Navigation Pages

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Festival de Cuenca - with photos

Are you ready to party? Do you like music, art, dance, food and general festivities? Then Festival de Cuenca is for you. It's a celebration of Cuenca's independence from the Spanish and the party goes on for over a week.
Throw Pillows
People come from all over South America to show their wares and concerts are also a huge draw. One of the headliners this year is Enrique Iglesias who will likely fill the futbol (soccer) stadium.
Embassy of Japan Cultural Display
The upside of all this pandemonium? Most of it's free. (Okay, not Enrique...but there will be concerts in most of the parks throughout the city that don't cost a dime.)

When we first arrived we thought it was all about the artisan stalls along the river, but no, it's so much more. Programs for the events are notoriously hard to come by, but the city is finally offering an online version and we managed to get our hands on a hard copy this year. We've already missed about a week of events - maybe next year we'll get our stuff together and be more prepared.

Check out the agenda for this year's festivities:

We're looking forward to checking out all the art work and maybe taking in a few concerts. Get out there, enjoy everything that the city has to offer and don't forget your sunscreen!

Wool Work

Wood Work

PS The bars are allowed to be open until 4am over the holiday weekend, so it could be some wild times! 



Decorative Accessories

Clothes and More



Papier Mache

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In Support of Refugees

Looking towards distance shores.
 This has been a hot button topic, especially throughout the Canadian election. (Way to go, Canada! Thanks for voting for hope, tolerance and decency, btw!) With millions of displaced people around the globe, some first world countries are resorting to scare tactics and prejudice to keep refugees out. (Canada included, but I'm hoping that will change very quickly.)

Considering that Canada and the United States are primarily countries built on the backs of immigrants, I find it odd that so many people would be against accepting Syrian (and other) refugees into our countries. But you might call me biased, as my life was fundamentally impacted by refugees. 
We came from somewhere else, too, right?
There was a time in my life when I chose not to utilize the support of my family. It was in those crazy, confusing teen aged years and I was broken and scared and felt that I didn't really have anywhere to go. I had a best friend, who just happened to be a refugee from Chile. Her family had fled the Pinochet regime. They'd come to Canada for a new, safe life. The details of their story are theirs alone to tell, but Canada welcomed them and because of that (and their own generous nature), they were here for me.

They took me in, looked after me when I got dreadfully sick and showed me a different way of life.  They are very well educated, deep thinking and feeling people that had a life completely different to my own and they changed the way I viewed the world. They had a large part in making me what I am today and for that and their many kindnesses, I thank them.

Kindness isn't a weakness, it's a special type of bravery that can open you to hurt and betrayal, but it also says you care and want to understand and that's powerful as well as worth the risk. So, I say: open the doors, lend a helping hand to those that have suffered the horrors of war, crushing repression, hunger and fear. Let them enhance our society, let us enhance their lives and do what is good, right and decent. It is the Canadian way. We all have a story and we all need hope.
Roots are important as is acceptance.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rock the House! Seismically Speaking

Holy earthquakes, Batman! Yup, we're living in a seismic zone. Sure, we don't get as many tremblers as California and it doesn't seem like anyone here is waiting on the BIG ONE, like they are in Vancouver, but the ground does move.

We've experienced this on a number of occasions, but chalked it up to our imaginations, but there was no imagining the shaking that woke us up at 5:06am on Thursday, the 15th of October. A painting fell off one wall and our heavy wooden Buddha clattered against another. By the time I'd done what you're supposed to (stand in a doorway, preferably away from windows) the tremor had already stopped.

It's all good. In the grand scheme of things it wasn't really that big of a deal. No damage was done, no lives lost and no injuries - at least that we've heard of - and the wine glasses are all safe and upright. (Phew!)
Lataguna releasing ash in February 2014
It was a good reminder that every place has it's little inconveniences: earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, drought, forest fires, flooding etc. It's also a good reminder that we need to have an emergency preparedness kit. (Even in Vancouver we were never really very good at that.)
Cotopaxi spewing early this month. Courtesy of MSN Photo of the day
If you're thinking about coming to Ecuador, you should know that there are also volcanoes - active volcanoes. Cotopaxi is actually one of the world's largest volcanoes and it's rumbling and spewing threateningly. (This might also account for the earthquake we had.) Closer by there's also Latacunga that has been spewing ash and generally being disruptive (excuse the slight pun) to the people who live nearby.  

PS We're up over 30,000 hits and 65 countries. So hello out there world, glad to meet you!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

When is enough, enough? A Rant

I know, I know, I've been extra preachy lately, but what I see going on in my own country and around the world is so disheartening that I feel moved to comment, complain or even rant.

So what's my latest pet peeve? This gun thing. I don't get it. When will Americans (and I mean people from the USA) finally come to their senses about guns? Yes, I understand that the right to bear arms in written into the Constitution as an amendment, but other amendments have been changed, cancelled or re-amended. (Hello prohibition...I'm talking about you!)
I also realize that "people kill people", but dammit, it's a whole lot easier with a semi-automatic AR-15, if you know what I mean. Why for the love of God, would someone need an assault riffle except to go out and murder people?

Look, I'm from Canada.We have people there that own guns, too: the hunters, the farmers and of course a good selection of whack jobs that can't be trusted with a butter knife, let alone something that sends projectiles towards "targets" at around 1200 kmh (720 mph?). Of course, deaths in Canada by gun is a fifth of the United States, but we have this little thing called gun control.Sure, we're the sweet, polite neighbours to the North, but we (not I) do like our guns. We just don't go around shooting them at people with quite the same exuberance as our Southern neighbours do. 

You can say it's none of my business, that because I'm not from the US, I couldn't possibly understand the deeply ingrained desire to protect this "right", but it is my business. Your guns are finding their way up into Canada and killing my people. I also have loved ones in the US who could easily fall victim to some crazed lunatic wielding a gun, or worse...someone who feels it's their right to shoot someone on sight, because the gun owner "feels threatened". The Stand Fast rule is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard and we're in the middle of an election campaign, so that says a lot.

The statistics support a more...shall we say...measured approach to firearms.  You are more likely to be shot by your own gun than you are by any other firearm. (Go ahead, search the net and find the stats.)

Why is it so acceptable to have (on average) 85 Americans shot PER DAY? Are their lives less valuable than an amendment that was written to overthrow  a government that imposed a law designed to bend the masses to the will of the crown? News Flash: There is no crown anymore in the US, you have a little something (you like to claim as inventing) called DEMOCRACY that protects you from the very thing the 2nd amendment was put in place for. You can amend the law, that's why it's called an AMENDMENT. 

When are you going to say "Enough"; enough deaths, mass shootings, enough money going to the NRA to fund their deadly agenda? How many toddlers have to shoot their parents (accidentally) or children kill their friends/siblings/gun instructors before you realize that it isn't worth it? That it doesn't work and that you are creating a state of terror that completely out does the reason for having the 2nd amendment. (Remember when people didn't feel safe because they were likely to get shot if they did something the autocrats didn't like...well guess what, that's exactly what's happening again, but it's a problem of your own making and can be easily solved...)

I'm not saying don't have guns at all (although it's not a terrible idea), I'm saying make sure that the people who have them aren't psychotic, depressed, manic, uneducated about their responsibilities of gun ownership and/or generally murderous. And for the love of God, nobody...and I mean absolutely not one single person, needs assault rifles, automatic weapons, grenade launchers etc. It's ridiculous. This should be an age of enlightenment and you're back in the wild west or the dark ages. Shake your heads, pull up your big boy/girl pants and do something about it! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Another Year and Lessons Learned

I can't believe that another year "down South" has passed. Time is one of the things that made us take a huge leap of faith and follow what our guts told us was right. Life is remarkably short and we are happy that we're spending our days building experiences as opposed to putting it off until the "time was right".

A few posts ago, I pondered about being able to go home again. I mustn't really understand what home means, at least in the more traditional sense. What I do know, is that home isn't necessarily something I'm looking for or particularly attached to. My home is where we land and I don't specifically need to be surrounded with the familiar. That's not to say that I don't like to have my stuff. It's nice to have, but we've lived without it. I've learned that you don't have to be physically close to someone to love them, worry about them, support them or be useful to them. Love is a powerful and strange force that can reach over amazing distances.

The other thing that's become clear to me is that the world is an amazing place with so much to discover that it's hard to decide where to go next. I want to meet the people that inhabit this globe, experience their way of living, taste their food, find similarities and embrace the differences.

Our life certainly isn't for everyone, but if you are curious, there's really no harm in trying it. The worst thing that could happen (hopefully) is that you go back home, knowing it's not for you. Our attitude is that if all else fails, we can go home again - wherever that is! 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Please Vote

For all my Canadian readers, as all you know the federal election is just over two weeks away.

I'd like to remind all Canadians that our right to vote is a hard won and coveted  privilege. Many people have fought, gone to jail and died to be able to exercise this right, so PLEASE take the time to vote. It is your right and Canadian labour laws provide time for you to be able to go to the polls.

Don't delude yourself - your vote does matter. There is a huge amount of data supporting this. The last government was elected by 25% of the eligible voters. If you don't feel you have sufficient information to make a choice please take half an hour to educate yourself on the candidates in your riding. (Elections Canada Party and Candidate Information) There is a lot of information on, so start there.

If you are in the 18-25 year old demographic, you are currently in a position to make a huge difference. The parties (for the most part) have neglected you, as they believe you don't care. I know this isn't true. Your demographic is actually in a position to decide the next government, if only you take the time to mark your ballots. Have a voting party and include your friends - tweet about, Instagram, or snapchat about it. Get involved in how your tax money is handled, who speaks for you and how our country grows and changes. That's what your vote can do.

I wish I could say that I don't care who you vote for - I actually do - but that isn't the point of the blog, so long as you vote. Whether you have an ingrained loyalty to a certain party (although I encourage strategic voting), or a disdain for them all, not choosing is still a choice and takes away your right to challenge, complain or object to the next government including your opinion on: taxation, legislation and representation etc.

So, on October 19th, head to the polls (or vote in the early ballots Oct. 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th,  if you have other stuff to do that day), and mark your 'X'. It's painless and it's something that millions of people around the world wish they could do.

Let's take back our country, so we can lift our heads proudly, both at home and away.