0 dec post P2860713 the nutcracker

“Each day brings new opportunities, allowing you to constantly live with love—be there for others—bring a little light into someone’s day. Be grateful and live each day to the fullest.”― Roy T. Bennett

“Lee-SAH,” my lovely friend Dady exclaimed, “How did you know about this?!”

Perched along the top row of seats of the amphitheater, I was watching the crowd funnel into the performance area at the Las Vegas Park in Portoviejo. I usually sit alone so that I can be as unobtrusive as possible when taking photos at events. The park is not far from my apartment – maybe five minutes – as is the Museo Portoviejo, and I arrived early to watch the day wean to night and then witness the event.

Dady knew that I usually dodge evening events; I like to be home by dark, especially in a city. The night air often prompts my old cough to return, so she was not expecting to see me – especially since she learned of the event only a few hours before it was to begin!
We were there to see Quito’s National Ballet perform the Nutcracker, and the show soon began – and captivated the crowd!

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Today, December 22, 2019, we note the sun’s placement in our skies and contemplate the approaching new year. I, however, am reflecting back in time to the September equinox – when friends and I witnessed ancient rituals along the southern part of Ecuador’s Sierra.

P2800398 killa raymi kulla raymi

The September Equinox ritual has several names in the Andes, and by using late-night internet searches for September Equinox, Equinoccio Ecuador, Kulla Raymi, Cuya Raymi, Killa Rayme, we found snippets of writings about an annual ritual in the Province of Canar.  Our search fine-tuned to a small community located between Riobamba and Cuenca and is near the much-larger archaeological site of Ingapirca.


We did not have time to see Ingapirca, but we can plan for ‘the next time’ in the area!

My four intrepid traveling companions and I set out for Canar, and our navigator and pilota did great jobs of finding the perfect spot to ask for information. Three lovely local ladies were just leaving to join their community, and they escorted us to the ancient site of Banos del Inca. As if stepping into a fairy tale, we were embraced into another realm and merged into the community’s afternoon of rituals.

P2800151 turning off the road to banosP2800154 banos del inca

P2800158 banos del inca gates

The right side of the gates showcases the moon…

P2800159 banos del inca gates

…  and the left side of the gates showcases the sun…

P2800178 chicha

Chicha anyone?

P2800177 chicha

A bilingual sign at the site states: Coyoctor Archaelogical Complex – Inca bath Complex or Coyoctor is an archaeological Canari-Inca site, strategically located and lined with Yanacuri hill directed to Northeast. This site is dedicated to the worship of the moon, the September 21st of each year is celebrated Killa Raymi. The archaeological complex conform the big court, inka chair, kanari altar, rooms, and Inka’s bath. Also, there are buildings from the colonial times that belonged to an old hacienda that were constructed over ruins of sculpted stone. Nowadays, there is an Interpretative center with 3 show rooms that you can visit: 1) Tambo-Coyoctor Touristic Tour room, 2)Non permanent exhibits room 3) Ethnographic Museum.

P2800339 kulla killa raymi info

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My travelmates also shared my ‘Be home by dark’ rule, so we left as the locals rested between events and prepared for their evening fiesta. Most of the photos from that trip are still locked into a stubborn camera chip that refuses to share them with other devices, including my computer!

While in the Andes, we observed ‘several days of equinox’ at other locations.

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Pre-Incan sun dial at Hacienda Guachala

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Quitsato, on the highway near Hacienda Guachala

P2810653 helene calacali monument

0-0-0 Monument at Calacali northwest of Quito

P2810350 guayasamin 100 year anniversary

P2810366 helene y lise museo guayasamin

Thankfully my friends enjoyed a crash course on the life of Guayasamin and the Chapel of Man in Quito.

Another alignment of blessings gave me the opportunity to attend a private viewing of a documentary about the Galapagos. Galapagos – Hope for the Future, directed by Evert Van Den Bos.  Oh my!  Start HERE:  Galapago – Hope for the Future trailer.

The documentary focuses on the work being done by the Charles Darwin Foundation, and as if by magic the film transports us as if we are truly there.  The opening scenes brought tears to my eyes as the narrator (Ronan Keeting) bridged the images with the director’s message. A few tears also leaked out in the closing credits with Keeting’s (not-yet released) song. Throughout the documentary, we chuckled more than cried, as various scenes captured the personality of many species. The director hopes that this documentary, ” — will inspire others to live in harmony with nature,” and he stresses the importance of sharing this with children.   The Darwin Foundation website states  “The film has been funded by the Netherlands-based COmON Foundation to promote conservation work of this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site…”  and “…It will also be screened in several cinemas across the country (Ecuador) from January 2020 onwards… “

JustEntertainment blurb states, “The film highlights another side of the Galapagos, one where humans better understand and respect the significance of the animals and environment. It tells the hopeful story of passionate researchers who are committed to protect and conserve this special, but fragile, ecosystem.”

About the makers – Here: Galapagos/Earth/the Makers

In November Museo Portoviejo showcased the work of local artists who make nativity scenes. At 7 pm the public gathered outside the entrance of the darkened museum and peered into the darkened museum. Twinkling lights provided a lovely backdrop, and we watched from a temporary seating area on the sidewalk and street.

When the formal part of the presentation ended, everyone stepped inside to inspect the magical hand-made scenes and enjoy the refreshments.  Feeling weak from the night air and traffic exhaust, I left before the event finished – but took a few more departing shots! My favorites were the ones made from Mate (dried Calabash) and the Ceibo tree scene.

P2840888 nativity in mateP2850060 museo portoviejo nativityP2850058 museo portoviejo nativityP2850056 museo portoviejo nativity

P2840892 museo portoviejo nativity……
On the same weekend as the Nutcracker event, publicity about a Sunday afternoon ‘Beatles Challenge’ prompted me to walk to Parque Rotonda. Traffic is low on Sundays, and the walk gave me the opportunity to get lost while taking shortcuts (!) and I also took time for birdwatching.

P2870129 green parrot parakeet yellow splotch on wings la rotunda portoviejo 4 pm dec 8.jpg

Most likely this is a juvenile/immature Gray-cheeked Parakeet, which is on the Endangered list. So far I’ve found no inforation about a Parakeet with yellow wing bars – in Ecuador. All else looks like the Gray-cheeked, but the birds did not show any red/orange on the wings. Feedback, anyone?

P2870281 beatles challengeP2870284 beatles challengeP2870200 rock city beatles challengeP2870171 beatles challenge event

On retrospect, I suspect that the Beatles Challenge was more like a rehearsal than a public event, but it was worth the effort and definitely worth spending time with friends! Like a good girl, I left before the event was over so that I’d be home way before dark!

P2880189 museo end of day event

This past Friday the Museo presented another sidewalk event of Christmas music – this one to begin at 5! (I thanked Carlos Wellington, director of events, for the late-afternoon timing!) There were solo and group performances of traditional songs, and one artist provided a semi-traditional Andean tune while playing guitar and harmonica (without the flutes, he apologized) and Carlos performed three of his original songs. Attendance was low; people were probably dashing home from work and tending ‘things-to-do’ lists for the holidays. Those who attended were the lucky ones!

For me it’s easy to ‘Be grateful and live each day to the fullest’ – especially when Las Vegas Park is a short walk from where I live. Dodging traffic exhaust, I zip there as fast as possible in daylight hours and veer straight to the shallow marsh-like pond on one edge of the park.

P2850642 portoviejo las vegas park la segua malecon puente

The feathered residents provide easy photo ops, and the beautiful Purple Gallinule will most likely be a subject for a future painting. The blue-hued beauty has competition, all so easy to photograph from the boardwalk.

P2850820 IMMATURE P GALLINULE portoviejo las vegas park la segua

“What big feet you have!” – Immature Purple Gallinule

P2850965 PURPLE GALLINULE PREENING after the splash portoviejo las vegas park la segua

Purple Gallinule

P2860313 wattled jacana wings

Wattled Jacana


Striated Heron

P2850625 las vegas la segua in the park


Snowy Egret

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Great Egret

Closing with a splash of Christmas red – the male Vermillion Flycatcher, I send a, “Happy Holidays to all!’

P2860350 vermillion flycatcher