Monday, November 12, 2018

Cuenca Eye Candy

When we run errands, we usually reward ourselves with a drink, snack or ice cream. Walking home can involve a 250' climb from some parts of town, so a break before that labor is nice. This is a pic by daughter Francesca on the back terrace of Cafe del Museo. The museum fronts east-west Calle Larga (long street), the south limit of Centro Historico. On the back it overlooks the Rio Tomebamba, one of Cuenca's four rivers (Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca/ Saint Ann of the Rivers of Basin).

One of the few places where I can get a Manhattan
The short way to the back terrace is through the museum, whose front door on Calle Larga is about 40' higher than the Tomebamba. One walks down stairs in the museum about 30' to arrive at the terrace which is about 10' above the river (which can seriously flood during rainy season). It's a very tranquil view across the river to the newer town. Even though there's a 2 lane highway on the other side, the sight and sound of traffic is obscured and muted by the greenery and fast-moving water.

Pic looking north across the Tomebamba. This isn't a shot of the Museo, as trees block that view, but it's typical. Buildings that show two stories on Calle Larga will have six on the river side. There's a walk along the river, so people can stroll and stop at one of many places to eat and drink. We had idly considered buying a condo overlooking the river, but Calle Larga is loud until the wee hours, and we're basically house people anyway. Cuenca's only 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean, but on the east side of the Andes, so the water in the photo flows into the Amazon, and empties into the Atlantic.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Panela? Canela?


I don't remember seeing panela in the States. It's unrefined sugar that's very common in Ecuador. We use it in coffee, sweet & sour pork, etc. when we might have used brown sugar in the US. Hard taffy is made from it as well. I've been having trouble distinguishing panela from another edible, canela, finally got them straightened out today. Panela literally means "little bread." Canela means "little cane." But in Spanish, canela says "cinnamon." I kept thinking that the unrefined sugar was canela since it comes from sugarcane; and then would get confused about it being cinnamon. And panela would just mean roll or biscuit.
But panela isn't typically sold in milled (granulated) form (panela molida) but in small hard bricks. Little loaf sized, hence panela. That also explains Queso Panela, small hard cheeses. Got it.
Back to canela. Canela's a cognate of Greek 'kanna,' cane. The root form shows up in all sorts of languages: Arabic al-qandi, candy; kanna, a measuring stick, e.g. canon; and cannon, a tube. Like panela, cinnamon is not typically sold in milled form here either. Instead, it's the raw inner bark product that comes rolled up. We'd call it a stick of cinnamon, but due to the shape it's called by a version of 'canuto,' which is the Spanish word for 'little tube.' Canela, little tube. Similar to cannoli and canneloni. Got this too.


Photo by Gilber Tacuri looking down Calle Benigno Malo toward Catedral Nueva. From our house we'd be headed to Mass or Happy Hour depending on the day. We looked at a house on this street, but bought one further up the hill in a quieter neighborhood.

No Más

A couple of months ago after Mass we bought some groceries on the way home. The bagger, a man maybe in his late 20s, was asking me where we were from etc. I asked if he was a Cuencano. He said no, he was from Caracas, Venezuela. We talked about the situation; he was a professor back in Caracas, taught Portuguese. I know dabs of Portuguese, we did some basic chat in that. I asked if he was teaching here. No, he just had the grocery job, but it was good, and he was one of the lucky ones.

In the meantime there's new graffiti along our walk into town: FUERA VENEZUELA (Venezuela Out). Too many refugees getting low level work in a seriously underemployed society.

Local Fauna

Say hello to my little friend.

The Glamorous Life

It could be sunny any minute now.

Cuenca is arguably Ecuador's toniest town. Odd that there are very few places to eat outside with a streetview. One of them is Goza, where we typically go for continental breakfast (desayuno continental) after Mass. The outdoor dining shares common space with a plaza, so there's lots of pedestrians: tailored professionals, average folks, college kids, tourists, and indigenous. Never a dull moment. The guard keeps street vendors out of the dining area, otherwise there'd not be a moment's peace.
In this shot it's full of young singles (not my photo), but on Sundays there's a wider range of people including 2 and 3 generations of families sitting at tables pushed together.
The three streetlight-looking objects are space heaters in case it gets 'chilly', i.e., less than 65F. Across the street on the right is the Ministerio that assists Cañari folks. At least I assume so- the only people I see going in and out are Cañari women & kids.
White tents are usually hosting a health fair. The gov't will take your vital signs for free, and try to enroll you in the health system. We have had private insurance, but are shifting over to the public system.
Out of sight to the left is a church and school that open onto the plaza. During the week, the kids are let out for lunch, they look like a million bucks in their uniforms.

Family Tree

Shot of family photos starting to go up the stairwell: