Saturday, February 4, 2012

My heart is full...

MORE Ecuadorian flora and fauna! Now before you GROAN, just remember...THIS is what I left in Nova Scotia (the province I LOVE) the day before my departure:

The colours...the delicate beauty of these treasures below...balm for the soul...

Hibiscus...try as I did, the closest I ever came to growing these stunning flowers (in my Nova Scotia gardening) was a "Rose of Sharon," which took SIX YEARS to give me a single blossom. I think I have two thousand pictures of that one lonely lavender beauty .

These three pictures of the peach coloured hibiscus were taken in a traffic island in Chordeleg, a beautiful community about an hour from here (more about that coming...)

I shall HAVE these in my South American gardens!

Lovely 'eh? OH! You want MORE? Okay, I'm here to oblige...from my landlady's garden...

Now THESE little beauties grow in well tended gardens at the only "western style" shopping centre (the Mall del Rio) near where I'm staying in Santa Ana de los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca.

You LIKE these? Well, hold on to your gardener's come the ORCHIDS!

Now, if you're interested in seeing more orchids, with MUCH better photography than mine, just click on this link, which will take you to an orchid farm just outside the city, where I've decided to be a frequent visitor. For the obsessed (and relatively wealthy) orchid lovers out there, you can also do a ten day tour around Ecuador, including the Andes mountains and the Amazon. Step right up!

Okay okay...enough of the flowers...I HEAR you. (But if you need any more, just e-mail me, I can send you thousands...) On to more experiences then.

First of all, please click right here to see photos of an organic farm for sale here in Ecuador. The story: I met Jennifer at a restaurant near Parque Calderon, in the centre of old Cuenca. She translated some Spanish for me when I had no idea what I was eating! Jennifer is an Aussie ex-pat with a master's degree in agriculture; she and her Ecuadorian husband own/farm this beautiful property in Vilcabamba together. Can you IMAGINE walking to "work" along the rivers in these pics! My daughter (the "earth mother") and her four little boys would be in HEAVEN. Bliss.

One of my favourite places to go here is "Joe's Secret Garden." I go every Saturday night, to meet and chat with ex-pats, to eat the fabulous food prepared by father and son Joe and Yosef, to enjoy their spectacular gardens, and just to socialize. Now, why is it called a "secret" garden...aaahhh well, that's because you have to receive a private invitation! Now this is something I've never experienced before. It's a cross between a restaurant and a private dinner party. Joe and Yosef put on a FABULOUS spread every week; we enjoy appetizers in their gardens, and dinner at several tables throughout their home, all set with fine linens and china. Most meals cost about twelve whole dollars, plus the cost of whatever you choose to imbibe.

Joe-the-Dad at the outside cooker, with a little hunk of beef from the BBQ...

Yosef-the-son also at the outside cooker...OH...and if you need it, young Joseph is also a trained hairdresser and a trained computer tech! One stop shopping!

They are the most gracious hosts, and their soirees are usually booked SOLID within a day or two of their e-mail invitations, so we have to hit "reply" as soon as the e-mail comes in!

Now a story...the first dinner I attended there, Joe-the-Dad came to chat with me, heard I was from Halifax, and said

"HALIFAX!? I just KNEW it!! Do you REMEMBER me?"

Okay...deer-caught-in-the-headlights-time...I was scrolling back through my faulty memory, thinking (with more than a little consternation)

"Ooohhh, was this guy a SAILOR? Was he a CLIENT!?"

(I was an Air Force social worker in a previous life, and NO, I do NOT remember every single client...)

So Joe waits as I grow ever-more-uncomfortable, then says...with this sad (accusing!) face...

"You really DON'T remember me, do you?"

Had to 'fess up.

"No I really don't, I'm sorry...please remind me how we met..."

to which he responded

"We never did. I've never been in Halifax in my life...but I sure am glad you're here!"

Well, that was my FIRST experience at his Secret Garden, and I was hooked right away! If you're interested in getting on his mailing list for your next trip to Ecuador, just click here, and tell him the Nova Scotian sent you. Within a week or so, one of the local food writers, Sumana (an ex-pat from South Africa, with the most beautifully musical accent) will be posting a review of Joe's Secret Garden at Cuenca High Life. Watch for just never KNOW when you'll want to come here!

This was their watermelon punch today...laced liberally with Vodka. YUM!

So, besides flowers and food, there were other delightful experiences this past week.

Here are a few pictures of the second trip to Chordeleg...OOOHHH the beautiful handmade silver filigree jewelry! The bus ride takes about an hour, and costs a whole eighty-five cents.

I have some LOVELY things to bring home to Nova Scotia for some LOVELY women in my know who you are...

My landlady brought me to a multi-generational family ceramics business in El Centro. They've been creating their wares the SAME WAY for the past several hundred years!

They live where they work. This is the first thing you see when you go into their work/sales area.

THIS is the room where they start their craft...

This potter uses human energy...his power the wheel...

This is Rucci, my landlady, who has heightened my experience in this beautiful country by leaps and bounds!

Double decker tourist bus where I enjoyed a GREAT tour of the old and new parts of the city, and a drive up to "Turi Hill..." where there's a beautiful old cathedral and some of the best views of Cuenca. There were hair-raising parts to the tour for those on the upper deck, as we had to DUCK several times to avoid decapitation from low hanging wires throughout the city. The tour guides always gave us plenty of notice though. Here's the bus making its way up the cobbled streets of El Centro, the old town.

Below are images of "Mirador Turi," which means "brother" in the indigenous Kichwa language. This beautiful church is nestled atop a very steep hill, showing some of the most beautiful vistas of the mountains and the city below.

The church as we're climbing the hill.

Another view as we're there.

The vista during the day, of the city in the valley below.

...and at dusk...

I have met so many WONDERFUL, kind, helpful people here...Ecuadorians and ex-pats alike. The taxi drivers and and I practice our fractured English and Spanish together, and eventually get me where I need to go...often with great laughter.

My Spanish classes are...well...let's just leave it at "I'm still going" (lol). I have a great instructor, so I'm hopeful SOME of it will sink in to my oatmeal brain...eventually. My housing search goes on. I have a couple of appointments this week to see places, feeling very hopeful. Please send along good karma! I am already taking reservations for "Hosteria deMarza ," (ha ha) which will be officially available for visitors in June of this year. My friends Lesley (from Victoria BC) and Johnette (from Halifax) and my brother David and his wife Susan will be my first visitors, all planning their inaugural South American sojourns during the next few months.

Who's next? It will be SUCH a treat to show you some of this beautiful place, and to keep living that "attitude of gratitude..." so come along y'all.

Thanks so much for visiting. I hope you'll leave a "hello;" once again, I hope your days are filled with the people you love and the things that you need.

Hasta pronto!


  1. Deborah, thanks so much for taking me along on your adventure. I DO want an invitation to that restaurant! ~ Maureen

  2. It all looks just SO good. I can't wait!

  3. i just can't wait to visit!

  4. that is totally awesome. How cool to see a place like that, so far from home, I can't wait til my kids are grown Lol

  5. as always - beautiful stuff. Always love to hear about the food and restaurants. What a great experience. Enjoy!!!

  6. Love living your adventures through you...The flowers are just breath-taking...What a fantastic experience you are are blessed.

  7. Hi Deb, just love being in on all you're wonderful adventures, the flowers are absolutely stunning, as are the churchs, and the silver jewlery. the restaurants and food look quite interesting, imagine getting invitations to dine and the prices are so reasonable, we can't get anything like that here, great place to meet new people and make new friends, you are missed here also, but I know you are having a great time. Please continue to wow us with all you're experiences, remember girl it's winter in the valley, not much excitment in my life, will Erin, Mike and the boys get over for a visit? Bett they would love it! Take Care Lots of love.

  8. SO pleased that you are having such a great time! We all loooooved the pictures of the farm, and especially Oscar the cow! Someone here wants to play in that river, another wants to play tag in the orchards "because I can just eat the stuff on the trees!", and the ever efficient 10-yr-old said, "Looks like a great spot for hydro energy, Mom!" haha

    1. LISTEN to your children...they're ALL right! XO

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