Friday, January 30, 2015

Sit, Beg, Protest, and Then Get High on Art

There are so many sayings that include dogs: going to the dogs, dog day afternoon, my dogs are
killing me, and so on. However, when we went out today, we found that Cuenca was having a people and dog revolt. There was a rather hearty protest in progress when we reached the park. There were about 75 people and dogs in front of the municipal building on one side of the street, effectively blocking the sidewalk for pedestrian access. 
On the other side of the street, the park side, there were another 50 or more people and about two dozen canines holding signs, banner, and chanting. They would all stop to pose for anyone with a camera, hoping someone in the crowd was a journalist. 

The demands include stronger animal rights. There are too many abandoned dogs in the city and surrounding. We have not noticed this problem, but we will take their word for it.
They want cheaper neutering clinics with mandated surgeries. Part of the protesters demanded stronger financial support for the care of homeless dogs until they are adopted.

Severely deprived from dog loving, we were able to get a healthy dose here. Not only were the people holding the leashes friendly, but they welcomed their babies getting loving attention from strangers. We, pardon the expression, lapped up the canine kindness. 

The original goal when leaving the apartment was to go to the CIDAP Museum - Centro Interamericano de Artesanias y Artes Populares, which sits on the riverfront. We had no idea of what we would find here. OH MY STARS, as my paternal grandmother would say. We were in for a surprise.

CIDAP is an organization with a mission to breed knowledge and skills of artists. The organization worldwide offers 50 different courses that have thus far enriched 1,294 artists from 26 American countries. Within Ecuador alone, there have been 193 courses with over 2,500 artist participants. There are 11 craft festivals sponsored making it the largest in the country and very significant within America. Please note the use of “America”. This is used in their official publications, which goes to prove that America is not solely the United States. 
Our jackpot reward was visiting at a time when they were hosting award winners of the UNESCO Recognition of Excellence in Handicrafts awards. The varieties and designs in wood, clay, and textiles were simply magnificent. Other rooms had permanent works on display that were as fantastic as well.  The entry fee for this museum is your signature on the guest list. 

We soaked in the hard work, the talent, the education and the sacrifices that each piece represented. Silently, we cheered for the UNESCO winners and mentally sent well wishes to the others who have displayed. They too are winners. 

Leaving this museum, we were really flying high. It is incredible how great works of art, regardless of the media, can lift your spirits. Now energized, we crossed the river to visit the Museo de la Medicina. Appropriately, it is part of the Hospital of St. Vincent de Paul. Admission here was $1 each. We were the only visitors during our entire time checking out the various rooms. Much larger than I expected, as with several museums here, you enter a courtyard and all of the rooms open to the center garden. 

This was no different. Each room seemed to be dedicated to different specialties. Dentistry was the first room that we entered; there were dozens of different antique dentist chairs and all the equipment of similar ages. Other rooms had displays for gynecology, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, and so forth. Each specialty had pictures of doctors who had made inroads into their specific field. 

Surprisingly, we spent a good hour and a half or more here. When we left the museum, we wandered a bit around the hospital itself. There was a sign on one of the office doors that read Talento Humano, which I interpret as Human Resources. I loved the way they phrased it. 

Next was the hard part. After crossing the river, 97 steps need to be climbed to get to the upper streets to navigate home.
Some smart person created this stairway by breaking it into groups of 12 steps, with the exception of the upper most, which has 13 steps. At each of the 8 groupings, there is a landing to ponder your thoughts, watch your life pass before your eyes, wish for a respirator, or whatever is needed, before progressing to the next landing.

However, some very wise person,
probably someone with asthma, decided to decorate the walls along the way. Not only does this decorate what would otherwise be boring concrete, but it gives those of us in need, the justification to stop occasionally to look over the artwork, when in reality, we are trying to suck in as much air as possible. 

I made the mistake of mentioning to Ron that there was a piano concert in the evening. Of course, he wanted to go. The venue was the former house, now museum of the Ecuadorian writer/politician Remigio Crespo Toral. Though we could not imagine where the concert room was, we did go to investigate it. 

Filling the house with mobs of people, the majority English speaking ex-pats, there were no chairs for the concert. Placed in one room of the museum, a piano appeared for the evening. Our artist du noche was Peter Dudar, who I heard the organizer say he was Italian. However, if he is, he is Italian/American for certain. 

You can see one of his piano tunes here. He played Offenbach, Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, the
Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and one of his own songs. With the rooms overflowing with people and not being able to sit down, it was difficult to hear. Numerous little conversations started among others not within hearing range, thus making it more difficult still. We lasted for the first four selections then we scooted out of there. 

One thing that Cuenca has going for it is the vast assortment of cultural events, the majority of which are dominated by the ex-pat community since there is no language barrier. 

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