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Friday, February 15, 2013

Bouncing Around Subjects

Another one so soon?

Yep, I'm motivated.  Topics are piling up.

Our Presidential Elections

Instead of being like Christmas where it has now invaded Thanksgiving...to Halloween...to Back to School, the campaigns here don't start a year+ before voting day!  I mean....aren't they supposed to be DOING their job instead of spending a year CAMPAIGNING for their job?   In Ecuador, election campaigns semi-launched about 2 months ago with announcements.   Full-force see/touch/feel campaigns started maybe 30 days ago.  Elections are next week!!!  On a SUNDAY no less!!!   How refreshing.   Inhale....exxxxxhale.....sighhhhhhhh.  

From a pedestrian standpoint, the visual campaigns are comprised of large 6-8 ft tall A-framed boards with the candidates photos, standing in every corner and greenspace around town, cars converted to moving promoters...no, not with bumper stickers...but full-scale screens engulfing the body of the car, and walls of barns, retaining walls, and out-buildings painted with images of the candidate and 'VOTE FOR _____!!'  

I'm on the rolls to vote this year.   We'll see how it goes.

President Correa is very popular.  After a decade of upheavals and the public ousting a string of presidents, Correa came along and finished the 2 year term of the latest ousted guy, then was re-elected 4 more years, and is expected to easily win 60% or more next week.   He is charismatic.   He's 49.  He has a Vice President who's a paraplegic in a wheelchair from a gunshot during a robbery.  But, beyond personality, he took advantage of the money Ecuador's oil  and mining (silver and gold) generates...to improve/build roads, schools, infrastructure, wind energy, hospitals, etc etc.

President Rafael Correa announced an 8.8 percent increase in the minimum national wage for 2013, a move he says will provide 96 percent of basic living necessities. The increase means the minimum monthly salary will rise from $292 to $318. The minimum wage was $200 when Correa took office in 2006.

Of course, there's always those elements people don't like about him, but it seems overall, he's been very good for EC.

Most of these signs are taken down every night and put back up the next morning, presumably to  avoid  defacing.

Entire retaining wall painted in support of President Correa.



Cuencas Civil Projects

Speaking of politics, the Mayor of Cuenca....a city of a half million population... Paul Granda, is a mere 40 years old.

Cuenca has assertively pursued a long list of improvements to better itself.  Let's look at a slice of that list...shall we?

  • All the street signal lights have been replaced with LED fixtures.
  • Downtown sidewalks are being re-built.
  • Park de la Madre is being completely rebuilt including an underground parking lot and a new planetarium theater.
  • Plazas surrounding local churches have been renovated.
  • Tres de Noviembre street was gutted and completely rebuilt with walking/biking paths and spaces for small businesses such as coffee shops and clubs to entice people to wander along the river and take a bit of the load off Calle Larga on the upper bank.
  • A plank bridge with no railings used to access a growing neighborhood was replaced with a new arched concrete bridge.
  • A major bottleneck in one of two of the main arterials around Cuenca was alleviated by building a tunnel under the roundabout.  Cost....a bit over $4 million and completed in under a year.
  • 21 kms of light rail has commenced construction along one of the busiest arterials and to the airport.  Cost about $215 million and estimated to be completed by end of 2014.
  • Many historical buildings are under restoration projects.
  • University of Cuenca theater was restored.
  • Higher education institutions are being constructed in Cuenca and neighboring Azogues.
  • The soccer stadium is set for restoration and increased capacity.
  • Likewise, the Jefferson Coliseum is scheduled for remodeling.
  • Cell towers are popping up everywhere.

Art

In my new rental house, I have 5 cool niches in the wall as I go up the stairway.   Perfect for some new art.  I have always loved artists who create creations out of pieces of thrown-away metal.  Spark plugs.  Bicycle sprockets and chains.  Nails.  Nuts-n-bolts.  Wheel bearings.

I saw that CIDAP, one of many museums, was hosting the works of a local artist who uses these things.  I decided to go in hopes of finding a piece perfect for one of my niches.  I did.

Also, more photos of my coffee bean art.

My iguana made of scrap metal.  It's about 2 1/2 feet long by a foot wide.

 Notice the sprockets and bicycle chain that makes up his/her back.


Coffee bean art.  This pieces actually resembles my current house and the setting it's in.

Peas, unroasted coffee beans, black eyed peas, and pumpkin seeds.



Cuerito

I've owned a lot of cars in my life.  It's been a long time since I've owned a car with cloth seats.  Hate it.  Get in and your pants get stuck at the entrance to the door even though your butt is fully seated.  I prefer leather.   So, I thought someday, sometime, I would have my seats re-covered in leather.  I've seen many shops who do that and I've rode in many taxis who've had their interior re-covered.  I was prepared for maybe $500.

I had coffee with an expat friend who happens to own the same make/model car as mine..but a year older.  He had his done in 'cuerito'.   'Cuero' means leather in Spanish.  'Cuerito' (or Cuerina) is, essentially, a leather-look-feel-alike product.  He really liked the result and I was shocked at the price.  I went to the same guy.   I had the front seats, headrests, rear seats, headrests, all re-covered in 'cuerito'.   Cost?   $95.

GET OUTA HERE!!!!

Before.  Cloth seats easily stained, threads pulled, and/or cigarette burns.

After...with cuerito.




The Ruins

I went to the Ingapirca Ruins recently with a 'lovely couple' from Tennessee.   As opposed to last time I was there, we were able to wander through the entire site with a tour guide.   Now, you get to see more of it.

Ingapirca Ruins








Dano

BTW....these 'shiny badges' as AirBnB calls 'em are my two short-term apartment rentals in Cuenca!  So, if you're thinking of coming for a visit, or need a homey place to stay while looking for your more permanent digs, consider these two options!   Better than just a room in a hotel, but costs the same or LESS...but you get MORE!!
















2 comments:

  1. I loved the CIDAP exhibit also. I bought the freestanding bird (I saw your iguana on the wall going down the stairs there) and named him Charlie Bird Parker, in memoriam. He stands proudly in my sunroom.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sweet Mary and Her Baby...
    95 bucks for that much labor, not to mention the material? I can even afford that... if you'll buy me the car first.
    It amazes me to see some of the costs. I remember being astounded by what your guy charged you for all the work and material for your covered laundry room on your first rental. First rate work too.
    Stay Well
    Neil

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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