Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seizing the Day!

I thought I'd create a brand new travel blog for my adventures, but I've decided to hijack one I've already established instead. I'll be travelling for three months...eight weeks in South America, two weeks in Ottawa, Ontario and two weeks in Victoria, British Columbia.

I suspect that folks who've read my blog as furniture restoration may well drop out...and I hope you'll stay, because I'll be doing so much more of that, but y'now, there are so MANY different phases of our journey through life 'eh?

Oooohhhh, South America! I've been here only three days, and am positively smitten. I'm based in a city of nearly half a million people in Cuenca, which is a colonial city in the interior of Ecuador, in the sierra of the southern Andes. The altitude here is roughly 2500 meters (8200 feet) above sea level. Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site...as is our own Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The history, the architecture, the beauty...amazing. "Cuenca" means a confluence of rivers; the four rivers here are the Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Tarqui and Machangara. I'm staying just above the Rio Tomebamba, in the "El Centro" historic colonial part of the city. The "newer" part of the city is across the river, within just a few minutes walking.

So why am I here, and why did I choose THIS place...questions that many of my friends and family asked when I booked my solitary travel plans (as they were thinking, but most not brave enough to say "Is she NUTS!?") . The "why" is easy...get out of the Nova Scotia snow for a few weeks, have an adventure, do something out of the ordinary. This fits!

If not now, then when?

As to why I chose Ecuador, it was primarily the climate and the eco-diversity. The weather here is temperate...spring-like...all year 'round, ranging from late-night lows in the range of 4 to 6 C (that'd be 39 to 46 F for those my age, ha ha) to 20-28 C (68-82F) . Because it's such a high altitude, humidity is very low...a MUST for me. From here, I can travel to white sand Pacific Ocean beaches...Salinas, Manta, Bahia...all within a couple of hours by public transport, and stay in a beachfront cabana for a couple of weeks for under $200...and YES, I'll include THAT adventure while I'm here! I can also travel to the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador, where the humidity is 100% and the temperatures range from 23-35C (75-95F)...ummm...100% humidity...will likely NOT venture there this trip.

A five day eco-cruise through the Galapagos Islands will happen next month.

Did you KNOW...Ecuador is probably the most bio-diverse country in terms of plant and animal species in the WORLD?

Did you KNOW...Charles Darwin conducted the majority of his research right here in Ecuador?

THIS adventure is Phase One of my decision to divest myself of the majority of my "stuff..." YOU know what I mean...all those THINGS we thought we NEEDED and collected over the years...and then to experience life living abroad...who knows where...maybe South America...maybe Bali...the "where" is not as critical as the "why..." just to experience a different culture, looking at life through a different lens.

Here's what I left January 9th, just across the street from my place in Halifax.


Here are some first photos of Cuenca. A little glimpse of Rio Tomebamba


To get there is easy...just walk down these ninety-one steps...


...and then , huff your way right back UP those ninety-one steps!

Here's the exterior of the city library, located just to the left of those steps...


The mix of old and new condos to the right of the steps...


I walk almost everywhere within a three or four mile radius, and the walking has become part of the adventure. There's just SO MUCH to see, and I'm enjoying every precious minute! I've met a gaggle of friendly Canadian and American ex-pats here, and have social outings lined up for the next three weeks already.

I'll leave you with some pics of the HUGE Fiera Libre outdoor market I toured yesterday. The sights, the sounds, the smells...altogether a bit of an overwhelming experience actually...but I'll be going again!

Dress is important here, and the traditions of women's skirts are full of history and place...more about that in another post.






You can buy just about anything at this market...want a puppy?


Umm...how about the beginning of a local delicacy called "Cuy..." I'll leave YOU to google it...and NO, I haven't tried it...




Hunk of roast pig anyone? What dinner party conversation back home THIS would make!

No puppies? No roast pig? Okay...how about a goat?


PHEW! That's all for now. I'm leaving soon to begin twice weekly "Spanish-for-the-linguistically-challenged" lessons.

I'll visit several churches in old El Centro this afternoon, and who KNOWS what other adventures await! I hear that the President of Ecuador will be visiting Cuenca this Saturday, so I'll trot off to the stadium...won't understand a WORD he says, but I'll BE there! (ha ha)

Life is...so very very...GOOD...I hope YOURS is too. Thanks for stopping by, hope you'll visit again soon.

45 comments:

  1. awesome. I think I'm going to do that as soon as I get these kids out the door. In another 15 years lol! Do you feel safe traveling alone? I'm getting a shotgun because I don't even feel safe in the US, I wonder how I will feel somewhere else..I can't get my shotgun through customs so that will be an issue.
    ;)

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    1. HEY young Katy...so NICE to "see" you! YES, I feel very safe travelling alone...and if you lived in Ecuador, you couldn't even OWN a shotgun...no need though...have toddled around the streets of Cuenca alone late at night, and as long as one takes the usual precautions...NO problem!

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  2. Thanks so much for posting this. I'll look forward to reading future posts, and will definitely sign up for your updates.
    Enjoy!

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  3. Hi Deb. Oh this is going to be SO much fun! Keep the posts coming. Love the colour and the culture. What and adventure! What stories!
    Lesley.

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  4. You've given me inspiration that maybe I can try this with my teen daughter??? I also wonder if you feel really safe alone there. It looks spectacular. Can't wait to read more.

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    1. Hi Deb, just loving all this so-exciting, love the pics Reg.

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  5. Congratulations on following through on this wonderful adventure! It looks so interesting and I bet your already creative juices are overflowing right now with all the new scenery and experiences! I am proud of you dear friend and I will continue to live vicariously through your posts and photos. Enjoy and carpe diem!

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  6. Hi Deb, really enjoying this, keep up with you're blogand pics,

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  7. Hi Deb. Looks like you're enjoying the good life! Enjoying your blog. ¿Hablas español? Love the pictures!

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    1. Ummm, NO Spanish yet...I signed up for classes though..."Spanish-for-the-linguistically-challenged..." does that count?

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  8. Loved reading this and I have one thing to say....good for you! You are very brave and are doing something I would never dream if doing myself but greatly admire anybody who would. Look forward to future blogs!

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  9. Thanks so much for sharing, Deb!! I am just getting over food poisoning, so with a look at your last photos I ask, "what are you eating?" Please be careful. The pictures of the people are wonderful. What language do they speak? Spanish, Portuguese, etc. This is just awesome. Of course, I thought your picture of your home area was too! :-D

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    1. Ecuadorians speak Spanish Shirley...I don't! Re eating, I'm VERY careful...and I don't eat cuy!

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  10. Deborah

    Am delighted to read your blog and that you are having a wonderful adventure.
    Enjoy, relax, learn but please be safe.
    When are you coming to Ottawa? Maybe we can plan on catching up while you are in town!
    Wishing all the best for 2012!
    Warmest regards,
    Judy

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    1. Hey Judy...would love to see you again...will be in Ottawa March 14th through 28th.

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  11. AWESOME trip already sis! Can wait to see you in one of the ladies funky hats. Any fish yet?

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  12. Deborah,

    all sounds great - wish I were there, too. perhaps next time.

    Tim

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  13. Oh, how neat for you to be able to take this trip...what an adventure. Love the pictures...but your commentary makes my day. Have a GRAND time.
    Susan

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  14. Oh Deb, this is so exciting! Apparently Ecuadorean Spanish is absolutely beautiful and where you are is considered by many as THE place in SA to learn the language!
    I understand it's a safe place. Ironically, I'd be most nervous of roaming dogs, but perhaps that's not a problem, given your market shots. lol
    So happy for you doing this and to be able to read your blog. Keep it up. I look forward to reading your next mosting. Buena suerte! Take care of your wonderful self!
    Michele (in cold St. John's)

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  15. Typo! "posting" not "mosting"! :-)
    Mx

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  16. Hi! I am so glad you are blogging about your travels. I like furniture restoration and travelling so will stay a follower! Ecuador has always been on my "must list". Like you hubby and I are taking a big personal leap and are in process of selling our big house in Alberta to move to our little dream house on Vancouver Island. Scary but totally worth whatever the dream is! Have fun. By the way I follow another blog you might find interesting from Ecuador: Bob and Rox in Ecuador at http://bobnrox.squarespace.com/journal. They own a little guest house on the ocean but their blog is really interesting too with adventures rescuing sea turtles, watching surfing crowds and hosting gigantic Christmas parties for under priveledged children. Take care and be safe in your travels!

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  17. I'm so glad you "popped" up again! I was worried.
    And what an amazing and wonderful adventure you've launched. I'm both jealous and excited for you. I will certainly look forward to these posts!

    Happy Travels!

    David

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  18. Where are you now? :-) You're missing a blizzard! lol

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  19. Newest follower! So happy for you, in this new stage of your life. Can't wait to read more. Have a wonderful adventure filled day!

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  20. Wow!!! This is a wonderful traveblog on Ecuador! Would love to visit there someday. Think of you often and am so happy you are enjoying your life abroad.

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