Sunday, January 18, 2015

Horseback Riding

Yesterday, I rode a horse for the first time at a nearby farm called Centro Ecuestre Bellavista.  The farm is located just outside the City of Cuenca in the parish of Tarqui.  I was a bit nervous at first, but after meeting the horse I would be riding, the nervousness quickly became excitement.  Sebastian, the owner of the farm, picked out the perfect horse for me. The horse I rode was named Constantina.  She was very calm and I am sure at times she new I was an inexperienced rider.

We started the day by meeting up with six friends.  Jeff arranged for a van to pick us up at a designated location.  When the van arrived it turned out to be a yellow school bus van.  All eight of us fit perfectly.  The driver then headed down the Giron Highway. The farm is located about seven miles from El Centro (center of Cuenca).

When we arrived, the owner, Sebastian, rode out on his rather spirited thoroughbred Arabian, and greeted us.  We then headed to the arena area and where given our helmets.

After we strapped on the helmets it was time to meet the horses.  Sebastian did a great job matching up each rider with a horse based on our skill level. 

Once we were on the horses we made several laps around the arena to make sure that horse and rider were compatible.

Then, we headed outside for our two hour horseback riding adventure in the Andes Mountains.

As you can see, the natural beauty of the countryside is breathtaking.

Two hours later we arrived back at the arena.

Constantina was very sweet, although she did surprise me a few times with unexpected trots, which made the experience even more exciting and fun!

The stables also offer an area for outdoor activities like feeding and caring for farm animals.  You can even learn to milk a cow...maybe on the next visit.  In one of the outdoor areas a birthday party was taking place.  Kids, and adults, were having a great time.

Afterwards, we loaded up the van and ate lunch at one of Cuenca's popular restaurants, La Yunta. (You've seen this place featured before on a previous blog post.)

So, after horseback riding, and lunch, Mike and I rode in the van back to our drop-off point. Our plan was to walk the mile or so back to our apartment. We had gone about 75-percent of the way when suddenly the skies opened up and it started pouring rain, and hailing. We tried to huddle under a very small balcony, hoping to stay dry. A shop owner across the street saw us and motioned for us to come inside his shop for shelter. Once inside he asked where we lived. I told him. He said "well, rain is not good for business." He pointed to his car just outside the door and said, "I will CLOSE MY BUSINESS and will take you home." We quickly jumped in his car and he drove us to our apartment.

Another great day in Cuenca, Ecuador!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Parades

There were several parades in our neighborhood (the historic district of Cuenca) today. Lots of music, dancing, horses, and children in costumes. Not sure what the reason was, but it doesn't matter. It was great!

The morning started with a parade down our street, Mariscal Lamar. 

Shortly afterwards we walked the two blocks to Parque Calderon, the main park in the city center, and saw another parade that was forming. 

We then walked a few blocks down Calle Larga, to the Merced district, and there again, another parade was forming!

Then, as we were walking down Mariscal Lamar, toward Avenida de Las Americas, we walked upon a street party. I love how they blocked the street. The bus drivers weren't too happy about this. 

Friend and neighbor, Stephen Turpin, took some excellent photos. I'm sure he won't mind me sharing. 

And that's another day in Cuenca.