Tuesday, January 1, 2013


HAPPY NEW YEAR To our Family, Friends and BLOG Readers!!

Well, Bo and I had our first experience of celebrating The New Year in Dan Dan, Ecuador!  We laughed, ate, drank, danced all night, and were embraced and welcomed by Pedro's extended family.  There must have been over 50 relatives there - Parents, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and on and on.  They kept arriving throughout the day and evening.  There was so much love and unity in this huge family.  Every child would come up to Bo and me and hug (cheek to cheek) and welcome us.  The music blared from the time we arrived New Years Eve at 10:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning (really!). 

Throughout the day, every woman prepared and cooked each meal and course and served the men and children.  Some of the men would help (Pedro was one of them), but most sat around drinking and talking together.  The children were quiet, respectful, and were having a wonderful time together.  When food was served, the younger ones ate whatever was being served.  There was never a whine or complaint the entire time we were there.  Adults spoke softly and lovingly, with authority, to the children, and there was such a tenderness and joy throughout the day.  It was such an observation of a family that worked together, played and celebrated together, and everyone took care of each other.   Teens took care of the younger children while parents were busy with different tasks.  Everyone seemed to know just what to do and when to do it.  We were in awe of this family and humbled and honored with our time spent with them.

Because this family grows their own food and raises their meat, everything was harvested fresh as each meal was prepared.   The pig was killed, butchered, and every part of that "Choncho" was used throughout the day.  Even the brains! This was not a place for vegetarians, mind you!   Some of the family would disappear down the hill into the fields and later return carrying huge bags of harvest fruits and vegetables for the day's courses being served.  I even watched one of the women feeding her grandchild fresh fruit and fresh juice from the fruit of Pedro's parents' trees (no canned baby food or processed formula for these babes).  It truly was a celebration and a sight to behold.  We will always remember our time in Dan Dan celebrating and hugging in the New Year with our Ecuadorian friends.  We have received many invitations to come back, and also individual invitations to come visit Pedro's brother's farm and on and on.  We are humbled by their love and acceptance of us into their family. 

When Pedro, Bo, and I arrived at Sra. Rosa and Sr. Salvador's, the Chancho was already butchered and family members were gathered around torching the carcass for the first course.
Crispy salty choncho skin served over Choclo with Aji sauce.

Dad and son pose with the four dummies that would stare at us all day until the "burning of the ano viejo dummies" at midnight! 
After the crispy carcass was removed, the "chancho" was defatted and then taken to a table where it was butchered.  Pedro insisted on a photo of me and Bo and piggy!

We watched a very laborious task of defating the pig!

Pedro (top left) and four other family members carry the pig over to the butchering table.  This family lives outside.  They wash up, cook, eat, visit, dance, drink, and celebrate under the blue  or cloudy skies and evening stars.  We loved every second of it!
The beginning of the butchering.  It was a very long process, since they cut up every part of this pig and use it for many meals.
Some of the women making the stuffing for the intestines, which are thoroughly washed - another process we've never seen before.
Many hands stuffing the carefully prepared intestines. 
A picture of love and caring - Carlos was continually holding or watching over the young ones.

Our friend, Pedro, cooks and helps (unlike some of the other older men).  Pedro is a gentleman.  He was continually watching over Bo and me, making sure we were comfortable and enjoying ourselves.  No, he doesn't speak English, but he and I can communicate well, and he really cares for Bo and tries to speak English while Bo tries to speak Spanish.  It's very funny to listen to.
This family danced all day and all night - into the early morning.  The music blared over the hill tops, and Bo and I knew that by evening, we would be dragged out to dance and join in the festivities.  We were right - and we did - and we loved it!!!!
Some of the fresh plantains from the land are being prepared for the next course - a delicious chancho "caldo" (broth) with added vegetables and seasonings.
Sr. Salvador and his great great grandson, Mateo - a picture of the family generations.
The pig fat was cooked over a hot fire and became a delicous course of Chicharron with Camote (an Ecuadorian sweet potato) which was served over rice.
Another pot of pork meat is being cooked while women in the background clean more pork.
Pedro and his sister-in-law enjoy a laugh, while she stays with the pots of cooking pork!
Family of women in the kitchen making tamales!

Stirring the Tostones.  Guess where the brains went?
Bo and I took a moment to walk down the path where the approaching evening lighting was magical and the view breathtaking.  In the midst of the solitude and beauty, the music blared and the laughter was infectious!
Meet Sra. Rosa, Pedro's mother.  She is 76 and never stops.  From early (and I mean early) morning until the wee hours of the night, she is cooking, harvesting, cooking, tidying, cooking, serving, and running around (and I mean RUNNING), never stopping!!!  She runs down the mountain hill like she's an athlete.  She hauls up the huge bags of harvest like she's wonder woman.  She's always pleasant, smiling, and soft-spoken, with words of sweetness and kindness.  She's my new HERO!!!!

Meet Sr. Salvador, behind the mask!  He's also 76 and never stops.  He is kind, hardworking, and sounds like the Godfather, with that low raspy voice of his.  He loves to share stories of when he was a boy.  He and his wife are a joy to watch together.  They will be married 60 years this year! 

The three photos above are of the evening celebration - Ecuadorian music, dancing, and lots of chatter and laughter.  Do you think Sra. Rosa is having a grand time? 
This little angel was one of my favorite family member to watch, along with her mom and dad.  The parents danced, laughed and stayed with their daughter every second.  When she finally fell asleep after the midnight burning, her mom and dad continued to dance and hang together up until Bo and I finally went to bed.

This is Pedro's brother (Jose) and Cousin, posing with one of the Ano Viejo dummies.  The dummies got to party and dance before their final end!

Finally, everyone moves over to the dummy burning ceremony.  It symbolizes "good riddance and out with the old - which includes bad habits." 
As this act of renewal and erasing of the past, both the good and bad, takes place, the fire is symbolic to scare off evil, which supposedly vanishes in the smoke.
Carlos and others light off fireworks, another big bang and part of this wild yearly celebration. 
Then midnight arrived, and every person present went around hugging and wishing each other a Feliz Ano Nuevo.  Not one person was left out of this New Year blessing.  (That's Bo smiling in the background amongst all the tiny Ecuadorians.)
Cousins and family holding each other as they view more fireworks!
Oh, and then there was the final jumping over the burning dummies.  A quote from an article in Cuenca High Life reads, "For good measure, many celebrants jump over the burning or smoldering dummies three times at midnight. Each year, several of the dozens of Cuencanos who show up in emergency rooms on New Year's Eve have the misfortune of jumping into an exploding rocket. There have been reported cases of pyrotechnic enemas."  OUCH!  Fortunately, the Pedro Family jumpers were fine!!!!

.... one more time!!!!
And another jumper goes......
By 1 a.m., Bo and I were ready for a bed.  We slept in one of the out buildings, where many mats were strewn on the floor to accommodate many family members sleeping over (that's our bed in the top left corner).  Some slept in their cars, and some slept on the wooden benches outside.  We could hear the music for hours (until 5 a.m.), and by the time we fell asleep, it was time for the roosters to cock-a-doodle and the dogs to bark.  Bo never slept.  Now I know for sure I can sleep through anything!

 So, we have now experienced a true Ecuadorian New Year Celebration - and we have been invited back by everyone to celebrate Carnival in a couple months.  what is Carnival?  Well, that will be another story to blog.

For now, may all who have read this posting know that for us, living here in Ecuador is about the people we meet daily and those we are invited by to share their family life's special celebrations with.  Bo and I have now been blessed to know a true Ecuadorian family that knows how to work and play together, and that have lovingly embraced these two extranjeros (foreigners) into their home.

May the New Year bring each and everyone of you a new and wonderful people adventure like you've never had before!!!!



  1. Hi Linda & (Bo)

    What an experience. It is interesting reading your blog.

    Hugs Ramon (former friend at Fotki)

    1. Happy New Year Ramon,
      So wonderful to hear from you and to know you are following our Ecuador Adventure! I always remember my Fotki friends, and I hope you are still enjoying your photography. It has been great living here and being able to photograph this beautiful country, city, and people. Stay in touch, and have a great year.
      Linda (and Bo)

  2. Hello Linda and Bo! Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos and your stories as you go! I was blessed. I think the photo of the old man and child could be on the cover of National Geographic! Love you guys! Dian

  3. Dear Dian,
    Oh, you flatter me! I, too, love that photo of Sr. Salvador and his great great grandchild. It surely depicts the beauty of both age and youth and family love.
    I'm so glad you are enjoying our journey here in Cuenca. We have so many more places in Ecuador to explore, but for now, our city Cuenca is keeping us busy - and until we get more settled in, we will be staying close to home. Come visit us! We'd love to have you. If you have Skype on your computer, we can call you. Let us know.
    Love you too!
    Linda (and Bo)

  4. It's very evident that you are where you are supposed to be in Ecuador. I'm so happy to know that you have settled in and feel so happy there. That is truly a happy ending. I know it's a huge change from Oregon and the USA but it sounds like a perfect fit. You two are a beautiful couple. Thanks so much for sharing your life with those of us who are considering Cuenca as our adventure. God be praised for giving you this wonderful new life! With love, Helen/Dallas,TX.

    1. Thank you, Helen,
      Your words are so encouraging and loving! Yes, life for us has changed beyond words - but we are living in Cuenca one day at a time. If you do decide to come to Cuenca, please let us know so we can plan on meeting. For now, enjoy our blog postings, and we hope they are fun, informative and inspiring for you as you research and pursue your own life's adventure!!!!
      May God guide you in His divine wisdom,
      Linda and Bo


Leave us your comments and I will respond with any questions you may have. Enjoy our Blog! Linda (y Bo)