What do you do with all of your free time? That's what a lot of people ask -- and it's surprising that we tend to find things to fill up our free time with.
First of all, let me explain that I haven't posted anything lately because we've had problems with our internet service and had to recently switch to another provider. We are using ETAPA now and are very happy with the quality of the internet that we are getting from them. So, this blog is a long time coming, and I'm sorry that I've made Nicole and Peggy wait for this newest post. (But it sure is nice to have people in your life who want to read your blog and care about what is happening to you on a regular basis!)
Since we've been back from the States, we have re-connected with our friends (and have made new ones). We have changed churches and are very happy with our new church (Verbo Iglesia). Our friends Mark & Connie Pombo started going to Verbo awhile ago and since then, many gringos have followed along. The back row is set aside for the gringos (not because we are rowdy or anything like that ...), but because we sit right in front of the sound team and they have enough headsets for all of us so we can hear the English translation of the sermon. It sure makes a difference when you can understand the message. We sing the songs in Spanish which is a good way to learn the language.
Speaking of learning Spanish, I have re-started my Spanish lessons. My friend Noshy comes to my home three times a week for two hours each lesson. We have just finished my first week. She is very patient and kind, and we laugh a lot at my pronunciation (or mis-pronunciation)!
Also, I have begun cooking again, which does take up a lot of time. You tend to have to cook most things from scratch. For instance, I made applesauce & oatmeal quick bread and had to make my own applesauce. It was fun and turned out great. I found a cookbook when I was in the States for high-altitude cooking, and am having a lot of fun with it.
I'm going to a cooking class next week which will explain the local foods here, specifically the fruits and vegetables. I'll take lots of pictures and do a blog post about the class.
We've been to a couple of concerts held in the Banco Central Auditorium. The auditorium has stadium threatre seating, so everyone has a good view. The first concert was "Noche de Boleros" and marked the season finale of the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra. The auditorium was full, with 600 people. There were four vocalists and 40 members of the symphony present. It was a beautiful evening.
The second concert we went to was the German Youth Symphony. The musicians ranged in ages from 16 to 21, and their conductor was 31. They will be away from their home for five weeks, traveling through South America. The conductor stated that teaching the young is more difficult than teaching adults; however in Germany, that is not the case because discipline "is not a problem in Germany". They are very disciplined and have the tenacity to learn. Most of these musicians started playing at 5 or 6 years of age. It was a very nice evening, made even better because all of the concerts in Cuenca are free.
We have also joined a bible study group that meets once a week. It is wonderful to have such nice friends in our lives here. This group consists mostly of ex-pats, but occasionally we'll have local folks join us.
We will be going to Cotacacchi for a week (from Sept 7th - 14th). We have property we've bought there (Hacienda de las Flores) and want to check on the progress of the development. During our stay, there will be a festival there called "Fiestas de la Jora 2011". It loosely translates to "Day of Love". The gringo community has been invited to participate in the festivities and they will be providing food from their home country (i.e., U.S., Canda, etc.). All proceeds from the festival will go to the Ecuador Project Hope Foundation. This foundation supports and helps the local indigenous preschools. It's surprising and sad to learn what disrepair the preschools are in -- needing new roofs, floors, and bathroom repairs. It always feels good to help those who are less fortunate.
Well -- hasta luego.