Our friend, Bennett, asked us to write a bit about our daily routine so here goes. Everyone is up around 6 a.m. and of course it's already light out, which is nice. Don makes a hearty breakfast for the girls which always consists of fresh fruit (mangos, pineapple, papayas, bananas, etc) and eggs, oatmeal or cereal. Sometimes he even goes to the trouble of making hashbrowns for them. I do my yoga while he gets breakfast ready and then take out the garbage. The garbage gets picked up 3 times a week so we usually have just a little bag. There is recycling once a week but very few people do it. You have to buy the bags to recycle (which seems like a poor incentive to encourage participation...) and it's picked up once a week. it kills us to not be able to compost our food waste, like we do in Seattle. If we lived in the campo, we'd just give it the animals or dig a hole, but we can't do that in the city. I've heard there is composting at the market but we need to figure out a way to get our slop to the market....
Enough about garbage. After yoga and after the kids eat, I walk them to the corner at 7:05 and wait for their respective buses to pick them up. Since Nikki is in the school and Mia is in the high school, they go on separate buses. Then comes my favorite part of the day. I power walk over to Paradise Park and go to my exercise class. Mondays is dance, Tuesdays is "palo de escoba"- or broomstick (we do all kinds of exercises with the broom handle), Wednesday is Taibo or kick boxing, Thursday is weights and Friday is a combo class. The teacher, Miguel, is always animated, brings great music (salsa, reggaeton, hip hop., pop), and always varies the class. I found this class the first week I got here and after 2 classes, people started chatting with me and welcomed me with warm arms into their little exercise circle. These women have been working out together for 3 years and have become very close. They celebrate birthdays together, have a unform, call themselves "Flores de paraiso" and even have a little cheer for their group. These ladies were my first friends here and I'm indebted to them for making me feel so at home. Needless to say, I love starting the day working out with other people outside!
While I'm at my exercise class, Don goes for a run and then we meet back for breakfast and to read the paper. Every day I savor the fact that we get to read the entire paper, uninterrupted and unrushed. I've never had that luxury in my life!
I go to the University three days a week and Don volunteers at a day center for kids whose parents are working at the market all day long. On the other days, we usually go into the historical center to visit one of the many museums, churches or art exhibits that are part of the Bienal (a 6 week art festival that happens every two years). I never tire of seeing all the beautiful buildings, churches, and plazes of Cuenca. Other days we go to the market or the supermarket or run errands. Everything takes a bit longer since we walk or take the bus to everything.
Mia comes home from school about 2:30, does her homework and gets ready for gymnastics at 5. We found a gymnastics program for her at a sports complex that is about a 15 minute bus ride from our apartment. One of her friends from school is also in the class and her Mom brings her home at night which really helps us out.
After classes end for Nikki, she stays at school to participate in "bici cross" which is sort of like mountain biking on a concrete trail. Think of BMX racing on a circular track. She looks so cute in her motorcycle helmet and her leather gloves! The school has its own track, and the coach, Santiago, is great at motivating kids to do their best and have fun. About once a week, Nikki returns home with a bloody elbow, a bruised shin or a scraped hand, but she always has a smile on her face!
Don and I take turns cooking dinner and every now and then we eat out at the burger place down the street run by the Venezuelan who used to live in Chicago. Both girls often need help with their homework (mostly with language) and then it's bedtime.
In a typical day, I think we both walk about 4 or 5 miles since we have no car. We have learned the bus system pretty well and are totally used to not having a car. The only time we miss it is when we want to get out of town. We manage by taking a bus to the bus station and going in any direction from Cuenca, but we miss the mobility and ease of hopping in a car and taking off whenever you want. Cars are more expensive than in the U.S. here and in the city it makes no sense to have one. The drivers are crazy, there is a lot of traffic and, in the historical center, you move faster by foot anyway.
Because of the lack of machines in our daily lives (most notably a car, dishwasher, and a dryer) everything takes a bit longer to accomplish. We don't really notice, however, since we have more time on our hands and tend to enjoy the simple tasks of hanging laundry or washing dishes by hand (reminds us of our cabin and life in the Adirondacks...) or walking to the market for fruits and vegetables. And, at least for the time being, the power is cut every day for 3 hours which adds an element of surprise to our daily tasks.
So, there you have a glimpse into our daily activities. Every weekend is different so there is no routine there.