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Monday, April 14, 2014

Ecuadorian Practicality, Some Advice and the Biennial

Ecuadorian practicality can be a truly beautiful thing. If a tree falls in one of their parks they cut it up there on the spot and make benches which allows for a lot of seating. Not necessarily comfortable, but plentiful. (Keep in mind that height is not an advantage here in Ecuador!)
Trees that snapped in a wind storm

One of the resulting benches

The shady option
Their practicality can also be a bit off putting...need to go to the bathroom? Just drop and go...between cars, by the river, on the hiking problem! This includes men and's true. I saw an indigenous woman squat down between two parked cars. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

"No hay problema!" (No eye probl-EM-a!) There's no problem! This is a very popular concept and practice here, as with the trees. We've seen this on the street as well. One way street? Only a suggestion! We actually saw a truck go the wrong way, across a one way bridge, and then turn down the street he wanted to get to. He had to cross a very busy "Y" shaped intersection to get to the bridge, against the flow of traffic as well. We were suitably impressed.
Not that great for lounging...

Okay for a quick photo pose!

The pedestrians have a similar approach. Families will walk four abroad, taking up the whole sidewalk and don't move when you're approaching. This isn't meant to insult you, it's just more practical NOT to move, especially if the approaching person is already making signs of giving way. (I have a new theory on's really self-preservation, the sidewalks are riddled with obstacles, so if you have the clear path...whatever you do, don't surrender it!)

Fortunately they are also wildly practical in their approach to food. It's almost impossible to be hungry here. Vendors line the streets with fruit, candy, ice-cream, coconut water etc. You can get home made potato chips, popcorn or choclos (a type of corn with large kernals) these are served with a range of condiments and can be quite delicious. They also have a serious passion for quail eggs (huevitos). I haven't tried them yet, but they seem to be a popular snack to get you through to your next meal. This is imminently practical if you're too busy to stop for a meal. (Fast food - Ecuadorian style!)
Couple picnicking in the background.

Now let me follow that with some practical advice. If you are fortunate enough to be wandering around one of the cities in Ecuador, adopt this practice: if you see something interesting, stop and then look at it. Don't continue to wander down the street, as you will likely either trip, fall in to a hole or slip off the curb. Ecuadorian practicality extends to sidewalk maintenance...wait until the entire sidewalk needs replacing before making repairs! (And then pave them with really nice tile that gets slippery when it rains...consider yourselves warned!)

While these little idiosyncrasies may seem interesting (for lack of a better word) or sometimes a bit dangerous, this is life in Ecuador. You must take it as it is and enjoy it! Everyday is a new adventure to be looked forward to with anticipation.
Future benches!

Perhaps for this view...
Or this!
But seriously...STOP and look at things...just do may sound ridiculous, but your ankles, toes and maybe even legs will thank you.

Happy biennial Cuenca, you're putting on a great show, which we enjoyed (after we stopped walking and took the time to look around). 
Love these trees...they're kind of Seussian.
Paddle boating on the lake

One of the Four Rivers

Band entertaining the locals for the Biennial

They had people dancing in the street.

That's the "new" cathedral behind them

Festivities in Parque Calderon (just across the street)

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