Thursday, November 20, 2014

World Class Orchids and the International Film Festival

If we were back in the States right now, we would be shoveling snow, making sure the car didn't freeze overnight so we could get to work, and planning our holiday schedule around the weather system patterns.

I reminded myself of that last week as I was walking through the Orchid Festival at Mall del Rio. It's November in Cuenca and not only did I get to enjoy orchids inside the convention center, but outside -- as well -- on my walk to and from the mall.

The International Orchid Festival and Film Festival coincide with one another, which makes for some spectacular day and evening dates. The entrance fee to see the orchids is $2.00 and includes displays from the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Italy, and, of course, Ecuador. Not only are the orchids on display, but a Bonsai exhibition and flower arrangement extravaganza can be seen as well. The smell of orchids wafting through the air stays with you long after you leave the convention center.

Mark and I attended the opening of the film festival and got to meet some of the actors and directors. Not until I got home and looked up everyone's name did I realize...these people are famous! The first film we saw was "La vida es facil con los ojos cerrados" by director David Trueba. It's a fascinating story about an English teacher who interviews John Lennon in the '60's and takes a trip to Spain to see the singer on location (along with two "students" that happened to come across his path). It won the Goya Award (Spain's version of the Academy Awards) for best film, best director, best original writing and best lead actor.

This evening, we'll be seeing Boyhood at Multicines Millenium Plaza. Where else can you attend free films all during the week without having to shovel snow to get there?

See ya at the movies!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Favorite Things

Mark affectionately calls "my favorite things" -- Connie's uniform!

If I had to do it over, I would have brought less of everything to Cuenca, including clothes and shoes. As it turns out I wear the same thing practically every day of the year: jean jacket, jeans, Nike walking/running shoes, North Face Jacket, scarf, Tote's umbrella and my leather boots. That's it! I brought shoes from the States that I haven't even worn yet. In fact, it's not much different from my California look, except I wear jeans instead of Capri pants and flip-flops.

On occasion, I do have some fancy dresses which I'm glad I brought because we're being invited to Ecuadorian weddings and other special events which require nice attire, but other than that it's casual, casual, casual.

While we were in California for seven months, I got a great deal on a North Face Jacket with a fleece in my favorite colors -- pink and black. It retailed for over $250, but I got it for $95 as it was on clearance and it was a children's size 14. I normally wear a size 4 or 6, so I've found out that I can get away with a kid's size 14 sometimes which is a lot less expensive. I wear that jacket every day and it has inside pockets, so I don't have to carry a purse. It also has an attached hood, so it's great when I forget my umbrella like I did the other day when it just poured down rain during the Anniversary Celebrations in Cuenca.

My jean jacket was on sale at Old Navy for $14. It has outside as well as inside pockets, so it's perfect for carrying a coin purse, keys, Kleenex and a tube of lipstick. The jeans are my favorite -- boot cut -- so I can wear them with my leather boots or tucked inside which is pretty popular these days.

The diesel fumes really irritate my eyes if I'm in El Centro for any length of time, so I do have a variety of sunglasses; I wear them even if it's cloudy! And, of course, I always have a scarf with me to cover my face when the clunky blue buses start sputtering out diesel fumes. I've actually come home and had black soot on my face. I realize that El Centro is a popular place (lots of shops and restaurants), but I absolutely could not live there. I'm horribly allergic to the fumes and sometimes it takes two days for my eyes and nose to calm down. We've been in El Centro a lot this week because of all the Anniversary Celebrations of Cuenca and let me tell you...I've suffered for it. Don't get me wrong...I love Cuenca, but my body sure doesn't like black sooty diesel fumes!

My uniform!
Walking is tricky -- at times -- because there are uneven sidewalks, rebar sticking up out of sidewalks, no grates on gutters, and unexpected holes that appear out of nowhere, so a good pair of walking shoes is important. I love my Nike Air walking shoes and will probably have to get another pair soon. The great thing about Cuenca is it costs only about $2.00 to have something resoled. I've had my boots done twice already! They also have sneaker soles as well, so two pairs of shoes go a long ways.

I also have one pair of switch flops and ballerina shoes by Lindsay Phillips with 20 different snaps. One pair of shoes that turns into 20 different ones.When I go to a special event, I wear my high heels and immediately switch into my ballerina slippers with their classy snaps to match just about any outfit I own.

I'm sure there are other expats who own a ton of clothes, but I'm just not one of them. I feel most comfortable in a pair of jeans. Also, I own four bathing suits as I go to the thermal baths at BaƱos. That's it, my wardrobe for Cuenca!

I do more with less and my favorite color is black because you can accessorize with it easily with scarfs and jewelry and since I ride the bus quite frequently I don't have to worry about stains. I do have some summer tops and Capri pants, but I only use those for the beach.

Through the years I've had a variety of hats -- expensive Panama hats and others, but I do a very good job of losing them. My favorite hat I left at the Guayaquil bus station last year, so now I only buy cheap sun hats.

One thing I don't understand is the "jungle camouflage look" that I see a lot of expats wearing. Maybe they're just visiting and are planning a trip to the Amazon, Galapagos, and the Andes, so they need those zip off pants with Indiana Jone's hat and vest. It's okay if you're passing through, but it's probably not a good everyday look as it screams "gringo."

Oh, I almost forgot. I have a Samsung tablet that I bought two years ago and it goes everywhere with me along with my $1.00 pink earplugs. And, my Clinique essentials in their to-go bag which fits nicely in my pocket. My gratitude goes out to all the visitors who come to Cuenca and remember reading in my book what I missed in the States and surprise me with a Clinique Bonus Day bag and products. You are my forever friends!

That's favorite things!

Until next time...hasta luego!

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