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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Sunday at the park

The cell phone rang and our building maintenance woman, Nancy, was calling. Her husband, eight year old son, and she wondered if we might like to join them at the Parque Paradiso. Crowding all of us into our car, we drove to the park where we were to meet her sister who is our maid, husband and four children. The Parque Paradiso is the largest park in Cuenca, a city full of parks that are always filled with people.

Just a small section of this huge park

But, Sunday is a special day and Sunday afternoon is when Nancy has her half day off from work.  The park was crowded with thousands of people, families of every age but mostly Cuencanos with not another gringo in sight. We walked a good half mile into the park past picnicking families, past swings filled with laughing children, over creeks on swinging bridges, past tents where food was being cooked and sold, beyond a track for sporting events where a horse and buggy gave rides to children, to an area where there was a lake with an island in the center which was home to unusual varieties of ducks and geese and swans. At the side of the lake there was a free concession where a long line of people waited to board paddle boats. It seemed a scene out of a turn of the century photograph.   

Cuenca is filled with parks. The rivers that flow through the city are lined with parks with swings, slides, and exercise apparatus every quarter of a mile or so. There are little pocket parks every few blocks in the city with benches and an occasional small paved court for sports. The half dozen large parks compete for the population who arrive on foot or by bus by the hundreds. Spinning carrousels, long slides, jungle gyms, canopy like wire slides, horseback rides, swings, and the almost ever present festival of some sort or the other are the attractions but it is the wide open grassy spaces that seem to bring the families. They arrive in groups of five, ten, or even twenty carrying plastic bags of food and the ubiquitous white futbol. They pour into the parks, stake out a grassy area for games, and place the elderly and children in the shade of some trees.

This Sunday, we were with one of these groups.  We met our maid’s family and her cousin’s family and became a group of eight adults and eight children. The small children played around the trees while the older children and adults warmed up with a game of tossing the futbol around a circle.

Warming up by bouncing the ball round the circle

Then teams were created and a lively hour long game of futbol ensued. Goals were created by using a pair of bicycles as one goal and a couple of jackets at the other goal and were manned by a ten year old girl on one side and a mother on the other.

Jonny on the attack

Running, kicking at the ball, often falling but always with laughter and deference to the youngest who played their hearts out, they spent their one afternoon of non-work. 

a shot gone astray

The team waiting for the attack

Ishmael with his sights on the goal

After a break for a drink of soda 

Nothing like a cold drink on a hot day

and before we left to go home, a rope was hung between two trees for a game of volleyball that lasted until dark.

Once again, we have no message to offer from this delightful Sunday at the park, only the joy and fulfillment we find in our home away from home.

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