and new amigos,
for comfortable places
and exciting new ones,
for loving families who support us
regardless of country or continent,
and for the good fortune
that has brought us
and sustained us
where we are.
-- Lynsey + Josh --
*turkey designed by Lynsey*
On 11/24 we attended a wonderful ex-pat feeding frenzy for Thanksgiving at a friend/fellow teacher's house. We don't want you to think we missed out on the food! There was proper turkey, stuffing, cranberries, homemade bread, casseroles galore, and all kinds of yum sides and desserts. The only empty spot was a lack of pumpkin pie, but otherwise we ate like kings and queens. Lynsey made a delicious black bean salad that is quickly becoming her signature dish. A wonderful adult student of mine provided me with the recipe and pan I needed to make a passion fruit (maricuya) dessert - look out! Both were big hits…and dare I say that Lynsey and I are learning our way around the kitchen…I said it! Overall, we enjoyed the night with new friends far from their homes and felt thankful to be together. Good times had by all.
Running with Friends:
Lynsey and I ran our first 10k here about a month ago with some great friends. Called “La Ruta Nocturna,” the race wound through the streets of Cuenca during the evening and was an overall success for all. Although we've run races before, this one wasn't quite like those back home. Here are 7 reasons why (as recounted by Lynsey in her blogstress debut!):
7. We didn't run 10k's in the StatesWe just weren't that fit back home, never would have made it. Enough said.
6. There are no hills in Chicago
Aside from the occasional overpass, all races back home were generally flat. This race, however, was a constant uphill for the first 4.5k and included at least three steep slopes that were just not fun.
5. Sexy bank and pharmacy girls
Sex sells here too, which is probably why the sponsors (national pharmacies and banks) sent their "finest" ladies to the packet pickup and after-race celebration to parade around in skin-tight shiny leggings and cleavage-heavy tops. They looked really athletic. Fitting.
4. Bags o' water
There was no sign of gatorade cups at the race. Instead, they passed out tiny plastic bags full of water every 2k. I must say, you feel pretty bad-ass ripping one open with your teeth and spraying water everywhere mid-stride.
There's no way to prove you've done anything without a piece of paper, so thankfully every racer got a "Diploma of Completion" at the end. Ours will be printed and hung in a prominent place in our apartment once we find somewhere to buy frames.
2. Military action
Races are serious business here. The city of Cuenca enlisted their stoutest military men to check for race chips at the race entry. No "ghost runners" here!
1. An event for the ENTIRE city
Just like at home, the streets were filled with people cheering and pushing the runners on. Something we weren't expecting, however, was the participation of multiple marching bands, local businesses blaring music, and a route that took us through street festivals and outdoor concerts. The race was obviously a source of pride, as was evident by the runners and onlookers screaming "VIVA CUENCA!" throughout the race.
That shiny beauty you're looking at is my new (used) bike! You wouldn't believe how expensive and small bikes are here, but I was able to find a shop with a big-enough frame (buried in the corner) that was put together for me for a reasonable price. Cars are certainly boss on Cuenca's streets, and some people do seem to think they're driving NASCAR, but bikes are starting to have a presence here. Given that Cuenca felt walkable before, the bike has added a new dimension to ripping around the city and getting things done. No bike lanes yet, but with more two-wheelers hitting the streets maybe it's only a matter of time. One of the things we love most about Cuenca is the potential we notice all around us, and I can't imagine a better place for a biking movement to take off.
Lynsey and I have a good four weeks off for the holiday season and we're planning to get the most bang for our buck. From December 9th - New Year's we'll be working on a grand circuit around Ecuador. Ecuador has three distinct regions (coast, mountains, jungle), and we plan to hit the first two. Our trip will first take us north up the “Avenue of the Volcanos” where we plan to camp near giant peaks, take a mountain-clinging train ride, and ride 60k on bike from the mountains down into the jungle - all on our way to the only truly organized section of the circuit; climbing the famous Cotopaxi volcano! We've booked gear and a guide to lead us up the iconic glaciated cone to a summit just under 20,000 feet. Vamòs! From there we'll make our way northwest to the coast (hitting Esmereldas first) and then head south down “La Ruta del Sol” along the coast back towards Cuenca. With our camping gear in tow, we're going to do our best to dip into the unparalleled diversity that this small country treasures. From snow to surf, here we come!
A special shout-out to those loved ones that are tentatively (but seriously) planning to come visit us - we literally CAN'T WAIT - Brad + Danielle, Kelsey + Toni, Susan, Zack, Jody + Jerry! Everyone else - check our calendar for guest room availability and open spots for YOU to visit. We'd love to see you!
SEE YOU SOON!