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    Captian America

cAPRAIN aMERIC

Captain America was all over the parade.  Is this kid cute or what?

The amount of parades that go on around Cuenca during this time of year is amazing.  We had heard about the Parade of the “Innocent’s”, it takes place every year on January 6th,  and we thought it would be a blast to see it. The theme is that men dress up as women, in outrageous costumes. It is supposed to commerate the day that King Herod declared that all  male children needed to be killed after the birth of the Christ child, so guys dress up as women in  diguise, it was really funny.

EyelSH

A street vendor selling hats, false eyelashes and masks.

  •  Street Vendors                                                                       
  • Wanna buy a Kangaroo Hat??  What, a kanagroo hat in Cuenca???  Gotta laugh!!
  • Masks (2)

These are masks that the vendors were selling.  I bought a witch hat and wore it all afternoon, as we left the parade I gave it to a little girl, and it seemed like it was Christmas for her, HUGE smile.

Dressed Up GuyA guy in his “woman wear”.  After we took his picture, we had to pay him a  buck.  Too funny.

Muscle Boys

Cute group of kids at the parade.

Guy with Beard

An amazing variety of costumes.

Witch girl

Sweet little girl in her costume.

Horn People

Kids that asked us to take their  picture.  Too funny.

SuperheroesA group of Super Heroes in Cuenca.

Closed off Street

A pic of  Huayna Capac, it was closed off for the parade, it was a kind of a weird sight, this is a major street in Cuenca and having people just strolling up it was unusual.

Pizza HUt girls

After we left the parade we walked down Huayna Capac to catch a taxi, all the bus routes were diverted due to the parade, and we decided to treat ourselves to Pizza Hut, (we have learned that on Sunday it is two for one pizza).  When we got there,  I saw these two beautiful girls in their costumes, I asked if I could take their photo, and they just laughed and smiled, and said yes.

How cool is that, beautiful girls in costume, and double your pizza!

Gotta love Cuenca!!

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Masks

 We had an incredibly delicious Christmas dinner at the home of our dear friends, it was a truly nice day with  lots of great food, we both had to do the loosen your belt thing.  LOL.  We  then settled into a quiet week before the New Year.

This is the first New Year’s Eve we have spent in Cuenca and we were looking forward to the festivities.  Last year we had  been in the States for the holidays.

For the people that live in Cuenca that read the blog, the pic’s of the day will be nothing new, but for us it was!!

We strolled around during the day just to see the effigy’s.  As we left our neighborhood Michael took a pic of the one  that the caretakes of our neighborhood had placed outside their home. 

Caretakers Dummy

The local tradition is to burn effigys, usually constructed of straw, and often the effigy’s  have a mask of some sort. 

Just some pic’s from around El Centro and neighborhoods.

Dummies around businessesy

Dummies around town town 2

 Dummies around town

This looks like a guy pumping gas, but it is an effigy across the street from our neighborhood, it is a full size one of workers, and a pretty great full scale of a gas truck.  How much time did that take to do?

Gas station Dummie

Masks  and Dummies around the city.

Nicw Mask

Lots of great masks!

Masks 2

Effigy’s waiting to be purchased.

Dummies Piled up

We saw alot of Bart Simpsons, Captain America and Spiderman.

Dummies

Skeleton Mask

The effigys and masks were for sale all over the city.  The ritual  of burning the “dummy” is supposed to represent the release of the  “bad things” that happened during the past year, and a cleansing to start the new year in a fresh light. 

We decided to walk out to the main road outside our Neighborhood around 10:00 p.m.  to see what was happening, it was really fun, lots of kids and people dancing in the street.

Michael and I are kind of homebodies, so normally the only thing we would do to celebrate New Year’s Eve,  before we moved to Cuenca, was to buy frozen junk food that we would never normally eat during the year, stuff like Tortino Pizza Rolls, Breaded Mozzarella sticks, Tater Tots, etc.,  we would make a plate of the munchies, watch old movies, and we would be dead to the world by 11:00. So this year was an adventure for us.

Young Man dressed up as a “Widow”, that is another tradition, they stop traffic and ask for coins, simple fun.

Street Partyers

Michael in his El Diablo mask that we bought as we strolled along the road on New Year’s Eve.

Michael with mask on

Michael with mask behind his head

                                                                                 

Another thing we didn’t know about is the tradition regarding the color of your underwear that you wear for the holiday.  Yellow underwear should bring you a prosperous New Year, and Red Underwear brings you love!!

Yellow Underwear

I like the thought of these ideas, let go of the bad, and start fresh, and wear  bright underwear to make the New Year better. 

LOL.  Ecuador, gotta love it!!

We were in the States last year for Christmas, so we didn’t get to see all the parades that take place in Cuenca for the holidays, so this year, we wanted to watch the parades and take photos. Christmas Eve is huge here, and the parades are really wonderful. We were amazed at the intricate planning of the floats, and the beauty of the costumes. The parade was all about the Children. We went to an interstection that we knew the parade would be going through at about 11:00 A.M. The first pic is the back up of the floats and cars waiting for the beginning of the parade. We walked along the parade route for about three miles, had lunch and walked back. It was amazing and beautiful. By the time we were walking home along the route some of the kids had fallen asleep on their floats. Poor things, they had probably been out there for HOURS and HOURS waiting for the parade to start. I wish I could include more photos, the day was amazing.

As a bonus, when we got back to our neighborhood another parade was starting, it was really nice, just a little neighborhood event, how cool is that?

Too many pics to include!!!!

The start of the paradeThe beginning of the Parade Route on the left. Notice how long it stretches down Las Americas!!???

Skirt and shueBeautiful dresses worn by beautiful women in the parade on Horse back.

NativesOk, not sure of the significance of these guys.

StreamersThere were Maypole Dancers, I cannot believe their stamina.

PeppersA horse was decorated with green beans and peppers.

MosesA guy decided to be Moses, how funny.

Girl on Horse

Can you believe the work that went into these decorations?

girl with red dressBeautiful girl.

Gorgeuso Shot on HorseAnother beautifully decorated horse with another  beautiful little girl.

A nice man in the park by our house.A really nice guy at our  neighborhood parade.

KnightsCool Costumes

Little BoyThis guy was clapping and singing the whole time we saw him.

Local AngelAn Angel at our neighborhood parade. Is she cute or what!!

Long Haired AngelOne of the Wiseman at our neighborhood Parade.

Decorated HorseWow, what beautiful decorations!!

Bo in donkey costume

This little guy had a homemade horse.

Beautiful girlBeautiful Young Woman

AngelLike our friend said, there are stray Angels around Cuenca at this time of year.

AngelsAngels in the parade, after eating Ice Cream

Beautifil yellow girlAbsolutely beautiful little girl

Beautiful bou in GoldAnother  wiseman in the parade in our neighborhood.

Truck decoration

A decoration on a float, there were chickens, and Cuy (Guinea Pig) on a bunch of cars / floats.

Better Pig

Typical decoration on the floats

Cute gir;s

A float in our neighborhood parade, how wonderful are these two??

Car decorationWe thought that Tuna and Liquor were a funny combination

Maypole DanceMore Maypole Dancers, what stamina!

Poor thing, he was pooped

Poor thing, he was pooped

Next Update is New Years Eve, which is also very colorful. 

Cuenca, gotta love it

Maria with background

Maria from Saraguro

On December 21st, we went to a small town about three hours from Cuenca called Saraguro, to watch the ceremony celebrating Capac Raymi, a ritual that dates back to the Inca’s celebrating the Summer Solstice. Because we are south of the equator, our seasons are opposite, and this is the beginning of summer.

The people of Saraguro are fiercely proud of their heritage, they were sent to Ecuador by the Inca’s as slaves, but generations later they resisted the Spanish invasion with ferocity. Until a few years ago they strongly resisted the influence of tourism. We were told when we went to Saraguro last year, that until recently, the locals would have thrown rocks at Mestizo’s (“Natives” that  that had married or mixed with the Spanish) and certainly Gringos. Times have changed, but one thing hasn’t, the people of this community do not like to be photographed. (What a bummer, they are beautiful).

We were allowed to witness the staging of the ceremony of Capac Raymi, and were told we would be able to take photos afterwards, but the ceremony was literally taking place on their sacred ground and photos were strictly prohibited. OK, that fine with us, we were just happy to be there and witness something truly wonderful. We grabbed a seat on the grass and watched, we were fascinated; men, women and children were in traditional garb, there was lots of burning leaves/herbs, and watching the process of the “lead guy” drinking a liquid that he would put into his mouth, and then  spray back out onto the participants face and clothing.

Michael and I thought it was really, really interesting.

Now comes the part where you have the “Know it all” of the trip. On our small tour group, there was a “Professional Photographer” and his wife, and a couple that just moved to Ecuador two weeks before. The “Professional Photographer” and his wife couldn’t stop complaining, in REALLY loud voices during the ceremony, that they couldn’t take pictures.

“What The Hell Did we come for if we can’t take photos’?????”. They spoke like this during the entire ceremony.

The other couple apparently thought the Saraguro people were stupid/ignorant and didn’t understand the concept of a video camera. The ceremony had to be stopped three times to ask this couple to stop filming and taking photographs, at the end of the first ceremony the Saraguro people kept their diginity, and just walked in a straight line away from us. It was embarrassing. Some of us gathered together, and the “Professional Photographer” and his wife wanted to leave because they couldn’t take photo’s. The rest of us just kinda ignored them. I am glad we did. Michael and I were just happy we got to see the celebration of Capac Raymi.

Michael, I and a fellow traveler, Cody, decided we needed to express our thanks for witnessing something so wonderful,  we went over to Maria, the woman that seemed to be in charge of the ceremony. The three of us walked up to say “Mucho Gracias” for letting us experience this ceremony, she then responded in PERFECT English. She was wonderful, asked if we had any questions that she could answer for us.   I saw in her face that she appreciated our respect for the ceremony and our desire to watch and cherish their customs on a special day.

After talking to our guide, the Saraguro people and Maria agreed to let us participate in the next ceremony, but again, no photos. It was going to take place in about an hour. Even after the rudeness of our fellow travelers, the people from Saraguro were pacing out the steps on their sacred ground  to see where we could  stand for the ceremony, how special is that?

They wanted to include us in their ceremony, and my immediate response was “Cool”, I would love to do that. The “Professional Photographer” literally yelled at me “What for??? so someone can spit in your face and you can’t even take their picture!!!”. I just said, yeah, I thought it would be wonderful to be part of this ritual, as did Michael and Cody. I guess some people just don’t get it. I won’t even begin to tell you about Michael’s reaction to the guy being a total jerk to me.

Anyway, Cody, Michael and I lost out to the other passengers, no one else wanted to be part of the ceremony, so we stuck around long enough to get some pics before the second ceremony started and the tour left.  Lunch was scheduled, but  Michael and I decided to take beg off on that, knowing that it would take a long time , so we explored Saraguro on our own.

It was really nice, we strolled around the town, I can tell you, with certainty, that we were the ONLY gringos in Saraguro that afternoon.  We had a lunch of fries, chicken breasts and two cokes for a total of $4.00.

There were processions of angels (always little kids) and decorated cars through Saraguro on that Friday afternoon.

It was a really wonderful day.

We are collecting hats of the various regions in Ecuador, and we bought a beautiful Saraguro hat that day, what a great keepsake.

Later in the afternoon we met up with our our travelers, and headed home.

 As usual lots of pic’s, hope you enjoy.  Wow, Capac Raymi in Saraguro. 

Still trying to get the photo thing correct in WordPress, sorry that it is messy.

Photos:

Celebration  of Capac Raymi in Saraguro

Maria with gifts 2

MAria with gifts 4

A young girl in the parade to the sacred grounds in Saraguro.

Beautiful girl

                                           These kids were having a blast showing off.  It was funny.     The kids were having fun  having their picture taken with Michael.             

Michael with kids

Preperation for the second Capac Raymi Celebration

Beginning ceremony

A boy with in his costume for the celebration.

Devil MaskI guess there is a significance for these masks, but we don’t know it is, but the kids loved them

El Diablo

Setting up for the second ceremony.

Getting ready for ceremony

Kids having fun for Capac Raymi.

Good Saraguro kids in masks

The following are just a few pics from the celebration.

Saraguro girl on Hill

Saraguro guy 2

Violin Guy

Saraguro guy

Sitting on the hill

Saraguro Procession

This is Maria, is she beautiful or what.  She was a gem.  She was gentle and kind asking people to respect their culture.

Maria

                   The next few pics are people from the town of Saraguro.

THree faces

Woman's hair plate

Woman in the park.

Old Woman

Little girl climbing the stairs in the central square.

Girl on stairs Local Saraguro woman knitting wares.

Knitting Woamn 

Nice lady in the Sqaure in Saraguro

 Nice Saraguro Woman

   Our Hat collection so far.

IMG_8607 - Copy

An Angel in Saraguro.

As a friend mentioned, you find stray angels at this time of year.  Hope you find yours.

A friend mentioned to us that you find stray angels all over Ecuador at this time of the year.  We hope you find stray angels always.

That is our wish for the new year, we hope you find an angel.

Ecuador, gotta love it.

Michael and I both have visited/worked at the Messengers of Peace Orphanage in Yungilla and we were invited to attend their annual Christmas Party, how cool was that??

The facility is great, but don’t get me wrong, it can always use help. The residents are even better, they have huge smiles, and want to kiss and hug all the visitors. This was a big day for them, when we arrived they were dressed in their best clothing and strutting around like rock stars. After a while, they went and changed into their Costumes and make-up for the parade that went up the road to the local church for mass, which included the baptism of five of the residents. It was really special to be part of this important moment for the children officially becoming members of their faith. We returned to the Orphanage for lunch and distribution of gifts. Michael and I made 48 gift bags for the children and residents, the living room looked like a factory. We just made goody bags of candy, rosary beads and trinkets, Dan and Jolene provided bundles of crayons for their arts and crafts, and Carl made Animal Ballons, by the way, Jolene hauled the crayons from the states when she visited in November, and they were HEAVY!!!. They also had a puppet show and music and dancing.

Our neighbor Mariela and friends Mario and Blanca are always working on the behalf of the children, they do a great job, they share  love and devotion all year long, not just at Christmas.  Michael, myself , Carl, and Dan and Jolene are trying to help.

The residents have little to nothing, but their first instict was to share their cookies and candy with us, they danced and laughed, it was a really great day.

I am still new to WordPress, and the pictures aren’t loading the way I want them, but I hope they show the joy everyone had that day.

Goody Bag contentsBetter Goody Bags Assembly line 2  Group with Santa Green dress Foursome           Foursome 2       Dress girl Decorating the tree           Decoating tree 2  Communion dress  Headband

Craons                          Communion 2 Clown                           Carl with two kids Carl with girl        Carl with boy       Bou with ballons      Boy by wall Bou with ballons Blanca yolanda baby Big smile Baptism4 Baptism 2 Baptism 3 Michael with girl  

 

Yolanada     Sunglasses     Shawl2  Anne with boy  Shawl

 

Yolanada  CandlesMariela                 BaptismJolene RonMicheal boy camera<

Ecuador, gotta love it.

Globos in Cuenca

Michael and I were really intrigued about these unusual things we would see floating in the sky during celebrations here in Cuenca, they are called Globos. They are kind of like a weird kite with a flame that inflates them, and then they float into the night. They are really cool to watch, so we decided to buy one and try it out. The plan was to get it going and tie it to a string to have it hover in our yard, if all went well, we were going to bring one to a Christmas Party we went to last Saturday.

The GLOBO, was a NO GO. It inflated – for about 2 minutes.

Oh well we tried.

About 4,000 of these were released last Friday, they are beautiful to see float in the night sky.

Cuenca, gotta love it!!!

A few pics of our attempts at releasing a Globo, LOL!

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Another Great Day

We haven’t updated the blog lately because Blogspot.com informed us that we have used up all of our storage for photographs and they want us to pay a fee for more, so we decided to transfer the blog to WordPress, and like a dope, I am having a few problems getting used to the new site. So if you have problems viewing or opening this, please let me know

We have been REALLY busy for the past few weeks. Michael has been going to Poker Tournaments and he is becoming quite the card player, some are private games at people’s homes, nothing high stake, $10.00 gets you into the game, and other events are poker games to raise money for the Messengers of Peace orphanage in Yungilla. Last week I went to a Dominos tournament, the funds raised were also for the Orphanage. I knew NOTHING about Dominos, but I ended up really enjoying the afternoon.

We went to Yungilla with our neighbor last Friday and visited the Orphanage again. The higher functioning residents go to work Monday through Friday at a local estate that has five homes with lush gardens that the “Orphans” tend to. The place was like something out of a movie.

After we left the Orphanage, our neighbor took us to see her weekend home she had built in Yungilla. OMG, this place was phenomenal, but we didn’t want to be rude and take photographs of her residence. The Yungilla valley is located at a lower altitude, so it is much warmer. Every house in her “development” had a pool, and so did hers, only it had a twist!!! Remember the scene in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” where the dance floor in the gym opens up and a pool is underneath – same thing. Her deck slides open to reveal a big beautiful pool! It was fantastic! While we were sitting in the living room chatting, Michael mentioned that he assumed that the sky at night must be beautiful. Our neighbor was delighted that Michael was a “Sky” guy, and proceeded to grab a remote, press a button, and a section of the ceiling slid open to reveal the beautiful blue sky. She said her husband LOVES the stars and wanted to able to see them from inside the house, UNBELIEVABLE!!! By the way, he is an architect and designed the home.

We had a wonderful day visiting the Orphanage, the beautiful grounds of the estate, and our neighbors weekend residence. And to top it off, we have been invited to go to her house with her for a few days between Christmas and New Year, in her words, “So we can have some swimming and star gazing”. What a truly nice invitation from a truly nice neighbor.

Cuenca, gotta love it.

Here are a few pics of the estate where the “Orphans” tend to the grounds, stunningly beautiful.

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