There's rarely a "bad" day here in Cuenca, but yesterday was an exceptionally outstanding one. I had a morning meeting with an attorney friend to review detailed plans of the proposed parking lot at Madre Park. For those of you living here who have been relying on gossip and Internet hysteria about this project, here's my assessment: overall this appears to be a well thought out concept. There are several unanswered questions that we are presenting to the city for clarification, but the finished product will be more attractive and useful than the current hodgepodge. And no, they're not going to cut down all the trees. I'll keep you informed on this one.
In the afternoon Cynthia & I, along with our good friends Will & Val Lacy, had the opportunity to visit two rural schools outside Cuenca to plan some Christmas festivities for the children there. We met the young lady and her mother who had requested our help, jumped on a bus, and headed off for an adventure.
A limousine was waiting to whisk us to the schools.
The scenery was fantastic as we bounced along dirt roads for miles.
The kids were a bit shy upon our arrival.
But no one could resist Will's charm.
After touring the school we all lined up for a picture (and some of us actually looked at the camera).
Then it was time to distribute the candy we brought along.
We made a brief stop at another school, then it was back to Cuenca (there's Will "working the room" again).
We went straight to a special Gringos & Friends night. This weekend Cynthia and I are blessed with the chance to help raise funds for FASEC (Foundation for Assistance of Cancer Patients). FASEC provides temporary assistance and lodging to patients from outside Cuenca and hospice care to those who need a caring place to die with dignity. These patients come from all over Ecuador for treatment at SOLCA, Cuenca’s outstanding cancer specialty hospital which is adjacent to FASEC’s facilities.
We got involved with this event and the schools because of an article that appeared in the newspaper about the first G&F event. My email was included, and I cringed when I saw it, but several worthwhile inquiries such as these resulted so it turned out to be a good thing.
Understand that all this crazy stuff I share with you that we're doing lately is totally unplanned. We arrived in Cuenca in May with zero agenda except to make a new life here, but one thing has led to another has led to another has led to another, and 6 months later I've started a Gringo night, am writing a column in the newspaper, and have become a "lightning rod" for charities here. And just today I've been invited to write for another publication and to appear on a radio program. This has been a wild, unpredictable, and incredibly fun ride.
Anyway, Di Bacco, the host restaurant, generously offered to donate 10% of last night's proceeds to the FASEC, and there was a large and supportive crowd in attendance. Several hours later we stumbled in the door dog-tired.
Tomorrow we pick up the ingredients to make barbeque sauce for 20 racks of ribs. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that our involvement includes helping man the USA booth Sunday for the 16th Annual International Food Festival to benefit FASEC. We're also having people over for lunch and other folks for cocktails Friday, doing prep work for the Festival Saturday afternoon, and going to a party Saturday night. When was I going to make that sauce? Right now I have no idea, but it will be made.
It's kinda funny. I actually thought we came here to retire. Silly me.