― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
“I tramp a perpetual journey.”
― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Friends, family, and readers, hola de nuevo! Time has flown since our return from the U.S. in August, but in the good kind of way where a steady, fulfilling routine gives way to a stream of days and months. Though rains made Cuenca grey through most of September and October, a streak of sun has now found us, intense and beautiful at 8,000+ ft. to warm the days before the chilly nights. News abounds on the work front, adventure front, future front, and just the everyday life front. Yup, it’s just life now in Cuenca.
"If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden - This quote is dedicated to Lynsey and the well-designed castles she's steadily building as we speak.
With one year under our belt, we came back to Cuenca in early August after 5 weeks back in the U.S. It already clear that this year will unfold very differently from the first, and will build the bridge into what comes next. Here are some snapshots, thoughts, and news (big and small) about the beginning of the continuation of our life here in Cuenca...
"School's out for summer!"
With the end of the school cycle, Lynsey and I, like most teachers I know, were fine and ready for a little escape to recharge our batteries. Lynsey had just finished her first full school year, no small feat, and we both had officially fulfilled our original contract at the school. A year ago we might have said that it would be now that we may come back to the U.S. That, of course, is not how things have turned out. The people and landscapes of Ecuador have charmed us, and left us with a curiosity and an itch that there is much more to learn.
So, what I'm dancing around here is the fact that we were more than happy to get out of Cuenca for a mini-vacation to the southern regions of Ecuador - made even better with no immediate prospect of work responsibilities waiting for us when we get back. We decided to visit Vilcabamba, a small town with a reputation that precedes it, and from there venture into the mysterious Podocarpus National Park.
"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend."
While celebrating the Ecuadorian defeat of Spanish forces on the Pichincha volcano almost 200 years ago, Lynsey and I decided to venture east of Quito for our holiday to support a good friend, John, in a kickboxing showdown. After the battle, we were glad to find that the area was home to wonders ranging from the biggest waterfall in Ecuador to the freakiest birds we've ever seen in a cave. Two overnight buses back and forth to Quito allowed us to stretch this weekend just long enough to again appreciate how small, diverse, and vast this country truly is.
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
Some say everyone's an artist. Lynsey, without doubt, is one, but I wouldn't readily offer up the word to describe myself. Unfortunately, I (like so many others) too often give-in to a tunnel view way of thinking that what we're capable of isn't "good enough" to be considered art. Just dabbling maybe. Point and shoot. A thought here and there. What results, however, is a unique release of creative expression - some part of you finding its way out into the world. And that is a damn good feeling.
Recently, a group of friends and colleagues from CEDEI organized "Art Night;" an evening of expression for the diverse and talented folks that found themselves teaching English together. The night proved to be a showcase of the creativity we brought along with us along with what we've found here in Cuenca.
Lynsey, naturally, planned to showcase some of her latest graphic design work. Her exhibition muses on the tourism of our American countrymen that we witness daily here in Cuenca. I slowly decided to put together a collection of photos from excursions into the wild places near Cuenca, mainly Cajas National Park (my truest muse). After hours of Lynsey flexing her art school muscles, we had two series of beautifully mounted illustrations and photos ready for display. Here's our work:
Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!
Patient readers, hola otra vez! The blog has been sleeping quietly for 5 weeks while a steady stream of Parkers and a Schwab came to see our life here in Cuenca. In chronological order, Lynsey and I first hosted Jerry (my dad) and Jody (my aunt), a brother and sister combo on their first international foray together. Next to arrive was my best friend and brother, Brad, and his lovely wife, Danielle. A short week after their departure came Las Madres - the Parker and Schwab matriarchs traveling with two firsts: the new continent of South America and as new travel partners.
There are far too many stories to relay, so instead I'll speak of some highlights and let the photos tell the rest. However, I must say that, overall, having family visit was past meeting present; who we were meeting who we are. Our family brought “home” to Cuenca (including lots of goodies: clothes, spices, chocolate, shoes, a computer... the list goes on), and knowing that they all left with a fuller understanding of our life here and why we're staying for another year. Here are a few lines I wrote on this theme:
Thank you for letting us go
so that we can welcome you anew.
Life might be a line forward,
or just continually leaving
before coming back-
only to leave again.
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