Happy Thanksgiving!

Before I get into my newsletter I am going to blatantly market Mike’s book, Appalachian Gold. I am sending this out earlier than usual, as I want to make sure you received it before the special promotion on his book.
From December 7 at midnight PST through December 14th, the price of Appalachian Gold will be reduced from $3.99 to $0.99. To purchase Appalachian Gold, click HERE
KindleGiftBook*Do you need a stocking stuffer or a gift for that special someone who is hard to buy for? Or for my many expat friends, do you need a gift that is easy to give from far away? What better gift than a Kindle eBook?
Giving an eBook as a gift is as simple as logging into your Amazon account, selecting a book to give, then clicking on GIVE AS A GIFT and following the instructions to complete the gift purchase. You can either have the Gift Certificate emailed directly to the recipient on a date you specify, or you can email it to yourself, print it out to put in an envelope to hang on the tree, tuck in with that new Kindle you are giving, or use as a stocking stuffer. You can also forward the Gift Certificate on to the recipient’s email if you decide not to print it.
Both you and the gift recipient need an Amazon account, but they are free. Go to www.amazon.com to set up an account.
Kindle eBooks don’t require a Kindle Reader. You can download the Kindle Reader app by clicking HERE. It can be installed on a computer or, like I have, on an iPad.
OK, now for our exciting November. November in Cuenca starts off with All Saint’s Day (November 1st), All Soul’s Day, also known as El Día de los Difuntos (November 2nd) and Cuenca’s Independence Day (November 3rd). These three days form an important vacation period for the city and the whole country.
We started off November 1st at a party hosted by one of our friends to celebrate El Día de los Difuntos. She has a beautiful terrace overlooking the Patrimonial (old) Cemetery so we were able to observe families as they came to pay their respect to deceased family members.
Although El Día de los Difuntos is actually November 2nd, many people celebrated today, as it was a weekend. In Ecuador, this day is a big deal. The term Día de los Difuntos, meaning Day of the Deceased, is preferred over Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, as it is seen to be more respectful. Families bring prayers, flowers, and food to the deceased. Some of this food often includes Colada Morada, a delicious fruit drink, and Guaguas de Pan, both foods that originate from the burial rituals of the indigenous people of Ecuador.
Guaguas de Pan (GWAH-gwas deh PAHN) are literally bread babies. Guaguas is a Quechuan word meaning babies. But what does a bread baby have to do with dead people? According to what I read, back in the old days, Ecuadorian indigenous people would stake a pointy-ended “doll” made of dough into the dirt to indicate that a dead person had been buried. At the same time, this dough doll served as food for the deceased to eat and continue to live in the afterlife. The indigenous burial ritual, which lasted 5 days, consisted of feeding their dead as a sign of love and respect and to help them in this new stage of life. This tradition has stayed with the Ecuadorian people and helps explain food offerings in modern days.
12Cuenca11-1-15Cemetery
30Cuenca11-1-15DeadBabiesHere is the group, each with our Guaguas de Pan
Our friend Karen, Mike, and I had brunch on November 3rd and, after brunch, Karen and I spent some time reconnecting, just walking and talking. She took me by to see the mural her niece painted. How much fun was that? Now I can say I know the aunt of one of the artists of a mural. I love the murals around Cuenca. They are so vibrant and interesting, I must have 1,000 pictures of them. But to know the aunt of one of the artists, that makes me feel very special.

Cuenca11-3-15MuralSusan

Then to top off an AWESOME day we were presented with an AWESOME sunset. Yes, life truly is good and we are so happy to be here in Cuenca!

Cuenca11-3-15Sunset952

Mike met a young lady, Samy, at the Talk and Learn sessions he attends. She is from Cuenca and is studying at Azuay University majoring in Social Communication. She asked Mike to narrate the audio portion of the project she is doing for her thesis. So, on November 12th we went to the recording studio in the home of one of Samy’s friends where Mike made the recording. It was fun to watch the process, as I have never been to a recording studio.

14Cuenca11-12-15MikeRecording

Our attorney, Sara Chaca, sponsored a day at the Amaru Zoo for expats. It was a fun day, and we were glad we went early while it was cooler and before the RAIN and HAIL hit! My Fitbit told me we walked about 3.6 miles, most of it up hill (or so it seemed), during the four hours we were there.
This is an interesting zoo where much of it is in natural habitat rather than cages like in the US zoos. There is good and bad; it’s most definitely good for the animals, but because they weren’t in cages like in the US zoos, you often couldn’t see them. This, unfortunately, isn’t a zoo for wheelchairs, strollers, or people unsteady on their feet. There is lots of uphill walking on dirt paths with uneven boardwalks in various spots. But for those who can manage it, the zoo is well worth the effort.
And, we had some excitement when a peacock attacked me! We went into the pen and were taking pictures and he seemed OK. Then he became aggressive toward the gal we were walking with, and she kind of shooed him with her bag. As we were walking towards the exit, I looked back to see if he was following us AND HE WAS! He jumped at me and hit my leg, I think with his big feet, look at them in the picture! I don’t think he tried to bite me. He startled me so much I screamed and smashed my hand into the railing and, of course, it started bleeding. The gal we were with found a band-aid in her purse, I put it on and all was OK. But, I now have a nice lump on my leg that is starting to turn colors and a good story to tell.
172Cuenca11-19-15ZooViewFromZooThis is a view of Cuenca from the zoo
7Cuenca11-18-15ZooMikeSusanEntranceHere we are at the entrance to the zoo
8Cuenca11-18-15ZooWalkwayGoingInThis the entry to the zoo
56Cuenca11-19-15ZooCondorCompareSignThis is a sign comparing the Andean Condor (large black) with the Perchinegras Eagle (white)
47Cuenca11-19-15ZooPerchinegrasEagleThis is the Perchinegras Eagle, the one shown in white on the sign above
61Cuenca11-19-15ZooCondorThis is the Andean Condor as shown in the sign above
82Cuenca11-19-15ZooParrotOne of many colorful birds
131Cuenca11-19-15ZooMonkeyAnd what zoo is without monkeys
166Cuenca11-19-15ZooPeacockThis is the peacock that jumped at me
We have been having really strange weather where it is nice in the morning and then POURS in the afternoon. We even got hail one day. OK, not big, but hail never the less. It’s interesting, because we don’t get a lot of rainfall in November as you can see from the following chart.
Temperatures
My friends, Debi and David, have been asking me forever to join them in the climb to Mirador de Turi (Turi means “brother” in Quechua) and the commanding view of Cuenca. Finally, on November 19th, I was able to go with them. They do this several times a week, so I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep up with them. I have tried to find out on the Internet how many stairs there are in total. What I have been able to find out, whether true or not, is that there are 96 stairs in the first section and 439 in the second.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, I thought I read there are 571 all together, guess I will have to see if I can verify the number.
When we finally made it to the top, we encountered a couple of dogs and several groups of small children on a school outing. David said we did the climb in about 13 minutes. Their fastest time, going up without the “photo op” stops of which I needed many, was 8.5 minutes. Maybe someday I’ll be able to make it in that length of time!!!
2Cuenca11-19-15TuriStairsDavidDebiSusanAt the start of the climb with David and Debi
4Cuenca11-19-15TuriStairs1stSectionThis is part way up the first section where I am looking back down the stairs
8Cuenca11-19-15TuriStairsStartingThis is the start of the second section
12Cuenca11-19-15TuriStairsAlmostThereAlmost to the top
13Cuenca11-19-15TuriStairsTheater&CityThe view of Cuenca from the amphitheater
15Cuenca11-19-15TuriStairsSchoolKidsSchool children at Turi for an outing
Mike continues writing and is busily working on a 4-book series. We both are involved in writing articles for the monthly publication, Cuenca Expats Magazine. We write the monthly “Date Night” article as well as contributing where needed. This month, besides the “Date Night” article (page 27), Mike wrote one about a local artist (page 22) and they also included some of my pictures of the interesting doors of Cuenca  (page 20). If you are interested in seeing the digital version of the November issue click HERE
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I am especially thankful for the wonderful man I share my life with, my Lover, my Husband, my Best Friend and my Soulmate. I am thankful for friends and family. I am thankful for the beautiful city we now call home, Cuenca, Ecuador. I am thankful every day of the year, not just the on the one set aside to reflect on the bounty in our lives. But, on this one special day, it brings to the forefront everything there is to be thankful for.
This is how Thanksgiving started for us, what a spectacular show promising a wonderful day.

Cuenca11-26-15Sunrise

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