Ecuador's largest festival begins on June 21 (today) every year and we got to see several dancers rehearsing to live music in preparation for the festivities. It would have been fun to be there today to see them dancing in their native attire, but it was also nice to miss the crowds while still enjoying the rehearsal dancing and music and exploring the almost deserted site.
Today we enjoyed touring Cuenca and had a great time visiting market places, a museum, and best of all, a botanical garden with a great collection of Ecuador's native birds (see pics below)! Most importantly, we were able to retrieve our passports! However, there is still a problem with our visas, one that was caused by the Consulate in Houston that we had been worried about. Thankfully, they are doing their best to fix it for us but they did require us to leave behind a driver's license (collateral, I guess) while they wait for something they need from Houston. This means that we are required to come BACK to Cuenca (7 hours of bus travel, one way) in two weeks. Oh well, we are thankful to have our passports back, and gaining confidence that we WILL get our visas...eventually.
We are beyond excited to be traveling to Olon, Ecuador tomorrow! We have been researching a section of coast and this town is right in the middle of our desired region. It is too small to show up on most maps, but is between Salinas and Manta, Ecuador...just north of Montanita. We had narrowed down our hopes to this area when we were put in contact with someone in Texas who had lived in Olon and he has been such a blessing to us in giving us information and leads into the area. We are hopeful for the opportunities that await us and praying that God will guide us as we look for the best place to settle in, find community, study Spanish, and serve Him in whatever way we can. Please pray that we will find good, affordable longer term accommodation, the right Spanish school, and most of all, that God will lead us to an area where we can serve Him and be used mightily for His Kingdom.