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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The annual children's Christmas parade

Each year the day before Christmas Eve, the people of the city of Cuenca get their children, cars, and horses all dressed up to celebrate in a massive parade. It is loosely organized and has no central theme except to present the children in costumes that herald the Christmas season. No amount of words can replace the photos of these faces.

One of the many marching bands

Tired children on a movable manger scene

Almost all of the children in the parade were surrounded by caring parents who helped them cope

Yesterday, these sheep were probably out in the fields. Today, they are on parade.

Two beautiful Senioritas

If you look closely, you will see that the blanket on the horse is made of fruits and vegetables.

On this horse, the blanket is made of candy bars. The baby is asleep under his father's protective umbrella. 

Jonny couldn't resist petting the sheep

It is hard to see just  how extravagant this float is

A girl's marching band playing the recorder

Sheep on parade

Three little Americans in the hot sun

My favorite

35,000 people and we saw only one policeman

A miniature truck with its load of children

Think of the hours of work to make these floats

A staggering load of candy and fruit

Christmas carols by an accordian man

A tired horse and his keeper

Just around the corner from the park, a truck was parked that was filled with food. Women passed out free bananas, popcorn, bread, and soup to anyone who wanted something to eat. 

Hope you enjoyed these photos of one of the nicest days any one could spend honoring the children of Cuenca.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A quick trip

We don’t usually write about our travels, but a lot happened on our recent one week trip to the States. There were a few important business, tax, and banking problems that could not be done online or in the mail, so we packed up, made some quick travel arrangements, and flew to North Carolina.

One interesting aspect of the flights was the increased level of security. In Quito, we went through Ecuador exit procedure without problems, then at the departure lounge, experienced our first “pat down.” Jonny thought it was fun and asked for a pair of latex gloves from one of the attendants and proceeded to pat down the agents to general hilarity. I was then “selected” to go to the checked baggage area out on the tarmac. Escorted by a guard, we went through many restricted areas for about a quarter mile of walking up and down endless stairs to an area near the runway piled high with hundreds of pieces of luggage waiting to be loaded onto planes. Our four bags were pulled aside and one suitcase sat on a table with an attendant waiting for me to open it. He took out Jonny’s sippy cup that had a dragon’s head on the top that bounces up and down and asked me what it was. I explained that it was a drinking cup and he nodded with some level of understanding, zipped the bag closed and I was escorted back. The guard and I were both patted down again and returned to the waiting lounge.
Our LAN Ecuador flight was almost like flying in the old days, an excellent meal, comfortable seats, and pleasant attendants. Miami airport was a zoo and required an hour on line to get out boarding passes, then again through security, customs, immigration but with no problem with the Sippy Cup. On USAir, we encountered more of what we had been used to, cramped seats, no food, and indifferent attendants. We stepped off the airplane in Charlotte to frigid weather. The east coast of the US was in a cold snap where temperatures in Florida reached into the low thirties and the low twenties in North Carolina.

 In our rental car, we spent four days racing from bank to lawyer to Walmart to friends to a short night’s sleep and then a repeat of the same schedule the next day. We got our fill of McDonald’s Big Macs and Kid’s meals, the usual shock at the excess in the stores compared to our simpler and probably more sensible offerings, plus an observation that, even in this economic crisis, people are terribly resilient and are doing the best that they can. We saw casual friends on the street and in stores and it seemed like we had not even been gone. Our close friends were still as close as ever and Jonny fell right in with his old buddies.

 Then it was time to come home to Cuenca again. Another four flights and the familiar bustle and confusion carrying four suitcases filled with Christmas gifts and items that friends had asked us to bring back. Stepping off the plane in Cuenca sent a wave of gratitude through all of us.

We were happy to be home. Though still tired from our exhausting trip, we kept our promise to Jonny and put up the tree and now look forward to the very festive holiday season ahead. Happy holidays to all.