Everyone loves Cuenca!! Or more often than not it seems like it.
Several weeks ago on my usual Sunday walk along the Tomebamba I came upon four vans together in a parking area, sliding doors open and several young people and a couple of children on the grass, on blankets, at tables and in chairs. I stopped to talk to a man, whose English was very good, standing beside one of the vans, tending a cast iron skillet full of potatoes cooking on the stove.
They are a group of mostly Chileanos with a stray Argentine couple who are taking a year or so to explore South America. They drive to a site, explore and then move on to the next destination. They support themselves by selling things. One is an artist who produces small things to sell and I saw in another van packages of nuts and popcorn ready for sale. But in Cuenca they have run into a problem that he described as “We’re trapped here!!” The ambiance of Cuenca has such a strong hold on them that no one wants to leave and move along to their next destination.
A couple of weeks later I was talking with a young man, Caesar, who had joined me on my walk. When I reached my walking limit and found a bench to sit on he joined me on the bench where we watched the river as we talked. His English and my Spanish were good enough that we could make ourselves clear to each other.
He is a 25 year old civil engineer from, unsurprisingly, Venezuela and had been in Cuenca for 2 ½ months. But his reason for being here was not the turmoil in Venezuela as he and his father had started a small business that was able to feed the family. He was very close to a cousin who had moved to Cuenca a couple of years ago and who had been pestering him to come here. So finally, his desire to see other places in South America overcame his fears about actually doing it and here he is.
Today, he is very pleased with his decision, practically bubbling with happiness. He has a job in a restaurant, loves Cuenca and its people and is now beginning the paperwork process to be able to work as a civil engineer in Ecuador. I have not done so yet but will find the restaurant. The chef is Venezuelan so there are Venezuelan dishes on the menu which Caesar says are excellent. Even though my taste buds are mediocre they will always appreciate something different.
* * * *
My street is one way and very busy with lots of cars, trucks and buses during the week, often stopped dead in front of my apartment waiting for the light up the street to turn green. It is a direct route to a major hospital so there is the blaring siren from time to time. So Sundays are pretty quiet. But last Sunday, as I was getting up it was not just quiet, it was silence. A look out the window showed no traffic, small groups of people standing on the sidewalk and man in the street who appeared to be a monitor. Then a siren blast from the direction of the park and shortly four police motorcycles followed by….women! Running, walking fast, walking slowly, intent on their running, talking, almost all in their special T-shirts. The youngest I saw was probably about four with her father (the only male in sight) holding her hand. There were quite a few gray heads, one little girl being pushed in a wheelchair, many of grade school age, and they just kept coming.
It brought tears to my eyes. And of course I learned later that it was in honor of International Women’s Day.
Cuidense. And my love, Dave