Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year!

Right now while I'm writing this blog post, I can hear the fireworks outside in all directions and it's not even New Year's Eve yet! Tomorrow will be spectacular and I hope to capture it in pictures and on video.

Unfortunately, last year I forgot to plug in my camera battery, so you can imagine my disappointment when the red light went on while the fireworks were exploding and I got a snippet here and there.

The New Year's Eve fireworks are the best I've ever witnessed and they start at the stroke of midnight and continue until 2:00 a.m. Last year our house was filled with smoke -- just from leaving the windows open. And I might add, that we can actually see out our windows this year as the condo association gave us an early Christmas gift and cleaned the outside windows free of charge. I have to admit it was a little unnerving to walk into the kitchen and see someone in our window -- three stories up! He was roped in and harnessed in with huge magnets, but I sure wouldn't want his job! Thankfully, we can see clearly now.

This year is our transition year as we're actually going to retire! Mark will be finishing up one more cycle at CEDEI from 2 PM to 8 PM (Monday through Thursday) through May until he receives his Social Security and mine will come in October 2017. I will continue to write for the editors I've established relationships with, but I won't be taking on any new assignments because we plan to do be doing a lot more traveling.

We have trips planned to the San Francisco Bay Are in May to see my parents who are in their 80's; a trip to see our granddaughter in August for her second birthday; and (drum roll...), a trip back to Catania, Sicily in September/October to revisit the place where our older son was born, our old stomping grounds, and to Taormina -- the "pearl of Europe." It was one of our favorite cities while we lived in Italy for six years.

One of the highlights of 2016 was having my sister and her husband visit in March for three weeks. They liked it so much that they're planning another visit next year and plan to come every two years!

This was a big year for birthdays as well: Our older son turned 35, our younger son turned 30, and our granddaughter, Clara, celebrated her first birthday in August, so we flew back to Pennsylvania to enjoy her big birthday party bash with a watermelon theme.

Thankfully, due to FaceTime, we've enjoyed all her firsts: She learned to crawl while we were there, then walk and now she's talking up a storm and we treasure the videos that our daughter-in-law, Kim, sends us and now Clara received a kitchen for Christmas, so she's making us meals (smile!). For those of you contemplating a move to Cuenca and wonder how you're going to keep up with the grandchildren, don't has it all figured out for you.

I'm going to leave you with some collage pictures of some of our highlights this year -- especially Christmas Eve, which we spent at Mansion Alcazar (Casa Alonso). It was an amazing dinner and we made a lot of special memories.

Christmas Eve Dinner at Mansion Alcazar

Our granddaughter, Clara, on Christmas Eve!

Christmas Day from Ecuador to the U.S.

2016 in Review including "La Perla" Ferris Wheel in Guayaquil -- a must see!

From La Casa Pombo in Ecuador, we wish you a joyous, healthy, and peaceful 2017. Happy New Year!

Abrazitos (Hugs) from Cuenca, 

Connie & Mark 

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