Thursday, January 1, 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015!! - We Celebrated Our 3rd Año Viejo in Cuenca......

Bo - Clowning Around!  
Everyone is ready to party and celebrate Cuenca's New Year Eve Celebration!

Can you believe we are now in the year 2015?  I am blessed to live in Cuenca, Ecuador and that Bo and I have finally settled into a simplified lifestyle after two years of making one of the biggest decisions of our life together.  The purging, packing, moving, and then returning to sell our home, purge and pack more, and the process of letting go of 40 years of living in Oregon was no small task.  Yet, we've accomplished so much and we are now calling Ecuador our home.  

Time heals!  I have moved on from the STUFF I chose to let go of and find myself enjoying our smaller home and more simple lifestyle here.  It's actually refreshing.  Sometimes I have pangs of sadness when I look back and remember life in the USA, but when I focus on my life in the "NOW" and look around and see all the blessings and good changes that we've made, I smile.  I especially enjoy the friends we have here in Cuenca who we see often and are intimate with.  When I feel sad or confused, my friends encourage me and lift me up with their words of wisdom and understanding.  Isn't that what true friends do?  Absolutely!  

We expats have all been through great changes to transition to life here. Those of us who chose to leave our USA lifestyles, family, and friends share this understanding. So words of encouragement come easy from those who have left it all behind to embraced a new way of living and a much simpler and freeing lifestyle.  To be able to live in a city that is so alive and amongst a people that are humble and so hardworking is a gift.  We've been able to open our home to young people and teach them English, and to have our Ecuadorian friends over for "un cafecito" and to share our lives together.  They feel comfortable and at home with Bo and me, and that in itself is such a gift and blessing for us.  

After living in the Oregon "country" for 40 years, Bo and I at times had expressed a desire to one day live in a big city so we could walk out our door and walk over to a close by cafe and sit and enjoy reading a morning paper.  Well, we don't really do that very often here (we like spending our mornings at home), but it was a dream we spoke about.  Now we are doing just that - living in the heart of an historic city.  We just didn't know it would be in another country!!!  

We continue to live on one of the noisiest streets in Cuenca - a bus route and a market-vendor "yelling" street.  It's funny, but when certain ex-pats come over to our apartment for the first time, they seem more troubled by the area we live and the noise than we are.  If they are not in the best of shape and have to climb our three flights of stairs, some have grumbled and one woman even swore all the way up, while I speak words of encouragement to help them along, "You're doing great!  Just a few more stairs to go......" (liar).  I go up and down these stairs two at a time (not bragging, just a fact) and consider them good exercise.  As for the noisy buses going by, we're use to it.  We consider there are more pros than cons for our location, like not missing out on the fun festivities and cultural city events, and being walking distance to everything.

Last night was wild and very noisy!  Loud music, people dancing in the streets, fireworks being blasted off,  DJ's announcing the events over big loudspeakers, and a city of locals and tourists coming together to partake in the tradition of Cuenca's Año Viejo.   The burning of the old and rejoicing in the New Year ahead was celebrated with such joy and laughter last night.  We had special friends over for a potluck dinner, and then we all headed downstairs to enter into the festivities happening right out our door on Padre Aguirre.  Calle Larga was closed off to traffic, as was Juan Jaramillo.  Some of our friends had not experienced the El Centro Ecuadorian New Year's Eve, so it was a fun experience for everyone, especially their little ones who were leaping with energy and excitement to say "adios" to the old and "Feliz Año Nuevo" as midnight approached and the burnings of the effigies began.  


We walked around our neighborhood late afternoon to view the preparations many were making for the big night ahead.  Large paper mache statues were being constructed and dressed.....

.....and last minute gluing and painting were making these characters come to life!  Such artistic and serious participants make this event happen.

Two blocks from our corner, hundreds of masks were sold.......

......and every size and kind of firework you would hope to find was available.  Yes, we bought fireworks for the kids!

Even the tour bus heading up Padre Aguirre was adorned with effigies!

Three sisters sitting on a bench at the San Francisco Flower Market area were having too much fun!

Spanish Bob Marley music blared along the street.....

.......and this young adorable was in business collecting 50 cents for a photo with Bob Marley!

Bo and I picked and bought our Effigy body from this kind vendor.......

.......saw a ghoulish mime holding his position (for a looooong time) along the way......

......got a photo of our "vecino" Manuel by his Calle Larga "street-blocking" creation.......

.......and saw more artistic participants working on their paper mache creations.

As we headed home, we could see the progress being made.

We spent the next few hours at home with our friends, eating, drinking, laughing, and getting ready to head down to the festivities.  Our Effigy was hanging out on our terrace - soon to go up in smoke!

It's time!!!  The party-kids are fed and ready to go show off their masks and light their fireworks......

So, we all head downstairs and around the corner......

........and the party begins!  Mr. Bo is designated firecracker lighter.  Not so sure Alexandra is getting into this.

 Victoria sparkles away and is too adorable for words!

The festivities are on the way......

Moms holding Mr. Effigy are loving this first-time New Year Eve experience in El Centro with their families......

.........and I think Mr. Bo is having more fun than the kids are - ya think??????

It's close to midnight and the crowds are getting huge!

We all head for Calle Larga, and Manuel announces that it's time to toss in the Effigies and BURN THE OLD!

The pile is lit......

.......and the fire roars......

This fire burned high and was huge.  You could feel the heat from afar!!

The crowds gather and watch with smiling faces!


........three leaps over the fire each for good luck.......

....if you can stand the heat and jump that high and far.  If not it would not be good luck!!!!

 Brave boy!   Pretty risky if you believe in such a thing as GOOD LUCK!

So far, no fire enemas! 

 It was a happy "high" time for all!!

 The laughter and fun continued until the wee hours of the morning.

This evening's celebration was even more fun than last year for us!

All wild street parties in Cuenca do come to an end!


So, how did you spend your New Year's Eve???


  1. So glad you all had a good evening--and that you are feeling well enough to celebrate. Sorry you had been sick the week before. I think that can happen on the tail end of a trip. Loved seeing your photos! We were at friends Harry and Steve's condo near Mariscal Lamar and las Americas. The fireworks were incredible from that vantage point. Hope to see you all soon!

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Glad you celebrated the Cuenca Año Viejo with friends. Yes, I'm back to 100% again - it was not a fun time being ill. Glad you enjoyed the photos, and YES, let's get together SOON. Happy New Year to you and Sara. Looking forward to more times laughing and sharing - and more laughing.
      Su Amiga,
      La Linda

  2. As Always, I loved your photos. Looks like everyone had a grand time. I'll be there for it next year - can't wait. Hope you and Bo have a Happy and Blessed New Year.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Juanita,
      Glad you continue to enjoy my photography and stories of our adventure in Cuenca. Keep in touch and may this year bring you to Cuenca. Stay in touch and see you SOON!

  3. Hi Linda,

    Happy New Year. I did not mention my name in the last comments. My name is Javier. We currently live in Las Vegas.

    Thank you for posting many pictures. It is nice to find cultural events in Ecuador. I have been reading many of your blog posts and found that you had been teaching English to the local people. I wonder if there are many volunteer opportunities in Cuenca. I am really interested in helping others, especially teaching mathematics, computer programming, etc. to the younger generations.

    I also want to ask you about the CD rate in Ecuador. You mentioned in one of your posts that you had found a better interest rate (9.5% or so???). The interest rate in US has been near zero for a long time. The highest rate available today in US is porbably slightly over 1%. If I can generate a fixed income with a 9.5% rate, it will definitely accelerate my reitrement goal. Do you know if there are many ex-pats who live on the local CD in Ecuador? I wonder why the CR rate is so high in Ecuador...

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Javier,
      Happy New Year to you! Yes,there are many cultural events, parades, art show, etc. in Cuenca - one of the things we love about this city - and so many of these events are free! As for teaching English to locals, we are blessed to have been doing this since we arrived here. We have a group of faithful weekly attendees who we have been helping with their English, and we do it from our heart. In exchange, it helps us practice our Spanish too. I'm sure there are many opportunities for anyone who wants to volunteer and pay it forward here.

      We are here on an investment visa, and the bank we chose does pay us over 9.5% on our CD. I'm sure you will find the right bank and way to invest here, should you make Ecuador your new retirement haven. Everyone does it differently, it's all a personal choice on how people arrive here, the kind of visa they apply for, and the bank they may chose to invest their money in.
      May you continue to enjoy reading about our adventure. Your desire to help the younger generation will be a blessing to many.

  4. Hello Bo and Linda. Please contact me Jim and Lily Hansen hansjames@gmail.com

    Happy New Year.

  5. Hi, Linda and Bo!
    I spent the last three night reading your blog posts, backwards, and celebrated by finalizing reservations for my exploratory trip to Cuenca. I feel like I know your spirit and delight for living life filled with joy. I would consider it an honor to "break bread" or share a drink with you (my treat:-) during my stay. If you are willing, I can be reached at jari@majesticwolf.com. Life is nothing without taking risks and making new friends. Jari

    1. Welcome to our BLOG, Jari,
      How exciting that you will be coming to Cuenca. You are so right - taking risks and making new friends makes life an adventure. I will contact you and find out your dates in Ecuador.
      Until we meet,


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