Here is another blog from November that I had sent only to my family. You may find it interesting.
I've sent you some pics in several emails now, but failed to say anything about the activities, so here is an explanation for your information and entertainment.
Every year, the last day of October (known in the USA as Halloween) All Souls Day...or....Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated. This rolls right into what probably is the largest event of the year for Cuenca...Independence Day on November 3rd. It ends up being a city-wide, week-long celebration that brings hordes of tourists from other parts of Ecuador into town to party-party-party.
In the few weeks leading up to the holidays I observed a lot of crews around the city picking up garbage, cleaning and turning on fountains, refreshing flowerbeds, and painting out graffiti.
Not being fluent in Spanish, I had a hard time determining WHAT was happening, WHERE, and WHEN. But, it was pretty easy to stumble upon (and get stuck in) things just by venturing out.
There were concerts of every variety...even an accordion concert in one of the larger theaters!
In the main park in El Centro, called Parque Calderon, many festivities are held. Here, there were a couple thousand people wandering about, enjoying treats and some fireworks. Amazingly, there were people of all ages from the elderly all the way down to babies among the crowd. Side note: It's fascinating to see how many young couples have their kids and babies out late at night here.
Over the days, There were several craft markets lining the streets where you could buy handmade sweaters, scarves, belts, purses, goodies, paintings, knick-knacks, etc etc mostly from the indigenous folks who made them.
There were at least two carnivals in town with typical rides, but not so typical food...that is, not to us Norte Americanos. One ride in particular had the attention of a large crowd. It was a round gizmo with a bench seat going around the entire perimeter. There were no seat belts or other protective devices. You sat down, you hung on to whatever you could grab. The 'thing' started spinning, then tilted up while spinning, and the passengers were hanging on (more like dangling on) for dear life.
Then the 'thing' would start bouncing and going back and forth at the same time, sorta like a washing machine agitator. This was even funnier because while the passengers were flailing about, people who were watching thought for sure someone would fly out of this 'thing'.
The other carnival was adjacent to the auto pista (freeway). OK, sounds normal. But, the location was smack dab at a roundabout which caused a lot of traffic congestion and appeared to be located in a former gravel pit. Cars were parked on the edges of the auto pista and people walked (scrambled) up the embankment to the carnival via rudimentary dirt trails.
Calle Larga is the party street in downtown Cuenca. It is lined with numerous restaurants and small clubs. I try to go to the Kookaburra Café for breakfast every Sunday, then head to the Catholic Church next door for Sunday Mass.
Throughout the city, over the course of the week, neighborhoods would have their own party. They were called Noches de Cuencanos (night of Cuencanos). They were much like a block party where large sections of their neighborhood would be closed off and vendor stands selling crap (oops, I meant crafts), goodies, grilled meats, maybe even a roasted pig, bands would entertain, and general frolicking and visiting, then ending usually with fireworks. There were about 3-5 neighborhoods designated in different areas of the city each night throughout the week.
Now the city is back to normal. All the ghouls are back in their graves, and most of the tourists back in their own home.