Archive for August, 2012

Hummingbirds on Parade

The title of our blog explains that we used to live in Chicago.  Back in 1999, Chicago was the first city in the United States that was allowed to have an art exhibit called “Cows On Parade”, the idea actually originated in Switzerland. 
Artists in Chicago were given a “Cow” form; some were Bulls, some were Cows, standing, sitting, etc. 
Each artist was given free reign to paint /decorate the form anyway they wanted, and the sculptures were placed all over the city.  A few were even suspended over the Chicago River Bridges. 
It was an amazing and fun thing for the city.
When we heard about the Hummingbird display at Otorongo Plaza we wanted to see it, it reminded us of the Cows on Parade theme.
What a great exhibit. 
We know other people have posted pics on their blogs about the Hummingbird Exhibit, and we really enjoyed seeing the pictures that have been posted.    
Today is the last day of the exhibit, so we thought we would share our pictures. 


Some of the artists put as much thought into the artwork of the pedestals as they the did on the actual hummingbird!!


It was a really nice exhibit, and we are so happy to live in a city that is devoted to the arts.
Cuenca, gotta love it!!

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Last summer the staff at the Amaru Zoo were delighted when they recieved new additions to their collection; three lion cubs were born, two females and one male.  It was a pretty big deal with the local Cuencanos. 

We had been planning on visiting the cubs, and we finally got around to it this week  We read in the newspaper that the zoo had a competition for children to name the three young lions, and that they had been “Baptised” – their word – on Sunday August 12th, so we decided we wanted to see these “Cuenca Celebrities“. 

Amaru Zoologico Logo.
 (I thought it was cool, so I bought a baseball hat with the logo)
The Zoo is situated on the side of a mountain,
the views from the parking lot were worth the trip alone.

This is a collage we found after we entered the zoo, it was made from newspaper pages  shaped to resemble a lion.  There were several other collages as well.  We wondered to ourselves if it might have been an activity for the children during the competition to name the Lion cubs. 

We started our hike into the Zoo, and I mean HIKE, to visit the animals.  It was all uphill on dirt roads and occasional wooden paths.  If it had been rainy, the paths would have been a NIGHTMARE, real ankle turners.  For our visit, it was charming. 

The zoo is upgrading a few of the exhibits, so we missed seeing some of the inhabitants.  We saw Llama’s, Alpaca’s, several types of monkeys, White Tail Deer, Ocelets, a Galapagos Tortuga, several other animals, and lots of birds.   Amaru has an interesting selection which includes Andean bears. The female is pregnant and we were told the chance of seeing the male and female on this trip were pretty slim.  The Bears are hanging out in a cave until the birth.  Maybe they will have another contest to name the baby bear!!
As we walked around the exhibits, we could hear birds squawking. They were not in an exhibit, just hanging around in the trees, and we could hear them saying  “Hola” over and over again, they were waiting for a response.  So when we got to these incredibly beautiful birds, we stood around and talked to them. 

As we mentioned earlier, the Zoo is doing alot of upgrading, which includes planting alot of new stuff.  We have never seen this type of Cactus before. 
 Crocodile, (not native) kinda scary and nasty teeth!!  We were surprised they had a Croc, and not a Caiman, something we had seen in the Amazon.


We see alot of old tires in lots and fields around the city.  We have no clue why the tires are saved.  Voila, one use; the Zoo utlilized tires, and some blobs of cement to build the foundation for this building in the Zoo.
The Cuenca Celebrities.
The zoo had three Lions before the birth of the  cubs last summer. We inquired if Amaru would be able to keep and maintain all six of the Lions.  They are hopeful, but there may be an issue between the Older male and his son. 
We hope they all get live together at Amaru.

It was a really nice excursion.  It was overcast and cloudy when we went there, which at the time, I thought was a bummer, until we started exploring Amaru.  If the sun had been out, I think we would have baked during the climb, and the subsequent walk back down.
Our trip to a great market this week:
Doce de Abril Mercado.

We had been to this market before with a tour group back in March, so we decided to visit it on our own.  We went to the merchants that were recommended on the tour.  Neither Michael or I are big on Pork, but Michael enjoyed his sample of this “stuff”  (a whole pig, that has been cooked) when we visited before.  This lady just stuffed her hand into the cooked pig, and grabbed a bunch of meat.  She made sure to clean off the fat, take out the bones, and include a little bit of the crunchy skin.  She also gave us a “yappa”, which means a free gift.  The yappa was a few potato patties she was cooking with the meat.  We walked through the market chowing on the potato patties, and licking our fingers.  OMG, they were delicious. 

We also went to the “Meat Lady”, and we got the BEST ground beef we have ever had!!!

We bought a pineapple, 5 avacodos, 3 tomatos, 6 or 7 limes, a  few red onions, about 3 pounds of potatos, the pork and ground beef.   The total was less than $8.00.

The yappa.  Too good for words.

Our week in Cuenca included visiting the Cuenca Celebrity Lions, and going back to a great market.

Ecuador, gotta love it.

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The people we were house sitting for recently live close to a major Catholic University here in Cuenca, so we took the opportunity to photograph the building, it is beautiful.  We strolled the three dogs up to Ave. de Las Americas in the early evening, and took some photos. 

During our walk with Oscar yesterday along the road behind our house, we found an impromptu soccer game.  We always say to ourselves, “Don’t leave the house without a camera”, and of course we had.  So we went back home and grabbed a few cameras, then we went back to the game. 

These players were very happy to have their pic’s taken.

They were having a blast. 

This guy showed up out of nowhere during the game. 
LOL, Ecuador.


A friend here in Cuenca, Al, thought about getting a trip together to see the Persiod Meteor Shower last night, the trip didn’t pan out, so we set our alarm to see what the night sky would be like at our house at 3 a.m. and then again around 5 a.m., it was total cloud coverage. 

No Meteorites last night, but it made us think about the times we witnessed this incredible Astronomical event from Kayaks.

For eight years, every August we would pack up our trusty Honda Element with our sea kayaks, and travel from Chicago to a campground in Quebec.   We would leave our jobs and home, and travel about 1,250 miles to
“Paradis Marin”.
There are no cell phone towers, no computers, no TV’s.  Just the campground and the whales.  Due to the unique location of the campground, we were able to throw our boats in the water and kayak with whales.  We saw Blue, Fin, Humpback, Minke, Sperm and Beluga whales, from our Kayaks. 
We would take night kayaking tours on each trip, (we knew we could not negotiate the waters in total darkness on our own.)  We would paddle out, and lean back on our boats and watch Meteor showers, the tour guide would drop a microphone into the water so we could listen to the “Canaries of the Sea”, or in other words, Belugas. 

During those night paddles we had the opportunity to experience seeing Bioluminescence; when our paddles touched the water, or our hands for that matter, the water would glow green and gold. 

Our Campsite:
We would pitch our tent and our screen room,
it was our separate kitchen area.

This is a pic of me watching two Fin Whales swim by. 
One of the coolest things ever. 
Check out how huge they are compared to me!!!

At Paradis Marin Campground, you just take a seat on the rocks and watch the whales go by. 
We would go to sleep at night, and wake up in the morning, with the sounds of the whales passing by, truly unbelievable!!
We are happy in Cuenca, but it is August, and I miss this annual trip. 
We will be going back to Hosteria Mandala in a few weeks to get a chance to see Humpback Whales.  We need a Whale fix.
Cuenca is wonderful, but I miss Paradis Marin in August.

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It has been a quiet week for us while we house sit, so I thought I would post some pictures of the Pan (Bread) Festival that was celebrated in May.

The festival/parade/mass commerated the traditional method of making bread.  The event was smaller than we expected, but still nice.  There were a few booths selling breads, and additionally there were Bands and Clowns, but the most interesting thing was the Dancers.  Their energy seemed boundless. 

There always seem to be clowns at these events.

 We ran into our friends Margit and Barb.
Barb got into the act and participated in the dancing.   Good for her, the dancers asked me as well, but I was too chicken, I wasn’t sure I could keep up with them.  She jumped into the street when they asked, and she had a good time.
This is a group of dancers lining up for their performance.

 The women danced for a while, and then were joined by a group of men.

They all were barefoot while dancing on the cobblestone street. 
I was thinking “Ouch”. 
Is she BEAUTIFUL or what!!
This is a video Michael took of the Dancers that we posted on YouTube.  They smiled throughout the whole dance, I can’t believe their energy.  It looked like they were having a blast.

Beautiful Dancers.

These guys were all in uniform, I have no clue if they are “Official Guys”, there are a lot of uniforms here, so we don’t know if they were military, local guys, or what, but they sounded nice.
There were different Dance troups that performed. 
All of them were wonderful.

The Dancers were unbelievable, it was a nice day.
 We are looking forward to the festivities this week on the 10th of August.

A Change of Subject; natural remedies here in Ecuador:
My mom helped me find a natural remedy for the arthritis in my hands when I was living in the States.  Instead of the steriod shots the doctors wanted me to take (which I did, at a cost of $300.00 per hand, ONCE), my Mom told me about a product called Certo, you can find it in any grocery store in the States.  My hands had gotten to the point to where  I couldn’t write out Christmas cards due to the pain, and this solution took the pain away, no steroids, no drugs. 

I haven’t found Certo here, but  I did find something that is really great,
Sabila Extract. 
It translates from Spanish as “Aloe”.  I always thought of Aloe as an aid for burns, cuts, etc.  But this extract takes the pain away from my hands, and I can buy it here in Cuenca for $5.00.   
It is so nice to find natural remedies.
When we took our trip to the jungle we bought a lotion, but it is great to know that we can buy a natural product right here in Cuenca.
It has been a nice, quiet week in Ecuador. 

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