Friday, November 30, 2012

Last of the Fiesta de la Jora Parade Photos

There's one more post to come after this one but this is the last of the photos from the parade.  Enjoy:

Not sure why this little fellow didn't get in with the kids photos but here he is in this batch.

I love these masks.  They sell tons of them at the craft markets but most of the ones seen in parades have been made by the wearers' family.

The two gentlemen in the special clothing are retired bull fighters.  They have such a regal bearing.

More dancers.  What I love about this group (and a few others) is the size of the women.  In the U.S. I've never seen anyone this size performing in this kind of group.  It's very refreshing. Of course I see evidence of a lack of concern over body image everywhere I turn here.  It's lovely to see and experience.

This guy was amazing.  He jumped, twisted, twirled around, cracked his whip, and then did it some more.  He had to have been sweltering under that mask and in those heavy clothes. He was part of the group in the last post I did but I wanted to put him in this group for one primary reason.  See the truck behind him?  See the guy crawling up on the roof while the truck is moving?  Look below.

He needed to life the wires so the truck could pass under them without breaking them.

This mask was impressive from both the front...

...and the back.  He had eyes in the back of his head.
This little guy seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.  I loved how he looked and decided to share him with you.

And of course, what kind of festival would it be without food?  This is one of the street vendors grilling her sausage and vegetable shish kebabs next to the park.  You'll see one of the vendors behind her.  There were half a dozen of them along that stretch of sidewalk.  This is where the parade ended so not only were the parade watchers able to take advantage of the food but the participants were as well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Fiesta de la Jora photos

Enjoy more photos from the parade.  There are a ton of them but very little text so it should be a fairly quick process if you want to see all of them (the kids follow the performers).

[One of my readers reminded me that if you click on any of the photos, you can see them full-sized and even have a little slide show.]

More dancing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fiesta de la Jora Parade

Way back in September we had the Festival La Jora.  There was much activity during that time but most of what I'll share is about the parade and the food event where we expats had an extremely successful table.
Not all the parade watchers were people.  Three of the much-loved dogs of Cotacachi: Gizmo, Chia, and Paco enjoyed the festivities every bit as much as their people (Debbie, Mary, and Carolyn)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bits and Pieces, Nov. 24

I was just looking over the stats for the blog and noticed that my post on low income budgets was the most-read one in quite some time.  If you want to let me know what other things you might like to know about the cost of living here, I'd be more than happy to fill you in where I can.


Want to see a photo of one of the adorable street dogs here?  This is Oliver and he has a loving foster mom until he finds a permanent home.  He's in great shape, just skinny and starved for love.  I'm not suggesting you adopt him, just sharing how adorable he is.
Is he adorable or what?  This is him after a week of being fed regularly.  He has a long way to go but he's a healthy little guy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in Cotacachi

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the United States (and my mother's birthday--Happy Birthday, Mom) and Cotacachi ex-pats were definitely not left out just because we're in Ecuador.

Six different restaurants served a traditional meal as well as two private homes who opened their doors to others and, to top it off, a private chef who would either cook your meal to order and deliver it or come to your house and serve your meal to you and your guests.  How elegant is that?!  We may be a small town but we have some surprising amenities every once in a while.

I chose to have dinner at Serendipity.  I was having a hard time deciding between the two most affordable options when I met a couple I think I'd seen around and had perhaps even met at some point but, well, we were all having trouble remembering if and when.  At any rate, they invited me to join them at their table when we were all eating at Trebol (which is not serving Thanksgiving dinner) and then they invited me to join them for Thanksgiving dinner.  Thus, Serendipity.

The dog belongs to Nancy, the manager of the restaurant.

We were treated to music for a little while.  After a few songs, they passed through the crowd offering to sell us their CD.  If I listened to more music, I would have gotten one but it would have ended up sitting on a shelf at home.

Here are the people in our little group.  We were a very congenial  bunch.  It was lovely.

Just look at the food on that plate!  Is that fabulous, or what?

A friend of mine had dinner at Hacienda San Isidro and shared a few photos with me.  The restaurant donated a portion of the proceeds from the dinner to Amici Cannis, the local organization for pet rescue.
They had a great turnout.  Debbie (second from the left in the front row) said there were a total of 32 people there.  Considering we have fewer than 300 expats in Cotacachi and some are from countries other than the U.S., I think they had a great turnout.

Here's one of the rooms in the Hacienda.  The dining rooms are equally lovely...

...unfortunately the Thanksgiving dinner was in their banquet room.  Ah well, I heard the company was great and everyone enjoyed themselves.

So, there's a taste of Thanksgiving in Cotacachi.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Day In the Life -- Nov. 21, 2012

Today was a fun day and one I thought I'd share with you.

I started out at 10:00 this morning and it went from there.

Isn't this a beautiful place to start out the day?  This is the first thing I see when I walk out the front door of the condo building where I'm kitty sitting right now.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tour Company Grand Opening

Way back in July a new tour company here in town, Yuratours, had their grand opening and it was quite a bash.  They had it at Land of the Sun hotel, in their central court, complete with champagne, wine, other adult beverages, h'ors d'oeuvres, and entertainment.  The most important part was that I won a lovely flower arrangement.  Photos follow, of course:

Of course there was a bit of speechifying that had to go on for a little while.  In the midst of that, though, there was also some drawings for trips to several cities here in Ecuador.  There was also a "test."  Whoever could tell them in which cities there was a Yuratour would win a floral arrangement. (More about that later.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Photo Roundup, Nov. 15, 2012

Enjoy some of the fun sights from the last little while.

You really need to click on this one to enlarge it so you can truly see the details of this ladder.  It's one of the "best" I've seen yet.  Ladders are almost always hand made here.  My landlord makes his out of bamboo, which seems to be the most popular material but salvaged wood comes in a very close second.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Health Issues

It occurred to me just a little while ago that I had originally started this blog to keep my friends and family posted on what was going on with me and my move to Ecuador.  When more and more people started reading, I think I moved away from that because I suspect those readers really don't care much about the mundane parts of my life.  I've decided, though, that keeping my original focus is good, so I'll be tucking in posts that may seem totally irrelevant to most of you.  I know you'll understand.

When I first got here I talked about how much improved my health was.  Well, it's still a lot better than it was in the States and I'm still taking far fewer meds than I took when I arrived, but I've made a discovery as well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Last of the Paseo de Chagra

Ah, finally, the end of the photos of the day at the parade and bull ring.  It was a long day and there were so many more photos I could have shared but I really did try to cut it down to a reasonable amount (well, reasonable for me at any rate).

These are odds and ends that didn't fit into the tidy categories I had laid out.
It's hard to guess how long this building has been here.  The thatched roof could be just about any age.

I really hadn't intended to sit directly in front of where there would be horses trotting within feet of me.  If you look carefully under the feet of that horse, you may see a line of the trail that shows where it drops off to the ravine below.  Who would think there would be a whole parade of horses wandering around back here?

The riders tied their horses up to a fence just beyond the little pink and thatched building to wait while they went and got something to eat.

Ah, yes, the offering of beer to the riders.  If you remember the fellow in the orange jacket from the parade, he was here, too, and finally gave away everything in his jug.

This young man won the award for best performance.  The woman just below is his very proud mother.

 The arena filled up after a an hour or so.

My camera battery needed to be charged before the end of the event so I missed out on a few interesting shots, not least of which was what would have been the last shot of the day.  When all the festivities were over I walked down to the main road in hopes of catching a taxi home.  As I arrived, there, just across the road, in a nice little line, were four or five men facing away from the road--relieving themselves in the bushes.  Gotta love it.

There was a steady stream of taxis so I got home pretty quickly.  It was a fabulous day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kids at the Bull Ring

Of course I have to have a bunch of shots of kids or it just wouldn't be me.  Enjoy.

 He's almost ready to have Dad let go.

Run, little guy, run!

The youngest one to stand on his horse without a helping hand.

 These kids sat just two rows in front of me the whole time and it was such fun to watch them.

The youngest rider who had a specific role to play.  Most of the kids were just there with the adults which was actually quite a feat in and of itself but this one participated in the showmanship and demonstrated his horse's skills, meager though they were at this early stage.

Bird's eye view.

What a face.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bulls at the Bull Ring

After the horses came the bulls.  This was just for fun, there were no bulls harmed during this event and, in fact, there was far more likelihood that one of the crazy kids in the ring would be injured than the bulls but they all fared well and everyone left all in one piece.

Ah, poor Ferdinand.  If have no idea what his name really was or if he had a name at all, but he was Ferdinand to me.

There were two kinds of people sparring with the bulls--guys like these who had capes and were officially sanctioned to be here and the less formal ones (coming up). It took at least 10 minutes to get the bull worked up enough to be willing to charge the capes but once he got the hang of it, he did just fine.

There were young men hanging around the edges of the arena, some very young (like ages in the upper single digits) but they all managed to escape injury as well.

This "observer" got a little too far out into the ring when the bull discovered him and decided this looked like it might be fun even without a cape to chase.

He made it by the skin of his teeth.

I think this may be the most beautiful shot of the day.  Too bad the shadows eat up so much of it. This wasn't even one of the official matadors.  Maybe next year he will be.

RUN!  He made it, too, but it was a near thing.

The bulls were as much comic relief as anything else.  I enjoyed it and look forward to it again next year.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

At the Bull Ring

Well over a month ago I promised photos from the bull ring after the Paseo de Chagra and I'm finally going to fulfill that promise.

After the parade through town, I went out to the Plaza del Toros (Bull Ring) and saw the same horses and rides as I saw in the parade but this time they were performing much more seriously--this time they were being judged and there were awards to be had.

Let's start with the horses and move on to a few other things in posts to come.

One of the more popular exhibitions was two horses, one on either end of the arena, one with a rider and one without, both holding tight with a rope as if in a tug of war.  I'm sure there are myriad uses for this skill out on the ranch but I don't have a clue what they are.  I just know the horses were beautiful and quite impressive.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Day In the Life--Nov. 7, 2012

I'm often asked by folks who don't live here already, "So, what's a typical day like for you?"  It's hard to say because there is no such thing as "typical" for me.  I have a few things I tend to do with regularity but most days just seem to happen.

I've asked several people and they have agreed they'd like to see an occasional post that goes through a day with me, possibly including photos if I happen to have my camera with me and think of taking them.

Here's the first in this series.  If you like it (or if you don't) please feel free to let me know.  I love feedback.

Today I had one appointment and one thing I really wanted to do.  Of course it didn't actually turn out that way.

I started out with a quiet morning.  I chatted with my landlord for a little while, had a leisurely breakfast, and such things.  At 11:00 I had an appointment with a potential pet sitting client so I left here with plenty of time to get there because I was relative certain I would run into someone I know and we would want to share a few minutes catching up on what's been going on with us over the past however long.  I ran into two people friends and a dog friend in the park--just one of the perks about living in a small town--I always run into someone I know.

I got to spend about an hour talking with Kathy and Chuck and snuggling with Shatzee and talking about all kinds of things, some of which included puppy sitting and some of which didn't.  I even found out Obama was re-elected yesterday. (When I say I pay no attention to the news, I really mean it.)

I had intended my next stop to be the ATM but Eddie's (not the official name but it's what we call it), just a few doors down, called to me and I stopped in for a cafelatte' e caramello that rivals anything I've ever had in the States and I lived in Washington, espresso capitol of the U.S.  His shop has a very warm and comfortable feeling with comfy furniture along with some regular tables and chairs. He has a WiFi connection and there are magazines on the side tables and books to read (in both English and Spanish) in the bookcase up on the mezzanine level.  I wish I could do a little editing to lighten up some of these photos but we'll just have to go with what the camera takes.  That's Eddie behind the counter and a friend of his he roped into being the customer.  It was very quiet there today.  The last time I was in I got the last seat in the place.

Monday, November 5, 2012


While I was pet sitting this last time, I had a new experience.

First of all, I should mention that this particular cat sitting gig was at Primavera II, a condominium community at the edge of the downtown area of Cotacachi.  At the far end of the community where I was staying I can look out over a rather pastoral setting of trees and some open grassy areas just before you get to the river.  It's quite lovely.

One day, as I was approaching the gate, I noticed there were some cows grazing within a few feet of the entrance to the condos.  I'm not kidding--I was within 30 feet of the nearest cow as I went inside.  Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a problem, just something I hadn't seen before here in Cotacachi.
I'm standing at the gate as I take this photo.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Security Measures and Unhappy Campers

I just received a comment from one of my readers about not being able to find comments or information from people who didn't like living here and left.  He also said, "Though people say there is crime in all countries, I have yet to see a town as small, that has so much security around homes and businesses."

I started responding to the comment with a comment of my own and decided both these issues deserved their own post, so here goes.