Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This is my last post here, at least for now.

 I have greatly enjoyed recording my experiences and observations during my first year of life in Cuenca, Ecuador.  That other people read my posts is very gratifying and always a little surprising to me. I thank you for your interest. I am grateful I have had bits of information to share with people hoping to visit or move to Cuenca, Ecuador.


I plan to dedicate the time I've used to blog to get back to writing fiction.  My fiction may never be published or read by others (or maybe it will!) but it makes me happy to write which seems reason enough.

                            Luscious fruits and vegetables abound.

Today, a few thoughts and observations about my first year here.
The majority of people who are from Cuenca, thus Cuencanos, are delightful, kind and gentle people.  I recommend that you do NOT move here if you do NOT want to get to know this wonderful culture and its people. Ecuadorianos are a delightful lot! Don't miss out.

                        The Flower Market near Parque Calderon

Ecuador is indeed a gem.  However, Cuenca is not for everyone. We live high in the Andes - it is not a tropical climate. Cuenca is such a multi-faceted delight in its own right.  I always had a secret dream to live in Central or South America, to learn first hand about the people, the art, the plants, the music, the history, the animals, the dances, etc.   I had a mental picture years ago of water tumbling down from the Andes, of sun reflecting off tile roofs to warm the day, of fresh citrus fruit just outside your window, of the haunting melody of the Andean flute and alpacas wandering across a hillside.  Our daily life is different from that but it has the fresh charm of that long ago dream.  I am a very fortunate woman.  I get to share this incredible journey with my husband.  We enjoy our life every single day.

                 Len enjoying shopping at the November 1 festival

I miss grandchildren, other family and dear friends.  I sometimes miss hopping in a car to run to the store.  I miss US vanilla bean ice cream and, God help me, I even miss the convenience of Target.  But I am gently challenged to find new products and pathways here.

I am pleased to find that the ex-pat community in Cuenca is vibrant, supportive and varied. There is a distinct love of the US among ex-pats but also a weariness often surfaces of the myriad problems that have gone unanswered.

I have not once felt "there is nothing to do".  But I may have never felt that in my life. There is too much world to explore to feel that way.

I had hoped to become friends with some natives of Cuenca.  That happened so easily and with such joy. This is a true gift.

                                 Fiera Libre Market

I know after a year of study that Espanol will take me 2-5 years to get...well... from barely beginning to...better.  I also know the Spanish would come faster if I did more practice each day.  Being surrounded by people who are only speaking Espanol is disorienting and also my best learning time.  I understand and read more than I can speak. (this is common)  I sometimes marvel at a three year old conjugating verbs effortlessly in normal conversation.
                                   A New Friend

There is a true joy of life in Ecuador.  A more pure form of joy that I suspect is related to a lack of owning tons of objects and credit cards. Family is all important.  Multiple generations are involved in the raising of each child, in many cases.  Cousins count in Ecuador, even second and third cousins.

                         An unusual angle of Nuevo Catedral

There is less fear here. People talk about the weather, El Presidente, food prices, traffic.... but there is a much lower sense of fear.  I know I am generalizing but...there is much less fear here, in general, than living for the past generation in the US has shown me.
                                 Near University of Cuenca

There is so much for me to learn in Ecuador!
I have not begun to learn about the plants this country has to offer.

I have not had much experience spotting birds yet.  Although there are zillions of birds all over the country, many are shy and remain invisible in the trees and brush.

                              The view from Turi

I have only scratched the barest surface to understand the neighborhoods in Cuenca. I understand now that neighborhoods are comprised of about 10 block squares that have been self-sufficient.  A church, a grocery, many tiendas frequented by locals...no one needs to market their store because neighbors shop there daily. No need to drive across town.


I get my directions turned around as I go into the old part of the city.This is disorienting for a person with a good sense of direction, used to knowing her way around.

A quick look at a few of the 51 beautiful churches of Cuenca:
            Cuenca's oldest: Todos Santos  (All Saints) circa 1500s

                          Nuevo Catedral -"new" cathedral circa  1874

 Looks like a scene from Butch Cassidy toward the end of the movie but it's San Joaquin

                                 San Francisco Catedral

                                             San Blas

                                    Santo Domingo

I still become shy when I walk into a tienda and cannot think of the words I was just practicing out in the street to ask for a product or service. Deer in the headlights! Even though I KNOW that most people of Cuenca are pleased if you try to speak their language and will help you along.

So, with some sadness, I put this blog on hold, and say goodbye for now.  I'll write again if something moves me to do so.  In the meantime, best wishes to you in whatever you pursue.

Have a terrific, peaceful summer.  Tranquilo!
Hasta luego,

Gracias mi carino Len for the great photos.

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