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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Puente del Bahia de Caraquez y San Vicente opened on October 31, 2010

At 6:00 a:m the celebration of a dream that has existed here for over 54 years with the opening of a new bridge across the estuary of the Rio Chone joining the communities of San Vicente and Bahia de Caraquez. Two delegations of citizens from each community led by their respective mayors commenced marching towards the middle of the 2 km bridge ( the longest in Ecuador ) . A celebration when they "met in the middle" symbolized the brotherhood between the communities.

Shortly after vehicles lined up to easily cross the bay which previously would have meant waiting for the gabarra ( during holiday periods often for several hours ) for the twenty minute ferry crossing. We joined the many citizens and walked across the bridge to San Vicente and returned by panga.

Constructed over two years by 700 Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército and 1500 contracted employees, at a cost of $ 102 million. It has seismic features that will enable it to withstand an earthquake of 8.5 magnitude. This is one of the most important engineering installations in Ecuador.

Photo Library of Images during construction of the bridge:

The bridge was officially inaugurated by Ecuador President Rafael Correa on Wednesday 3rd of November along with the festivals celebrating 135 years of cantonización of the Bay that is celebrated with popular celebrations, the parade of honor, the solemn session and several sporting events and cultural acts. The Grand Parade Finale Event was November 3rd, a 3 hour long parade on the Malecon of dignitaries, marching bands and costumed dance troops, fire engines,

military equipment, dancing stallions, and a wide variety of service clubs and organizations.
The week has been full of celebrations with November 1st - All Saints Day Day November 2nd - Day of the Deceased and November 3rd the Cantanization of Canton Sucre.

Official photos of President Rafeal Correa

President Correa arrived by helicopter at 5:45 p:m landing in San Vicente, across the estuary, he spoke to the citizens gathered there. He then cut the inauguration ribbon to allow a small parade of vehicles to cross the bridge. He rode in the back of an open truck in this parade to be received the crowds of people from all over Ecuador gathered at a ceremonious stage set up in Bahia. He was received by an exuberant crowd of more than 25,000 waving flags and chanting their gratitude and appreciation. He along with other dignitaries made speeches followed by a "twinned" celebration of fireworks on either side of the bay, and live music. The band " ARIEL" from Chone provided the festivities music with dancing until 4:00 a:m .

With the new bridge they have also extended the malecon along the seawall. We now have over 20 kms of seawall malecon for walking and cycling that starts within several blocks of our home.

A very important part of Ecuador's culture is the celebration known as the Day of the Dead "Día de los Difuntos" (All Souls Day) is celebrated on November 2nd throughout the country. We live nearby the local cemetery. For the past several weeks we have watched both workers and locals cleaning, weeding, trimming, painting and sprucing up the site for Tuesday, November. 2. Ecuadorians visit the memorial parks to honor their departed. Indigenous communities massively visit cemeteries keeping an old pagan tradition of taking along the favorite food dishes to share with their loved ones by their graves. They eat quietly and slowly in a solemn ceremony, sharing food among the families. Some of them circulate around the cemetery exchanging foods. They give food as a reward for those who pray for their departed. Here the street was crowded with celebrants carrying food and flowers, vendors selling food and flowers, and police re-directing vehicular traffic. Tombstones were given a fresh coat of paint, floral arrangements and food were placed at tombs and crosses marking grave sites, and candles lit in honor of departed loved ones.

At dusk the setting sun cast a glow overlooking the cemetery freshly filled with brilliant colour from all the floral arrangements which faded into darkness filled with a sea of candles burning.

Colada morada y guagua de pan are the typical food for All Souls Day. "Guaguas" means "kids" in the native Quichua language. Although the traditional customs are fading, families mix and knead dough, fashion it into babies, birds, animals and other shapes and stoke up their clay beehive ovens to bake the bread. It is traditional for men to receive a bread horse and women to get a little bread doll. Nowadays, you can find this typical bread with several fillings: chocolate, marmalade, whipped cream, dulce de leche (made by boiling down milk and sugar), and many other surprises These offerings are eaten and given to their dearly departed loved ones on this day along with colada morada to drink. Colada Morada is made with blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, corn flour, sugar, mortinos, cinnamon, allspice, anis, and babaco.After hours of preparation, the result is a delicious warm beverage to enjoy. This purple drink symbolizes the grief and the blood of those who no longer accompany us. For a detailed recipe :

And Bahia's very own Casa Ceibo earns the first Green Five Star Award in South America from the American Academy of Hospitality Services (AAHS).

The prestigious recognition justly rewards the pioneering efforts of Casa Ceibo's founders, Charles Van Diver, a Destin, Florida developer, and Daniel Jacome, a Galapagos guide and drummer for Ecuador's top rock band, Tercer Mundo.

"Casa Ceibo delivers an exceptionally luxurious experience, yet many aspects of the property, its services and people fulfill a mission of environmental, cultural and social consciousness that's downright extraordinary." It's "green appeal" shines through in many ways, from its use of local artisans and craftsmen to the breathtaking property and its owners' efforts to reforest the threatened mangroves, which softly buffer the hotel from the waves of the bay. The owners have also taken great care to bolster the native economy by choosing Ecuadorian vendors and sourcing staff mostly from Bahía.

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Bahia de Caraquez, Manabi, Ecuador