Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to School

When our boys were young, I loved the back-to-school time of year: crisp fall mornings, making sack lunches, and soccer practice every afternoon. Those days are gone, but in their place is life in Cuenca as students with a teacher in the family!

Mark is busy with classes at CEDEI (he's also required to take six hours of Spanish each week), and I’m teaching English at “La Esperanza” (orphanage). It’s all part of our plan to keep our brains functioning into our old age. So far it seems to be working (I think!).

Our goal—for the first two years in Cuenca—is to immerse ourselves in the language and culture as much as possible and we’re about half way there. For us, that means spending more time with Ecuadorians than native-speakers of English which has been difficult, but profitable for our language learning!

On Sunday we spent ten hours with our “adopted” Ecuadorian family which mainly consisted of eating, playing soccer, eating some more, playing soccer until we all dropped and the porch light went out.  Mark and I were in charge of bringing potato salad for 60 people (that’s a lot of potatoes, celery, onions and eggs!). We had hamburgers and hot dogs with all the trimmings and celebrated FOUR birthdays with two chocolate cakes and one candle in the form of a question mark. There were four generations present, including “la abuela” (grandmother) who took me under her wing. Being invited into an Ecuadorian kitchen—to cook with the rest of the clan—was quite an honor and now I’m officially part of “la familia.”

Our new schedule has taken some getting used to and coincided with several writing deadlines so we feel less than “retired.” But we’ve still been able to keep up with our date nights which we celebrated last week at “Mangiare Bene” which gets five stars:  price, value, location, menu selection and authentic Italian cuisine. Because we spent six years in Italy, we’ve been less than impressed with the pasta in Cuenca, but Mangiare came through with flying colors. The kitchen area is open (think Macaroni Grill in the States), so you can see everything being made fresh right before your eyes. I ordered the penne pasta with jumbo shrimp and it was amazing; the pasta was perfect – “al dente.” Our entrees were served with garlic bread and our drinks were on the house!

Mangiare Bene!

We’re back into the swing of things and the weather is even cooperating! It feels like football season in Pennsylvania, complete with cloudy skies and cool mornings. The school buses are running, the kids are back in school, and so are we!

Until next time…hasta luego!

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