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Friday, May 26, 2017

What I did Today for 1 Hour - 3 Blocks from my Apartment

It's amazing how you can live someplace like Cuenca for over 6 years (like I have) and not know about some of the exciting things to do right under your nose!  I've done a LOT in my time here and try to experience as much as I can, then pass along those nuggets to my guests so they get the most out of their visit.

Sometimes my eyeballs pop out of their sockets (painful!!) when I ask native Cuencanans if they've been to/seen such-n-such place around Cuenca.   "No".  WHAT???  You've lived here all your life and you haven't done this, this, or that?  You didn't know Cuenca had a zoo?  You've never been to a symphony concert which is FREEEEE?  Have you been to your back yard?

It was just recently I became aware you can climb one of the Cathedral's towers.  So, I added it to my 'To Do' list.

Today I did it.  

The main cathedral in Cuenca is just 3 blocks from my apartment and it's three blue domes are probably the most photographed.  Though it looks much older, construction started in 1885 and took nearly a century to build, finally being consecrated in 1967.

I walked over to the newly opened 'Calle Santa Ana' which is a restored pedestrian corridor sandwiched between the cathedral and the old Seminary San Luis.  It had been closed off over 50 years.  Many people didn't realize it even existed.  The city plans to use the passageway to showcase local arts/crafts vendors.

Just as I walked in, I noticed a tiny alcove with a young lady at a desk and stairs twisting upward next to her.  AHHHH....so THIS is where you access the tower!!  I paid a $2 entry fee and up I went...170 steps.

At the top is a wonderful terrace between the two towers where you can almost see 360 of Cuenca.  One reason I never knew the public could go up there is because it's very difficult to see people up there from the ground.  But they can see US!!

I'll shut-up and let the photos do the talking.

The terrace you climb to is to the left and right of the statue you see at the top/middle.
The two towers were never completed as planned due to a grave mistake the architect made.  If completed the foundation would not support the additional weight.
Newly re-opened Calle Santa Ana

Looking straight up through the interior of the tower.
Looking back down to the Seminary San Luis plaza

When you've reached the top, you exit this.

I wanted to keep going up, buttttt.....

When you exit the stairs this is where you land.

The terrace has steel bleacher-like steps on both sides so you can get a better look-see over the brick 'railings'.
Off to the right.
Wait a minute...is this another OSHA moment?  No railings?  And they could fall off the other side!!
Where are the Law Offices of Cogburn, Salatka, Goldstein, & Leitz?

Parque Calderon...the center of the universe in Cuenca.
The 8 pine trees you see in the center were planted as seedlings over 120 years ago!

Panorama shot.  Many government buildings line the perimeter of Parque Calderon.

Nice example of the wonderful architecture we have here.  I want that penthouse on the roof!!  I never knew it was there until I could see it from atop the Cathedral!!!

So, that was the view from the left side of the terrace.  Now, let's look off to the right.

Looking over to the next block, you can see the gardens of a Convent that many people don't know exist because it's not accessible to the public and you can't see it from the street level...only if you're up high enough or own an apartment in the upper right building.

Workers restoring/maintaining the exterior surfaces of the Cathedral.

Looking towards the Cajas Mountains and Santo Domingo church (lower right).
Headed back down to street level.
My foot.

On the way down the winding stairs was a black steel door with a few glass panes on top, one of which was broken.  The door was locked.   I wanted to know what was on the other side.  So, I lifted up my camera and poked it through the missing pane and snapped a photo.  This is what I got....a shot of the interior of the Cathedral!  See the human in the lower right?

Back on the ground, I saundered through the old Seminary San Luis Plaza.  It, too, was restored a few years ago after a fire in 2012 nearly destroyed it.   While it was being renovated, the roof happened to be under surgery and the wooden beams were exposed to the outside.   During an annual celebration, 'Globos' were lit with a small fire to create lift and sent aloft into the skies over Cuenca.  Well, one didn't get very far before it landed, still lit, but into the open roof with nice dry wooden beams.  A horrible blaze ensued and darn near destroyed the entire complex.  The city was able to restore it completely and in late 2015 it was re-opened to the public with grand fanfare and an outdoor concert in the plaza by the Cuenca Symphony.   No Globos.

Now, it houses restaurants, shops, a church, gardens, and open public spaces.

Enjoy the photos.  Well, maybe not the 3rd one.

The first two photos are the 'Globos' during the Corpus Cristie celebrations.  Guess what we AREN'T ALLOWED to do anymore????

And now today....

The Cathedral towers over the Seminary San Luis Plaza, and sardined in-between the two is the newly re-opened Calle Santa Ana (shown at the beginning of this blog).

Along Calle Santa Ana are reminders of the fire.  Several charred, but still sturdy, support posts won't let the public forget that what they see today could've been lost forever.

Referring back to the title of this blog entry....this is what I did for all of one hour today, just 3 blocks from my apartment.   For those of you who live here (either native or a newbie), get your butts up and out of your barcolounger and get out and SEE and EXPERIENCE the Cuenca you've chosen to live in!!!   🙆



Friday, May 12, 2017

Travel With Me to the Galapagos!!! - Day 5 of 5

Today, we gathered at the tour shop at 8:30am to get fitted with wetsuits, masks, and flippers.  By 9am twelve of us were at the dock boarding our boat to head out to Kicker Rock.

After 30 minutes cruising along the flat coastline of San Cristobal Island, there it was.  Kicker Rock (aka Leon Dormido (sleeping lion)) is the remains of a volcanic cone that has been eroded by the sea. Above the water, the monolithic rock formation towers nearly 500 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

....and we're off!!

Kicker Rock from a distance.  The right side broken away from the left side and you can see the larger chunk is also broken into two pieces.

We snorkeled THROUGH those cracks!!!!

CLICK HERE to see the amazing Kicker Rock snorkeling area!!!

Just up from the rocky beach, on the smooth rock, you can see a sea lion laying horizontal in the photo.
He slid on his belly down the smooth side of the rock, to the bottom where you see him now.

CLICK HERE to see some more awesome footage of the Kicker Rock Area!!!

Three people went scuba diving while the other 9 snorkeled.

Yep, we're gonna swim inbtween those two crags....amongst sharks, seals, tortoieses, and whatnot.

The gaggle of us snorkeling for our lives.

CLICK HERE for yet another stunning short video of Kicker Rock

After snorkeling for what seemed like an hour (probably a half hour) we boarded the boat, rested a bit, had snacks, then went out for another jaunt in search of a hammerhead shark.  Found one!

After that, we re-boarded again and motored over to nearby Manglerito beach to bask in the sun and do some leisurely swimming in the sandy-bottom cove.  Whitey me stayed on board so as not to fry and took a nap.  After lunch we returned to town, exhausted.

$100 may seem like a lot, but it was a 5-hour tour.  That's $20 an hour for, sun, white sandy beaches, swiming with the sharks, rays, seals, (I found Nemo!), plus snacks and lunch, and the gear (snorkel, wetsuit, flippers).  Well worth it!!

Mark Nugent

When I booked this trip to the Galapagos, I picked dates out of thin air just to find the discounted airfare.  After I got here, I had this weird feeling of familiarity and it dawned on me (then verified it), two years ago, this exact same week, one of my guests was here and, sadly, his life came to an end.  He and his BFF Cathy came to visit Ecuador and stayed in one of my short term rental apartments.  On a whim, they dashed off to the Galapagos.  While snorkeling, Mark didn't feel well, so he climbed back aboard the boat.  Mark was a Doctor.  He told the crew it was 'serious' so they dropped everything and whisked him to town and soon after he was evacuated and flown to a hospital in Guayaquil 600 miles away.  Cathy and the others didn't know what was going on, why the boat left, nor how bad it was.  By the time she got to shore, she was informed there was very little chance for Mark as it appeared he had suffered an aneurysm.  She contacted me in Cuenca.  I went to their apartment and packed everything up and drove to her hotel in Guayaquil to bring her their belongings.  The next day, Mark was scheduled to be flown back to the USA via a medical emergency flight, but just as the ambulance arrived to transport him to the airport, he passed away.

While I was snorkeling, though a bit nevous, I was thinking of you Mark.

Great bug HUGS to you Cathy.

Hasta Manana!!


About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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