***I meant to post this yesterday…but somehow the day got away on me.
Hola from Cuenca.
We flew from Quito on Tuesday the 10th and arrived in Cuenca 7:30am, yes, in the a.m. For those of you who are incredibly astute, yes – that means we were up verrrrrry early that day, 3:45am in fact, in order to catch our 6:15am flight that morning. Nonetheless, we made it, had the full day, and were all very excited to get here. We wasted no time unpacking our things, or at least attempting to…the kids were frenetic with their excitement around having their own bedroom with a queen bed. Soon enough we were out and about checking out the area. Our location is in the older, historical, colonial area in Cuenca. Here is a google map link for those interested….I hope this link works:
Because it is a main attraction for tourism, there are a number of tourists. Go figure. Cuenca is also known as a popular spot for expats, hence, a lot of non-locals. However, I am deeply and thoroughly enjoying this area, and am not feeling a lack of authenticity. There is still an abundance of locals, as well as schools and parks and other such normal “things”. There also happens to be a local market. Oh wow. I almost peed my pants with excitement…I….LOVE….MARKETS. In my travels, local markets have been by far the experience that fills my soul up the most. It is a great place to practice our Spanish. (and by “we”, thus far I mostly mean the kids 😉 I timed it, and it takes me 7 minutes of fast walking to get there, so I will be there A LOT.
I’ll be investigating Ecuadorean recipes and will hopefully be able to find something not drenched in cilantro!
Our house is over 100 years old, colonial style, right in the hub of the area. There is thick, beautiful, solid wood everywhere, and the crooked, slanted stairs creak so loudly I’m certain I will fall through one day. There is a resident rooster next door who likes to remind us of his glorious cock-a-doodle-doo, and a dog who is apparently nocturnal. This dog’s barking throughout the night cannot be cancelled out by earplugs. Grrrrrr Additionally, there can be the odd DIY construction right outside our place at 11pm, and cars and trucks driving and beeping down the narrow, cobblestone streets at any time during our sleep. Soooo, I’m hopeful these noises will fade into the background of our consciousness soon.
The house has everything we need, including a washing machine. Apparently a transparent top is the thing here in Ecuador and the kids were absolutely fascinated with it. “Macy…what are you watching?!?!? I’m trying to watch my pair of underwear!!!!” “Jasper, ….aaaaahh…..I was watching my pink underwear, but it moves so fast!!!!” (Insert guffaw-like laughter here.)
There is a lot of greasy, deep-fried food and street food here. One of the cheap, popular dishes is called “Salchipapa”. It comes from the Spanish word “salchicha” for sausage and “papa” for potato. Thus, it is essentially french fries with a hotdog on top, sliced or whole, and some mayonnaise and/or ketchup squirted on top. I thought it was an interesting local thing, but Jasper and Macy were salivating and chomping at the bit to have some….so we finally did yesterday. Some versions look fancier than the one below, if that is possible.
As you can see, Macy was in complete heaven with the combination of two of her favourite foods….french fries and hotdogs…..what does that say about us as parents?!?!!? Jasper, who was probably more excited to try it than Macy, definitively decided that he will never have it again. My dish was quite yummy and also very typical of Latin America, and included rice, beans, and a fried egg….it was just missing some fried plantain. My meal was $2.25 USD and included a drink – I got a coconut drink; while their salchipapas meal was $2 USD, also included a drink…they got a Coke. Sadly, you can see why there is some obvious health issues here.
Cuenca has no end of churches and mini museums, and we hope to get to many of them by the end of our time here in Cuenca. We made it to this beautiful one yesterday, Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción. The construction started in 1885, took 100 years, but is still considered not technically complete because the original plans by a German, and whichever architects following, made some calculation errors and the church is not as originally planned….beautiful regardless.
Because our kids haven’t really been exposed to or taught a lot about religion, it is interesting to try and share what we know, watching them take it in and answering their dubious questions. With the graphic images of Jesus in the Catholic church, it is especially challenging to help them understand that for millions of people, these images bring them some form of inspiration, gratitude or peace.
We will be meeting with a potential Spanish language teacher today…..and then the real learning for me will begin!!! Yikes! Things still feel like we are on a vacation of sorts, and I have a bit of an anticipatory twitch in my tummy about how we will settle in and how we will do as a family carving out our life in Cuenca. Thinking about this trip for years and years, of course I have built up ideas and visions of how things would look….and naturally, only a small fraction of those will actually manifest and be realised. I just hope we continue to stretch ourselves to take advantage of everything we can while we are here.
That’s all for now folks.