Tuesday, July 19, 2011

OUR FAMILY VISITS

Randy and I were contemplating flying back to the U.S. for our favorite time of year, Aug. & Sept. There is the Crush in Washington wine country to enjoy, and there is the fabulous 4 day music festival Bumbershoot, in Seattle. But after much debate and cost comparison we (me) decided that if our daughter Kelsey would like to come visit we would offer to fly her down to Cuenca for a month vacation. She took us up on the offer. Daniel, Kelsey's boyfriend decided that Kelsey was not flying off to a third world country by herself, so he ponied up the money and flew down here as well.
Right before I began leaping around crazily!
 Randy and I flew to Quito to meet them, and then I decided since we were "so close" we might as well go up to Otovalo; a place I wanted to visit since we first were introduced to Ecuador. We spent the nite in Quito, and had a quick meal.. we decided to go easy on them and not try any EC food just yet.

  Friday we were off in a taxi (2 hrs, $55) to Otavalo. Kelsey dutifully took her dramamine, Daniel dutifully blew up her neck pillow, and she was off to sleep.
Taking a walk in Otovalo, EC
We stayed in a Hostal, $10 per person per nite. It was ok, we did not have the most comfortable beds, but it was nice to have stayed there, as we had wonderful views of the surrounding valley and VOLCANOES!
Cotacachi Volcano


Imbabura Volcano
 

Saturday was a total tourist day, we ate in a fancy restaurant for Breakfast.
 Daniel bought Kelsey a hat so she wouldn't fry her face. We smeared 50 sunblock on..$13 for a bottle! And headed off into the madding crowd...



Indian headdress... I really don't get this..

Awesome spanking spoons!

Local ladies walking by a stand selling indigenous clothing
 We ended the day early, by 1, the local sellers were closing up. Most have traveled quite a ways, and they were ready to head back home carrying huge bundles of their wares.
On Sunday we took the bus back to Quito. We decided a bus at $2 per person was alot better!
Back in Quito we took a taxi back to our hotel where we had left the luggage. They were nice enough to hold it for us while we traveled to Otovalo. We would recommend the Eugenia;
  http://www.eugeniahotel.com/en/rooms.htm the people are very helpful, most speak some English, the rooms are comfy,the water is hot and it is in the new part of town.

On Monday we met up with a local Epat, Liliya Bykova. She gives walking tours of Quito. We were a bit rushed for time and she was so sweet to take us as her husband had minor surgery just a few hours before our scheduled trip! If you like history and local folklore tales she can fill your needs. She was awesome. I think Randy and the kids were a bit cross eyed with all the history, but I loved it. Next time I am going to just see if I can get a private tour!
This is where the indepence movement began, among the poets and artists on this street.

Liliya Bykova herding us along.

Under remodeling.. I loved the huge photo covering the front..

I don't know why I cant get this to stay straight up, but the look on his face tells you he is ready to be done..


Another sideways ones, but all that is GOLD LEAF!

Group shot in the square of the City Library.
 Liliya was explaining that the library used to be the old military barracks, and after all the years of fighting to become a independent country; it took them 20 years to remodel the current building so it could be used for the library. In Ecuador they do not let you leave with the book. There are reading areas all over the 2 stories, where you can sit and read the book of your choice. There are also little areas where you can get parts of the books copied. Liliya says they have the best copy rates in all of Quito.

The traffic in Quito is awful. It took us an hour in a taxi to get from our hotel to the Santa Domingo Plaza, were we were to meet Liliya. When the tour was over, Liliya took us on the bus that has its own line through town. Now I know why they are so packed.. its faster. We paid our .25 cents and got in line. Liliya decided we needed someone more savvy with the bus routes to assist, so she struck up a conversation with a gentleman and he assisted with getting us in the correct bus, hopping off at the first stop to get in line for another bus, and then made sure we got off near our hotel. He was very sweet, and he offered us his business card as we left.. He was the head of Education in Quito! He was very nice to let us take a picture of him and his children before we left.
We walked back to the hotel, and picked up our luggage that they so nicely kept for us .. again. Then we hopped into a taxi to the airport. Our flight was to leave at 5:30, we did not board until 6:30..I think we were finally in Cuenca about 7:20..home by 7:45... it was a long day.. Hogar, Dulce, Hogar! (home, sweet home)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

CELEBRATING OUR FIRST YEAR IN ECUADOR

We celebrated our one year anniversary in our new adopted country, by having  our "sponsors" Chuck and Nancy Watson, over for a dinner celebration. Randy thought I was a bit silly with the candle, but it really means alot to me that we are here, and even more that we are HAPPY, living here. So the candle; as every one who knows me knows, I love birthdays (mine is Oct. 7th), so this anniversary was cause for celebrating with a candle!

Do you see that dark dark chocolate ice cream in those bowls... that was Chucks contribution.. we were having Randys wonderful homemade burritos, so Chuck decided we needed Mexican Chocolate Ice cream from the new ice cream store (MIXX). Oh my, they use jalapenos in the ice cream..talk about screaming hot. It was even a bit warm for Randy, but delicious! I am going to go back and see if I can just get the Chocolate..

After our dinner, Chuck, Randy and I (Nancy was not feeling well..) went to a local concert at the University. Normally the concerts here are free, this one was $10 per person. As we stood outside in line, there were ladies selling tickets with a bit of a scalping fee added on. Chuck was able to exclaim and throw up his arms to the amount asked, the lady very sheepishly sold his ticket to him for $10. We on the other hand were not so lucky.. out lady held out, watched us from a few feet away, and finally when Randy said, "dos para $21" she relented and agreed. I consoled Randy, by saying I thought that Chuck only got the better deal because he got the "Anciano" discount..that seemed to perk him up.

The concert was good, and we enjoyed the fact that the ladies singing were doing tribute songs to famous women singers in their culture, then they changed bands and began with American women singers! In English. It was quite fun to hear Madonna's music, Gloria Estefan and others being sung with such vigor and in excellent English. The audience  knew each song, and would ooh and ahh when the music began, as they knew what the song would be, and sing along. Their families were in the audience, so alot of love and appreciation was spoken to them, and the audience ate it up. Family is very important here, and it was so nice to see the love shown.
video
We are looking forward to our new adventures this coming year. We appreciate our family and friends for the love they have shown to us with their support as we stepped off the path and headed out on our adventure.