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 We haven’t updated the blog lately, as we have said before, it isn’t because there is nothing to share, actually the contrary, time flies by for us, there is always something going on.

Michael celebrated a birthday last month and  I asked what he would like for a Birthday present.  At our age we don’t really need anything, so Michael said the gift he wanted was to go to the Caja’s, and Fly-Fish for the day, so we did.  We had seen a sign for a lake  on our previous journeys through the Caja’s.  It was one that we had not been to before, and Michael wanted to try it out.

We thought about taking the $2.00 bus into the Mountains, but we decided to splurge and pay for a Taxi. OMG, I am so glad we did, we thought the lake was close to the road, WRONG!  It would have probably taken us over an hour or more to walk to the lake.

Park Sign

When we got there, it was spectacular. We walked around the incredibly beautiful, peaceful lake.  There were wild Llamas, Horses, a waterfall and a river with clear water that flowed  into the lake.

Waterfall

Michael on pier

Good LLlama

I was taking pictures of this Llama, he stopped and checked me out, I guess he decided that I was harmless and just went back to chowing on grass.

Michael with horse

Michael with Llamas

Michael fishing along side Llamas, how cool is that????

Clear, clean water, but not a single trout.  It  didn’t matter, it rained most of the day, and we didn’t get a fish, but the day was  wonderful.  Michael wanted to go fishing for his birthday, and the day at this place was a gift for both of us.

Two weeks later we went to  the largest Inca Ruins in Ecuador, most people that have seen ruins in Mexico and Peru tell us that these are pretty  unimpressive, but what the heck, it was the celebration for the Solstice, so we went with friends.

Ingapirca

Ingapirca

All of us had  taken the tour of Ingapirca previously, but it is still pretty cool to actually walk on a part of the path of the Inca trail that leads all the way to Machu Picchu.

After the tour we sat and watched the festivities.  There were bands and dancers from surrounding countries, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, etc.

DSC_0938The official poster for the Solstice festival.

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Michael, and our friends Ron and Jolene at Ingapirca.

A FEW PIC’s OF THE FESTIVITIES:

Beautiful Backs     Costumes of some the dancers at the Solstice festival.

Dancers waiting

Dancers waiting.

Dancers with wierd guy

It was really cool to see the different interpretations of the Solstice.

Little Dancers

Young children in their Canari Garb dancing.

Horrible Band

This band gave us a headache, it was like a bunch of second grade school kids had picked up instruments , with NO training and just blasted away.  The four of us just looked at each other wondering  what was going on, it went one for about 10 minutes.

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Ice Crwam Cone

Beautiful Backs

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IMG_8872 Two small children at the festival.

Ladies in Hats

                                                        We love  all the different hats!!

Scarf

                        Ecuador is filled with history.

Michael celebrated a birthday, and we visited a second Solstice Celebration in South America.

Gotta love Ecuador.

Life in Cuenca has maintained it’s usual course, sometimes really hectic and sometimes really relaxing.

After we got back from Easter Island, we continued working with our friends  Mariela,  Jolene and Ron.  We had been helping to coordinate  a “Bingo Event ” to benefit a local Orphanage.  We made both of the local papers!!!!   One of our neighbors told Michael that he opened the paper one morning while he was at work, and saw Michael’s picture, and that again the following day he saw him in another local paper.

Our neighbor has decided that Michael is now a celebrity in Cuenca, too funny.

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From left to right, two major fund-raisers for the Orphanage;  Yolanza Carrion, Jolene Parkinson , ( Ron Parkinson is not in the photo, but has been a major fundraiser also) and Michael in  the El Mercurio Newspaper, Cuenca.

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Pic’s from El Tiempo Newspaper published in Cuenca.  Left to right is our great friend Mariela, Michael  and  Sonia Talbot.

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Left to right; a great new supporter of the Orphanage, Tom Peddecord,  a constant supporter, Mario Miranda and me, featured in the local Newspaper, El Mercurio, Cuenca.

It was a total success!  The most important thing is, we raised money to buy food for needy children.

Why do Michael and I look like deers in a headlight??  LOL!!!

On May 12th, I left Cuenca to see my family in Florida . The trip going was an adventure / nightmare.

 Cuenca  – Quito -Guayaquil – Miami.   I knew I was in for a long day.

I checked my bag at the airport in Cuenca, and while I was doing that, Michael noticed that the ticket agent was sending my luggage to ENGLAND!!  He got that corrected.  The luggage ended up being a problem, again, in the new Quito airport.  Long story.

If you can avoid the new Quito airport,  do.

 I then left Quito on a flight to Guayaquil , for some reason it was less expensive to “start”  my trip to Miami  in Quito, details, etc. yadda yadda.

Upon my arrival in Guayaquil  I knew I had another problem.  After waiting in the Priority Access line ( a line that I knew I did not belong in, but I played dumb)  I found out that my flight to Miami was canceled!!!

  American Airlines gave some of the passengers vouchers for a night at the Hilton, again, another long story.  I had  to muscle my way into lines;  at the airport trying to get a boarding pass for the next day, a van to the hotel, check in lines with other bumped passengers trying to get a room for the night.   I wasn’t taking nonsense  from anyone by that time, it was 11:00 p.m. and I was tired.

 It was a total pain in the butt and  I was just thinking about how I had lost a day with my family.

I eventually arrived in Miami,  I couldn’t get a WiFi connection, so trying to call my Mom or Sister was impossible, pay phones were few and far between, so I trudged around the airport, with my luggage, and found a bank of pay phones.  I used the only 4 quarters I had left, ( We  use US currency in Ecuador so I had some coins with me) and the damn thing took my money and it didn’t work!!!!

I was having a really bad 24 hours.

OK, so another  problem, how do I solve this one?  I found a snack vendor and decided I would buy a bottle of water to get more  change for the pay phone, she understood what I was doing and  told me that I could use her personal cell phone, she said that I didn’t need to buy anything!!!  I was trying to call family, and that was important to her.

She handed her phone over to me, a complete stranger,  and let me make two  calls. With her help I was able to get call my Mom and Sister.

I tried  to thank the vendor, and she just kept  saying “God Bless you child”.

Wow, there is true kindness and trust in the world, I was really tired and this complete stranger helped me.

My Mom and Sister had driven about two hours to pick me up  in Miami, and with the help of the selfless vendor at the airport

we were able to connect with each other.

I did my best not to cry when I saw my Mom and Sister, just seeing their faces was  truly wonderful.

I had a great trip, I got to spend time with my Mom, my Sister Kathleen, my Brother-in-law Stu, my brother Michael, and my nieces Brianna and  Brigid.  I missed seeing my brother John, and my nephew Sean, maybe next time!!

It was a truly wonderful time.

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I also did my best not to cry when I left.  That was hard.

Seeing my family was truly precious.

Gotta Love Ecuador, but you have to love seeing family much, much more.

Michael and I have always had the travel bug, our latest adventure brought us to Easter Island, Chile.   It was an adventure!

A little background for this story. Way, way back when we lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, we found a garden statue, we HAD to buy it, it was an Easter Island Guy!! We  had always said that Easter Island was a place we wanted to see, so the garden statue made us laugh and smile, and when we moved back to Illinois, we brought our Moai Carving with us to Round Lake, and placed it in our garden.

We were very privileged to have great neighbors.  One neighbor had two young children and they enjoyed our little touches of a bird house and our Moai carving.

When we were moving and getting ready for our transition to Ecuador we decided to have a Garage Sale, and our Easter Island guy had to be sold, our neighbors came over and said they couldn’t let the Statue go, apparently their children had gotten used to getting up, eating their cereal and looking out in the yard and seeing “Dumb Dumb”, (Google the movie, “Night at the Museum”).  So they bought our guy, and we were happy that it would be enjoyed by the kids.

Our yard in Round Lake, Illinois

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Recently we were researching airfares for me to go and visit my Mom in Florida, and we stumbled upon incredibly low airfares for Easter Island.  EASTER ISLAND????? We didn’t think twice.

OK, low airfare meant a nightmare of travel. We flew from Cuenca to Quito, where we spent 22 hours in the airport,  22 hours of sitting on really hard chairs, then a flight to Guayaquil,  from there we flew  to Santiago, Chile, where we spent the night in a hotel, in the morning it was back to the airport for our early morning flight  to Easter Island.  But it was so, so worth the travel time.

It was an incredibly mystical, peaceful place.

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Guy on Horse

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Sunset

During our time on Easter Island we met wonderful people, and adventurous travelers.

It was a truly magical place.

It made us think about the things that really matter; forgive quickly, love honestly, laugh often, and keep life simple.

 We believe that the journey is more important than the destination.

When we moved to Cuenca we didn’t ship a container with our belongings, so we have accumulated furniture along the way. With the exception of two tables, and two chairs, we have had all of our furniture custom made, most of it has been WONDERFUL, the Herman Munster sofa and loveseat are the exceptions, LOL!

We had seen a really interesting, very Ecuadorian, table and chair set in a small shop in El Centro, however it was built to accommodate Ecuadorians, which means it was too small for us. The height of the chairs and table was too low, and the seats of the chairs were not deep enough, so we asked if they would build us one with dimensions we would provide. They agreed and in about two weeks we had our set.  It is “rustic” and we love the triangular shape.

It has been our intention to have chair pads crafted from the fabric left over from the Herman Munster furniture fiasco, and a nice table-cloth made.

A few weeks ago, a friend of our’s sister was coming to visit and we wanted to have them over for lunch, so it was an incentive to at least get the tablecloth made.  Finding a tablecloth in the shape of a triangle in a store is IMPOSSIBLE. So I went to a very nice fabric store that made several other tablecloths, as well as our bedskirts, for us at very reasonable prices.   I picked out my fabric, and showed an English  speaking woman working in the store a sketch of the table.  I explained that ALL three sides were the same size, I gave her the dimensions in centimeters. She did the calculations and determined I needed to buy two meters of fabric.  OK, that was fine.  This was a Tuesday, and my tablecloth would be ready on Saturday.

Saturday morning we went to the store and were  greeted with the usual smiles we always receive. A different sales girl, not the one I worked with the day I placed my order, very proudly handed me my bag with my new custom table cloth.  I pulled it out to inspect it,  and I was like “What the Hell???????”  The thing they produced would barely make a bandana (OK that is an exaggeration), but suffice to say it was TINY, and they gave me about a mile of leftover fabric.

Michael was with me, so of course he spoke up stating that this was wrong. The store staff  promptly pulled out the diagram I had left with them when I  ordered the table cloth  to show me that it had been made to my specifications. By this time the store owner came over and was gently defending the size of the cloth. We kept insisting that  it was wrong, and we had given the right dimensions, we then strongly asked;  “Why on earth would we pay for two meters of fabric if we only needed a tablecloth for a Barbie Dollhouse size table?”   Then the woman who had originally helped me walked over and acknowledged that I had given the proper dimensions, thus her suggestion of two meters of fabric, and that the woman who had done the cutting and seamstress work had made an error.   OK, the owner starting measuring the leftover over fabric to see if it would accommodate what we needed, and he assured us it would. He took the measurements himself, and said we were lucky, there was JUST enough fabric leftover. I was thinking to myself – what do you mean, “we are lucky”, there would have been no way Michael would have walked out of that store having to pay for more fabric.  Anyway, problem solved, they will make another one, the right size, of course it wouldn’t be ready for our lunch guests, but oh well.

A week goes by, we get the call the new tablecloth is ready. Michael went to pick it up yesterday.  They overcharged him $5.00, apparently they forgot I left a deposit. Michael got home, we pulled out the tablecloth and guess what – its TOO SMALL AGAIN. We had specified that in addition to the size of the table, we wanted a 10″ ( 26 centimeters) hangover, the owner acknowledged that while he was taking the measurements of the leftover fabric from the first time around!! 

And again, they sent along the leftover material. The seamstress simply cut a huge triangle, and stitched it up.

Table OVerview

Our Triangular shaped table

Table VOerview 2

                                                                                     Table Center    

We really liked the idea of the glass in the middle, we bought fabric to scrunch under it and placed a triangular shaped tile we had bought in Quito to accent it.

 First Table Cloth

   First go round , does it look like it possibly fits??  I will use it as a shawl. LOL.

Second Tab;e Cloth

This is the second attempt at getting a triangular Tablecloth made. 

 

Overhang

The three points on the table have the 10 inch drop, but the three sides, NOT SO MUCH.  Too funny.  Gotta laugh.

Leftover material     The seamstress simply chopped a triangle out of the fabric.  At least we have enough to have matching placemates made, NOT at the same store! 

Too funny, the second time around, and the seamstress did the SAME thing, only it was on a larger scale. 

Oh well, whadda ya gonna do? 

By the way, our friends came for lunch with their visitor, we had a nice afternoon and took a stroll

Just a few pics of the wonderful people we met  during our walk.

Jerseys

Cuenca’s soccer team was playing that day, that is why the kids all have matching jerseys.

Brother and Sister

Brother and Sister

Man and Boy   Two brothers Lady with bag

Some things work out, some don’t and then you take a random walk and get a chance to exchange smiles.

Cuenca, gotta love it!!!!

We have not updated the blog in a while, not because there has been nothing to write about, but just because we have been pretty busy.

This is our second St. Patrick’s Day in Ecuador.  As a result of some very interesting e-mails, we were invited to a party to commerate the holiday in Quito with the Irish Embassador to Ecuador, she invited us to her home for a private party,  how cool is that??  

We decided that it would not be a smart thing for us to spend money on the airfare to Quito for a party,  however, we know we are missing a fun party.  We truly appreciated the invitation.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, which has always been a HUGE holiday for my family, our Irish Heritage has always been a great sense of pride for me and my family. 

My  blog today is pictures that were taken in Ireland during trips there.

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The Rock of Cashel.

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An old Guinness Sign, “For Strength”  Painted on the side of a building, County Cork.

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Walkway to Hore Abbey behind the Rock of Cashel.

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Carving on a bridge on the River Liffey.

Michael Skellig

Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry

Puffin on the Skelligs

Puffin on the Skelligs.

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Michael standing next to the Poulnabrone Dolmen.

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The Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare

Boats in Killarney

River Boats, Killarney.

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Glendalough, Co. Wicklow.

Angel Statue

 Statue in a wonderful secret garden in Dublin.

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Rock of Cashel at dusk.

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Thatched Roof home in Killarney.

Lay of the lakes

Ladies  of the Lake, Killarney, Ireland.

Donegal

Fanad Head, County Donegal.

Sligo Face

Sligo Town, City Hall Building.

Sunset

Sunrise over the Rock of Cashel, Co. Cashel, Ireland.

This  is our St. Patick’s Day Card. 

We hope you enjoyed the pictures.

We love and miss you all. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Cuenca, Ecuador

The Roches

  • Today was an important day in Ecuador.   Election day.  We voted to elect a new Presidente, or keep the current one,
  • Presidente Rafael Correa, and 137 members of the National Assembly.

There are 6 other candidates running against the current Presidente, but Guillermo Lasso is the strongest competitor. 

We have no idea how long it will take to count the ballots.

The election process here is so different than in the US.  The current Presidente only threw his hat in the ring for
re-election in Novemeber. We don’t watch Ecuadorian television, so we don’t know if there were alot of political commercials.  In the past few weeks we have seen alot of bannners that were put up around Cuenca, but that was it. 

We read in a local paper that the official campaign ended on Friday.  There were no campaigner’s anywhere in site of the polling place today, but lots of Policia.

So, we voted today.   How phenomenal is that!  We are only legal residents of Ecuador, but we can vote!

 As we mentioned in our blog yesterday, voting is MANDATORY for Ecuadorians, so El Centro, the city center, was packed with people. We thought  that the voting areas would be a madhouse, but it was really organized.   For some reason, men and women are seperated during the voting process.  We thought that was kind of strange.

I was in and out within 10 minutes, it took Michael about 20 minutes, but everything was really well organized.

As we mentioned in our previous blog, if Ecuadorians don’t vote, they are fined $60.oo, and not allowed to have access to public services. We now understand how they keep track, the election workers had a book with our name and Cedula photo, they took control of my Cedula, gave me the voting documents, and when I placed my ballots in the box, I was given my Cedula back, along with my certificate that I had voted.

I wanted to take photo’s of the polling place, but the Policia were ALL over, and I decided that whipping out a camera might be a dumb idea.

    • It was intersting,  we will see who wins.
  • A pic of my documentation that I voted today.  Very cool, and really great to be included regarding such an important thing, electing a President.

And no, we aren’t going to tell who we voted for.

Voting Card

Ecuador, gotta love it.

Life In Cuenca

I was talking to a friend  the other day and  I mentioned that I haven’t been updating the blog too much recently, I think it is because now that we have been here for awhile, everything that was fascinating and new, is now just part of our everyday life. We love seeing the indigenous women on the street corners selling strawberries the size of tennis balls, and learning   about the fruits and vegetables that were so foreign to us when we arrived in Cuenca, but now, it is just everyday stuff!

The Carnival season is over, Cuenca shuts down for the holiday, except for the teenagers going nuts throwing water or Silly String on people. Michael ventured out on Monday morning for his swim and waited at the side of the road for about 45 minutes for a bus, which was really unusual.  The buses normally run about every 7 or 10 minutes, but it was Carnival,
  I guess even the bus drivers were taking time off!   Michael finally gave up and decided to come home, as he was strolling back, he got soaked with a bucket of water from a passing pickup truck filled with teenagers. I guess he was “christened”.

We read that back in the 60’s and 70’s it was not uncommon that during Carnival, fueding families would gather in the streets to resolve personal issues by brawling,  apparently  it was a common sight to see young men walking around with bloody faces, thankfully that no longer happens, LOL!

ELECTION DAY.

Tomorrow is a pretty important day here, Presidential Election Day. Ecuadorians will decide whether or not to keep the current President in office. It is REQUIRED that all Ecuadorians vote. If they don’t, they are not allowed to have treatment in the free hospitals, their children cannot attend the public schools, and their ability to work is extremely limited, all restictions apply for two years. The election date is on a Sunday because many Ecuadorians work 6 days a week, and only have Sunday as a free day.

We made sure all of our paperwork was correct before we moved here, as a result we are registered voters in Ecuador, so we are looking forward to voting in the election tomorrow.  Should be really interesting.

I wonder who they are voting for tomorrow??

Well worn hats

Ecuador, gotta love it.