Sunday, April 29, 2012

APRIL FLEW BY

For not having a set schedule we sure lost most of our month of April! Where did it go?


Our job managing the condo is turning out to be so much fun! I suppose I said this all before, but it really is great to be able to meet all these new fresh faces who are so excited about Cuenca and their new life or possible new life in Ecuador.


The bookings this next month are shorter term so we will be having back to back guests on a weekly basis! That should be interesting. The condo employs a really sweet lady who worked in the Hamptons for 7 yrs. so her skills are superb and her English is wonderful! She has been so wonderful about getting a schedule from me for the month with partial days circled where she can get into the apartment and clean. She always says, thats no problem Miss Karen!


I have started back taking weaving. I had the loom at home, but found that I did not have the confidence to start a new project (something other than a scarf). So I took it all apart (Thanks Randy for your help) and hauled it up the hill to Las Americas (thanks again Randy) and amazingly a taxi was right there!  It is nice to see the ladies at the yarn store, and Patricia said immediately IN SPANISH.. how is your Spanish doing.. uhh.. well not so good. She scolded me good naturedly and said, We will get you back to speaking better in no time. And she is right. There are ladies there who love to talk with you and help you with your Spanish while you weave! 2 for 1 ! Lucky me!


I was reading on the Gringo Tree about a group who are working with the local needy children of the El Arenal (Feria Libre Market). There is an after school program there. So they were asking for food, money and knitted scarves, hats etc. And they would even come pick them up!  Well that was right up my alley so I am trying to whip out a few easy scaves. The kids are ages 4-14.  Here is there website if you are interested in checking them out. The kids are pretty cute. http://ecuazon.com/hearts-of-gold 


The weather has been a bit sunnier, with some amazing afternoon showers, some again with hail. This is when I become a wild banshee racing all over the house with towels to catch the water that pours down the walls and will come out through the skylight.. not knowing where I just lay every towel in the "drop zone" and hope I got it covered.  So far its worked out pretty good and we have not had any disasters like others I know!


Last nite, another one of those serendipitous nights where we are sitting eating leftovers and a friend calls.. Whatcha doin'? Nuthin, eating leftovers.. Want to come over and meet the OTHER Randy and Karen of Cuenca? REALLY ? We will be right over. Which was easily said as Manon's house is right around the corner.. and there we met our dopplegangers (in name only)

Today was another beautiful sunny day, so Randy rolled me out of bed at 10, to ride our scooters to California Kitchen to listen to our friend Pat play piano music.. he did a great job. He is kind of shy so I did not take a picture, but I did get one of my breakfast.. wow, they sure do a good job.. This is their Fritatta. YUM. And those are homemade french fried onions on the top..




This afternoon when we got home we did our puttering, moved some plants around, watered and took a walk along the river. There were so many families out playing soccer, volleyball and just enjoying the day. It was nice to feel a part of this community where folks smile, say hello and enjoy all this great nature, and it's right at our doorstep. How lucky is that!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

PANAMA HAT BUYING FORAY

History lesson.. Panama hats are not made in Panama.. thats just where they got famous. They were imports from Ecuador. These hats were first made on the coast and then Cuenca in the early 1930's starting making them as a major export. (ok, so if I got it abit wrong...sue me.. I got the part about the hats not being made in Panama right!)

Our latest visitors to the condo, Susan and Rein, wanted to go hat shopping so we took them on a bus adventure. The first place we went, K.Dorfman. It was closed for the weekend, but they were nice enough to point us to another hat manufacturer just one block down the road..Homer Ortiz, Museum, Hats and Bags. We found out in the tour that this is still a family run business.. 4 generations later.

We squeezed between a bunch of buses (These stores are behind the bus terminal), that were crowded onto the sidewalk to make room for other buses trying to drive by. As we squeezed by this one bus, there was a driver saying Buenos Dias! from the door of the bus.. as I passed by I looked up into a smiling face filled with a toothbrush and toothpaste! I nodded and smiled and just cracked up after I passed him. I guess I am getting used to it, 'cause I immediately thought; glad that water on the ground was from him brushing his teeth and not going to the bathroom!
We were given a guided tour through the museum. Our guide explained about the way the palms were dried, and hand split. the finer the splitting, the better the quality of the weave. And the higher the price. She told us that the hats that are the least expensive only take about 3 days to make. The finer woven ones take up to 3 months to make. The feel of the weave is just like a fabric, so soft. It is very obvious how painstaking the process is.
These are hats that have been woven, bleached, washed and now air drying. Randy is my point of reference.. All of the hats are made by employees who work from their homes. Each week the ladies bring in the hats that they have made.
This piece of machinery is over 100 yrs old, and still being used to this day. I really liked the heavy ball weights on the end.

This is an actual Wedding Dress. You can have one made.. it is all done out of the same palm as the hats.. that is how fine they can make this weave. This picture does not do this justice. Even the flowers are woven. We asked the price. The guide thought it would be at least $1,500-$2000.

Susan and Rein found hats and other goodies for their families back home. I got so wrapped up in trying on hats .. I forgot to take pictures of what they finally decided on!

Here is a video  that I took of our guide explaining about the dying process.
video
 After all of that, we all agreed lunch was in order, then a nap!

Monday, April 2, 2012

BACK ON TRACK!

I am happy to report that I am well, not truly healthy but well. I still sound abit awful when I cough, but those times are being measured in hours not minutes! Also, the other good news is that Randy did not get sick!

Kelsey, will be graduating from Central Washington University in June. I was just back in the states in Nov.-Dec. for my Mom's 90th birthday, so we have stretched the budget once again and I am going back to Washington for her graduation. Can't miss your daughters graduation!

Last nite I went on the Matrix ITA software site and seached for tickets  from Cuenca to Quito (My main flight is out of Quito). I was very happy to find a reasonable ticket price. $66 RT. Due to the Government lifting the subsidy on airplane fuel the prices of tickets has risen. I printed out the flight details and today walked to a local travel agency nearby (SEITUR) they have a English speaking agent.  Malena was just on her way out the door. She interpreted for us that we wanted this exact flight, and for the agent to search those codes. She did, but their price was a bit more $73. Well I grabbed it, figured that was a $7 fee for the agency. Now I just have to find a good place in Quito to stay on my way to and from the US. Unfortunately the routes I take always leave at 6 am and arrive at 9:30 at nite! The planes here do not cooperate with redeye flights!

We have been out and about a tiny bit. Walking and trying to get back into our normal modes of getting around. While Randy had gout, then his ribs and then my cold... we have really lost our ability to walk like we used to!  I have some pictures too, so I have proof that we are out!

They had to do some removal of concrete that they put in on the new under/overpass construction. OOPS!

Then we noticed some new art work in El Centro. I thought it was very good.. the subject matter was a bit strange, but it was done very well.


Most of the houses in and around Ecuador are red tiled roofs. This is one of the very few I have seen that is not... and I love it. Nice and shiny blue!
today, after almost a year since purchasing them, we hung the wall hangings we bought in Otavalo, when Kelsey was here visiting! Wow, where did the time go? I think they look good! We used papyrus stalks for the "rod" at the top. On one I tied the little strings and the other I sewed the hanging to the "rod".. not bad for a guest room, huh?


Ecuador has been hammered with rain this year. There have been landslides up and down the country. In Cuenca we had a torrential rain and hail storm that over burdened a sewer system, and it collapsed. The neighborhoods affected were flooded up to the second story of their homes, with sewage. The local fire department came in boats to rescue folks off their roofs! I have read that up in the Esmereldas there is fear that the power poles for the main electrical grid may collapse due to land slides. Correa has declared many Cantons as disaster areas and aid is slowling coming. Our local Chamber of Commerce is appealing to the local community of Expats to donate at the Chamber or Red Cross.

 So now I have to say here, my little rant about the water leaking in our house seems inconsequential compared to all the folks who have lost their lives and homes due to this rain.

Hope you all are enjoying your spring weather, keep us soggy folks in Ecuador in your thoughts!