Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Poochito Update

As many of you know, Poochito is the beautiful German Shepard that lives next door at the construction site.  He is ostensibly their "guard dog."  However, Poochito is really a lover, not a fighter.  We do hear him bark sometimes during the night, but we think that is more out of boredom than anything else.  Here is Poochito looking all majestic, proud and guarddoggy-like.  What a beautiful boy he is.

Over the last year, since Poochito came to the construction site, I have tried my best to befriend him.  But, he is absolutely terrified of me.  Our empirical observations would indicate that I am the only person, or thing, on the planet that frightens him.  (And I loooove him so.)  This dog has no fear of anyone else, no fear of heavy construction equipment, no fear of heights (he goes up to the third or fourth floor of the open construction and goes right over to the edge and looks out over his domain), no fear of sudden, loud noises,  NADA.  No fear of anything, but me!!  When he sees me, he runs as fast as he can to the comfort of his enclosed construction site.

He's not afraid of women in general.  Other women come to the construction site and he doesn't run from them.  He's not afraid of Gringos.  He let Gil pet him once (we were standing and talking to the construction site owner), but he would not come near me even to take a dog biscuit.  After he let Gil pet him, I took one step toward him and he ran for the hills and hid behind one of the construction guys way inside of the construction site.  Now, this really bugs me, because Gil could care less about petting Poochito, but I love him and really want to pet him.  Gil enjoys watching Poochito and his antics, but, he isn't a dog person like I am, so he can give or take a Poochito petting.

Now, it's important that I point out that I have never done anything to harm Poochito.  He was terrified of me the very first time he laid eyes on me.  Gil thinks it's because I actually pay him some attention, while most of the rest of the human world seems to be rather indifferent to him.  He greets his workers every morning with wags and wiggles, and they pretty much ignore him.  I acknowledge his existence, so he thinks there must be something sinister going on there.  Anyway, that's Gil's theory.

Well, over the last few months, I have been trying to win him over with dog biscuits.  He does like to eat.  There used to be a man who came every morning in a red truck to delivery bread to the construction workers.  He would throw Poochito a bun.  Sooooo, when that red truck showed up, Poochito would run to greet it and he was all over that man, following him in a state of ecstatic worship.  Well, I'd like for Poochito to greet me like that. (Gil says he does -- he runs when he sees me just like he would run when he saw the red truck.  The difference is he runs away from me and he ran toward the red truck.  Sigh.)

Anyway, in an attempt to get Poochito to see me as a benefit delivery system rather than the diabla blanca from the black lagoon he apparently thinks I am, I keep 5 or 6 dog biscuits with me in a baggy in my coat pocket at all times, just in case I will be passing within his realm.  In the last couple of weeks, I have been able to get him to take them out of my hand, but only after having thrown a couple to him first from a distance.  But, he will not let me pet him.  If I reach for him without a biscuit in my hand, no matter how gingerly or non-threateningly, he runs away.

Progress is slow.  Even though he now knows I'm the biscuit lady, his first impulse still is to run when he sees me.  Just a few days ago, after weeks of me giving him biscuits, -- nay, months of me giving him biscuits -- he was lying in the dirt road in front of the construction site gate when I walked by about 20 yards away.  I took out a biscuit and said, "Quieras una galleta, Capitan?" (Do you want a biscuit Captain?  -- His real name is Capitan.))  Well, he took one look at me and got up and ran into the construction site.  He peeked his head out around the corner to see if I was still there.  Then he went back inside.  Then he peeked out again.  This time, one of the construction workers peeked out too to see what was scaring the dog.  There I stood with dog biscuit in hand, cooing softly about the biscuit and scaring the daylights out of the big, bad German Shepard.  I tossed him the biscuit, but I had to give up that day because he was not coming back out until I was gone.  The construction worker pet him on the head to comfort him.  But there was no comfort to be had until the diabla blanca (I) was gone

Anyway, today, we had a breakthrough -- although I have no delusions that it is going to stick.  I'm sure that the next time he sees me, he is going to run like the dickens to get away from me, and I'm going to have to go into the "throw-a-couple-of-biscuits-until-he-will-finally-approach-and-take-one-out-of-my-hand" routine all over again.

 But today, well, I'll let the pictures tell the story. (If you click to enlarge the pictures, you will see a white dot on his face.  He has a boo-boo, and it looks like someone has put some kind of white medicine on it.  Don't know how he got it but it's not a bad boo-boo.)

The timid approach (after two biscuits were thrown to him from a distance.)

Nervously taking a biscuit from my hand.

Taking a second biscuit.

The back-off.  Nerves got the better of him.

Finally, he let me pet him. But you can see he's not too thrilled about it.

"I'm not liking this, but there are biscuits left in that bag."

"Okay, scary lady, this is really not fun.  Please don't hurt me.  Oh, god, this is so scary." 

Right after that last picture, he ran back away from me.   Not too far, (I had a couple of biscuits left), but he did not approach again.  He watched as I petted Paco, the dog at the Vega store next door.  But, he'd had his fill of petting and was probably thinking that Paco is loco for letting me get so close to him.

Poochito is a really beautiful dog.  But truthfully, he's much more majestic from a distance because from a distance you CANNOT SEE THE FEAR ON HIS FACE!!!!!

Okay, and then there is Paco.  He loves and craves attention.  He'd rather get petted than have a biscuit to eat.  Just a biscuit is not enough.  He wants lots and lots of petting.

Paco.  See the uneaten biscuit?  Paco says, "Who cares about biscuits, come pet me."

"Ahhhh.  Yes."

"Tummy rub, please."

"Yes, yes.  That's what I like." 

There's a lesson to be learned here, Poochito. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WOW!! Just WOW!!

We have had some amazing skies lately.  Both morning and evening.

Morning sky:

It felt like we could reach out and almost touch these fluffy beauties.

Evening sky:

High up in the Andes and near the equator makes for some spectacular sunsets!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Such excitement!  We were treated to the grand spectacle of a group of celebrities who were staying at the Hotel Oro Verde last night, right outside our windows.  Police escorts, helicopter hovering overhead, and fans, fans fans chanting, waving flags and full of jubilation.  The Barcelona futbol (soccer) team is in town to play against Deportivo Cuenca today in what is a sold out game, and their fans were waiting for their arrival into town last night!  The same scene took place this morning as the team re-boarded their bus to leave the hotel for the stadium.

Barcelona wears yellow jerseys, as do their fans.

The team arrives on their bus.

The fans lingered well into the evening, chanting and singing (the team song?)

Helicopter escort

Military police protection
Good luck, Cuenca (although from what we've heard, not much chance of them beating Barcelona.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gil's Picks

As some of you know, in his pre-Cuenca life, Gil's background was in city planning.  As a result, he has an eye for, and a love of, beautiful cities, interesting buildings, lovely parks and architectural wonders.  Here are some of his favorites in Spain and Portugal.  Some you've had a glimpse of in previous posts, and some will be new to you.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

The Alhambra

The Mosque in Cordoba

An interior courtyard in Cordoba

Cordoba Jewish Quarter

Innumerable buildings and plaza's in Madrid

The Madrid train station

Sant Pau del Camp, Barcelona (oldest church/monastery in Barcelona)

Parque Guell, Barcelona

Parque Retiro, Madrid

Plaza de Torros, Madrid

Royal Palace and gardens, Madrid

Roman aqueduct, Segovia, Spain

The Alcazar, Sevilla

Sevilla Cathedral

Toledo train station

The town of Avila, Spain

The town of Pals, Spain

The town of Sintra, Portugal

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It Wouldn't be Spain Without a Bullfight or Two

Before we left for our trip to Spain, Gil managed to purchase bullfight tickets for us for Madrid.  While we were Sevilla, at the beginning of the Feria, the bullfighting season started there along with the Feria.  We had been informed by several sources that bullfight tickets are impossible to come by in Sevilla during the Feria.  That information was wrong.  We were indeed able to get bullfight tickets in Sevilla and that gave us an opportunity to see bullfights in the oldest bullring in Spain.

In Sevilla, the ladies were dressed in all of their flamenco finery and the men were dressed in suits and ties.  TO GO TO A BULLFIGHT!!  To really appreciate this attire, you need to know that the seats in the plaza de torros are made out of stone (like you see in the ruins of Roman amphitheaters.)  Not at all comfortable.  And the bullring in Sevilla was built in the 18th century.  People must have had legs only two feet long then, because for those of us in the 20th century, your knees are jammed into the backs of the person in front of you, and the person behind you has his/her knees jammed into your back.  (The Madrid bullring, built in the 1920's, had a bit more leg room, but it was still not very comfortable.)  You can rent a cushion to sit on so you are not sitting directly on the stone for two hours, and while that is better, it is still very uncomfortable.

Anyway, in Sevilla, during the week of the Feria, going to the bullfight is akin to going to the opera in New York.  It is a main event of the season.

In Madrid, the people are not so dressed up, so we fit in better in our tourist attire or shorts or jeans and cotton shirts.  But, the Infanta (heiress to the throne) was at our bullfight in Madrid, sitting just in the next section over from us.  She was dressed up in a lovely suit and very pretty hat.

There is a lot of pageantry and brilliant color in the corridas de torros.   And the plazas de torros are quite pretty buildings.   Here are some pictures from our experiences at the bullfights.

Sometimes the bull gets the upper hand.

Those awful seats in the Sevilla bullring (before the crowds arrived and we were jammed in.)

This bull really wants a piece of this matador.

Brave or really foolish?  These guys do get gored sometimes.

The crowd is waiving white handkerchiefs because they want the matador to receive an award.

If you click on this picture and enlarge it, then look at the "box seat" next to the stone arch on the left, you can see some senoritas in their mantillas and flamenco dresses.