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Last weekend, we drove from Cuenca to El Churro waterfalls. It was so beautiful, and lush, and muddy. I have a serious love for the Ecuadorian countryside in the mountains. It is breathtaking. While at this place, we heard a zipping sound and then we realized that there was a zipline set up here! At that point, we had to find out more. I'm not sure if the ziplines were 680m each, or 600m one way and 800m another, but they are the second longest in Ecuador and only $25 for 3 people. Conor and I convinced Gustavo to come with us. And Monica was a saint and watched all 5 of the children. The zipline was incredible and a definite would do again experience. We flew over a valley with a river flowing through it. We had to hike for about 15 minutes between the two ziplines and that definite rivaled the zipline itself. The land here is so beautiful! This was a real treat of a day!

After the zipline, we drove for a lake and got lunch. Fog kept blowing through and so most of the time we couldn't even see the lake. The afternoons in the mountains have very reduced visibility. 

While we were at the Good Friday reenactment, an older women came up to me and asked me in Spanish if I knew Monica. Yes, I know a Monica. It turns out that she was Sarah, the mother of Monica, and she recognized us from photos Monica had shown her! Sarah invited us to her home for lunch with her big family (she has 9 children!). Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. We ate soup and popcorn and drank morocho. Some of the family members played songs on the guitar and Holly and Greta cuddled puppies. It was seriously so great! I had plans to eat Fanesca, a traditional Easter soup, but spending time in a kind family's home definitely trumped soup!

Ecuador is very religious, Catholic specifically, and Easter, or Semana Santa is a very special holiday. On Good Friday, we went and watched a reenactment of Christ's last week. It was intense and 3 hours long. The man playing Christ carried a cross around the huge park. Occasionally the procession would stop, but I'm not really sure what was happening at those breaks. It was a big crowd and I wasn't close enough. The fake whips used were dips in red paint leaving what looked like streaks of blood on the back of Christ and the thieves. The man playing Christ and the thieves really were lifted on the cross. There were a ton of vendors selling all sorts of things. Unfortunately, we all got sunburned (even the baby!). I just did not anticipate being out of doors for that length of time, and honestly, a few times I thought to myself, "I know how this ends!"

This was most certainly a cultural experience! We were the only gringos there and I'm sure we were the only people who were not Catholics. 

Today, we invited our Ecuadorian family over for lunch. First things first, Juan asked for juguetes (toys) and Monica did Maeve's hair. We so enjoyed spending the afternoon with them. All the fun adventures we've been on and pretty much all the new Spanish we've learned is thanks to them. We've spent so much time with them that now we are all comfortable hanging out together for hours chatting. This is what we came for. We are SO GRATEFUL!!!

Our new apartment is just around the corner from a park, plaza and church. The church is attached to a school and during school hours, children play soccer in the plaza. To me, it sounds quite competitive! Next week, I plan on going with Holly and Greta to watch for a little while. There's a rickety park right next to the church and fortunately my children think it's lovely. The church that we are close to is so beautiful. The white and red are really striking. It's called San Rogue. 

Conor cut some bamboo sticks for the girls to play with and since they've been playing ninjas/warriors, and planning their Halloween costumes. Always planning the Halloween costumes!

When it was time to go home (so I could go to a much needed yoga class!) Maeve insisted on walking herself the whole way home, while holding my hands. She only paused once. And that was to squawk and receive attention from two people we walked past. That's Maeve. 

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