Saturday, November 1, 2008

Independence Day

Even though it wasn't unusual to rain for 40 days and 40 nights in Vancouver, we rarely got thunderstorms and when we did they were minor. Cuenca gets spectacular thunder and lightning storms on a regular basis. One time when we had company, the crack of the thunder was so loud we and our guests all believed that something must have blown up!

Cuenca is currently celebrating its independence day (November 3, 1820) from the Spanish. We've been advised that there are fireworks every night for a week but we haven't seen any yet. We've been hearing them though. Fireworks are very common here, as are thunder storms. When there's a wedding there's often fireworks and it's not unusual to hear them 3 or 4 times a week.

Our days have been routine lately. We always go for some sort of long walk (it's the exercise you know) and we've been off to SuperStock etc. to pick up a new ironing board (etc) and have had dinner and lunch with a couple of friends, but we're without conflict. Generally, without conflict means without something to write about. Brian's friend Jan is coming for Christmas. We're expecting him in Ecuador on December 13th, and as Jan is a force of nature, interesting things to write about tend to follow. We're pretty much stocked up, although our SuperMaxi bill continues to be higher than Brian thinks it should be. Last week we bought a Christmas table cloth ($13.49) and a bottle of vodka ($5.39) but we're pretty close to being finished with the extras. (Ya right! - Our grocery bill in Canada was always higher than Brian thought it should be too - why should Ecuador be any different?)

By Friday the Cuenca celebration thing was really geared up. All over town artisans from Ecuador & Peru & other places (?) had set up booths and were selling sweaters & jewelry & clay pots & fine woven cloths & you name it. Shelley dragged Brian to a few set-ups and he finally got into the swing of the whole thing when she suggested to him that he needed a light sweater for sitting around the apartment on those cool days. He ended up buying a Peruvian sweater and a cardigan for $15 each (what a deal), make from alpaca, warm yet light, they even had a size big enough for him. In a downtown square they had school children (20 or more) all dressed up in ancestral costumes doing boy-girl square/line dance type traditional dancing.

"Have you ever seen anything that cute before?" Shelley asked Brian.

Before the afternoon rains started the next day, we ventured downtown to try and get a copy of the Cultural Agenda for Cuenca for the month of November from the Tourist office on the Parque Calderon main square. It was a mad house! The office was stuffed with people; they'd apparently already given out all the agendas for November and had photocopied a bunch of information but had given all those out as well. The double decker red tour bus was giving free tours of Cuenca and a 4 or 5 piece band was playing music where the people were lined up waiting for their free tours.

We sat in the square for a while enjoying the ambiance and then headed to Carolina's Bookstore to see if they had any Agendas left. They did! The nice man in the store (giving Carol & Lee a break to see the festivities) directed us down the stairs to the Centro Interamericano de Artesanias y Artes Populares where there were endless artisans from different districts in Ecuador displaying their works. Shelley managed to buy another fish for our fish wall, this one made of seeds & beans & grain. We walked across the bridge to Parque de la Madre where there was a huge set-up of artists and their paintings, plus craft jewelry. Brian figures a lot of the artists must have come from Guayaquil or Quito. We resisted buying 2 fish paintings (too big) and Shelley didn't bargain successfully to get yet another copper bracelet.

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