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Windhorse in the Andes

Cajas National Park with alpacas

Windhorse in the Andes – Vacation & Meditation in Ecuador, January 2020

Shambhala Cuenca Meditation Group invites you to visit us in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Meditate and study as we offer Shambhala Studies Level 1 on January 11 & 12 and Levels 2 & 3 from January 17 – 20 with senior teacher Tom Adducci. We will also offer Levels 4 and 5 in mid-March with shastri Donna Williams.

While you’re here, experience high Andean nature in the city and in nearby Cajas National Park, study Spanish (or Kichwa!), take in the local culture – notably the city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – soak in the thermal baths, or with a few hours drive, bask on ocean beaches. You might even get some dental or cosmetic work done, at 10-20% of the U.S. cost.

How Shambhala Cuenca Began.

Craig Adams, Lama Yeshe Samuelson, Lucy Altemus

In 2008 Craig Adams & Lucy Altemus were accepted into the U.S. Peace Corps, and thrilled to hear they had been assigned to Spanish-speaking Ecuador. They had no idea that their 2 ¼ years of service in a small, indigenous Kichwa village in the Andes would result in a further ten-plus years of life outside the U.S. After their volunteer stint they moved to the city of Cuenca, 8600 feet high in the Andes. Seeing a need for North American-style food, in 2012 they opened a small café in the historical center: The Windhorse Café.  There, in a simple but beautiful space above the dining area they set up our shrine room – and a library with all the dharma books they had carted to Ecuador! Weekly dharma classes, book discussions and a Sunday morning meditation program began.

Practice in the Cuenca Shambhala Shrine Room

As they promoted good food, good conversation and good meditation, a real sangha developed; in 2014 they decided it was time to become an official Shambhala Meditation Group.

The Cuenca Meditation Group was officially recognized and our sangha grew; we now offer three bilingual regular programs every week.  Most of our members are first language English, and we have a growing number with first language Spanish. Professional interpretation from English to Spanish will provided for all our 2020 courses.

 

Visiting Cuenca

The Cathedral and Parque Calderón

With a population 600,000, Cuenca received its UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1999. The area’s diverse and colorful mix includes people of both European descent and indigenous background and language: the Kichwa. Four pristine, fast-flowing rivers converge within the city, two of which flow out of the high mountains of the Cajas National Park; our drinking water is excellent. It is truly an international city, with a large population of immigrants who call it home, including folks from North and South America, Europe, and south and east Asia. Art studios, museums, two professional symphony orchestras – with free weekly concerts – choirs, every genre of western pop, jazz, and Latin music, extremely diverse architecture, artisanal markets, and four universities all contribute to

Cuenca Shambhala meets in the UNESCO World Heritage Center.

Cuenca’s nickname of  The Athens of the Andes. The colorful produce markets are bursting with fruits, vegetables, grains, and locally made clothing. The solemn beauty of numerous baroque churches and two cathedrals reflect the region’s Catholic heritage, yet even so a variety of meditation and yoga groups are active: Buddhist – Shambhala and Zen –  Hindu, secular mindfulness, and more.

Holidays here aren’t to be missed. On December 24th, Cuenca’s Paseo del Niño is a 12-hour marathon parade where family-made floats join bands and whimsically-costumed biblical characters, all honoring one very special Baby Jesus icon. On the feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, Cuenca commemorates Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, but satire runs rampant, making great fun of all things serious with elaborate floats, costumes and cross-dressing, a piquant balance to the slight seriousness of the Christmas season. And of course, New Year’s Eve abounds in revelry, with the skies lit in all directions with fireworks and the burning – and leaping through the fires! –  of hilarious monigotes, satirical effigies of the Old Year.

The official currency of Ecuador is the U.S. dollar. A taxi ride costs about $2 within the city center, buses abound and go everywhere, and we’re all eagerly awaiting the grand opening of the light rail tranvía. It’s a very walkable city, and bike trails and lanes follow the rivers and are present on many major streets; the brand-new BiciCuenca allows anyone to rent and use a bike in many locations around the city.  Hotels are reasonably priced, and many are in historically-significant buildings with modern amenities; there is a large apartment rental market too. Police are friendly and the crime rate is one of the lowest in the western hemisphere.

Also, due to lower operating costs here, we are very happy to offer our courses at significantly lower costs than in North America. Please join us! For planning purposes, open registration is available only until September 29. After that date, inquire regarding availability.

 

Read more about Shambhala Cuenca on our website, https://cuenca.shambhala.ws, our Facebook page, <Cuenca Shambhala Meditation Group>, or contact us directly at [email protected]. We hope to see you in Cuenca!

 

Links about Cuenca and Ecuador:

https://www.roamingaroundtheworld.com/best-things-to-do-in-cuenca-ecuador-travel-guide/

https://ecuador.travel/en/destinations/andes/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBA4dyUUpgA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW0Jpd6JXz8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lyr1duWoC5M

 

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