-221320.jpg

20131217-221328.jpg

20131217-221335.jpg

20131217-221346.jpg

20131217-221351.jpgCory’s found a friend, at least his leg has. 😉

20131217-221453.jpg

20131217-221503.jpg

20131217-221510.jpg

20131217-221515.jpg

20131217-221521.jpg

20131217-221535.jpg

20131217-221539.jpg

20131217-221543.jpg

20131217-221600.jpgWe stopped and had empanadas and a pineapple batido (fruit blended with milk, sweetened condensed milk and ice).

20131217-221738.jpgMiss P has started making the cutest squinty-eyed smile.

20131219-162409.jpgI thought it was so neat that they put china in the adobe walls at this curiosity shop we found.

20131219-162415.jpgAn 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.20131217-221848.jpgMiss E and the birthday girl, Miss C.

20131217-222025.jpg

20131217-222052.jpg

20131217-222105.jpgMiss E and her classmate Mr. R opening their favor bags.

20131217-222226.jpgMiss P checking out Mr. L, Mr. R’s little brother. He’s just a week older than Miss P.

20131217-222349.jpg

20131217-222358.jpg

20131217-222408.jpg

20131217-222448.jpg

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.