There's snow on the ground in Vancouver, B.C. right now. This is very unusual. The kids and friends show pictures on FaceBook and we marvel at their weather. We talked about this as we were walking downtown on Sunday. It was a perfect day. Neither too hot nor too coolish. A slight breeze was in the air with benign clouds in the sky. We stopped at the market and got some roasting potatoes for supper that evening but didn't pick up roast pig. At Shelley's shocked inquiry, Brian's comment was we had too much food in the house and he was going to eat that first. We got to the park and found a free bench and watched the goings on: A 3 year old girl, playing a game by walking on the low cement wall and hanging onto the wrought iron fencing; her big brother, maybe 5 or 6, protecting her, making sure she didn't fall. Two teenage boys, one with a younger sister meet up on the path. They all shake hands quite formally, including the younger sister, chat for awhile and then part ways. A dog walks by on a leash and another dog sitting on the bench just down from us starts barking. Fredi, not to be left out, starts barking too. We ran into 2 couples and chatted for awhile and then meandered home.
It's 5:24 a.m. Shelley's had a bad-sleeping night, staying in twilight most of the time. The bed shakes. The dogs outside start barking. Brian speaks: "Did you feel that?" he asks.
It's 9:45 a.m. Brian & Shelley are resting on a bridge over the Rio Tomebamba watching the water roar over the rocks. Brian speaks again: "How come the earth quakes always seem to come at 5 in the morning?" With a very serious look on her face Shelley replies: "They're experimenting". Brian accepts that with no question and we continue on about our day.
Shopping, we spent the usual hundred dollars getting rum this time for our Christmas/Boxing Day Rum cake and several shampoos and soaps because they were all running out at the same time. Fredi got walked and Shelley made potato salad. The computer was fiddled with & several chapters were read. We even turned the TV on and watched The Event (just because). Late in the afternoon we sat down and translated the Census form and filled out our copy as best as we could in anticipation of the big day on November 28th. Apparently we'll be stuck inside until teenagers come to take our information.
There was a birthday party we'd been invited to on Tuesday evening, so we spent the day basically puttering around. Brian had had to take a ciprofloxicin pill in the morning and he didn't want to be too far away from the bathroom in any case. Yes, the water in Cuenca is safe to drink (be careful elsewhere in Ecuador though (!) including use of water to brush your teeth) but we do seem to suffer from gastric distress more often than we did in Canada. We are careful and wash our fruits & vegetables and don't suffer every week or even every month, but it certainly is a part of living here. By evening, Brian was much better and we attended the birthday party. Fun was had by all.
There's a myriad of things to do in Cuenca. Often we don't attend because we're early-to-bed people & pretty content with our small little life, but just to get a taste of what goes on here (besides regular fiestas), we'll list a few of the free events that have taken place in Cuenca the past couple of weeks: Third Annual Cuenca Puppet Festival, Creation vs Evolution Seminars, French Ambassdor & baritone Jean-Baptiste de Boissiere in concert with Columbian pianist Jacqueline Gutierra and the South American premier of the Movie "So Far". All these free events are posted straight to our e-mail address through Gringo Tree. Other Events are posted on-line at Cuenca's Cultual Agenda. Many people keep busy during their first while here taking Spanish lessons & there are endless volunteer opportunities to take up one's time, anywhere from once a month to 5 days a week. There are of course numerous good restaurants that serve anything from gourmet Ecuadorian food to French, Italian, German and of course North American. There are night clubs & bars for those so inclined, gyms & swimming pools, good hiking & museums, golf & tennis courts, the rodeo & ballet comes through from time to time, regular concerts are held in the coliseum, religious & other celebration parades are a common sight, art & craft festivals abound and there are several parks & green areas scattered around town lovely for a quiet walk.
All the above said, we chose to take a minor chore day on Wednesday and power down for most of the rest of the day. It was time for Fredi to go to the vet and have a parasite dose, so we did that and got her nails clipped. We then walked up the hill to Jo.Mar and picked up 2 packages of their seafood medley to make a chowder. It was quite warm out and even Fredi was panting by the time we got up to Jo.Mar's.
And now a few words exclusively from Brian about the sky & light in Cuenca:
It seems just about every evening at sunset that a unique golden roseate glow descends upon Cuenca. It's the kind of warm light that gives the entire landscape a coppery wash. The kind of light that you expect might create a Gainsborough or a Turner. It seems to infuse the buildings with an incandescence reflected in the puffy undersides of the clouds. It only lasts a couple of minutes and we've never been able to truly capture it with our little digicam but it nevertheless rouses the poet and the painter in us.