Eight plus hours each way. Our longest Ecuador road trip yet. Carnaval was the perfect time to attempt it with a 5 day break. It was also the perfect time to break out my sister's Christmas gift to the family: Two-screen, car DVD player. Anyone who knows me knows I'm pretty anti-TV for kids. Like usually the rule is 30-minutes on Sunday nights only ... and half the time we skip that because we are with friends. But this car DVD player? Why have we not done this before??? The trip was so quick and so painless due to our zombified, tv-loaded children. It was bliss. Nate and I listened to a whole book on tape and the kids were silent except to let me know when they needed a new movie.




But enough about DVD players.

Cuenca. From the time we dropped off the highway and into your quaint streets and terracotta-tiled roofs we fell in love with you. It was so clean and bright. It had so much character and charm. We exclaimed over and over about how much we liked the architecture and the feel. I enjoyed runs in the morning on sunny, tree-lined boulevards while the rest of the house slowly woke up. The park near our house was amazing. Tranquil, clean and not overcrowded like our Quito parks often are. Christy, Christine and I sat talking, watching the kids swing toward each other in a much more relational (and genius) approach to swinging.

We brought mountains of food with us and laughed when we saw the size of the mini-fridge. We ate fresh cinnamon roll bread, english muffins with eggs and avocado, a mediterreanean orzo salad with sausages, gooey, cheesey chicken enchiladas and mountains of 7-layer dip. We had good conversations, tired conversations, games about our friendships and even some dangerous conversations at night that can only be had with the closest of friends. We had early nights for those who had pulled all-nighters to make Cuenca happen. And we had buckets of puke in our room for poor Christy who got terribly sick. We had three kids ganging up on one to blame for all the sleep problems and lots of stern, parental warnings.





We spent our first full day exploring downtown. We walked along the river, saw an old bridge, a Carnaval parage and had some forced hand-holding for the bickering Jordan-Taube kids. We explored an old church and were surprised by how even the littlest two seemed to understand the solemnity and walked quietly through. We spent a few minutes at small flower market before looking for a recommended restaurant for lunch. It was okay but reviews were a bit overrated. Christine and I blew our mouths out enjoying some of the hottest pad thai we'd ever had. We had plans to go out in the afternoon but after naps we got lazy and just enjoyed our great airbnb apartment. 


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Day two we went exploring to find a waterfall called Giron. We had thought it was close to the zoo and the plan was to hit up both but googlemaps failed us and we realized that the two were about an hour apart. No matter because the scenery on the way to Giron was gorgeous and we talked work frustrations a bit along the way while the kids goofed off in the back. When we arrived at the waterfall there was some great dancing by Canaan and Damari in the parking lot and then we set off. The fall was a short, 15-minute hike but even for a short time it was nice to breath the crisp air. This was our kids' first waterfall and it was fun to see them scamper around it after getting used to the cool mist that constantly sprayed on us. There was lots of slipping on rocks and quick toe dips into the ice cold water. There was also a very memorable experience that my kids reference monthly when Uncle Aaron dropped down to his skivvies and tried to swim in the water, only to be told this was not allowed by the clearly boozed-up path guide. There is photo documentation but that has to remain private. And now the kids often ask if they be like Uncle Aaron. It was fun to watch Canaan turn into a jungle boy, asking to climb trees and make trails up the side of the mountain.


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Lunch and naps and then a trip to the park for our own Carnaval fun. We carried on last year's tradition and had a blast giving everyone their own bottle of "espuma" and letting them rip, no rules. Eden used her whole bottle making a giant mound on the sidewalk. Forget squirting people. She also wasn't particularly happy to be sprayed since she was focused on her art. But we sprayed and laughed and ran and chased. And three cheers for the in-apartment washing machine to take care of the soaked clothes.


The boys were absolutely adorable with their Carnaval session the whole weekend. They spent all their freetime throwing water balloons off the balcony. The apartment's water pressure was terrible and inevitable if you were washing your hair or the dishes and the water went completely away you could guarantee that Zeke was in another room filling water balloons! It was also a fun little town that embraced Carnaval fully. Christine and I got pelted one day walking back from the park. We had a good laugh noticing that Christine immediately tucked into a ball and I immediately jumped on top of her to "protect" her. Ha! The car ride back to Quito was full of lots of people trying to get us wet and Zeke trying to hit others with water balloons. Because we drove back to Quito on actual Carnaval day it was a bit sad to watch how many people in the small towns along the way spent the day drunk. We saw teenagers carrying a drunk dad home, an old man dancing in the middle of the freeway, inebriated and unaware of the danger. We drove on high-alert through the towns.


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Our last full day we dedicated to the zoo. And an interesting zoo it was. It was built up a mountain so it was a 5km walk up the side of the mountain and back down ... with animals along the way. The kids loved it and interacted with all the animals. The monkeys in the picnic area were the highlight because you could feed them and touch them if they let you. The last half was quite the adventure when the rain set in, the path turned to mud and we slipped and slid our way down, ducking into certain areas for shelter when it really poured. (White pants and flip flops were a ridiculous plan on my part.)







Afternoons were almost always filled with ice cream. We weren't too lazy to go grab a cone! I'll remember this always because it was a bit torturous. Eden lost all treats for the whole weekend before we even left Quito because of her sassy attitude the day before. It was heartbreaking to have to remind her every day as the ice cream excitement grew that she wouldn't be partaking. There were some sad tears but no sass and I was proud of her one day for taking her banana and gamely pretending it was her "ice cream" as she licked it. The last day Nate and I talked and decided to let her have ice cream because her atittude had gotten somuch better. She was so proud and so happy to be just like the other kids!! I hope to never have to take treats away again before a trip with friends. It tore at my heart!

Mixx ice cream, our last ice cream stop, was interesting. Flavors I've never seen. Pineapple-grape swirl for Canaan, Mint Bailey's. Just all sorts of random flavors. Definitely recommend a try.


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0 #1 Emily Runyan 2016-07-13 04:44
Thanks for posting more details about this! I love to hear the details of what happened. And I would be the SAME way about taking away treats. We know how much we love them. :)

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