Sunday, January 18, 2015

Surprises for Two Slugs

Saturday slugs are we! Trying to treat this just like home to get a feel for what it would be like if it were home, we slugged around the apartment most of the morning. I have to admit that even getting up at 7:30 this morning, I was so rested I would have sworn it was 10am. Looking at my watch was an eye-opener in multiple ways.

Leaving Ron to sleep, I made my way to the dining area to read e-mail and transfer some photos from the camera. Ron was actually up shortly after and cooked breakfast. He read the news on the tablet and then read e-mails while I showered. We could not decide what we should do today. People have been telling us, people specifically meaning Malena our proprietor that we really need to see Parque de La Madre. This seemed like a good day to visit a park while revisiting some favorite places from last time along the way.

One street corner that begs for our attention each time we are in the area is the outdoor flower market.
Lilies of more varieties than I can name are next to roses of more colors than in any rainbow, and dozens upon dozens of other flowering varietals. Of course, we have to stop to smell the flowers before moving on, but the music in the air distracts us while drawing us around the corner. It is a parade with a dozen floats. Each float has a pint-sized king and queen ranging from five to nine years old. Shepherds or angels and in some cases both are surrounding them.

Why the parade? We are clueless. No one seems to be paying attention other than the relatives of these children. People are pushing the trucks on which the floats are sitting. Not one is running its motor. Pleasant surprises like this are commonplace here in Cuenca. These sometimes occur in other cities as well, but more so in Cuenca.

As the parade passed us by, Ron went to the tourism office to ask a question. Before leaving, he asked the polite young man what the occasion was for the parade. With a sheepish grin, the man stated, “It was some religious thing related to the birth of Jesus. It happens all the time.” Being perplexed, Ron commented that Christmas was over in December. Again, the young man grinned and said, “Here it continues for months…only in Cuenca!”

Walking through the main square, there are opportunists who have stuffed toy horses and live St.
Bernard dogs for children to pose with and have their picture taken for $5 a shot. It was fun to watch this one St. Bernard hold a basket of flowers in his mouth, while holding one paw up. The little girl next to him was adorable.

When we were here before two years ago, we frequented a restaurant that became a favorite. Generally, it was a coffee stop more than a food stop, but it was an ex-pat hangout. The name changed from The Coffee Tree to Gozo, but I found the owner was the same. As we were walking there, again lively music resonated around corners. When we made our way around the church, we found a group of women and one unidentified person dancing. Our enjoyment lasted for twenty minutes before they ended the celebration. From the looks of others standing around, adult
versions of Joseph, Mary, and Wise Men had already performed whatever their roles happened to be.

With the park visit as our initial goal, we continued in that direction. By now, we had walked over two miles to see this lovely park. It is located on the other side of the river. To get there, you have to walk down 200 steps, literally. You know what goes up must come down? Well it is the same in reverse. I did not want to think about the climb up.

Recently refurbished, the park is a showcase for parenting. They have created a number of wooden structures with slides, swings, things to climb on and jungle gyms. It is well groomed and spacious with a running track around the circumference.

As we returned to cross the river, we had spotted a number of pieces of wall art; I wanted to photograph them. Ron waited by the steps as I took off with the camera. Just as I was finishing, it started to rain tiny drops, almost as if the clouds had hesitation as to whether they wanted to share or not. Well they decided in a big way within minutes. It started pouring. We ran up 100 stairs to a café
on one landing. They refused to let us in; it was 15 minutes before opening time. After ascending the rest of the stairs, we rushed to the coffee shop Howard and Mike had taken us to the previous day. With the intention to outlast this summer shower, we ordered coffees.
Two hours later, the torrential rain was still coming down. For one hour, we attempted standing in the doorway of the café to hail a taxi. More taxis passed us by then there are cars in all the used car dealerships in Budapest, but not one was empty. More concerned about my camera than my body, we finally decided we needed to try a more advantageous spot for taxi hunting. By the time we reached that point, we were home.

We popped 1,000 mg of vitamin C. How refreshing a hot shower feels after getting soaked in the rain.

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