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Archive for October, 2011

Wedding Anniversry

Today’s posting has nothing to do with Ecuador, but we like the story.

Michael and I went to the same high school, but we lived in different “neighborhoods”, so we didn’t hang with the same crowds.  I was a lowly sophmore when I first saw Michael in the hallways of John F. Kennedy High School, he was a senior.  I would see him walk down the hall, but my Mom would not allow dating until I was 16, so I “worshiped” him from afar, he didn’t even know I existed.  Eventually our crowds of friends ran into each other and we all became friends.  We had a lot of fun nights hanging out on the corner by McDonald’s or Hale Park,  we weren’t troublemakers, just harmless kids sitting around thinking we were cool smoking our cigarettes.  Some weekends we would pile into cars and go to the Sheridan Drive-In on Harlem Avenue.   It was AMAZING how many people would fit in the trunk.   It was all good clean fun, we would bring lawn chairs and grab as many speakers as we could and sit around and watch the movies, just a bunch of noisy kids hanging out.

During the summer of 1976 my Mom allowed my brother to have a party in the backyard, it was a nice warm summer night and my Mom was home to supervise.  I kinda thought, that maybe Michael liked me, so I brought him into the house to introduce him to my Mom, he passed her seal of approval and we were allowed to date.  We were an item through my Junior year, homecoming, prom, picnics,and parties. 

John F. Kennedy Homecoming, 1976.   I was 16, Michael was 18.

Photo taken at the Sabre Room, Palos Park, 1976.  Observe the groovy techniques utilized, our faces in a wine glass, we weren’t even old enough to drink!!!

In November of my senior year Michael joined the US Army for a three year stint, I thought my world had come to an end.  We remained a “couple” for a while, but three years, at the young ages we were, caused us to drift.  When Michael came back, we picked up where we left off. 

We would spend some afternoons just going out and taking photographs, I took this picture of Michael in Lincoln Park Zoo after he returned from his time in the US Army.
A photo Michael took of me, probably the same day.  He kept his pictures of me, and I kept my pictures of him for all those years we were apart.  I guess that says it all.

Life was good, but as  time passed we began to have different interests, no fights or harsh words, just different people and our relationship came to an end. 

12 years went by, during that time Michael always held a special place in my heart.  As a result of coincidences we contacted each other in March of 94.  I was living in Detroit at the time and went Chicago to see Michael.  We went to a movie, “In the Name of the Father” and afterwards we sat in Denny’s and talked  until they kicked us out at closing time.  I remember driving home that night thinking – I still love this guy, he will think I am nuts if I tell him, but it turned out that he felt the same way.  We were teenagers all over again, phone calls, cards, thoughts drifitng away from my work.  The thrill of being in love again.

Our first date in 12 years was April 2, 1994, by July 1st, I had gotten a new job, packed my apartment up and returned to Chicago.  Michael and I had a wonderful summer, and sometime during the first week of October we thought it would be a great idea to get married.  Michael wanted to know what my ring size was so he could buy me an engagement ring, we talked about that for a while and decided that due to the fact we were going to be “engaged” for about two weeks, the money would be better spent on taking a cool trip, forget a diamond!!

We went to City Hall in downtown Chicago on October 21, 1994,  a beautiful sunny, warm Autumn afternoon, our families joined us for the Civil ceremony and we got married. 

Our Wedding Day, October 21, 1994

We went to Ireland the following month, it was a much better way to spend $$$ than on a ring.  I guess that started our travel bug. 

Michael on our first trip to Ireland together

Anne on our first trip to Ireland, in the background is the Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare.

We don’t usually  make a big fuss out of our anniversay, we would rather save our money throughout the year and go on a trip as our gift to each other.  This year we did buy gifts.  I decided to have rings made to commemorate our special day.  I picked a design that is found on the entrance stone to Newgrange in the Boyne Valley in Ireland.  Michael and I have been there and it is a place filled with mystery, wonder and history, so it reminded me of us.    I brought a picture to a local Jeweler, language was a barrier, but for an Ecuadorain working from a picture, and not knowing what the symbol even meant, he did a great job!!

Newgrange in the Boyne Valley, it pre-dates Stonehenge.

This is the “Entrance Stone” to Newgrange, these carvings are called the “Triple Spirals”.

This is the photograph that the Jeweler worked from

These are the rings to celebrate our 17th Wedding anniversary.

Michael knows how much I like to play with making jewelry so he scoured the Cuenca  antique shops and found three beautiful pieces he thought I could use to make something, when he gave them to me I was overwhelmed, but after really looking at them I thought  they are too special,  we decided we will have them framed, they will be a rememberance of our first anniversary spent in Ecuador.

My anniversary gifts from Michael, pieces of Ecuadorian history.

It is 17 years later, we have had a few down times, but far more ups, lots of laughter, love and joy.  We wouldn’t change a day of it.  

Michael and Anne, 35 years after our first date.
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Remember the move “The Jerk” with Steve Martin?

Well, watch this clip an you will know exactly how we felt when we got our Cedula’s this week, well except for the last ten seconds anyway. (You need to double click and a little blue bar will show up on the screen, click where it says to go to youtube)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOTDn2A7hcY&feature=youtube_gdata_


Our trip to Quito was GREAT!!! The contact that our attorney gave was wonderful. Our appointment was at 8:00 am on Tuesday, so we left Monday night, Joseph, our contact, met us at our hotel at 7:30 and took us to the building we had to go to, the place was already packed with people by 7:45Joseph, took charge of everything, he went and got us a number, and somehow, we were sitting at the desk within ten minutes, we were taken before aoo these other people that were there before us.  The”Government guy” could not find Michael’s paperwork, I am here on his retirement Visa so it was essential for both of us that Michael’s paperwork be located.   Joseph just kept talking and laughing with “the guy” and lo an behold he finally it.   He processed our paperwork, then Joseph went and paid the $4.00 for our two Cedulas, another line,  and he got us another number for another line to get our photos and fingerprints. When we got to the next area, again there were a TON of people waiting, and somehow, we only had three people in front of us!!!!  Joseph explained that he “knew” the woman at the desk where you pay for the Cedulas, and that was the reason we got such a great number. We were in and out within less than an hour!!!   Unbelievable, we had heard such horror stories, and our experience was simple. The Cedulas were supposed to be ready late afternoon on Wednesday, so we stayed until Thursday to pick them up.   

Since we were finished so early in the morning on Tuesday, we did a few tourist things in Quito, we went to Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal, an indigenous market for everything from ashtrays that say “Ecuador” to really nice textiles and jewelry.

Nice Smile

If you talk with these ladies and smile they will usually let you take their picture

The little paintings are very intricate
Some scarves in the market

Wild flower growing in the market

After strolling around  the market we decided to go to Plaza De La Independencia in “Old Town”, it is a plaza in front of the Palacio Presidential.  It is a great place to sit and people watch, you are constantly pestered by shoe shine boys which cracks us up, you can be wearing sandals and they want to shine them, they give you the big sad eyes when you say No Gracias. 

The first time we came to Ecuador in 2007 we had read all the saftey precautions and we used our common sense learned by growing up on the South Side of Chicago, we were aware of our surroundings and kept our valuables in zipped pockets.  We were approached by an older gentleman that wanted us to go back to his shop with him and buy Panama hats.  He was quite insistent that he would give us a “good deal” on ponchos, blankets, whatever we wanted.  We thought to ourselves “Yeah, right, you are going to walk us into an alley where you have a few guys waiting to donk us on the head”.  We kept politely saying we were not interested.  He would laugh and keep requesting we come with him, he eventually gave up, smiled, waved and walked away.

When we visited Ecuador with my mom in 2009, we spent some time in the plaza, and our buddy was there again.  He went through his sales pitch, we laughed and asked if he remembered us and he simply said no, he stated that “All you Gringos look alike to me”.  Too, too funny.  When he realized we weren’t going to buy anything, the four of us stood around and just talked about politics, life, whatever, we exchanged names, his was John Henry.  It was a nice conversation.

The next time we met John Henry was in May of 2011, in the same plaza, this time he claimed to remember us.  Here we go again, “No John Henry, we don’t need a Panama Hat”.  He explained how bad tourism was, all the hotels were empty, and his business was doing really poorly.  We thought to ourselves, no wonder you don’t have any customers, you are NEVER in your shop, you are always strolling around in the park! 

As we got in the taxi Tuesday afternoon, to go to the plaza, Michael laughed and wondered if we would run into John Henry.  I kid you not, we stepped out of the cab, walked two feet and there was John Henry with his hand out to shake ours.  LOL!!  We talked about the worldwide economy, President Obama, and lastly he started his sales pitch about the great deals he would give us.  This time he gave us his phone number to call when we or anyone we know is in Quito.  Small, small world.

Just a few pics of Quito:

Church on one side of the Main Plaza

Some architecual detail

The gargoyles on this church are Animals that are only found in Ecuador, these are the Galapagos Tortoises.

Church interior, beautiful natural lighting.

On Wednesday we hired a private driver and went to Otavalo, it is an “important” market town, the best day to go is on Saturdays when people come from  surrounding villages to sell their wares.  We have been there twice before, this day, a Wednesday, it was smaller, quieter and lots less tourists.  We had a nice day.

A few pics on the road to Otavalo:



A few pics in the Otavalo Market

Traditional white pants and shoes worn by the Men of this region.
On Thursday Joseph met us at 10:00 am, the place was insane with people and he just walked right up to a window, it was kind of embarrassing, he muscled his way up there and we had our Cedulas in hand within 3-4 minutes, that was it!!!
We know a woman and another couple that were in Quito at the same time frame as us, the single woman had problems over paperwork for her husband, who passed away 13 years ago, and the couple we know were able to get the wife’s Cedula, but had problems with the husbands. The have to go back in two weeks which means another airfare, I feel so bad for them.
There was a charity Poker event starting at 7:00 pm the night we got back from Quito, we landed around 6:30 and had our luggage by about 6:40. Michael wanted to go to the event , so we stood at the curb and dug around in our bags exchanging cell phones (Michaels was dead) and money and paperwork, etc. I hopped in a cab to go home, and Michael hopped in a cab for the tournament. As the driver was approaching our house, I started digging around for the $1.50 fare from the aiport, I realized I didn’t have the passports or Cedulas, Michael had given them to me to bring home rather than take them to the Poker Game. OMG, panic, rapid breathing, verge of tears, the WHOLE BIT!!!! 

THANKFULLY, the cab driver spoke English, and understood the gravity of the situation, (he had congratulated me on the way home for getting through this complicated process), he whipped me back to the airport and helped search on the sidewalk, unbelievably, the passports were still laying on the curb. 

I guess someone was looking out for us.

I will update the blog with info from our trip to Botanic Garden back on the 20th, and pics from the Halloween party we went to on the 28th.  We were just thrilled to have our Cedulas and thought we would share that story today.

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When we finally decided that Ecuador was the place we wanted to move to, we began the paperwork process.  There were tons of  documentation that were required, Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, proof of income, yadda, yadda.  We had to have all the documents translated into Spanish, Notarized, Apostolized (something we had NEVER heard of before), then the documents had to be taken to the Ecuadorian Consulate, the originl  documents as well as the Spanish translation ones, to be given the big gold seal (seriously) of approval.  Michael took care of all this, having a consulate in Chicago was a huge convenience.    Apparently we did everything right, our documents were recieved and accepted in Quito in early March.  So anticipating the Visa’s would be ready at the end of April, I gave notice at my job that I would be leaving. 

Well this is where it turns into a really long story, I was getting bored writing it, and assumed anyone reading it would be even more bored, so I won’t go into all the details.  Simple version, it turns out the Dude in charge of Immigration was fired for taking bribes and his replacement quit after two weeks, the Immigration office was closed from May 1st to August 2nd.

In March we were told 6 weeks, and it took 6 months.  Our Visa’s were issued September 20th. 

Apparently we are lucky, lots of people we have met have had much longer struggles due to incorrect paperwork or cruddy lawyers.  Something as minor as the wrong spelling of a  mother’s hometown will throw things into a tailspin.  We know – crazy, but that is a part of the paperwork, they require the info about where our mom’s were born.  Who knows why.

So, we have finally got  our Visa’s, after that we had to get our Censo’s ( a card required by the Immigration Police, all non-Ecuadorian residents are required to have these),  then we had to wait for an appointment in Quito to get our Cedula’s, this is a National ID card, everyone is required to have one, once we have that, all of our documents will be complete.    We got the call on Friday that we have to be in Quito at 8:00 am on Tuesday.  So, we are off to Quito today, getting the Cedula’s is a big deal, people have actually congratulated us on having an appointment, and are asking us to let them know how it goes and what to expect!!

By the way, the amount of paperwork to get Oscar, our dog, into Ecuador  was also ridiculously complicated.  Everything we had to do for us, had to be done for Oscar, even the big gold seal from the consulate,  plus, the paperwork had to be completed and dated within no longer than ten days of our entry into Ecuador…when we got to Guayaquil, no one asked for a single piece of paper for Oscar.  Go figure.  LOL!!

We have more updates on our travels, we went to a beautiful Botanic Garden this past week, it is about an hour outside of Cuenca, and celebrated our 17th Wedding Anniversary on the 21st.  We cannot believe how the time has flown by.

For today I will just include some pics of a flower bouquet that we got at the local SuperMaxi  (grocery store chain), we paid a whopping $4.00 for it, there are a few beautiful flowers in the bunch that I have never seen before, and pics of a stroll in the largest park in Cuenca.

What are these????

What are these also???

Like little upside pine cones that bloom, very cool.
Tha Yancunay River in Parque Paradiso

Oscar Enjoying a day in the Park

We love the way these  vines crawl over things

This is a beautiful park.

This “viney” covered things reminded me of something out of The Hobbit
I just threw these up to show you how infants are carried around.  This woman was landscaping the yard, a process that takes an enitre day, so she just wrapped the baby up and threw him on her back.  You see this everywhere, strollers are a rarity, infants are carried, and most often if it is a couple strolling together, the man is the one carrying the child.

She spent her day raking, pulling weeds, edging the lawn with this little baby on her back all day.

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I have been trying to spruce up the blog with some suggestions people have given me, such as move the archive listing to the side so anyone reading it wouldn’t have to scroll through the old posts, fix the link to sign in as a member (working on that) and enlarge the photos.  Thanks for taking the time to read this thing and offer ideas.

 While I was messing around with it, I thought the pics I had included in the posting about Montanita were rather uninteresting.  How many dreadlocks do people want to look at anyway??  So I had a lazy day of laying around  and decided to throw a few more pics  on the blog.

Our first sighting of a humback the day we went whalewatching and to Isla de la Plata.

No matter how many times you see a whale breach it is always breathtaking.

The boat captain let Michael up on the top deck, to take photographs.

A Ceviche Vendor on the beach.  You could not have paid me us to eat from these carts.  As Michael pointed out, where the heck does this guy wash out his bowls????

I thought this little girls face showed the total joy of a day at the beach

Total Relaxation

Total Relaxation Part 2

This young guy was staying in the hotel room next to us at the Swisspoint Hotel.  He LOVED playing with Oscar.

Trucks  went up and dow the beach transporting fishing boats.  We think so many guys weresitting in the boats to weigh them down and keep them from flying out.  As soon as the guys saw the camera they went nuts smiling and waving.  They were joking around and trying to fix each others hair!! 

We started calling this the Olon Highway

We just think the Blue Footed Boobies feet are cool. 

These birds are really comical to watch

This guy was a Lamp Peddler on the beach.  The were actually pretty cool, if I thought I could have gotten one back on he bus I would have snapped one up.

Sunset in Montanita

Just a little more scenery from Montanita and Olon as a result of a lazy day in Cuenca.  

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In late September we were invited to a birthday party.  Everytime we have been invited to to Wally and Hazel’s home,  the food has been fabulous, and the company has been even better.  A  really cool part of going to their home is getting the chance to listen to great music, we get to hear everything fom Jimi Hendrix to Melissa Ethridge. 

The only music we have is the stuff on our IPods, getting to hear a variety of great music is a real treat. I miss WXRT like crazy.

  The food was fabulous, and we got a very special chance to watch the a “movie” that Wally and Hazel had put together of their slides and photos that they took on their various and wonderful trips to Africa.  VERY, VERY cool.  They were actually attacked by a hippo on a canoe trip, scary for them, but way too cool to hear about.  Hazel immortalized the trip by framing the muddy T-shirt she was wearing as they fled the canoe and swam to shore. 
We were not sure what to give Wally for his birthday so we bought this hat (only to learn later it is a Mardi Gras King Hat, oh well, Wally  was King for that day)  and we thought rubber noses would be funny,   Ok – I  don’t know why we thought that, but they were.  Wally was a great sport and wore that hat all night.  It was a lovely evening.

A week after the party,  there was a film festival in one of the colleges here in Cuenca,  there were lots of movies to choose from, we decided on  the original King Kong, made in 1933,  Plan Nine from Outer Space, directed  by Ed Wood in 1959, starring Bela Lugosi and Vampira, and lastly, Spinal Tap.

We saw the first two movies on a big screen in the auditorium at one of the colleges here.  King Kong was amazing, now I understand the stuff with Godzilla in the Japanese films,  way too funny. 

What can I say about “Plan 9”,  we knew it would be campy, and it exceeded our expectations. 
As a kid, I spent my Saturday nights watching “Svengoolie”,  but never saw this film on his program.  It was hysterical, cool ghouls.

I am not sure how well known Svengoolie is outside of the Chicago Area, but he was a Saturday Night staple for watching horror flicks, I don’t remember the significance of the rubber chicken, but he ALWAYS had one.  We recently heard that the citizens of Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, where Svengoolie was from, were in total outrage because the town council spent $1,000 on rubber chickens so that Svengoolie could throw them into the crowds during a parade. 

Movie trailer for Plan Nine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2ukRYsYPmo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The showing of “Spinal Tap” was in a completely different venue. 
Before the screening of Spinal Tap we went to dinner with Hazel and Wally at an Italian restaruant, and then we went to see the movie.  Spinal Tap was being shown in a “Cultural Center”,  we have no clue what culture it is supposed to represent,  whatever, it was a blast.   It was like a bar in Chicago that you would go to at night, and hope  you would never see what it looked like during daylight hours.  Skulls, coffins, ( Hazel got in that ), Guillotines ( I got in that).   It was a blast, the movie was shown on a little movie screen, like the kind from High School.  You know, on a little tripod.  It was hysterical,  Gringos and Ecuadorians sitting around and cracking up.
“But this one goes to Eleven.”

 OK, About the Aji Salsa.

You know how when you go into a Mexican resturant and you are given chips and salsa, well sometimes when you go into a restuarant here, you are given Aji salsa, often served with popcorn, this was the condiment served to us with our traditional Cuy lunch in Saraguro.  We really like it,  so Michael and I decided to try to make it.  We found a recipe on the internet and sailed off to Mercado 9 de Octubre Market, a local market for fresh vegetables, fruits and meats. (the same place we ran into “Barney” when my cousin Dan was visiting.

The Meat Floor of the market, I don’t know why we didn’t take a picture of the fruit and vegetable level, oh well, next time.

The plaza around the market.

We don’t know if this lady was a buyer or seller at the market, we are constantly amazed at the heavy loads these ladies walk around with on their backs. 
We bought five tomate de árbol (tree tomatos, a fruit you can find in any market in Cuenca) , a huge bunch of Cilantro, some scallions, about ten Aji Peppers, and four limes. Total cost  –  $1.50. 

It was really easy to make, I improvised a little, we aren’t fans of really hot stuff, but this had just the right kick for us.

Our Aji Salsa

Next we need to learn how to make Quinoa Soup, and the local Potato, Cheese and Avocado Soup, both are delicious!!

We are getting more local everyday.

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We enjoyed our day trip last month with a local tour company,  so when they advertised a trip to two local villages, we thought it would be fun.

Our first stop was an organic farm about 50 miles down the Pan American Sur Highway, in a town called Susudel.  The farm produces dried fruits, meat jerky’s, granolas, maize, cheeses, pickles, peppers and lots more.  We were served breakfast and given a tour of the farm.
 
Breakfast was delicious, homemade yogurt with figs, scrambled eggs ( a combination of chicken and duck eggs) mixed with the organic pork jerky, we were also served  homemeade breads, pastries, and jams, all made on the farm.  We had  Horchata tea, (made from a flower) and locally grown coffee.  The owner, Fernando and his wife Xime were our gracious hosts.  Apparently Fernando was chubby as a child and was nicknamed “Ferbola”, (I have no clue what that means) and it stuck, so that is his brand name, he also has his picture on in label which we thought was funny.
Organic Farm in the mountains
Farm House, it is also a Posada, they provide horse riding tours, river kayaking, or you can simply hang out and enjoy the scenery.

Fernando, the owner of the farm.  He is an Agricultural Engineer.  Cool hat huh?
One of the many jams they produce on the farm.  It was a $1.00 per jar.  Notice his smiling face on the label.
Stone oven used to make breads and pastries.
Our new friend Margit, she is the lovely lady that will be living in our new building with us!!
Trays of locally grown banana’s on their way to be dried.
Fernando won a “prize” in college for developing this drying machine.  In the tray to the right of the machine were red peppers being dried.
Dried Bananas, they were a little too sweet for me.
This is the plant that the Horchata tea is made from.  The leaves are beautiful, total Christmas colors.
We just find it amazing that cactus grow 5 feet away from lucious grapes!!  The grapes are harvested twice a year here.
View from the Farm
Fernando is passionate about horses, what a great landscape to ride in.

We have NO clue what this flower is, we just thought they were beautiful.

Wild Orchids
OK, Cuy (Guinea Pig) is a part of life here in Ecuador.  These little guys are waiting to be plump enough to be served for lunch. 

The next stop was the Church in Susudel, we were supposed see the floral arrangements made by the woman in the village every week, and visit a local weaver next to the church.  We got to the church and waited for the caretaker to open it up for us, we then found out that the caretaker had been gored by a bull, yes, gored by a bull, the week before, he was layed up and couldn’t make it.  His son was supposed to let us in to the church, but apparently no one told him because he never showed up. 

Church in Susudel.

We did get to visit the weaver !

Just a pic of some cute kittens hanging out with the weavers, the shoes were bigger than they were.

From Susudel we went on to Saraguro, we stopped along the way to watch the traditional method of making the bricks Susudel is known for.  They tie two horses or cows together, they walk in circles mixing the materials to produce the bricks.  We didn’t take any pics because we actually felt sorry for the animals.

This is a cemetery outside of Susudel, most graves are above ground.  We learned that if you could not afford one of these crypts, they rent them for 40 years, upon which time a family member has to come and remove the bones and place them in a really tiny crypt.  Yuck, who gets that job.  Kinda creepy.

We again stopped along the roadside on the way to Saraguro to look at some plants that only grow in this area of the Andes.  We were all munching berries off of the branches, they were delicious.We were told you cannot buy these berries in any markets. The pic is the view across the road.

 A flower called “Inca Earring”.

Saraguro means “Land of Corn”, the Saraguro people originally lived in Bolivia, but were forcibly relocated by the Inca’s during their colonization and expansion into Ecuador.  The Saraguros have strongly maintained their roots and identity, even after 500 years. They are easily identified by their distinctive clothing.  The women wear flat white hats with really wide brims, and black spots on the underside of the brim, their skirts are heavy, pleated black wool, and the shawls are fastened with an ornate silver pin called “tupus”. 

The men have single ponytails or braids, they wear black ponchos and calf length pants, often with “Wellington type” boots.  This is to avoid trudging mud into the house after a day of work in the fields. 

Typical Saraguro Man

We saw two women dressed in the traditional Saraguro clothing ( we had no clue at the time, but we realized it was  a sort of identification of their tribe) at the Quito Airport a few months ago. 

We only saw one woman dressed in the traditional garb on our day trip, we wanted to be respectful, so we didn’t take a picture.  We read that if we go to Saraguro on a Sunday, we can see men and women in the traditional dress, it is the day of worship and also the important market day. We think we might try to take a bus.  It should cost us about $2.50 each way. 

 I downloaded a pic from the internet to illustrate the beauty of the hats.

 Our guide told us that Saraguro only opened up to tourism 3-4 years ago, they kept to themselves and didn’t get along very well with Mestizo’s (people of mixed indigenous and European decent).  He said that if we had gone there 5 years ago, the people would have actually thrown rocks at us!! 
Michael thought that would have been cool.

We wandered around the town square and we stood out like sore thumbs.  We didn’t see a single gringo in town that wasn’t on the trip with us. 

The women make and wear really distinctive beaded necklaces, beautiful work. 
I bought one for $8.00, probably over paid. 

My necklace, I wish I  could do this type of beadwork.

We left the main town area and went up a mountain road to Pukara Wasi, a restaurant/Posada where we were treated to a traditional meal, the type of food only served at celebrations.  We all sat around a big table and were given wooden spoons, then lunch was served. 

YOU GUESSED IT, CUY!!! 

We were all given a bowl with boiled wheat, placed on top of the wheat was a piece of local cheese, a biscuit and a chunk of Guinea Pig. 
Thank God I didn’t see any little feet anywhere.  LOL, or OMG, I am not sure.

I avoided the piece of Cuy and ate the wheat, cheese and biscuit. 

The man next to me was thoroughly enjoying his Cuy so I gave him mine.  I dodged the bullet, I didn’t want to seem disrespectful by leaving the Cuy in the bowl.

We were served Horchata tea again, all in all, it was a nice lunch. 

A woman in the traditionl skirt, shawl and  necklace.  She had a wicked sense of humor, ( we found that out through our guide/translator), she was cool.  Note the guy in the calf length pants.
Is she beautiful or what??  Notice the HUGE necklace of beads.
Cloud cover, our view after lunch at Pukara Wasi.
After we had lunch, we started back to Cuenca with a stop a tiny Tequila distillery.  As we drove down the driveway, the huge Agave plants made us laugh.
Michael and I were not up for the Tequila tasting so we just wandered around.
Some pics of  a really beautiful flower we had never seen before.
We called this “Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s Flower” 
Same flower, in  bloom.  It was incredibly beautiful, the petals covered Michael’s hands, this thing was HUGE.

Bamboo Plant at the Tequila Distillery.

It was a long day, filled with history, scenery and food.  When we got on the bus in the morning, everyone was talking and laughing, by the end of the day we were tired and ready to go home.  The trip back was pretty quiet, UNTIL, for absolutely no reason, the bus was stopped by the police.    

The Policia gave the driver a hard time and finally said we had to pull over.  Apparently, they did not like the gray shading on the back windows.  He HAD to remove it, right now.

 The driver got out and started trying to scrape the shading off, on the side of the road, with his fingers as his only tool.

  It was the consensus on the bus that if we all pitched in a buck, for a total of $18.00, ( sixteen passengers, one guide and one driver) maybe we could get the Policia to let us go. 

The driver spent about 10 minutes trying to get the shade film off,  he got about 1/4 of the way done, and all of a sudden the Policia didn’t care anymore, and we were let on our way. 
It was total nonsense.  TOO  FUNNY 

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DISHES:
We thought it might be a good idea to start buying some essentials, you know, dishes, silverware, stuff to sleep and sit on.  We had heard about a high end Ceramic Studio, Artesa Ceramics.   They make beautiful dishware, lamps, and decorative pieces.  Every piece is hand fired and painted, the stuff is fairly expensive, but on Friday mornings they open the workshop to the public and let you browse through the “seconds”.  A dish might be a slight shade lighter or darker, or a cup might have a little blemish in the finish.  We collected a setting for six so far, as well as  few decorative pieces. 
 
We liked the “ocean” feel to this pattern

This is a picther that I am using as a vase. 

FURNITURE:

We had been told that the craftsman here would be able to duplicate furniture from photogprahs.  We found a picture of a bed that we like at the Ethan Allen site, it was priced at  $2,100.00.  We met with a furniture guy, and gave him the dimensions we wanted.  He told us the stuff would be finished on September 20th, but this is Ecuador, so we assumed it would be more like October 20th, surprise, surpise, we got it on September 24th!!!  Unforunately we don’t have any room to set it up until we move into the new apartment.

Ethan Allen Bed

The furniture guy agreed to make the bed for $500.00.    He also crafted two nightstands from scratch for $125.00 each.  I don’t know what kind of wood this is, language barrier, but this stuff weighs a ton. The curve on the headboard is exactly as we pictured it, this guy did a GREAT job.

Hand crafted nightstand
We are meeting with the furniture guy again on Monday to have him make a cofee table, end tables and a sofa table.  We went into a high end furniture store and took photos and measured furniture that we thought was cool,  that is what we will have made.    We are also going to bring a photo of the leather furniture we had in Round Lake to get those pieces duplicated. 
The idea of furnishing an apartment from scratch is a little daunting, but also very cool.

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