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Archive for August, 2011

The Rugby Match

Once again, we were reading the Gringo Tree e-mail, a sort of newsletter that comes out four or five times a week.  People advertise apartments for rent, apartments they want, stuff for sale, and general information about what is going on in and around Cuenca.  We read about a rugby match at a local University and we thought, what the heck – lets go.  That morning Michael, myself and my cousin Dan strolled down to a little museum  that displays what is supposed to be genuine archeological artifacts, it is small but cool, and then we dashed off to the Rugby match which was suppose to start at 2:00, so like typical Gringos, we showed up on time.  We were expecting a big crowd, and to our amazement, the only people there were our two friends Wally and Hazel. 

Our Friends Wally and Hazel

Michael and Dan watching the Rugby Match

Rugby Players

After a little while, the woman we rent from and her boyfriend came to watch the match as well.  So  we all sat there watching these guys, and it was like watching paint dry.  BORING, it turned out these guys were REAL amatuers, just learning the game.  Eventually, the boyfriend of the woman we rent from said “Let’s get out of here, I don’t live far, we can go to my place instead of sitting here”.  EVERYONE was up for that, so a little impromptu afternoon was spent at his house.   ( As we left, the real Rugby players showed up, around 4:00, it is Ecuador after all)

The home we went to  has 39 rooms, 39 ROOMS!!!!.  The grounds are unbelievably beautiful , overlooking the hills.  We spent some time in the outdoor entertaining area surrounded by 50 year old palms with Frank Sinatra crooning in the background.  The outdoor entertainment area was almost the size of our current apartment, one area was enclosed with a stocked bar and lounging chairs, we sat in the area with a covering , but no sides, so we enjoyed the afternoon breeze.  We were told it was built as a result of his parents saying that the children could not drink in the house, therefore the brothers built this FABULOUS entertainment area.  Too funny.  We sat around and talked about everything, and nothing.  What a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.   We had a great time 

After awhile, Hazel and Wally invited us all back to their home for dinner, again, WE WERE ALL UP FOR IT.  So we descended on Hazel and Wally’s house, by the way, Oscar was invited as well!  We were served steak and mashed potatos and salad, again an impromtu invitation.  The conversation was lively, sometimes serious, but most of the time the night was filled with laughter. The evening ended around 11:00. Michael, Dan, me and Oscar strolled back to our apartment.  The hospitality we have been shown here is unreal. 
Another great day in Cuenca.

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I have a cousin that was living in Mexico and got the travel bug, he came to South America to tour around and started here in Ecuador. He spent a few days in Quito, went to Banos, and then came here to Cuenca to spend some time. On his first full day here we took him to some of the local markets, at the one called Mercado 9 de Octubre, a local produce, meat and fish market, we met someone that is VERY well known in the US!! Too funny.

Barney – alive and well in Cuenca!
                                      Pottery in the Rotary Market
 
Hand made guitars in the Rotary Market
                                             
After we went through a few markets we passed by the church called La Catedral del la Inmaculada Concepcion, a beautiful church next to the main square in Cuenca, Parque Calderon. Beautiful.

The following day we went to the Pumapungo Archeological site, Inca ruins right here in Cuenca, they are small but interesting ruins located in the heart of the city next to Rio Tomebamba, one of the four rivers that run through the city.  There is a beautiful garden with local plants and an Aviary.  It is truly remarkable that these structures have lasted over 2000 years,gotta give it to those Incas!! and a modern city was built around them, it was an overcast day so the pics are a little dark.

When we were with Efrian the week before, he told us about the “talking birds” in the Aviary here at the ruins, there were colorful birds, it was hard to take a good picture through the cage, so the three of us stood there like little kids, saying “Hello Birdie”, then my cousin finally said “Hola”, and lo and behold the “talking birds” said “Hola” back.  We were quite please with ourselves, then a group of school kids showed up and they converesed with the birds with no problem.  Oh well, baby steps with the Spanish classes.

 

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We decided to do a local day trip from Cuenca to two towns, Chordeleg, a town known for its silver and gold jewelery as well as ceramics and Gualaceo, known for its lively Sunday morning market. We hired a driver we had never met before, but came highly recommended. He arrived promptly at 8:00 am and we jumped in his Ford Explorer and off we went. We drove through Azogues, the town with the 6 bedroom 6 bath home with built in pool, that we looked at but ruled out due the distance from Cuenca.

The next thing I knew, our driver, named Efrian, was taking us up a mountain road, that would have challenged a mountain goat, and we arrived at an Inca ruins site called Cojitambo. Wow, this wasn’t on the intinerary I had planned! Efrian was very knowledgeable about the ruins because it turns out that this is an area he used to go and hang out with his buddies when he was in high school! LOL.

The site dates to 500 B.C., it was built on a volcanic rock formation. When it was excavated they found materials linked to the Canari culture.
We climbed above the site and had a 360 degree view of the surrounding valleys and mountains. The Incas built their sites on high mountain tops for two reasons; the sun and moon were gods they worshiped, therefore, being high up meant they were closer to the gods, and second, but no less important, they could see their enemies coming.
Enough history lessons, here are a few pics:

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 Michael and Our Guide Efrian

After we left the ruins Efrian took us to a town called Biblian to show us a beautiful church named Santuario de la Virgen del Rocio, it is built into a mountain side, it all started with a small carving of the Blessed Virgin. There had been a terrible drought in the town in 1894, and the people brought an image of the The Blessed Virgin to the hilltop and prayed, and the rains came. The small carving of the Virgin was created, and the church was built around her, it was finished around 1908. Some pics:

Men that Efrian Knew at the Church

Stairway down from the church

After we left this beautiful church we went to a town called Puate, known for its Potato Soup with Cheese and Avocado. The food was heavenly, absolutley FANTASTIC. The following are a few street murals in Puate.

After Paute we went to another town, sorry I don’t remember the name, to see weavers that still weave in the old tradition. We were introduced to a woman we were told is considered a classic weaver here in Ecuador. She showed us a few different ways they make the dyes, one included making the dye from BUGS!!! It was not one of those high pressure things about buying stuff, but of course we did. The quality of the weaving is unbelievable. Some Pics:

After we left the weaver, Efrian brought us to a little nursery to buy some palms trees (I have not lost my gardening bug) and on our way home we drove through Chordeleg and Gualaceo, the two towns I thought we were going to see. I am so happy that we did not spend our day there, it was so, so great to to see places that tourists do not bother with, it was so much more enriching.

Efrian has become a friend, he told us a hysterical story about getting arrested in New Jersey, it involves his cousin bringing Cuy (Guinea Pigs) for a family Christmas celebration. I know my friend Hal and cousin Steve G. will get a kick out of that one.

More stories to follow. The people, culture and history here are phenomenal. We made the right choice!!

More stories and photos to follow from my cousins visit.

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We saw an ad on Gringo Tree about The Cuenca Fly Fishing Club having a meeting in the Cajas Mountains so we decided to go and learn about a sport we knew NOTHING about.  So on a Saturday we jumped in a cab and went to a Lodge called Dos Chorreras for our first lesson. Like a dope, I didn’t take pictures of the lodge, Google it, it was BEAUTIFUL.  Our day started with a meeting detailing future plans for the club, followed by a FANTASTIC trout lunch, followed by a few lessons.
This is michael with our treacher Kent in the Gray hat. 

How do you like my new hat!

A young fellow that caught the biggest fish while we were there.  We had a dinner invitation that evening so we left early, but are planning on attending future meetings, we really liked the people we met, and we think Fly Fishing will be a great thing to do.  Michael has already ordered two rods for us!

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Montanita and Olon

Montanita is a coastal town that attracts alot of surfers, the beach was way too crowded for us, so we hopped in cabs and went to Olon to sit and enjoy the lovely sand and waves during the day, and in the evenings we would roam the streets of Montanita trying to capture pictures of the locals. They came in all shapes, sizes and colors, but almost all seemed to go to the same hairdresser. Pics explain. Montanita locals

Us in the beach in Olon, the first day it was a little overcast, but still beautiful

In Olon I bought a “hippie necklace from a nice little guy, and we sat around and drank Inca Cola’s delivered to our little beach Cabana by the guy pictured below, we didn’t speak Spanish, he didn’t speak English, but everyday we managed to communicate just fine.

Here is a frigate bird from Isla Del La Plata
A Red Footed Boobie

Oscar was completely freaked out walking around the town in Montanita, there were a MILLION stray dogs and of course the hippies scared him too.  LOL.  Michael fit right in with his hippie shoulder bag with Oscar hanging out of it.  A little boy wanted to buy Oscar, he offered us $2.00 for him.

Tomorrow is fly fishing in the Caja’s Mountains

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