Cuenca has the reputation of having a holiday, festival or parade occur almost every week. Every dawn there are a series of airborne salutes fired into the air by one church or the other. Five minutes later, another three explosions go off. No one seems to know why. Huge nighttime fireworks displays happen many evenings each week. We asked why they fire off expensive pyrotechnics and someone said, “They shoot them off because they have them!” It seems like as good a reason as any. A recent celebration was a four day weekend holiday which was the city of Cuenca’s Independence Day. Each big city has an Independence Day, though no one seems to know why. More learned Ecuadorians might say each city experienced a revolution that freed the city from something oppressive but it is not information that is easy to come by. At the fireworks displays there is very little concern for safety and they seem quite dangerous because people crowd around the ground displays and get awfully close to stray rockets shooting out in all directions. During the Independence Day celebrations there were hundreds of art exhibits all over town. At one of them, a Romanian friend exhibited extraordinary portraits of angels made of thousands of pieces of tinted glass. We bought one that is called “Seven Tears.” It was made of 14,000 tiny glass pieces all painted, fired and assembled into an almost life-like portrait. The rest of the gallery’s exhibit was of angels - paintings, statues, sculptures, Christmas decorations, etc. The holiday of Corpus Christi is another big event where there are hundreds of booths up and down the streets selling sugary confections that attract bees by the thousands but the bees don’t seem to deter anyone. Most American kids here are disappointed about Halloween as it is only celebrated in a small way. Trick or treating doesn’t seem to have caught on yet. We let Thanksgiving and Fourth of July slide by with little fanfare though we celebrated them with other American expatriates. Thanksgiving actually turned out to be a great day as friends threw a party for 25 Americans with all the trimmings. It kept a little bit of the US alive on such a special day for Americans. The Christmas season is a big deal in Ecuador. We made a big mistake giving away or selling all our Christmas decorations and wonderful big tree before we came to Ecuador so we had to buy all new decorations but that was actually fun as there are some wonderfully creative and interesting things to buy. Lighted trees and decorations popped up everywhere weeks prior to our Thanksgiving. Then there are the many other Ecuadorian holidays that we are totally unfamiliar with. It will take some time to accustom ourselves with them yet they add to our very full calendar. Holidays and noisy celebrations are a way of life in Cuenca to which we have added our American holidays. All in all, they add up to an almost weekly occurrence.
A New Kind of Blog
There is a world of information about Ecuador. It is one of the most popular countries for people who want to retire to a place where the dollar goes much farther than in the US, a place for adventuresome families who want to experience a new language and exciting culture. However, much of what you read or hear does not touch on the practical, the problematic, or the local information necessary to make things work. There are many blogs which are basically daily diary’s from people who live here. But this blog will be different. We know how hard it is to get accurate and timely information. We have been through it. All of us who live here have learned step by step and we question whether it is necessary to have every newcomer reinvent the wheel. We hope this blog will help shorten the learning curve. There are many hurdles but all are surmountable. What is required is patience, an understanding of local ways, and a realization that you are going to live in a country which is not the same as the US, Canada, or Britain. Our choice was to live in the wonderful city of Cuenca in the Southern Sierra but this may not be your decision and you will therefore have to look further to find the answers you need for different areas like the coast or the Amazon. Please realize that all the suggestions and ideas are based on our experiences. Ecuadorian regulations change rapidly and must be checked before you make any investments or major decisions. Please email us at Sailorburr@gmail.com and let us know if you have any questions or comments.