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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cajas National Park

Our home is on the road heading west and up to Cajas National Park. We, Craig, myself, a Peace Corps volunteer friend and Sam had a chance to visit while Sam was here visiting in late November. This park is unique in that it is at very high altitude,10,000 - 12,000 ft above sea level. The vegetation is unique to its high altitude, cold and rainy climate. Llamas graze freely, rock formations jut from the grassy, shrub covered mountains and crystal clear lakes abound. Wildflowers grab one´s attention in the stark grey green landscape. We hiked 2 trails before the late afternoon rain caught us and we caught a bus home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flowers and more........

This week we and most Cuencanos are back to work after almost a week of vacation and festivities. We knew that Cuenca is a world center for art and culture but we never imagined the depth and diversity of the art being produced here. All of this was on display last week in many venues all over the city and most of what we saw was for sale. What a feast for the practice of aimless wandering. One of our favorite events was the orchid show.......just a fantastic taste of the thousands of orchid manifestations to be found in Ecuador--truly a land of the equatorial sun and the flowers responding to it. So here are a few that we saw.

The rain has begun so all looks verdant and and new growth in sprouting in our yard (including the gigante rosa in our flower garden) here in the Rio Amarillo neighborhood. We are starting to build a raised bed for our garden. The soil is poor, hence the truck load of topsoil.

Hope you enjoy the orchids.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday morning book exchange

Our future Windhorse Cafe site has been fortunate to be the host site of the English book exchange in Cuenca. Ex-pats that are now living in Cuenca come every Thursday morning or once in awhile to meet others, share conversations and to exchange a book they´ve read for another. I´ve just started using the event to share my baked goods. Today I made brownies and although they were less than perfect, they disappeared. Baking anything with chocolate at high altitude is still a challenge for me. Coffee is also shared. Folks are eager for us to get our cafe up and running but also encourage us to continue the book exchange as a weekly event. Used books are not cheap in Cuenca so an opportunity to trade something that one has read is a great opportunity.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Aspire to offer Shambhala teachings in Ecuador

So some of you might wonder why Lucy and I decided to move to Ecuador. A big reason for us was the state of the U.S. economy contributing to the lack of opportunity for people of our ages (59 and 60) and millions of other Americans. With job opportunities so scarce, we were drawn to Ecuador by the chance to try being in business for ourselves with the possibility of becoming self-sufficient income with a much smaller investment than would be needed in the U.S. That possibility became concrete when we found and purchased a small adobe building in the historical center of Cuenca which we shall turn into Windhorse Cafe (pics in earlier blog). Still working on our residential visas and having to put in a working kitchen is teaching us even further patience.

Another dream of mine is to bring the Shambhala teachings as taught by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, to Ecuador in a way that many Ecuatorians can find accessible. These secular teachings can be found in the book Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior but are best experienced as a series of training levels that include extensive meditation instruction and practice. Shambhala training has been a great help to tens of thousands all over the world who have been searching for a way to find more peace and compassion in their lives. Cuenca, I feel, is at the stage of development where people are looking for an authentic spiritual path that addresses the lack of spirituality people are feeling in the modern world, yet does not ask to believe in something that is outside the world that we perceive with our senses.
So I shall see who is interested in studying the teachings and learning to meditate. If there is enough interest at some point, perhaps Shambhala training levels can be offered here in Cuenca. As our Tibetan prayer flags send wishes for happines for all beings we say:
May all beings enjoy profound, brilliant glory! KI KI, SO, SO!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We are moved in- the dogs too!

We have been straddling two cultures for the last year and a half. Now we are back in Ecuador and have moved into the house we purchased. Thanks to our friends in Ridgeland, Wisconsin who helped make this possible. The house was empty when we arrived so we are busy buying all the necessary household items necessary for middle class life in Ecuador. We have been here 8 days so far and the last two nights sleeping in a bed. We are thankful for what we have and each day seems a little easier as we find the things we need. Our dogs, Toky (native of Ecuador) and Boca, are settling in now. We would like to give them the run of our quarter acre yard but alas, the back fence is in need of repair. So we walk them almost every day on a leash while they are greeted by every dog in the barrio.....numerous and none on a leash. We like our barrio as it is very mixed with some people having plenty of money(beautiful houses anyway) and others of modest incomes. We still have plenty of chickens and cows around. None of the streets are paved. We can walk two blocks to the bus going downtown where the Windhorse Cafe is. More about the Windhorse later. For now we are concentrating on getting settled into our home. In another blog we hope to post all we have learned about taking two dogs to live in Ecuador. It was complicated but went off with nary a hitch. Here you see Lucy with the two dogs by our fireplace and some views from our house as well.
So stay tuned. We hope to see some of you here in Cuenca.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back in Ecuador

Dear Friends, Lucy and I are back in Ecuador living in our little building in the historical center of Cuenca. We love our little adobe building which we are planning to turn into a breakfast/ lunch cafe. Lucy will specialize in pies (not the spanish word¨pies¨ which means ¨feet¨). Upstairs there is great space for yoga and meditation. We think Cuenca is very ready for serious meditation practioners and those who will want to study Buddhism and the Shambhala teachings. We shall see! Life in a different culture is challenging. So far nothing overwhelming or unworkable. The suffering and joys of life do seem universal. We just sent our friends from Ridgeland, Wisconsin home. Unfortunately they were robbed of their backpack containing camera, cellphone, and $200 cash when they fell for the trick of robber impersonating a bus ayudante helping them put their pack on the rack above their heads. It is very easy to fall for these robbers tricks because the vast majority of the people here ARE very helpful and go out of there way to be so....yet as in todo el mundo, materialism is increasing here too in a seemingly unstoppable tide. Well we intend to do what we can to encourage a life of appreciation of what we have and the basic goodness that permeates it all. I shall post a few pics of the view from our front balcony so you can see what we see.....yes it is the rainy season. The weaving of the horse will be the logo for our Windhorse Cafe. Googel windhorse and you will find that in Tibetan Buddhism and the Shambhala teachings it is the energy of basic goodness that is always present in any situation. Hasta pronto. Que les vayan bien.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Milk for Kids is a GO!!

Greetings to all.   Lucy writing this time.   We just learned today that "Milk for Kids", our project that we spent so much time researching and writing up last fall is fully funded and we can begin bringing it to fruition.   Thank-you, thank-you to our numerous friends that have made donations and also to those that helped tell others about it.    Our upcoming blogs may very well have photos of goat stables in progress, a training workshop, and GOATS!
        Since school has been in recess, our activity has slowed a bit also.   However, using our creativity we have found a variety of things to do.   One, we hired a local metal worker to make us a small wood stove to heat our house in the chilly evenings.   Folks from the community have been stopping by to see it and they all want to know how much it cost and who built it.  One comment from an older man was, "Wow, that would work great for roasting guinea pig"  (translated from his Kichwa/espanol).   Now we have the additional job of hauling and splitting firewood.  I´ve included a photo of the outside of our house . . . maybe you can see the tall smoke stack.
       In the upper remote village where I taught English every Monday morning, we have organized Monday afternoon "educational game" time for all ages.  We teach all ages to play checkers, chess, puzzles, and read numerous picture story books in Spanish.  This has turned out to be very popular and the school classroom where we hold the session is full.   A few adults, as well as teens and many elementary kids are attending.   We may try sneaking in some environmental activities in the weeks to come.
      The Foundation that serves youth and their families has been in a bit of recess also for the summer but a small group has been building an earthen block building for housing laying quail.   The market for quail eggs is good in Ecuador.  They say they are cholesterol free.  So, Craig and I have gotten involved in the construction and I´ve included three photos.  Can you find me, hoeing the dirt and water mix?   Notice the two men up in the mold for the rammed earth block.   Fun to watch them jumping and dancing up there.
     Another photo is of "Marta", with her Mom, little brother and Craig on the day of her graduation from high-school.  She was one of two girls to graduate this year thanks to scholarships they were awarded by the Gender and Diversity Commitee of Peace Corps.  Craig and I nominated 6 girls for scholarships for the upcoming school year and all 6 were accepted!  It really is a boost for them and their families.
     Craig has been hauling his drill all over town, to drill a hole for the L.P. gas line so families can get their gas tank outside the house.  He also has been using the drill to help install kitchen shelving.  He is often thanked for his effort with a bag of potatoes, "oca" (a potato like root vegie),  "habas" (lima beans, I think), and once we received honey.
      Craig wants to add for all interested in his last entry about the small mystery animal that he identified it as a member of the wolverine family. . .  "tayra" in English and "cabeza de mate" en espanol.