Monday, November 28, 2005

Our second week in Cuenca

Second week in Cuenca.. feels like we have been here for ages.. and def feel like i could stay longer! Went to mass at the cathedral again, just love the fact you can get anything you want right outside the church steps, from toffee apples and icecream cones to giant candles and rosary beads that would take a strong man to carry...also if you ever need a shoe shine in Cuenca, Parque Calderon is the place to go.. there are tons of them all around the square, patiently sitting in the sun, or shade, awaiting the next pair of muddy shoes to come along for them to shine!

Sundays are great here. After church, everyone hangs out in the square with their families, sitting chatting, getting photos taken (a typical favorite is for adults to sit on wooden horses wearing silly giant sombreros - sorry, didnt manage to get a pic of that!)... eating fresh pineapple or melon slices from the carts, balloons are everywhere, its all go, with a great atmosphere.. i love it!

Rest of the week busy as usual.. us long term travelers dont have time to sit around and just hang out, you know! Tuesday night was our new friend Christoph`s, last night, so we all went out to bid him a fond farewell (of course that was AFTER Dominique and I had our 2 hours of Ecuadorian folk dancing lessons, with, guess how, yes Marta!). Wednesday saw Joe, Dom and I head off to BaƱos, a different town than i have written about before (hot springs pueblo about 40 mins from Cuenca!).. very relaxing.. Thursday was our last day at school ...awww ..Had class for 4 hours in the morning - my wee head was exhausted...then off for drinkie poohs with Marta in the afternoon. Great chat - yes, mostly in Spanish!!! and then fond farewells. Then a wee pub crawl around some of the fun pubs in town- Wunderbar, Cafecito of course... with our Spanish class pals.. good fun!

Funny story - we (no surprise!) had been hanging out at a couple of internet cafes over the last week or so, and in one of the cafes, a young man by the name of Julio very nicely asked us to go to a fiesta... of course i asked what the fiesta was called, cos after speaking with Marta, i thought it was a grand affair, usually in memory of some saint, or womans program or something of that nature! Hmmn....after Dominique translating it became clear that a "fiesta electronica" was a club aka disco!! So we decided, hey yes, we are hip young things, we can dance with the best of the Ecuadorian youth, so went along and had a great laugh that night, dancing away to salsa, rigatone, Michael Jackson and so much more!! Cuenca is quite a small city and you do bump into people you know quite regularly, like the whole El Cafecito bar gang, who were also shimmying on down at the club that night...

On Saturday, we decided to take on yet another hike.. this time to the waterfalls at Giron, about an hour outside Cuenca.. Joe, Dom, Brie (another Spanish school pal) and another friend, Renato (a character and a half!!) met up and set off together. Renato is a nut case- i can say this with lotsa love and affection. He is 18 and a real New Yorker from Sleepy Hollow, although he is Ecuadorian and over here visiting all his family.. and improving his already impressive Spanish. He was good enough to be our guide to Giron, where some of his family lives so off we set. Renato and I really clicked ....hmmn think it might have been because we both like to talk - ALOT - and also when we were chatting in the pub the night before and we all found out how old he was (to be fair he does look a wee bit older than 18!) i had joked with him, hey I could be your mother, then he told me (with great aplomb!) that his mother is in fact younger than me!!AAAAAAAAAHHhhhhhh. Nah, we had a great laugh that day- check out some more pics....ahh our last hike in Ecuador, oh well have to move on.
Dinner was at Cafe Eucolyptus where we met up with Francisco, our salsa teacher, and his pals, the house band playing that night. Wish i had had my camera. The dancing was incredible, so beautiful - mainly salsa, both couples and groups, all seamless and looking just fantastic. Poetry in motion (unlike our salsa classes let me tell you!).. When you meet people from other Andean countries like Peru and Bolivia, as well as Argentina, they all say the people of Ecuador have music and dancing in their blood, and it is so true... it seems to come so naturally to them and looks so beautiful, every time i see it, i love it more!

Anyway off to Quito tomorrow then we fly out to La Paz, on Monday Dec 5th so its goodby Ecuador, hello Bolivia!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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