We arrived a few days before Christmas and had the chance to participate in the typical Cuenca holiday traditions which included this all day parade through the town - Pasada del niño viajero with families or groups dressed in their indigenous dress or other costumes. Many vehicles decorated and the end of the day has the baby Jesus coming into the main church in town, having traveled from church to church during the days before Christmas.
The holidays were spent with the family, going to Christmas eve mass and witnessing the blessing of each family's baby Jesus and then a late meal at home followed by a few gifts.
|Tarabita over the river|
Soon we were off to Baños de Ambato - a town that we visited twice before. We love it for its hot volcanic thermal waters. We spent our anniversary and left on New Years Eve back to Cuenca. During our time we did the various activities that are part of the very touristy town - la Ruta de las Cascades and La Casa de Arbol. Here I am putting many pictures rather than words for our memory. If you wonder why I write so much when we travel - it is for us. We just re-read our prior Ecuador trips to remind us of all the details that we experienced. Gives us a good idea of places we want to revisit.
Back in Cuenca for the new year. We could not leave the area, however, without visiting our favorite Parque Nacional Cajas - vistas, lakes, 12,000 ft altitude with various wonderful walks - we did the long walk around the Lago Toreadora.
|Lago Toreadora, Cajas|
|Drawing with Erika and Diego|
|Mami's negative energy|
And for our last and very special day we spent it at Yolanda's little house in the country where all the food we ate was grown there - veggie soup, beans, corn and fruit. I had the great opportunity to draw with two of the young 11 year old neighbor kids. One, Erika, we had met early on during this trip and have decided to sponsor her for school each year. She is very talented and already motivated to do well. Her mother works for the family from time to time. We promised to come back to visit for her graduation from HS before she goes on to University. We will stay in touch as even the kids with very minimal means have cell phones (same in Mexico). It was a memorable day for all, for sure.
|with Erika and Diego|
Many thanks to Yolanda for the amazing hospitality and spirit of love that you bring to all around you. And to our friends and family, thanks again for traveling with us on this South American vacation. See you soon from Colombia.