There are Nine Universals of Culture which are the major areas that define one cultural group from the next. They are Material Culture; Arts, Play and Recreation; Social Organization; Language and Non-Verbal Communication; Social Control; Conflict and Warfare; Education; World View; and Economic Organization. Here are just a few examples in pictures of how differently, different cultures can do the same things.
We have two fifty year old parrots, a yard that we don't have to mow, a full fledged "Party Room" two bedrooms, a great eat-in kitchen a dining room table that seats ten easily, and the most spectacular views through floor to ceiling windows you can imagine. As you can tell life is hard living in third world countries...we're roughing it, I had to turn on the back-up electric shower head this morning as the gas fired water-heater wasn't quite doing the job with Christine washing the dishes (yes Mom, I do my share too)
Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid here we are in the heart of South America the whitewashed town of Sucre, Bolivia, absolutely transfixed by being in the middle of a huge, huge, empty land of harsh, spectacular beauty, yet thriving in this beautiful city of 200,000.
As I am want to do these days, as the ubiquitous bells of the churches ring for the morning masses, I drift awake and wonder...where am I? About that same moment I realize just where I am, and can't help but give thanks for being so lucky as to be on such an adventure. This morning as I lazily laid there listening to the quiet I realized this new city we had picked to live in was about as far away as you can get from anywhere. Sucre, despite being in a gorgeous city of over 100 chapels, a major University (founded in 1625 the second oldest in the Americas) hundreds or restaurants and all kinds of activities...we are surrounded by a thousand miles of empty.
We had no idea how empty until we headed out by taxi yesterday for the 65 mile trip to Tarabuco, an adobe market town, laid out in a small arroyo at about 10,000 feet. The pictures tell the story but this is definitely not Wal-mart although just two blocks from our place here there is a huge modern grocery store, and a cinema;)
This is La Paz
Just a few more days and it's back on the road, this time to Bolivia and the whitewashed college town of Sucre (yes another college town 30,000 students).
You would think that being just down the road (only Peru between us and Bolivia) it would be easy to get to, but we can get back to Colorado faster and cheaper (flights Denver to Quito are running about $625 now) than La Paz. Round trip from Guayaquil to La Paz is $854 unless we take American Airlines which requires a stop in Miami first. We've decided to fly the short hop to Guayaquil this time it's only 77 miles but the Andes have a way of making that a five hour trip and air travel with-in Ecuador is easy, comfortable and cheap $33. (Once again in Guayaquil we will be waiting 6 hours this time which is just enough to get a great prawn late as the season is in full bore right now.) Then at 7 p.m. we fly to La Paz arriving at midnight so the cold air's density will hold the plane up while landing. A quick Taxi ride takes us into La Paz itself a beautiful city, sitting at 12,000 feet where we will stay one day before we have one last 40 minute flight (or a 16 hour butt-busting bus ride) to Sucre. We know it's a great city similar to Boulder and Cuenca, but it been hard to find any but the most basic information, so we are flying a little blind. Hopefully we will be able to change that for others as we report back. Meanwhile it's one last evening at La Parola for live Blues tonight, and I think Saturday will be a long night of Salsa dancing at Tinton, Verde y Maduro. I have a feeling I'm going to miss the live music, but who knows, when we first came to Cuenca we didn't expect electricity (yes, I was that clueless)
1) Buy 100 roses and leave them for the maid…not as crazy as it seems. You can buy bundles of twenty-five beautiful long-stemmed roses for $4 almost anywhere. With a little haggling, you might get one hundred for $10. A vase called a “florero” can be had for just two dollars more. Enjoy the amazing colors and delicious scent every time you walk in your room, and the house cleaner will love it when you walk out.
2) Stroll up the rushing Tomebamba River through the old and new neighborhoods of Cuenca. Start at Carolina Bookstore just off Hermano Miguel and Calle Larga from there head south and walk down the always busy flight of steps to the river below. At the river turn right and follow the brick and cobblestone walkways as they head upriver. A feast for the senses and a good glimpse of the differing sides of Cuenca, indigenous families washing clothes, spectacular colonial buildings spilling down the bluff, fifteen-story modern apartment towers, goat herders, an occasional cow, eucalyptus groves, views of the Andes. Watch out when crossing streets, pedestrians are not high on the priority list down here.
3) Watch the latest from Hollywood at the Multicine in the Millenium Mall. An eight-minute walk from the Calle Larga. Head down the steps at Hermano Miguel, cross the Rio Tomebamba and then slalom through the runners and walkers in the always busy health nuts paradise of “Parque de la Madre” turn left at the Planetarium, cross the street to the Millenium Mall. Movies appear in Spanish either translated or with under-titles the same day they start in the US. Don’t faint when the ushers open the doors and thank you warmly for coming.
4) Enjoy a “cono” and espresso in the Parque Calderon’s Tutto Freddo while soaking up the sun, enjoying the beautiful gardens, and watching the locals. This European style ice cream shop fifty-steps from the Cathedral’s front door is an institution in Cuenca. Cakes, ice cream, sorbets, coffees, they have it all. Ago first to the cahier and ask for “un cono simple y un espresso”, $1.80 total. She will give you a receipt, which you hand to the counter attendants, tell them “para llevar” (carry out). Take the mouth-watering treasure across the street, into the lush gardens of the park, sit back, and enjoy.
5) Have an English wool jacket tailor made for you. Head into any tailor “Sastre” in the central area and gesture to them you want a new suit. They will show you all kinds of materials, choose one, and then get measured. Most can have your new jacket or suit done in two days. English cashmere will be $20 - $40 a yard and the tailoring will be $60 for a sports coat.
6) Take language lessons at Simon Bolivar Language School a block and a half from “Parque Calderon” available from 8 – 12 or 2 – 6 everyday. It’s $8 per hour for private lessons and worth every penny. Don’t miss joining in the fun between 6 and 7 each evening at the Salsa, Merengue and cooking lessons.
7) Take a nap on Thursday afternoon so you can be fresh for the 10 pm live music at La Parola. This hip club sitting on an outdoor balcony above the river at Calle Larga and Hermano Miguel will be empty at 9:30 and packed by 11. Remember when you leave you need to show your receipt to the doorman, it’s the law in Ecuador.
8) Go bowling at Mall del Rio. This big mall on the Tarqui River three miles or a $2.50 taxi ride from the center of town has a fun bowling alley, and scores of restaurants and shop. The bowling alley is hidden in the Fun Zone and is exactly like what you would find anywhere in the US, except the price is 1.99 a game, shoes included, and everyone around you will be yelling Strike! But in Spanish.
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At 49, Kent and Christine Zimmerman quit their great jobs and headed out into the world to explore. After seven years of adventures in three different continents they continue to love living abroad in an ever expanding list of wonderful places that you too would love...but may not have heard of yet.