Friday, May 27, 2016
Our search for a new place continues. Our realtor Daniel told us there is a new three bedroom apartment only four blocks from El Centro. The owner is out of town for the holiday weekend and we can’t see it until Monday. He did drive us by it though. There isn’t a balcony but the building has a terrace, however it seems there is some issue being able to use it. I guess we will see what Monday brings.
This weekend is a holiday celebration of Corpus Christi here in Ecuador. El Centro is filled with vendors selling cookies, cakes, and candies. Vendor after vendor all lined in a row selling the exact same treats. We were curious what the importance of all the sweets were in this celebration. We also had some questions. First, how is everyone making treats that look exactly alike, and second, how can they possibly sell all these treats.
We had asked Daniel about this and he cleared it up. This is a 500 year old tradition where the giving of treats is supposed to represent the good gifts from God. Originally only the nobles living around the Cathedral in the center of the city exchanged them. Later the tradition was practiced by the poor.
The vendors all buy their cookies, cakes, and candies from one of four wholesalers. Hence, everyone is selling treats that all look the same.
Daniel said that many of the vendors have stores throughout the city and will continue selling them throughout the year. There is a joke among the locals regarding these treats. They ask the shop owners how they get fresh treats and are told next year when the new batches of treats are made.
We decided to try a few of these treats. They look really good but the ones I tried were terrible. It’s like eating a mouth full of sugar, or if it is a cake or cookie, a highly processed, no flavor, mouth of mush. I was told by others that what they had was good. I guess I picked the wrong treats.
We met up with Victoria and Dave to go to a restaurant expo of sorts. In one of the squares next to the Cathedral, local restaurants set up tables and sold some of their menu items. There were sausage sandwiches, tamales in banana leaves, chicken wraps, pizza, coffees and juices. The square had live music playing, and had tents set up covering tables and chairs for people to eat and enjoy themselves.
While we were there Janet and Paul showed up! They also had Susie with them, a retired woman from Australia who has lived in Bahia for 10 years. We know Susie, although not well, but she has been a pleasant and interesting person to talk with whenever I have had the chance.
So here we are in Cuenca. Victoria and Dave, Paul and Janet, Susie, me, Heidi, and Easton all enjoying the afternoon in Cuenca eating and talking together. It had that laid back easy feel of friends hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. We spent a couple hours together then said good bye to Paul, Janet, and Susie while the rest of us hopped on a double decker bus that gave a tour of the city.
It was a gorgeous afternoon. The sun was out but it wasn’t hot and we were driven through El Centro, across the modern part of Cuenca, and up the far side to Turi. The views of Cuenca from Turi are spectacular. Red tiled roofs lay across the valley like a great tapestry. The colored domes and tall spires of Cathedrals dot the landscape. Breathtaking really.