2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


This past week was the single biggest celebration that brings easily 100,000 to Cuenca for a fiesta that began Friday night with Halloween and with celebrations that kicked off the long weekend through Tuesday's,  Day of the Dead, on November second, and Cuenca Independence Day on November third.

Halloween is not a biggie in Cuenca or Ecuador.  However, some of us expats and some Ecuadorians who lived in the states, but now have  returned, indulge in  Halloween parties; and some of the discos have costumed dance events as well.   Trick-or-treaters among the kids are rare, but always appear here at the Palermo. I noticed this year that more party shops were carrying masks and costumes specifically for Halloween.  As more retailers realize the dineros in it, no doubt Halloween will continue to grow.

Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Ecuador.  Some cities have more elaborate parades and celebrations with many masks and costumes that reflect death, ghosts, and skeletons.  Here in Cuenca, folks make their way to church for Masses for the Dead. Special prayers and mass offerings are made in the belief that it will lessen the possible time loved ones may be spending in purgatory.  Purgatory is a place according to Catholic teaching similar to hell, but without the despair.  After death, those who have died, but who were not in the state of mortal sin; must be purified from the fires of Purgatory for all their sins and transgressions in life.  Upon the completion of their purification, they can then go to be with God.  One must be purified to enter into the presence of the beatific vision of God.  

Most Cuecanos will make their way to the cemetery with their families.  Much like Memorial Day in the U.S., it is a time to pay respect to family members and friends who have died.  Many families will take picnic baskets with them and make a day of it, as they will share their meal with one another and their dearly departed.  The Day of the Dead is the equivalent of All Souls Day, which is celebrated in the Catholic Church in the United States also on November second; one day after All Saints Day, which is not celebrated in Ecuador.

In the midst of this was the holiday that for five nights and four days brought out the party fiesta of the big Cuenca Independence Day of dozens upon dozens of big and small concerts--indoors and outside-- and numerous street entertainers throughout primarily El Centro and Avenida Remegio Crespo.  Over 300 events were going on with endless art exhibits, all types of experimental demonstrations of various arts and crafts, puppet shows, queen coronation, magic acts, games, a stock car race, endless food vendors, the smell of grilled meats, and even booths from some of the best restaurants in town with tasty morsels of their menu offerings.  Plays, art film, dance; it was all happening, baby!  It was time to get down, and shake a tail feather.  Celebrate!  Celebrate!  Dance to the Music!  

All of it was held together by Cuenca's biggest art and artisan fair of the year, as it meandered for a mile along the south side of the Rio Tomebama on Twelfth de Noviembre, and then paralleled the north side of the river on Third de Noviembre.  Parque Madre had its share of vendors and art, and eventually one could make their way down Avenida Benigno Malo to Parque Calderon and Sucre before one came to the end or the beginning of seemingly endless everything.

Did I leave out fireworks?  No way, not in Cuenca.  Fireworks are the life-blood of the Cuencanos.  No reason is needed to celebrate with fireworks.  Friends of mine told me they saw their best fireworks display ever on Friday night in Parque Madre after a heavy-metal concert.  What time were the fireworks?  Why 1:00 a.m., of course.

Late Friday afternoon began with some rain, but we were undaunted in our Halloween spirit.

A Halloween Dinner awaited us at the Le Petit Jardin Restaurant in San Miguel de Sayausi. Owner and chef Giovanni Cambizaca 

Note to me, lose ten lbs.   Why do I look so pie-eyed after one drink?

Ah, Chef  Giovanni's son doing the honors.  The culprit who was keeping me well fueled.

Halloween or Day of the Dead, you choose.

After dinner we headed down to El Centro.  Main stage was performing some great music at Parque Calderon, the heart of the city.  The trees, the cathedrals, and many of the surrounding businesses were bathed in colored lights.  I don't recall ever seeing the old cathedral's bell tower so lit up and so beautiful.  Sorry, no photo of the band.  It was so crowded, I couldn't get a decent shot over everybody's heads.  We were lucky to get an outside open table at a nearby restaurant, and enjoyed a few hours of drinks; while conversing, and listening to the music.

Sorry about his eyes.  Hey, it was Halloween night.

Art Fair

There were some great wood-carvings.

People enjoying the greens along the Rio Tomebama with the art fair going on along the left and right of the river.

One of the escalantes leading down from El Centro to the river.

Crowds everywhere

Sometimes you just have to take a break.  Monday was a windy day, but still in the upper sixties.  You would think it was 45 degrees out, the way those little girls are dressed.

Metal Work Art

If you are going to appreciate South American art, you better love warm, vibrant colors.
Kids would have their picture taken with him by their parents.  I had to give him a dollar.  He looked so miserable up there.  There must be something stiff in his outfit that keeps him in place, but he did not look to me like he was enjoying it.

I'm out in the street taking these photos as something loud is coming down Calle Larga.
No, it's not Mao's Cultural Revolution kids, but it is a very large group of young people bands, shouts, mini-parade.

Ending with a furl of banners.

Outside Goza Cafe

The popular Goza Cafe, especially with tourists, formerly known as the Coffee Tree.

              CIPAD offered a Japanese exhibit.  I love Japanese art and architecture, so bear with me.

Lead-in to the Stock Car Race on Calle Larga.  Clear the steets, the stock-cars are coming!

Benigno-Malo with the New Cathedral in the background

Security is seen everywhere.  For a fiesta this large, military personnel and country police are brought in as well, as hundreds-of-thousands enjoyed the days of fiesta.

Military band performance in Parque Calderon

A large numbers of flags were furled along the south side of Parque Calderon and the main stage.

Saying goodbye to friends and to another year of fiesta, as we headed home.  There was still an evening of activities, and I found myself walking against foot-traffic as people were coming from the barrios for the final evening of entertainment.  Cuenca had celebrated its 195th year of Independence from Spain.  I can't imagine what its bicentennial will be like in 2020.

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