Yesterday we had a picnic at Paradise Park with our good friends Peter and Karen. The huge park is a fabulous amenity just a short walk from our home that is much loved and used by Cuencanos, especially on the weekends, but somewhat unknown to gringos.
Coming to our place the Stephenson’s had one of those bus misadventures we all occasionally experience here, arriving flustered and a little later than planned. So before setting out for our adventure we enjoyed a few rounds of Mimosas that helped restore the proper level of conviviality.
The weather in Cuenca has been a bit dicey lately. It’s the rainy season and some type of precipitation is almost a daily occurrence; in fact it has been raining non-stop so far today. Plus we’ve often been getting hit with some pretty strong winds mid-afternoon. We, however, were blessed with an absolutely perfectly calm day of comfortable temps and sunshine.
Karen had prepared phenomenal smoked chicken sandwiches, and the Staton's contributed a pasta salad and brownies. All the conventional picnic tables seemed to be occupied when we arrived but we had no trouble improvising a spot to enjoy our meal.
After lunch Cynthia and I laid down on mats under a shady tree for our daily siesta. The grass was thick and cool and we were serenaded by the sounds of rushing rivers on both sides. You see, Paradise Park is a large triangle of land that lies between the Tomebamba and Yanuncay rivers, and at the apex they come together to form one larger river.
Peter and Karen aren’t “nap people” so they went off to explore the suspension bridges that weave through dense forests where the rivers converge.
When they returned we chatted and drank wine, then we explored the rest of the park. A lot of the trees, like the one behind Cynthia and Karen here, are ancient.
Everywhere families were playing games and enjoying themselves; young lovers cuddled and smooched. There is a large pond in the middle where on the weekends folks can cruise around in 10 paddle boats free of charge.
The geese seem to enjoy this activity as much as the people do.
We finished our day with some vigorous Frisbee throwing on one of the soccer fields at the park’s entrance. Fascinated locals had fun watching four middle-aged gringos run around and act like children. You know what? We were pretty damned good!
After a leisurely stroll back home we said our goodbyes and the Stephenson’s climbed into a cab (no more bus shenanigans today!). We all agreed that we seem to have found our personal paradise here in South America, and that this afternoon at Paradise Park—the weather, the beautiful setting, the food, the camaraderie-- was the perfect representation of our new life.