Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Weekend

Saturday brought about a little road trip with Brenda and Clarke to Gualeceo. The drive there is quite beautiful. Although we've been several times, there is always something different to see. For the first time we saw the Capel de Calvario, which sits on a hill overlooking Gualeceo.

There were four angels hanging around outside the church.

A sculpture of an angel outside the church.

This is the view from the church.

We left Gualeceo and drove back towards Paute looking for a place to have lunch. Clarke and Brennie had previously eaten at Fritadas de Certag. It was filled with locals.

There were lots of patrons, delicious aromas, and entertainment. A group, which looked like a family was providing mariachi music. The principle songster was the little boy, who had an incredible voice.

During one of the songs, the boy and the man were bantering back and forth in song. They were quite good.
The pork is cooked out back. The day was quite warm, so cooking over a wood fire didn't seem very appealing.
This pig was being prepared out front in the traditional style.

After a delicious lunch of pork, we returned to Gualeceo to shop at the market. Amidst the vegetables that were for sale, was this little guy, fast asleep.

Market scenes.

On our way out of town, we stopped at the orchid farm. Upon entering, you're engulfed in an entrancing aroma. What a great day!

Sunday was a very special day in Ecuador; the first census since the mid 1980's was taken. It was far more organized than any in the US. Henry had already completed the lengthy questionaire for us; therefore, the census taker, a high school student, Ricardo, had only to transfer the information. This is Ricardo, our census taker.
No one was allowed on the streets from 7AM until 5PM. Police patrolled, by car and horse. Everything was extremely quiet.

This was our first Ecuadorian census and we were thrilled to be a part of it. Upon completion, we received the official seal of approval on our door.

Monday morning found us at the Vega Studio in Turi. This is the entrance. The seconds are outside on the ledge.

A beautiful vase.

Other pieces.

A view of the gallery.

His house.

A mural at the entrance.

Vega is a renown ceramist in Ecuador, having designed murals throughout the country.

After having bought 3 framed tiles, we went to the Burgues factory that is building the cabinetry for the apartment of Jim and Angie. The factory was hidden in a neighborhood behind our apartment. This quaint building houses the design studio.

The craftsmen were very efficient and used modern equipment.

The morning ended with lunch at Gourmand with Jim, Angie, George, and Carol. Then it was off to Supermaxi with the Evans. There's always something to do.

Until next time,

Mick and Kathy

Hot Dogs and Rice Krispy Treats

Those who had visited CORFRA on Sunday had planned a hot dog cookout for Friday afternoon. As we were leaving our apartment for the meeting place, it began to rain. Despite the inclimate weather, we were greeted by children that were elated to see us. They showed us to the dining hall with the newly decorated Christmas tree.
Here are some of the children with Mark.
The cookout seemed risky with the continued showers; therefore, it was decided to cook the hotdogs inside. Here's Angie manning the grill.

Although Jeni had just arrived in Cuenca, she was quite willing to visit the children and jumped right to assist with making hotdogs.
The children ate as if they were famished. All the children ate multiple hotdogs.

Even the little ones ate hotdogs.
Here are Connnie and Jeni after the children have been served.
The children, with Angie, Maria Mercedes, Henry, and Jim in the background.
Juan Fernando and Miguel posing for the camera.

Miguel, Juan Fernando, and Herlinda.
Jeni, Paul, Mick, and some of the children.
The hotdogs were a huge success. Additionally for dessert, Angie had made Rice Krispy treats. The sad part of the meal was that some of the children were saving hotdogs for later; they were hoarding food, indicating that they have truly experienced hunger.
While at CORFRA, we received some sad and disturbing news. David, who had been abandoned by his parents and had arrived at CORFRA last Thursday, had runaway. No one knew where he had gone other than he was probably searching for his parents. David is 11. We hope that he is safe.

The money collected at California Kitchen at Thanksgiving was almost enough for mattresses. The order was placed for 24 mattresses yesterday; they should be delivered by Friday.

Also yesterday, the Pombos and the Reeds met with Eduardo and Charo at 10 de Agosto market yesterday and purchased the makings for bread. There is a commercial oven; however, they had no flour, yeast, or lard. That has been remedied temporarily. The current goal is to keep the children fed. Some of the food needs are 70 pounds of rice and 84 liters of milk per week. Most of us have never truly been hungry, but by their actions, it is evident that these children know what hunger is.

Everything that has been done for the children has been greatly appreciated.

Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Friday, November 26, 2010

"We Gather Together..."

It has been a busy week at California Kitchen in preparation for the Thanksgiving Feast. There was much anticipation on the part of the gringo community, as well as the Evans Family. Shopping for the event began on Monday.

In addition to the Evans' preparation, there was work to be done for the Angel Tree. An Angel Tree for CORFRA was going to be displayed at the festivities. Those who wanted to participate would take an angel containing the name of an orphan. The person will then provide Christmas for that child. Angie designed and made the angel tree.
Henry's help was needed for communication to the director to make sure every child was included.

The Angel Tree
No time for a group picture, but here's Jim, filling the warming pans.

There was much socializing.
The serving line.

Chuck, Mick, and Henry
Jenny, Chris, and Friends
Mick, Brian, Shelley, Henry, and Angie
The Grimms and the Reeds

It was a wonderful event. The food was outstanding, consisting of turkey and the trimmings, leg of lamb, pork, green bean casserole, and much, much more. The meal was a little taste of our previous lives, bringing back, many memories. Carol, George, Jim, and Susie, thank you so very much!

The participants were generous and donations were made to CORFRA. The angels were "adopted" and it was a wonderful day. In the true sense of the holiday, we were all very thankful for the day. We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

In the United States. tomorrow marks the official beginning of the holiday season. This time of year also begins a season of reflection of accomplishments, failures, memories of the past and our hopes for the future.

As we’ve been told since elementary school, Thanksgiving is a day of “giving thanks”. Those of us living in Cuenca are privileged to have the opportunity to live in this unique and diverse country. Mick and I are especially grateful for this.

Our journey to Cuenca has been one that has encompassed all aspects of life, including death, happiness, sadness, successes, and failures. It is because of all these facets that we are who we are and are now here. We are grateful for all of them.

We hope that everyone, wherever you maybe, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Please take just a few moments tomorrow to reflect on your bounty.

As you enter the holiday season, please remember those who have less for which to be thankful, including the children of CORFRA.

Happy Thanksgiving from Cuenca,
Mick and Kathy