The Beginning of Another Exciting Year

It’s hard to believe we have been here over a year now! We flew in to Guayaquil on December 31, 2014 to the spectacle of fireworks bursting everywhere. It was around 11:00pm as we made the descent into the airport and took a taxi the short distance to our hotel. We stood at the window in our room watching the explosions all around us. They even burned effigies in the street in front of our hotel. This was our second visit to Ecuador, and the one in which we would decide if whether to move to Panama or Ecuador.

The next day we had a driver take us the 3½ hours to Cuenca where we stayed with friends. It’s an amazing drive and not for the faint of heart. Especially when it’s raining. It’s only around 120 miles but in the first 90 miles we gained 12,500 feet in elevation! In the last 30 miles we dropped 4,300 feet before arriving in Cuenca.

During the first week we made the decision it was going to be Ecuador; we just didn’t know if it would be Cuenca or Cotacachi. During the second week we decided it would be Cuenca due to the proximity of so many amenities while we were learning our way around Ecuador. Also during this second week we found an apartment, actually the only one we looked at, and rented it. It was unfurnished, which means NOTHING – no stove or refrigerator. We knew we would be going back to Georgia the first part of February to get all the paperwork we needed and didn’t want to return to a completely empty apartment so over the next two weeks we bought a refrigerator, stove and a mattress that simply resided on the floor for the time being. Let me tell you, at our ages it is tough getting up from a mattress resting on the floor!

We returned to Georgia to get our paperwork, which ended up taking 6-weeks, much longer than we anticipated. Now, fast forward to our 1-year anniversary and our continuing adventures.

New Years day we decided to take a little stroll into El Centro. At the relatively early hour of 9 am we walked in. After all the New Years Eve activities, the streets were still deserted but we did find a restaurant open and had a nice leisurely breakfast. Walking home we passed the flower market where the vendors were setting up but no customers at this hour.

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A few days later I tagged along with Jim and Charito on a shopping expedition to Feria Libre. I was hoping Charito could show me where to find fresh fish and also bulk peanuts. I found both but didn’t buy the fish that day. I did buy peanuts, though. There were huge bags of peanuts, flour, grains and beans. The bag with the red is full of raw peanuts. And look at the hat the lady is wearing. One of those cardboard cushions for fruit. You have to marvel at how ingenious people are.

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Mike and I went back 5 or 6 days later, on a Sunday, to get the fish along with a wonderful assortment of fresh fruit. The fish is brought up from the coast fresh on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and from what we have been told, you really don’t want to go either of those days as it is so crowded. We figured if we went early Sunday morning the fish would still be fresh enough.

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Pame, one of our young Ecuadorian friends, invited us to attend the presentation her group had to give as part of the requirements for entering college. Pame, on the very left, unlike most of the students, isn’t fresh out of high school. We met her when she was working as the office manager for Find Health Ecuador and she accompanied us on several visits to Mike’s cardiologist as a translator. Pame wants to continue her education and become a teacher.

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January was filled with spontaneous parades all over town. We never could figure out what they were about. Some had floats while others were just a group of people marching down the street; some had bands or some sort of music while others were just groups of people. We heard a parade going down 12 de Abril so we poked our head out the bedroom window and noticed it had stopped in the park area along the river. It appears as though they are having lunch or just taking a rest.

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Sara, our attorney, along with her husband Adam and his partner Nicholas, from Find Health Ecuador, sponsored an afternoon of bowling at the local mall. I had passed by the location many times not even realizing there was a bowling alley there. I guess bowling isn’t big here in Ecuador as there were only 6 lanes and this is the only one in Cuenca, a city of 500,000! I don’t think I have ever bowled so horribly, but I wasn’t there to bowl on a league but to have fun and meet people. Poor Mike couldn’t find a ball to fit his huge hand, so he just watched all of us making fools of ourselves. Our friends David and Debi (in the middle of picture) were there plus new friends we just met, Kevin and Kristi (on the left).

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We had another fun evening at Joe’s Secret garden with new and old friends. Joe’s Secret Garden serves only on Saturdays and only has one seating with a fixed menu that changes weekly. It is in an old house with a courtyard out back that is completely surrounded and very private. Cocktail hour starts an hour before dinner is served and everyone mingles out back if the weather is nice or in one of the many rooms if the weather isn’t cooperating. Fortunately, that day the weather cooperated and we all enjoyed a wonderful evening outdoors before heading into dinner.

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This is from our kitchen window and we have seen quite a few such scenes.  Kids dragging one another down the hill and into the water. There is much laughter, squealing, gaiety and splashing. Since it seems to be happening regularly this week, we can only guess it is some rite of passage for these school kids. Whatever it is, they look as though they are having a blast!

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Mike and I were sick the last week of December and were still recovering during early January, so we weren’t out and about as much as we usually are. But, this has given Mike the time to really do some serious writing. He is just about finished with Genevieve’s Gift, his fifth book and the first in a series of four. We will let you know when it is out and ready for you to read and enjoy.

Until next time,
Abrazos

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