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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bridges

Dedicated to and In the Memory of
My Friend Mollie
who crossed the bridge from this life into another world
after a snorkeling accident in Hawaii
1950 - 2013


There are many types of bridges...the kind you walk/drive over, the kind you burn behind you (or shouldn't), some have them in their teeth, and some are metaphors for transitions you make in life.  Hold this thought for a bit.

Bridges of Paute Valley

The other day I went for a drive to see what I could see.  I stopped by Planet Azul on the way in to Gualaceo.  PA is new waterslide park that I've been wanting to go to for awhile now.   But, it wasn't open.  Was there a sign ANYWHERE informing the public what hours and days they operate?  Nooooo   Their website doesn't even have it!!!  Ok, now that I've vented....

So, I continued on my random journey.   I drove along the riverside park in Gualaceo, and came upon this old wooden trestle bridge and interesting rock wall of arches.  There are many single-lane wooden bridges in EC...but they are slowly being replaced (dang!).

Of course I HAD to drive across it!!

Scene to the left.

Scene to the right.


My car....yep, THAT one.








I decided to drive over towards Paute to one of my favorite plant nurseries, which meant I would be crossing another river.  Just outside of Gualaceo there was a huge, green, shiny, new, interstate-like sign pointing in enormous arrows the direction to Paute.  Must be a primary, direct, route...right?  So, I took it.  'It' being a gravel road with so many potholes there was no way you could take a path to avoid them.   In a short distance I came upon this....

Sign sez "Only 1 car at a time"



Scene to the left.

Scene to the right.

....annnnnnnd cross....to another single lane dirt, pot-holed road that leads to the paved highway.
After I got my plant fix, I decided to take a side street where I had seen a sign many times before, pointing to a 'linear park'.  It was another greenbelt that followed along the Paute river with walking paths, playground equipment, viewing towers, and....bridges.  The pedestrian-only kind.  One end of the park appeared to be older and not used much, but the other end closer to the town of Paute was more actively used and kept up. You'll see what I mean in a sec.

A rather old, un-maintained, pedestrian suspension bridge.

Hmmmm...there was no sign stating it was closed, or dangerous, or keep off and there was no barrier.  So, what the heck, like an idiot I walked across.  Well, almost.

The planks.   I've walked across many suspension bridges here in EC and I've noticed that many of them don't use any center support under the planks.  I know the wood here is very hard...but...c'mon!!!   These boards were flexing pretty good underneath me, so I walked closer to the edge as you can see by my shadow.

I walked only a third of the way across, stopped to take this photo, then turned back.  Those rusted  metal rods look safe, don't they?   No??

At the other end of the linear park...

Ok, so it's not a bridge.  Bite me.   But it was silently twirling away.  I like windmills.


This one was in better condition than the one prior and I actually saw people using it.  At least it had a METAL walkway!!

Scene to the right.

Scene to the left.

Lookout tower.
It was time to head home.  The road in/out of Paute valley is a bit narrow and winding.  It ALWAYS has a lot of tanker trucks and dump trucks on it which causes a lot of traffic slowdown and maniacs attempting to pass in the very few spaces long enough to do so.

Hmmm....looks a lot like the one that just collapsed outside of Seattle a few days ago.

In the city of Cuenca, along the Tomebamba river, is this locals-favorite.  It's referred to as 'Puente Roto' which translates to 'broken bridge'.   Music festivities and art showings commonly occur here.


Outside Cuenca, on the way up to the Cajas, is a cutoff to go back to a lake via a car-rattling, bolt-loosening, cobblestone road and this charming bridge.

Y'all sing along now...."over the river and through the woods, to Grandmothers house we go!!!"



Another Kind of Bridge

Many, many, many people have come to Ecuador from other countries...the most popular being from the United States or Canada.  They've 'crossed a bridge' (get it?) in their lives, to come here.  Many people have come to a crossover (get it?) point in their lives and want to make a change.  So, where are they transitioning (get it?) FROM exactly?  I won't keep you in suspension (get it?) any longer.

Having driven for 23 clients, and my short-term rental apartments booked 38 times, I kept track of where my clients/guests were coming from.    In addition, my friend 'Granny' has quite a long list of friends in her email contacts and she shared with me their origination points....those that she could remember given her age and box-wine-induced state of mind.

These statistics (such as they are) indicate where folks came FROM when they moved or visited here.  It is NOT where they were originally born or grew up.  Otherwise, I would have ticky marks for Lebanon, Iran, and Germany.  For example, my friend Joanna Gabor is originally from Poland, but she moved here from Texas.  Therefore, Texas gets a ticky mark.  I didn't track down to a city level....just the state level....so build a bridge and get over it (get it?).   Also, each couple is counted as one ticky...not two.  After all, I'm presuming they moved TOGETHER from the same place.

As far as Canada goes, I don't know the provinces very well, so Canada got a bucket all to itself.

Without further ado....
  • Alabama - 1
  • Alaska - 2
  • Argentina - 1
  • Arizona - 1
  • Australia - 1
  • California - 7
  • Canada - 11 (Toronto, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Winnipeg)
  • Colorado - 7
  • England - 1
  • Florida - 12
  • Georgia - 5
  • Hawaii - 2
  • Illinois - 3
  • Maine - 1
  • Maryland - 1
  • Massachusetts - 1
  • Michigan - 1
  • Minnesota - 2
  • Missouri - 1
  • Montana - 1
  • Nevada - 4
  • New York - 2
  • New Jersey - 1
  • North Carolina - 2
  • Ohio - 2
  • Oregon - 4
  • Pennsylvania - 1
  • Tennessee - 1
  • Texas - 9
  • Virginia - 3
  • Washington (state) - 8 (YEAAAA!!!!)
That's 99 tickies, though in reality it involves close to 175 people.

Dano

GRACIE!!!   Get out of my blog!!!!



Friday, May 10, 2013

Places of Beauty

Orchids

Awhile back, guests who rented one of my apartments while visiting, also hired me to drive them to Chordeleg (shor-deh-leg) for jewelry shopping and to the orchid nursery near Gualaceo (wall-uh-seh-oh).  I had been to the orchid store but never on the tour to see behind the scenes.  Well, WOW.  It's mind-boggling the colors and patterns of the blooms.  So artistic!!!   They even have giant orchids that don't need to be potted, or in any kind of matter...for that matter!  They're simply hung with all their roots dangling in mid-air and all they need is a daily spritz of water.    I don't get it.  HOW?

For a few bucks each we were led to the estate behind the store and entered the greenhouses where tiny seedlings were growing inside glass bottles laying on their sides.   Each of them were manually planted with long tweezers.   As we progressed from one greenhouse to the next, we could see the growth and the next stage where they were transplanted to allow more room.  After all the stages, we saw the end result...what you see in stores around the world.  All sizes from tiny to gargantuan.  My favorite was the wall of orchids where, walking along an outside sidewalk, the entire wall was filled with moss and all sorts of orchids inserted.

The setting was on a family estate.   We continued to walk into other gardens replete with aviaries, lots of hugable dogs, fruit trees, swimming pool, bougainvillea, and manicured lawns.

Enjoy the photos!

Pot-less orchids.  Look Ma, NO DIRT!!!








The infamous 'Monkey' orchid.  See the face?




Of course, I had to buy one.   This is the one I chose.




Think we'll just hang out...upside down.
A Park is Re-born

Among the many civil improvement projects planned, underway, and completed in Cuenca was the re-opening of Parque de la Madre last week after a major overhaul.  In a year and a half, they built an underground parking garage for 200 cars, gutted the above ground park and rebuilt it with a running track, outdoor exercise equipment, performance plaza, dual-use soccer and basketball court, kids play areas (which includes a zip-line!), new bathrooms, and plenty of greenspace and sitting areas.  Still in-progress is the new Planetarium 'theater'.

This 'new' park is just a block away from one of my short-term rental apartments and directly across the river that divides 'old town' from 'new town'.

Enjoy the photos!

A new bus stop.

Entertainment

Elevator lobby enclosure to 200 car sub-terranean garage.


Always gotta have Cuy!!!!   (guinea pig)

New bathrooms and dressing rooms accessible by wheelchairs, too.

Large statue dedicated to Jefferson Perez (of Cuenca).  He was the only Ecuadorian to win a medal in the Olympics.  I n 1996 he won the gold for race-walking, and in 2008 he won the silver.  A coliseum in Cuenca is named after him.


See the girl in the middle of the photo (wearing pink hat) riding the zip-line.

Translated:  The park is yours.  Take care of it!

Running track
Exercise equipment.  These clusters of machines are popping up in several other parks around Cuenca, too.

Creating my own beauty

Last, but not least, is my own beautification project at home.  No, I'm not talking about nip-n-tuck!!!   The yard at the house I rented in San Joaquin had never been landscaped before.   It had construction debris tossed everywhere, lots of rocks, and the dirt might as well have been rock!!!  I've had two dumptruck loads, a total of 16 square meters, of black dirt brought in and dumped.  I'm still working on the 2nd pile.  After cleaning up the yard, I began to spread the dirt to create a good bed for a new lawn.   Several trips to Paute, I have planted over 100 flowers and shrubs...though it certainly doesn't look like it.   I am a self-confessed Plant-aholic. "Hello, my name is Dano and I'm a Plant-aholic"   "HI DANO!!!!"

Lots more work to be done, but you can see the difference.

Enjoy the photos!

Dano

What I started with


After my shopping spree(s)





This is the first time I've successfully grown Calla Lillies!!!!

The result, after pulling out a bunch of overgrowth, stinging nettles, and weeds....then some pruning.   This geranium is over 4 feet tall!!!




About Me

My photo
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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