Friday, June 29, 2012

Custom Leather Purses, Courtesy of my Cuenca Connections!

Having something made is always an adventure. You pay the money and just hope that everything turns out right. Fortunately, this time everything went smoothly!

A friend of mine in Cuenca is connected with a leather goods factory, and he's offered many times to let me make a purse with his team. I'd never taken him up on it, until now ...

These look even better in person!

My sister had a purse she wanted repaired or copied, if possible. It's the green one in the middle. Not only did Jaime fix it and make a great copy in the requested color (brown) he also gave me two color choices!

It's not just the outside that looks good, either - the insides are high-quality cloth and beautifully done. So now I am plotting, plotting, plotting to have every other bag I've ever loved copied over.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Cuenca's Artistic Construction Sites

Cuenca is under construction - they're doing $20 million in public parks, roads, and infrastructure improvements. Almost everywhere you look there is something torn up ... but not all of it is ugly.

This video of Cuenca's Parque de la Madre (Mother's Park) project shows how they managed to make a major eyesore into an attraction. It's currently a mud pit while they put in underground parking, but you'd never know it from all the art outside!

A Road Trip Out of Ecuador

Taking a road trip in Ecuador is a bit of an adventure. The roads stink, for the most part. Highway maintenance is not really a "thing" here in the way it is an annual summer "thing" in the states. As a result, the further out of the city you get, the more pitted, potted, and worn through the roads get. Needless to say, 4-wheel drive is pretty popular. Almost every little car you see out on the broader roadways looks like its hanging on to the end of it's rope!

These are the kinds of reflections you have going the equivalent of 60 mph down the side of a mountain. Roads around Cuenca run crooked, winding here and there to go up and down the Andes. If I got car sick, any roadtrip here would be a nightmare.

As it stands, heavy spring rains have caused multiple landslides, blocking roads and rendering several impassable. Others are now one lane dirt tracks. Traffic alternatives the passage based on who's there first - there were no guards, crossing watchers, or traffic workers to be found. I didn't quite realize this initially - we'd left super early in the morning and I'd snoozed - but waking up on a dirt track hanging off the side of a mountain at a sharp angle will bring you back to the present!

The longer I was awake, the more confused I got. My destination was Peru, which is basically south of Cuenca. The route felt a little unorthodox - like I'd left Ogallala for North Platte on Highway 30, but gotten off on the Roscoe access road for the lake, hit the dam, made a right for Arthur and then decided to take backroads the rest of the way back to North Platte. The driver seemed fully confident of where he was going, however, otherwise how else could I explain the top speeds we were maintaining, even on blind curves?

All in all, the trip was nearly 8 hours of winding mountain roads, sudden braking events, and enthusiastically passing anything going less than 100 kph.

You tell me ... was it worth it?

My breakfast cafe table in Peru
The view off my front terrace in Peru - and yes, that hammock was well used!