A number of people have requested that I provide photos to record our life here in Cuenca. But it seems every photo I take has my thumb in the foreground. I just don’t have the gift. And, I realize, I don’t want to develop it. Too many other things to do. Spanish to learn. Friends to make. A country to discover.
However, mi esposo, David, is pretty handy with the Nikon or whatever it is we have.
And he has a goal to walk every street in this city and he is well on his way.
He leaves the house with camera around his neck and umbrella in hand (not so much for the daily rain as to fend off annoying street dogs). He returns a little winded and red faced three or four hours later and hightails it to the desk, picks up the city map and commences to mark his most recent trek.
He loves to walk and this city gives him ample opportunity to do just that. I want to share his enthusiasm but at this point I find myself too leery of falling down (as I have already done too many times in the past four months!) Sidewalks here can be treacherous at times. One needs to learn to walk with eyes to the ground. I can’t quit talking and I can’t seem to walk and talk at the same time. Sigh.
He’s documenting some interesting things. Starting with…laundry.
Near our home is a busy laundry spot. Families without access to laundry facilities or those lacking money for machines or maybe those who choose to do it because that’s how they’ve always done it come to wash clothes in the Tomebamba River.
We see both women and men pounding their laundry on rocks in the fast-moving water and laying them out on the grass to dry. I imagine it’s a great way to reduce stress if they have any. People are pretty chill here. Not much high blood pressure medication sold in Cuenca.
Children play along the banks. As shirts, pants and towels dry in the sun they create colorful, playful patterns.
Growing season is year round here and gardens are plentiful. In town, you’ll see raised beds or small plots by the side of the house. Farther out of El Centro, in the burbs, open spaces fill up fast with rows of green, leafy vegetables.
Who knows, we may even join the ranks of food producers once we move to a place with enough green space. The land is rich and fertile. Just stick something in the ground and it takes off. Margarita, the woman who cleans our house every week, took a garlic bulb that was sprouting in our kitchen, stuck it in the dirt and we’re on our way to having our own garlic crop this year! Huge fat juicy carrots. Cauliflower and broccoli for a pittance. Cabbages good enough for kings.
The only thing I really miss is Iowa raised corn-on-the-cob. From what I’ve learned, yellow corn here is fed to the animals. White corn goes to the humans. But it’s not at all like the corn raised on my in-law’s farm in Northwest Iowa. I do miss that. We’ll be back there July 2017 bearing our sticks of butter and hearty appetites. You are forewarned Daryl and Alyda!
Along the sidewalks…
Street art is encouraged in the city. I hear sometimes the city even helps pay for the paint. Everywhere we walk, we see displays that make us smile. Brilliant colors, bold graphics, bizarre murals, happy spaces. I wonder if I can get a block or two of walls to paint?
I won’t say there is a church on every corner, but it is close. Large and small. Hundreds of years old or relatively new. I don’t know that I hear many bells peeling, but I do hear many fireworks going off — very frequently– honoring a saint’s birthday or a patron saints day.
Something old, something new. David and I love seeing all the antique buildings still holding their own in this city of high rise buildings and modern expressways.
My husband has this dream to acquire an abandoned adobe house and fix it up. I like the thought of it, but the actuality is not in my comfort zone. I like this growing modern city that allows room for the old to spend their remaining years in peace. Buildings and people.
I’ll post more. I have a book to read. Friends of ours are returning to the States and are selling off their extensive library. I find myself wandering over there every few weeks and purchasing another load of hardbacks and paperbacks. The house is starting to feel more like home.
We have a good life in Cuenca, Ecuador. And we are muy thankful.