Monday, January 31, 2011

Off We Go to School

Last week was a big week for Mick in that he completed driving school. Although he has been driving in NC since a teenager, in order to get your license in Ecuador, completion of driving school is required. In order to attend the school, there is a fee of $187. Additionally, you must submit 2 copies of your cedula or passport, 2 copies of your Ecuadorian police report, have your blood typed at the Red Cross, 2 passport-size photos, and your high school diploma. Mick didn't have his high school diploma; however, on his cedula it is stated that his education was "superior"; therefore, they accepted that he also had a high school diploma.

The school was grueling, stressful, and in Spanish. Classes were for 7 straight days, driving for 3 hours each day and 2 hours in class. Mick and Jim took the classes together and both passed the test. A card must now come from Quito before they can take the government exam.

While Mick and Jim were in driving school, Angie and I began our on adventure. We enrolled in weaving classes at a fabulous yarn shop called Distribudora Barrera.

Angie is learning to thread the loom as the instructor, Patricia watches.
The first article that you make is a scarf. Here's mine, still on the loom.

Since my class time will be limited over the next few weeks, I brought my loom home.

In addition to the weaving, I cook a great deal. Last week I made 2 pies and 2 cakes. The last cake was for our housekeeper, Lena's birthday. Once upon a time I took the basic Wilton class, but have not used that tiny bit of knowledge gained in probably 20 years. Since Mick was driving and I had time, I decided to attempt to decorate Lena's cake. The finished product is below. To my friend Renee, please don't laugh! I say that because Renee makes elaborate cakes and practices making very complicated flowers.

When we're out and about taking pictures, Nikolas usually isn't in them because he's in his sack on my shoulder. Since he had just had a bath and was especially cute, I thought I'd put a new picture of him in this blog.

Life is especially good, a few mishaps along the way. Mick has completed the driving school and Nick and I are along for the ride.
Until next time,
Mick and Kathy

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Catching Up on January

For various and sundry reasons, this is the first post for the new year; therefore, there is a bit of catching up to do. As the year ended, there were a number of efigy burnings on our street which began in the afternoon. The workers at the construction site near us went to great efforts in preparing not only bodies, but a truck.

Their work day actually ended at noon; however, the workers stayed around, consuming beer, with the blaze occuring in mid-afternoon.

To celebrate the new year, a number of us had reservations for the party at Hotel Oro Verde. The term "party" is a bit exagerated. There was a luau theme which ended with the distribution of leis and the staff's Hawaiian shirts. The food was mediocre at best. Our group left before the new year arrived. On our way home, we drove through town and found things to be quiet as well. Here are some pictures from the Oro Verde.

Mick and I watched the city exploding with fireworks, as it ushered in the new year from the terrace. New Year's Day is not only the beginning of the new year, it is also our wedding anniversary. We have been married long enough not to be embarrassed by each other, not to take arguments or disagreements seriously, and to laugh at each other without offending. However, we have still not been married long enough to tire of each other, to have nothing to talk about, or to want to be without the other.

Through the years, Mick has been everything that I am not. He has remained constant in a world of variables, always level headed. He has been the equalizing force during our crises. Always he is my north star, preventing me from losing my way. He has kept me sane. We still have not been married long enough.

Shortly after the first of the year, we made our way to Guayaquil in order to claim our passports. In order to receive our crates, it was necessary to relinquish our passports to the aduana. They had to be claimed in person. We flew down for the day and were picked up at the airport by our shipping agent, Patricio. Patricio took us to customs office at the port, gave us a quick tour of Guayaquil, and then dropped us off a mall. Here is Patricio, Mick, and Henry.

At the mall, we had lunch at TGI Friday's, shopped a bit, visited McDonald's, and returned home.

The airport in Guayaquil has a very nice koi pond filled with large fish.

Recently there was a morning spent in Banos at Piedra de Aqua. By Cuenca standards, the entrance fee was pricey, $30 per person and truly was not worth the cost.

There is something unfinished looking about the facility. In addition to the mineral water, there is a restaurant.
The surroundings are bushes and houses.

The caves are actually man-made.
The first pool that you encounter is the mud bath, which was not what we expected. Here are Mick, Rhonda, George, and Carol. You enter the pool and are then presented with a dish of mud to smear on your body.

There are sweat boxes for those who are not clostrophobic.

The grotto has two pools, one hot and the other containing cold water. You alternate between the hot and cold. Susie and George were in the hot pool.

On Sunday, we accompanied Jim and Angie to the Cajas in their new vehicle. It was a lovely day for a drive. We stopped at the Virgin of the Cajas Sanctuary. There are a number of pieces of religious statuary.

There is a chapel where mass is held on Sunday mornings. That is Jim and Mick on the bench. The sanctuary is quite lovely and has a huge number of visitors. As you approach the entrance, there are a number of vendors selling various types of wares. This little guy and his mom were preparing to open for business.

After our visit to the garden, we went to Hosteria Dos Chorreras for lunch. The setting is beautiful and is a lodge as well as a restaurant.

In recent days, a great deal of time as been spent continuing to unpack the cartons from the crates. Furniture and drapes were ordered as we prepare for the arrival of our first visitors, Dale and Joan. The guest room is almost complete. Life is great!

Until next time,
Mick and Kathy