A New Adventure Around Every Corner!

7/4/15 – We attended the Hearts of Gold BBQ to celebrate 4th of July and support the work of the Hearts of Gold Foundation.
From their website – “Hearts of Gold partners with existing Ecuadorian non-profits to foster sustainable change and create the greatest impact in vulnerable societies. We work to support and strengthen these foundations so that they can develop and expand their services to help the greatest number of people possible.”
Mike is working with several other expats to help raise funds to support the efforts of the Hearts of Gold Foundation. More on that at a later date.
Oh, and did I mention they had an auction to help raise money and Mike purchased three items; a beautiful Vega plate and a Vega wall hanging that were auctioned together as one item and a wonderfully interesting picture by Miguel Illescas; both are famous and talented artists here in Cuenca.
7-4-15VegaThings4Auction*The Eduardo Vega plate and ceramic wall hanging we bought at auction
Cuenca7-13-15IllescasPiece2Metal “picture” by Miguel Illescas
58Cuenca7-4-15HeartsOfGoldFunctionMikeSusan*Here we are with Miguel Illescas
Eduardo Vega was born in Cuenca in 1938. He studied for four years in Spain and then went and furthered his studies in London and France.  He returned to Cuenca where he was the first Artisan who created ceramic murals. The first of these murals was at the El Dorado Hotel, Cuenca in 1969.
Miguel Illescas, is a self-trained artists and nature lover who uses recycled metal for the making of different sculpture pieces. The designs created by the Ecuadorian artist have a surrealistic touch; mostly sculptures of animals but also art work portraying human beings, as well as different other objects. Not just the surrealistic appeal, but also the bright color contrast of the works makes the art of Miguel Illescas unique.
59Cuenca7-4-15HeartsOfGoldFunctionMike*Mike being presented an umbrella as a thank you.  Do you think the artwork is on his mind?!!!
What a fun evening it was to share with so many people we know as well as the new ones we met
7/12/15 – Mike was up early and made his first ever loaf of bread in Ecuador using our 55-year-old sourdough starter. He took one of his regular recipes and made some adjustments for altitude. It had a wonderfully dense texture (but not dry), and it filled your mouth with this incredible sour flavor, much more intense than we had in Georgia. I wish I had taken a picture of the loaf before we made sandwiches.
I wanted to make a Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili and read on GringoPost there is a lady who sells the orange sweet potatoes at Feria Libre so off we headed. We found them and loaded my backpack with 6-7 pounds of the orange ones and 1-2 pounds of the purple ones. I asked her if I could take her picture and she was kind enough to let me.
1Cuenca7-12-15FeriaLibrePotatoLady*The potato lady
We wandered through Feria Libre before heading home. On the way out, we saw these two people and dogs taking a Sunday nap. How precious is that? It only took about 20 minutes to walk each way, much shorter than I originally thought.
7Cuenca7-12-15FeriaLibreSundayNap*Sunday nap by all
Once home, our kitchen soon looked like a bomb went off in it as Mike was preparing peppers to freeze for his Chili Verde, and I was using every pot and pan making my chili. Soon the kitchen smelled of chili, chili powder, cumin, onions, garlic and all sorts of wonderful odors.
7-14-15 – Tonight I wanted something lighter for dinner, so I cooked up an orange and a purple potato in the microwave. I wanted to compare them side-by-side for the taste and texture. I thought the texture was pretty similar although the purple one was a little dryer. The orange had more of the sweet taste we expect of this kind of potato, whereas the purple one didn’t have much of a taste, similar to that of a russet. I enjoyed both of them and look forward to trying different varieties. The first picture are the raw potatoes, the second one is after they have been cooked in the microwave, and the third is my dinner!

4Cuenca7-14-15SweetPotatoes

1Cuenca7-14-15SweetPotatoes*
3Cuenca7-14-15SweetPotatoes*
I heard there are more than 4,000 varieties of native potatoes grown in the Andean highlands of Peru, Boliva, and Ecuador although I don’t know how many from just Ecuador. Let me tell you, I will do my best to research each and every one!!!! ;-}
7/15/15 – We had an interesting day! We decided to take bus #7 and see where it would take us. I knew it would take us to Mall del Rio, and I knew it would take us home from the mall but other than that, I had not a clue where it went.
6Cuenca7-15-15BusRide*
So, at 1:50p we hopped on the bus heading to Mall del Rio. About 30 minutes or so later the bus arrived at the mall with many stops along the way.
3Cuenca7-15-15BusRide*People waiting at one of the many stops
We stayed on and it took us back, past our home where we had gotten on earlier. It continued along 12 de Abril and went out by Pumapungo ruins, past the Cuenca airport, and then on into an area we weren’t familiar with. We thought the bus would simply make a circuit and drop us off where we had gotten on. Wrong!!! Mike and I looked at each other as the LED flashed …PARADA FINAL, in other words, the final stop. We were out in the middle of nowhere and didn’t know where we were or how to get back. Luckily, a man cleaning one of the buses at the “final stop” leaned out, pointed down the hill, and told us to take bus #8.
9Cuenca7-15-15BusRide*Looking back up the hill where the bus left us off
Down the hill we went. Buses were going both ways on the street and not knowing which bus to take I asked a young school boy which bus to El Centro and he confirmed it was bus #8 and told us to catch it at the corner were we where. Before we saw bus #8, bus #7 arrived and since we knew where that one went, we hopped on.
We arrived back at the start of our journey about 2 hours and 40 minutes later. It was a fun experience and for the 25¢ we each paid for our bus ride, it was a very inexpensive experience.
Soon we plan on climbing aboard another bus just for the experience of seeing where the ride takes us. Even though it is disconcerting to end up in the middle of nowhere and not know how to get back home, people are friendly and more than happy to help a wayward traveler! And it just makes the adventure that much more exciting.
Mike and I are having the time of our lives with all the adventures we have and all the adventures we are looking forward to.
Until nest time, hasta luego

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