March 9 – May 12, 2019
Here in Cuenca, we’ve settled into a kind of regular routine. We do homeschool in the mornings, Spanish school every other weekday in the afternoons (we started out with classes every day for a few weeks), and sometimes conversation groups in the evenings. On weekends, we sometimes go on group hikes (read my mom’s blog here), but my favorite regular activities are dog walking on Saturdays, and volleyball (for me) on Sundays.
On Saturdays, there is a Cuenca Runners and Walkers group that meets on the Yanuncay River and then walks to a woman named Barbara’s house. Barbara is a very kind Canadian expat who noticed all of the poor stray dogs on the street and wanted to do something about it. She teamed up with Mauricio, a local dog-lover who has some land in the mountains near Cuenca where he keeps around 50 dogs that used to be on the streets. Barbara keeps around 15 mostly small-middle sized dogs that she takes care of in her own house!
She needs help walking all of the dogs, so she has people over on Saturdays to walk her dogs. I usually walk a sweet dog named Rita, who was actually born in Barbara’s house, but was the only one of her litter to not get adopted. Most of the dogs in the shelter were born on the street, and Barbara receives the dog if she gets a call from one of her friends about a dog that looks pretty bad, or if she hears about a dog somewhere that seems to need a lot of help. The thing is though, that there are SO MANY stray dogs in Cuenca that its almost impossible to help all of them. A lot of the dogs in her house have been hit by cars, or they were found as tiny puppies without their mothers.
There is usually a group of about 6 people, more or less, to walk the dogs. It is amazing that we can do this because we’ve always wanted a dog, but our life in Seattle was just too busy to add a dog to our household. Over 10 weeks, we’ve discovered all of the dogs’ different personalities. They are all so sweet, and this is going to be one of the hardest things about leaving Cuenca. We’ll really miss these dogs.
On Sundays, we walk or take a taxi to Parque Paraiso, which is about 2 miles from our place. There’s so much going on at the park, but I go there to play pickup volleyball. It’s with a bunch of adults, but I don’t mind because I’ve wanted to play sports this whole trip, and that’s been one of the hardest things, not being able to play sports with my friends back at home. So, I get my volleyball time in, and while I’m doing that, my family either watches, or walks around the park. I love playing volleyball, so I am SOOO grateful that we found this! I feel like I’ve improved a little, because I feel like you only get better when you play with people better than you.
Cuenca has been the place we’ve stayed the longest, and it feels like our second home now. This has also been the only place where we’ve had some sort of a schedule, which I really really enjoy, because after so long without really having some sameness in our lives, the sameness is a welcome change! I’m not ready to leave, but it’s almost time. Next, on to a farm stay near Cuenca and then the Galapagos!