The picture above was taken in the Presidental Palace in Quito. The arrangement of flowers is an example of the abundance of beautiful roses in Ecuador.
It’s been a difficult time for me since the death of my nephew in Texas and more recently the death of my friend of 40 years, Dick, in California and also the death of my neighbor in Cuenca, Wendi, who was my age. All reminders that life is precious.
My debit card (I get funds from the U.S.with this card) was hacked, I had my passport renewed and will have my Ecuadorian visa transferred (not completed) – both dealing with a lot of bureaucratic paperwork. And a glip in my health: I had a lump removed from the bottom of my left foot; no pathology report yet. It’s taking some time to heal emotionally and physically.
This is a long holiday weekend for Cuenca. The city is full of celebrations and fireworks every night. It is the 195th anniversary of Cuenca (3 November) and the Day of the Dead (2 Nov — a joyful celebration with meals being served, dancing and singing in the cemetaries where families are honoring their dead relatives).
Dick, my friend who died in August in California, had visited me in Ecuador in June/July and we had a wonderful 15 days together. He was my first friend to visit, so it was great to share my love of Ecuador with him. We visited Quito, the capital city; an area on the edge of the Amazon and stayed at the Huasquila Lodge for several days; briefly visited Banos and Riobamba in the center of Ecuador and a couple of towns, Loja and Vilcabamba, in the southern part of Ecuador and my hometown, Cuenca–where Panama hats are made.
Since Dick used an electric scooter for most of his “walking”, we hired Ecuador for All who provided us with a guide with a car. We had a couple of days of 12-hour travel in the car because of landslides and an indigenous demonstration which closed some of the roads. We were forced to find alternate roads which were longer routes to our destinations. Dick wrote an article about his trip and these were some of his observations: “I had always considered the Andes Mountains as cold, dark, foreboding and inhospitable. And, after my experience, the opposite is a better description. The mountains are alive and very green, complete with pine trees and grazing land for cattle and vast arable valleys, dotted everywhere with small settlements and villages of friendly people, including huge numbers of indigenous natives. There are people on the streets everywhere, hostels abound for visitors, and the major products for export, coffee, cacao, tropical fruits and oil, are evident throughout the land. ”
While Dick and I were in Quito, we visited several tourist sites: the Presidential Palace – quite opulent; the museum of one of Ecuador’s most famous artist, Guayasamin; the Olga Fisch Folklore Gallery – a collection of beautiful clothing, jewelry and artifacts, and took an aerial tram to a site that overlooks the city. On our travels from Quito to/from the Amazon area we visited the towns of Banos (home of many hot springs) and Riobamba and rode the Devil’s Nose Train.
The following are miscellaneous pictures taken during our trip. Ecuador is a developing country; definitely not a third-world country. Ecuador has tremendous diversity in landscapes in the four areas, ranging from the natural beauty to the highly sophisticated cities.
In October, a friend and I went to Mindo, a small town northwest of Quito. It is known for the numerous birds that make that area their home, butterflies and chocolate. We hired a bird guide for the day’s travel from Quito to Mindo. Our first stop was a small village, called NoNo, where we saw numerous kinds of hummingbirds. While in Mindo, we stayed at The Yellow House and enjoyed being among the trees so we could enjoy “the morning chorus” of birds each morning. (I’ll create another blog with those pictures).
So the last few months have been a mixture of sadness and joy. And so many memories. Overall, my life in Cuenca continues to be filled with on-going activities (learning Spanish and the Ecuadorian culture, being involved with the Shambhala Meditation Center — we had a one-day retreat recently, attending art shows (the most recent one involved 60 artists), enjoying the symphony, and sharing time and meals with friends in many new restaurants. Some of my new activities have been housesitting for friends, volunteering to teach English to young people and getting to know two new expat neighbors.