Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

"Boy it sure doesn't feel like Christmas" Brian commented when we were walking around downtown and sweating slightly because it was so hot out.

We'd gone to the post office and picked up 2 Christmas cards from Canada and sat in the park and met a friend at the Nice Cream place while we were having lime tea. Beside the new Cathedral they're selling individual Christmas cards, too late to mail to Canada, but they're there. Angels abound walking on the street from toddlers to teenagers to adults. We went on a bit of a search for some hand crafted, cloth covered shoes that Shelley had spied but in the end she decided against them.

The power was out Monday 4 - 7 pm, Tuesday 7 - 10 pm and Wednesday 1 - 5 pm. We're not supposed to loose power on Christmas Day and usually the power doesn't go out Saturday or Sunday. It rained the other night, all night, and the river is up quite a bit, so we're keeping our fingers crossed for more night rain.

Christmas Eve Day we set out from our place at 10:10 in the morning to see this Children's Parade (Nino Viajero) that we've been told so much about. Last Christmas we were in Vilcabamba and missed the big one. Smaller Children's parades continue well through January and up until Carnival time in February. We walked to Gran Colombia and found a place in the shade and watched for 3 hours until our backs gave out. We've been told the parade goes for something like 7 hours! Passing on the sidewalk were dozens and dozens of children dressed as conquistadors & angels & shepherds & in traditional Ecuadorian costumes & biblical costumes and they weren't even a part of the official parade! The line of trucks & cars decked out as floats with children dressed in costumes sitting & standing on them continued down the road as far as you could see. Watching from our patch of shady sidewalk, 3 sets of friends passed us by and assured us the line went on forever! We'd dressed Fredi in her Santa hat and several people turned from the parade and took a picture of Fredi but she wasn't the only animal dressed up! We saw several dogs decked out as Santas and clowns. To see more pictures of Cuenca's Parades, including this Children's Parades, see our FaceBook album.

Christmas morning Shelley got up and made pecan pie. We'd been invited on Boxing Day to a Canadian friend's of ours for an open house/pot luck but she'd had to cancel (possibly reschedule to January) because her partner was unable to be in the country. Knowing how we'd feel if we couldn't spent Christmas together, we'd invited her and her family & a couple of friends she'd introduced us to over for Boxing Day turkey & pecan pie. Brian had picked up a turkey bag at the grocery store and was astonished that we'd be able to cook our 21 pound turkey in something less than 3 1/2 hours. We're keeping our fingers crossed it'll work.

In the mean time, we'd been invited over to a friend's place for prime rib, yorkshire & plum pudding at 3 in the afternoon on Christmas Day. Before going, we took Fredi for a good walk. Everywhere we went there were young families walking with their children and several dog walkers as well.

"They're supposed to be wearing heavy coats & boots & mittens & have red noses" Shelley told Brian.

It did seem odd to us. It was a gorgeous day; the sun was shining and it was quite hot out. We noted that both the local drug stores were open but the giant grocery store was closed. Christmas Eve is a bigger day in South America than Christmas Day, although we assume the churches were doing a booming business. Most people open their presents on Christmas Eve and they have a big meal quite late in the evening. Fireworks, always present it seems in Ecuador, went on all day Christmas Eve, all that evening and all day Christmas Day!

Our Christmas Day dinner was fabulous! There was a very diverse group of people with many different interests all gathered together in Ecuador sharing our time here. We ate until we were stuffed and then ate some more. Everyone told their stories and the highlight of the meal was the ritualistic flaming of the plum pudding which had been imported all the way from Marks & Spencer in England.

Boxing Day had us up early, peeling potatoes, making home made stuffing, dishing out pecan pie, chopping vegetables & generally puttering around the kitchen. (Brian worked on the turkey & stuffing, Shelley worked on the details). Our guests were due to arrive at 2 pm and Brian & Fredi went down for their nap at 11:53 am. Up at 1:15 pm we all (including Fredi) went into overdrive prepping for a complete turkey dinner with appetizers to begin (Fredi vigilantly patrolled the floor).

Our guests arrived right on time and we fed them smoked trout & Shelley's cheese log and talked about our season and our year just past and waited with trepidation for our 3 1/2 hour turkey. It ended up taking 4 hours but it did turn out juicy & wonderful. One of our guests brought Nanaimo Squares (a Canadian delicacy) which just topped the chart for wonderful things and generally it was a very good day.

We're now heading in to the end of the year. A time for reflection and review. It seems to us we've had a good year and hope 2010 continues to provide.

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