Friday, March 11, 2016

On the Move...Again...

this time to the heart of El Centro.  No...we didn't want to go...but we had no choice.  Our landlord has put our condo up for sale and we had to find a new place to live.  We considered several alternatives, but the truth is, our heart belongs in El Centro.  Luckily, we found a unique, historical building that has been recently renovated.  We are actually renting two places and making them into one bigger apartment.  It has new bathrooms and kitchens, but a lot of old colonial charm.  There is also an atrium that has a glassed in ceiling for Lance's beloved plants...and...a rooftop for more garden space.

So, we packed our belongings...Lance packed his garden...and off we went to our new home in El Centro.

Our potting bench has gone from being outside on the inside our atrium.  We had it refinished for the move.

Above is a photo of one side of the roof in the atrium.  As you can see, we get lots of sunlight during the day.  Many of our plants are use to more shade so some adjustments will need to be made.   

Although our new place comes furnished, we had to add a few key pieces of furniture.  We purchased a beautiful oriental rug, and a new couch.  Unfortunately, our new sofa was too big for the narrow staircase in our building.  That was no problem for the delivery men.  They simply pulled the truck up onto the sidewalk and sent the couch through our living room window.


Once we are finished decorating, I will post pictures of our new place.  In all honesty, it already feels like home. 

The past few months have been very busy.  Along with preparing for our move, we also had a trip planned for the Amazon.  We went with good friends, Terry and Chiyemi, as well as a few other people from Cuenca.  It was a great least for me...and a wonderful opportunity to see another part of Ecuador.  To get to our Eco-lodge, we took two flights, a bus, and a motorized canoe.  We were assigned our guide, Elvis, for the 4 nights and 5 days that we were there.  During that time we participated in several day and night hikes and visited an indigenous community.  We also took a nightly ride on the canoe to a nearby lake to go swimming and see the sunset.  Afterwards, we would go looking for snakes and caiman (alligators) in the dark, using a flashlight to catch the red glow of their eyes.  We saw and heard a variety of monkeys...including howler monkeys.  The male makes a loud sound like a tiger growling.  It resonates throughout the rainforest and can be heard many miles away.  There were also numerous insects, spiders, frogs, turtles and tropical birds that could be seen during our hikes and canoe rides along the river.  It was very humid, but not as hot as you would expect...and not many mosquitoes to contend least during the time that we were there.

Above is my friend, Chiyemi, on the canoe headed toward our Eco-Lodge.  Below is Elvis.  He was our guide for the week.

This is the lodge where we stayed for the week.  Each unit had their own private bathroom and shower.

These two photos show Terry taking a plant that he found and making it into a beak.

Below are pictures I took at the indigenous community of a woman making bread.  They show her selecting the plant to get the root that is used to make the bread. is chopped up and grated.  (I have no picture of that step because I was helping with the process.)  Then, it is put into a contraption that is hung and twisted to take out any moisture.  Afterwards, it is pushed through a screen, then placed in a pan to cook it.  We had the opportunity to taste it when it was done.  It tastes more like a cracker than bread.  There is not a lot of flavor...but if you add some marmalade, like we did, it's pretty good.     

We also met a Shaman while we were there.  He gave a short speech describing his job, and explained how someone is selected to do it.

Below are a couple more photos of the surrounding area.

It probably wasn't Lance's favorite vacation...he's not one for insects and snakes...but even he would tell you it was interesting, and many parts of it were fun.

In other news...we finally had a chance to celebrate Carnival this year in Cuenca.  Last year we weren't aware of anything special going on...but this year we got the inside scope.  My friend, Mara, heard in Spanish class that there would be a big kick-off to the celebration on Thursday night at Parque Calderon.  Mara, Charlean (another friend,) and I decided to go.  Our husbands all opted to stay home.  A large stage was set up for music and everyone came armed with cans of foam.  Anyone within shooting distance was sprayed from head to toe.  The children in particular enjoyed the antics.  

The following day, Lance caught wind of the fact that there would be a parade in town.  We headed down to see it, and to join in on the fun.  The surrounding neighborhoods put together a dance routine and compete against each other for prizes.  There are judges who rate each group.  All the while they are performing, they are being sprayed with foam.  Nobody is off limits.  

Look Milwaukee...a whole contingent of Harley Riders!

Another crazy cow charging at the crowd!

So much much fun!  

I think that brings everyone up to speed.  It sounds like my friends and family back home enjoyed a mild winter in Wisconsin.  I hope you also get to have an early spring.