Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, Lordy, we are tired

We've been working, working, working trying to get rid of everything. Yesterday and today, we spent hours at the dreaded storage unit cataloging everything we have there so that we can call Salvation Army to come and get it. We'll take a tax write off for all of it.

We are discovering that no one is buying anything right now. We spoke with another expat who is experiencing the same thing in trying to dispose of their stuff here in the states. It's just not a good time to be trying to get someone to open their wallets. At least we don't have a house to get rid of in this downturn.

Anyway, we did sell some old no-longer-wearable jewelry today, and got more for it than expected. The one bright spot in the economy is that gold is up. So even those little tiny gold rings brought something.

Getting rid of the stuff in the storage unit is a huge step forward, and we feel that we are making good progress in getting ourselves ready to return to Ecuador by October 17th.

We are really tired tonight though, and hoping that Gil's back will not be too sore tomorrow after moving our 30 boxes of stored books around so we could count what we have.

Our very long "to-do" list is slowly getting things marked off it, and we're feeling good about the progress.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oh, The Nerves

We know we haven't written in awhile. But we've been mighty busy 'round here. Working frantically to get back to Cuenca.

The place is a mess. There are piles of throw away, piles of keep, and piles of look through and figure out.

For all of you who are still thinking about making a move, START GETTING RID OF YOUR STUFF NOW!!

Well, back to the grind.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cry Us a River

We are very sad today because we leave Cuenca tomorrow. Cuenca, the city of four rivers. We have spent the last few days getting some additional information about shipping, renting, etc., and saying good bye to new friends. We are planning to be back here late October or early November, but it is hard to leave. We feel very much at home here in Cuenca, and have made a lot of wonderful friends already.

This will be our last posting from Cuenca for this trip. We had a busy week, doing some more sightseeing and walking around trying to soak in as much of Cuenca as we could, in addition to saying our goodbyes to everyone.

One of the things we did this week was find an amazing bakery in El Centro. There are lots of delicious bakeries there, but this one has gorgeous, fancy pastries. Unfortunately, every pastry we have bought there has cost us only $.50. I think you will understand why I say that is unfortunate. These same pastries would cost $4-$5 each at home. There are other bakeries that have pastries for even less money. We'll have to stay far away from the bakeries when we come back.

Gil has remarked how tall he feels here. Even I, at 5'5," am tall. Here, I have joined a crowd of Cuencanos to watch a young man paint beautiful pictures with spray paint. I'm the one in the beige rain coat. Wowza! I've never thought of myself as tall before.

We thought you might be interested in seeing some of the old construction in Cuenca. A new friend of ours purchased this house in El Centro and is renovating it. You can see the construction of the walls in this photo. While some are made of stacked brick, other parts of the wall are just stuffed-in mud, and if you look closely over the latticed window, that area is good old fashioned waddle and daub construction like was used in the middle ages. Of course, we don't know how old this house is. It may have been built during the early colonial period, and so would be practically a middle ages (or just after the middle ages) house. We've seen several houses in El Centro that are being renovated, and you can clearly see the waddle and daub styles of walls. Some are made from wooden slates filled in between with mud, straw and all kinds of broken pottery debris. It's really cool to see. Although, we will be looking for modern construction for our own living arrangements.

Cuenca is a very clean city (except for the air pollution from the buses.) There are armies of street cleaners that are constantly sweeping and picking up trash. Here is one of them around Parque Calderon. You especially see them around the many beautiful parks and squares. Also, when you see mounted police (which we've seen once or twice), unlike at home, the horses don't wear diapers. Instead, they have their own two man team of pooper-picker-upers who follow along behind the horses. Labor is inexpensive here, and diapers don't provide jobs.

Most everything here is still done by hand. Some of the streets in El Centro are under repair. Here is a man working on re-tiling one of the streets. This particular street is made of slabs of stone. Some are cobblestone. Even when the street is originally broken up, it's done by hand, not with a jackhammer (as far as we've seen.) Men chisel the old tiles out before cutting and laying the new ones.

Here's a closeup of one of the slab stoned streets. We think that pink stone on the sidewalk is marble. It sure looked like marble.

O Wednesday, Fabian took us and one of our friends, Jim, to Ingapirca. It is the most important (and largest) archaeological site in Ecuador (and second only the Macchu Picchu in Peru for Inca sites) and is in the Canar department, which is the department next to Azuy where Cuenca is located. The site was originally a Canari Indian religious site. When the Inca conquered the Canari, they took over the site and made it their own.

The Canari's main god was the moon god. The Inca's the sun god. The site was chosen originally by the Canari because of it's good astronomical orientation. The Inca followed suit. The Temple of the Moon, built by the Canari (only the foundation of that remains), was oriented to the phases of the moon. The Temple of the Sun, built by the Inca, is situated so that the sun hits certain points at sun rise and sun set on the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes. Here is a picture of the Temple of the Sun. These are original Inca walls.

A closer view of the Temple of the Sun. Those stones are cut to precisely fit together. There is no mortar between them. They have stood for 600 years.

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There is a herd of llamas at Ingapirca The Canari and Inca had llamas and made clothing from their wool.

Here are a couple of little darlings, descendants of the original Canari peoples who were strolling around Ingapirca. Aren't they sweet?!

The drive out to Ingapirca, which took about 1.5 hours, whetted our appetites to see a lot more of Ecuador when we get back here.

Now, tonight, we have to start packing for our flight back to the US tomorrow.