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Christmas in Cuenca … and an expat says ‘I am filled with gratefulness’

Gout gets me again.

I had a recurrence of gout pains in several joints in late November to the extent that I needed Tom to come over and get some groceries for my empty refrigerator. Extra treatments from my massage therapist; pain pills prescribeddaves logo by my doctor; no alcohol or beef for two weeks; and — voila! For a couple of weeks now I have been in one of those places where I have lots of energy, working hard at Spanish, walking faster and further, i.e., life has never been better. I am filled with gratefulness.

One morning during the flareup I went down to the street to hail a taxi. One had stopped in the far lane to let off a passenger and as I was signaling that I wanted it a man that was standing close by saw that I could use some help. He grabbed me by the arm, led me across the street, stopping traffic with his other arm and made sure I was safely in the cab. As I have said from time to time, Cuencanos are very helpful.

Christmas is coming anchl dave1d the usual lighted symbols on the ground and on poles along the Tomebamba River shine brightly as do the lights in El Centro. This year there is a section of the river about a ¼ mile long with wavy blue lights stretched across the river every 100 feet or so. Very pretty and dramatic. Something else new are two red light strings across the walking bridge in front of my apartment with other bridges being outlined with different colors. The blue light picture above is not great but gives you an idea of what it is like.chl dave2

As usual during the holiday season, there are many concerts and presentations around town. The Cuenca Symphony is performing four times and the University of Cuenca Symphony performs twice. Between concerts by various groups, there are plays and other presentations; I could be out every night if I wanted to and had the energy. And, as usual, almost all are free.

The conductor of the Cuenca Symphony has been fired. I had heard that he wasn’t very good and quite a few of the members of the orchestra had resigned because of him. I am not a musician but when I went to the first concert after his termination and saw the vitality of the guest conductor and how the orchestra responded to her, I said to myself, “oh, now I see”. The Minister of Culture came down from Quito and terminated the old guy. There is much more to the story but what interested me is learning that the orchestra is funded by the central government and I am now interested in learning a bit more about how it all works.chl dave3

In Parque de la Madre, which I walk through a couple of times a week, they cut down four pretty good sized dead trees. But the stumps stood about 15 feet high which left me very perplexed. But now the chainsaws are out and in the hands of the artists creating wood sculptures. There are art galleries all over El Centro and always something “artsy” going on and now there’s another reason for calling Cuenca the art center of Ecuador.

May this season of the year be fulfilling and enjoyable for each of you.

— Cuidense and love, Dave

About the Author

David Nelson, spent 30 years growing up and getting educated in Oregon before moving to the Oakland, California and the East Bay area, where he practiced worker’s compensation law, representing injured workers, for 40 years. When he retired from his legal practice, he worked another nine years as a part-time gardener before moving to Cuenca.