This year the steady year-round weather of Cuenca made me yearn for a few of my favorite “fall” highlights, like apple picking, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice latte, and pumpkin beer. But we did have plenty of amazing fall experiences, like a brief return to the US, the fiestas of Cuenca, and a close encounter with the president of Ecuador! And of course we watched over the internet, the Clemson Tigers march towards another college football playoff.
A Brief Return to the U.S. For a Conference, Family, & Fun
In October, we visited the States for one week to get our fill of fall and some family time. Chad was attending a conference in Dallas for a week, and the girls and I also took advantage of the cheap flight so we could visit my sister and her family in nearby Ft. Worth. Nancy, my mother-in-law, also joined us on the flight from Atlanta to DFW and spent a long weekend with us in Ft. Worth.
I had planned to do some touristy things in the area, but we opted for slow time just being together,. We went to the park and made a few trips to Target for “essentials” to take back to Ecuador.
What a treat it was to get to celebrate Halloween! It’s not big in Ecuador, except among expats. But we’ve found that there are many other occasions in Ecuador that people dress in costumes.
We all got dressed in our costumes for some trick or treating.
We ended our time together in the States with an early Thanksgiving Feast. We missed my brother Keith, but we did devour the turkey, dressing, broccoli grape salad, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie without any extra help. YUM!
A Grand Welcome on Our Return to Ecuador
With that, our short week to the US was over. We were welcomed back to Ecuador with fantastic views of the volcanoes.
AND we felt like celebrities as we were serenaded by the military band when we arrived at the airport in Cuenca. They were welcoming the tourists who come from all over the country and world for the festivities of Cuenca’s Independence Day.
Day of the Dead
Cuenca’s Independence Day is just preceded by the Day of the Dead, which is on November 2nd. Here in Cuenca, the older generations visit the cemetery to clean the graves of their loved ones who have passed on. It is a tradition that is being lost, but other Day of the Dead traditions still live on.
On November 2nd, Cuencanos (residents of Cuenca) bake bread in the shape of a baby (guagua de pan) and drink colada morada. Guagua is the Kichwa (native Incan language) word for baby or young child. Colada morada is a traditional Ecuadorian drink made of black corn flour, spices, and fruits such as babaco, naranjilla, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. Delicious!
I’m not sure of the origin of eating the guaguas de pan and drinking colada morada, but I sure wish you could get the colada morada year round because it is so tasty.
Fiestas de Cuenca
Cuenca’s Independence Day is November 3. Schools are closed as the city celebrates with concerts, parades, and festivals all around town.
The city’s streets are adorned with Cuenca’s red and gold flag.
We had fun seeing the handicrafts of artisans from all over Ecuador and the world.
And we also tasted some of the culinary delights from Ecuador.
Serena and Ali loved walking around to look at the booths with artisans’ crafts. We bought some new earrings for the girls and a couple of pendants for me.
We took a bit of time to relax by the Tomebamba, the beautiful river we see nearly every day in our walks around town.
A Close Encounter With the President of Ecuador
One of our highlights of the Fiestas de Cuenca was seeing Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, up close. We knew he was coming to the main square in town. But after fighting the crowds for a few minutes, we decided that we didn’t feel like waiting.
So, we took a side street on our way home. But as we walked, we noticed this side street happened to be mostly barricaded off. And then we saw the equivalent of Ecuador’s secret service move a gate to let a white SUV through onto our little street. And before we knew it, the president was right in front of us, waving and smiling out the window not 15 feet away from us!
Never could we be so close to the president of our country. And it happened so fast that we didn’t even get a picture of him. But here’s the tent his car drove into as he prepared to greet the public.
After our celebrity sighting, we continued enjoying the festivities in our favorite parks. On the last day, we played in Parque de la Madre with some expat friends, ate cotton candy, and listened to the community band concert. The video below shows you what the environment was like as we relaxed in the grass near the playgrounds.
We sure are enjoying our time here in Ecuador. It seems like each month there is another festival to enjoy. And we have no problem joining in on the fun.
We’ll bring you more stories from Cuenca soon. Until next time, here’s a final view of the beautiful city’s red tiled roofs from our apartment.