Cuenca Ecuador Holidays: Join the Celebrations!

Cuenca Ecuador LOVES to celebrate holidays! They have more holidays than days in the year, and the city comes alive for many of them!

Monigote Tradition Explained (Cuenca Ecuador 2019)

Amelia and JP VLOG 177: It’s New Year’s Eve Eve and we learned all about the tradition of burning monigotes or años viejos as part of the New Year celebration. Christina and Andrea, our Spanish teachers from Walking Spanish Lessons, explained the various elements of the tradition as part of our class. Then we burned our monigote or effigy to cast off the old, negative energy and welcome in the new, positive energy. It was a lot of fun!

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Ecuador Holiday Traditions: Pase del Nino Viajero Christmas Eve Parade Cuenca Ecuador (2019)

Amelia and JP VLOG 176: Feliz Navidad!!! We ventured down to El Centro in Cuenca Ecuador yesterday to watch the annual Christmas Eve Pase del Niño Viajero Parade (Passing of the Traveling Child). We had so much fun watching the dancing and seeing the colors!

In this video, we’ll talk about some of the traditions that you see in the parade, like the cars and horses covered in candy and sweets, and the dancing around the maypole or Baile de Cintas.

And a big thank you to Marcia Torres Guerra, one of our amazing patrons on Patreon who sent us an amazing gift via her sister Maria Lorena from MLT Art! If you would like an awesome gift or heirloom quality art for your home, you can get almost any image carved into wood and hand-painted. ¡Es increíble!

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca at Night & Holiday Lights (Christmas Eve 2019 Cuenca Ecuador)

Amelia and JP VLOG 175: Christmas Eve in Cuenca Ecuador is bustling with activity. Upon popular request, we filmed Cuenca at night along with the holiday lights.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Ecuador Carnival 2019 – Day In The Life (Episode 75)

Another beautiful, tranquilo Sunday during the days of Cuenca Ecuador Carnival 2019. We logged over 24,000 steps walking around Cuenca in this day in the life video, and we share many of those steps with you.

We started the day with a long walk around our vecino (neighborhood) de El Vergel. Daisy even made a couple of friends along the way.


It’s Carnival here in Cuenca, which means you need to watch out for water balloons and spray foam. It’s tradition to get people wet by any means possible during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. We barely missed getting hit by two water balloons thrown from a moving car on our way home from Supermaxi on Friday. The threat is real, people.

Carnaval Foam

You may be wondering if we have recipes for the dishes we ate in the video, but we don’t yet. We’ll post them to as soon as we finalize and enter them. They were all delicious, but the spicy choclo (Peruvian field corn) that we put on our salad was my favorite.

Quinoa Barley Breakfast

Quinoa Barley Breakfast

Salad with Spicy Chocolo

Salad with Spicy Choclo

Teriyaki Seitan

Teriyaki Seitan

We stopped in for jugos at Café de Alicia next door to the Old Cathedral in Cuenca’s El Centro. Amelia had a jugo de guanabana and I had a jugo de mango. They were both delicious and only cost $1.70 each. In the states, an orange juice that size would easily cost $4, and good luck finding guanabana or mango juice.

Café de Alicia

Amelia loves being physically active. She does yoga almost everyday, as well as belly dancing and pole fitness. That’s on top of our 10,000 steps on an average day. That’s why I call her my little hummingbird. She’s always fluttering around doing something.

Since Fratello was closed for the holiday, we ate lunch at home and decided to go to Namaste India for dinner. While we were there, Chinnu taught us some words in her native language of Malayalam. She grew up on the southern tip of India in a rural fishing village so Hindi isn’t her native language. That has to be one of the hardest languages to learn. It’s all vowels and the words go on for miles!

This is what “nice to meet you” looks like in Malayalam: നിന്നെ കാണാനായതിൽ സന്തോഷം. And here is the phonetic pronunciation: ninne kāṇānāyatil santēāṣaṁ. Good luck with that!

We had such an amazing day here in Cuenca during Carnaval! And we’re excited to share it with you! Just remember, if you’re ever in Cuenca during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, stay on the lookout for water balloons because they may contain more than just water. ?

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Valentine’s Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 + Aphrodisiac Dinner at Café Libre (Episode 68)

Happy Valentine’s Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019!!!

Our friends Jimmy and Sharon who recently moved to Cuenca from the US requested a Valentine’s Day vlog and we were happy to oblige with this day in the life video.

I was going to make it a surprise, but I decided against it because that’s not really who we are. We’re very practical people and I would rather have Amelia pick out her favorite flowers and chocolates instead of trying to guess what she wants. And she chose flowers and chocolates that I would have never bought, so everything worked out.

We also had a very special Valentine’s Day Dinner at Café Libre in Cuenca. This was an experience we’ll remember for the rest of our lives!

The Cuenca Flower Market on Valentine’s Day 2019

The Cuenca Flower Market was PACKED with people and flowers on Valentine’s Day 2019. The explosion of colors was truly amazing and beautiful.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Cuenca Flower Market

Amelia bought some maroon lilies and white margaritas. We had never seen maroon lilies before so that’s what Amelia wanted. The margaritas have such an incredibly strong and wonderful aroma and they fill our entire house.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Cuenca Flower Market Lilies

Zatua Miski for Chocolates & Snacks

We stopped at Zatua Miski for some chocolates on our way back home from the Cuenca Flower Market. We bought a box of truffles to go.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Zatua Miski Truffles

Since it was still early in the day and our Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac dinner at Café Libre didn’t start until 8PM, we decided to have a snack, as well. Amelia got a delicious cappuccino and I got a mango, maracuya and lemongrass smoothie.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Zatua Miski Drinks

Then we split a delicious fruit smoothie bowl. It was the perfect amount to last us until dinner.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Zatua Miski Smoothie Bowl

See More: Day In The Life + Delicious Treats at Zatua Miski in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 46)

Aphrodisiac Dinner at Café Libre

Café Libre often has special dinners by reservation only, but this was the first one we attended. And boy are we glad we did! It was one of the most amazing dinners we’ve ever had!

Everything was timed perfectly. Paul opened the doors exactly at 8PM. They had personalized place cards on the tables directing us where to sit.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Place Card

The abreboca was delivered to the table soon after we sat down. After each course, we had just the right amount of time to let the flavors linger while we enjoyed each other’s company before the next course was delivered.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Abreboca


Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Tartar

Vegan Tartar

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Risotto

Vegan Risotto

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Dessert

Cacao y Sal Postre

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Verrine Dulce

Verrine Dulce

The surprise Final Energizante was a shot of Shilajit, which is an aged and fermented Himalayan moss that is believed to be an aphrodisiac. It tasted a bit like vegetable bouillon, but I can’t say for sure it had any affect on my libido. Thanks to my beautiful and intelligent companion, my libido always runs pretty high! ?

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Shilajit


We forgot to mention in the video that we actually had THREE desserts! The grand finale was a couple of heart shaped bon bon’s with a gooey chocolate center. YUM!!!

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Bon Bon

ALL of the courses were decadent and delicious. Vegan risotto is one of my absolute favorite dishes and Amelia about died when she tasted the Cacao y Sal postre (dessert). Paul went to each table to explain (in Spanish and English) the ingredients, preparation and significance of each course, enhancing the experience even more.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Toasting

Red Wine & Mojito

This was a TRULY special Valentine’s Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Dinner! Experiences like this make it hard for us to believe we live in a small city in the mountains of a small country in South America. With two glasses of wine, two mojitos, plus tip, this experience cost just $76. In the states, this would have easily cost over $200. In fact, we had a similar experience (although not nearly as special) at Planta in South Beach back in November that cost $220 with tip.

If you’re in Cuenca, Café Libre is one of the must visit restaurants.

See More: Nighttime In Cuenca + Dinner at Café Libre (Episode 34)

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

New Years Eve in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 48)

This was our second New Year’s Eve in Cuenca Ecuador, but I was sick last year so we didn’t leave the house. This year, we logged over 15 miles in our day in the life walking around Cuenca looking at the monigotes.

If you’d like more background on the monigotes, or effigies, check out our last video: Preparing for New Years in Cuenca with Monigotes and Black Eyed Peas.

Each neighborhood has a monigote contest and the winning monigote gets set on fire at midnight. We weren’t sure where to go for the best viewing, so we decided to wander around El Centro in the afternoon to find the best spot. After seeing a couple of displays, we headed back home to eat dinner and do some research online about where to go.

New Year's Eve in Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes

Lucky for us, Amelia found that our neighborhood of El Vergel has a great New Year’s Eve party and monigote display, so we left the house around 8:30 PM to go check it out. The party was already in full swing with live music and lots of monigotes.

Since it was still early, we decided to walk back down to El Centro to look for more of the displays we found online. We also saw lots of men in drag dancing in the streets and collecting money. The funniest ones were the men dressed like indigenous women dancing in the streets. We’re not sure what the money went to, but they were very entertaining.

New Year's Eve in Cuenca Ecuador Men In Drag

After walking up and down the streets in El Centro for a couple hours, we walked back home for a snack and then back down to the park in El Vergel to countdown the new year and see the monigotes set ablaze.

It’s hard to describe the atmosphere on New Year’s Eve in Cuenca Ecuador, and the video doesn’t do it justice. At midnight, everyone sets their monigotes on fire with fireworks exploding all around and people throwing firecrackers and other fireworks up in the air and into the crowds. Small children were lighting fireworks and throwing monigotes on piles of other burning monigotes.

New Year's Eve in Cuenca Ecuador Fires

In the US, none of this would be legal or allowed, but it’s “tradition” in Ecuador and other Latin American countries. The Cuencanos will be ready for armageddon because they live through it every year on New Year’s Eve!

Hopefully you enjoyed our New Year’s Eve in Cuenca Ecuador video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Video Transcript

>> Amelia: Happy New Years Eve
veggie lovers!

I’m Amelia with Amelia And JP.
That’s me.

JP is behind the camera.
[Loud Fireworks in Background]

The celebration’s already starting here
in Cuenca.

We decided to come downtown in El Centro

to see what’s happening in search of

the big monigotes. Find out where they’re
going to light them tonight.

And they’ve already started.

So, enjoy.

[Upbeat Music]

[Upbeat Latin Music]

We’re back over by the stadium after
walking around El Centro.

There’s not a lot happening yet.

You can see behind me people are still

doing a lot of New Years Eve prep.

We’re gonna do that as well by going home

and making dinner before we head back out.

We are in El Vergel waiting to go in to see
the different monigotes.

They look very impressive.

[Upbeat Latin Music]

We left El Vergel and now we’re
on our way to El Centro.

We’re walking through Parque de la Madre

and I had to have JP stop and record

because I think this is the first time

we’ve ever seen the park this empty.

There’s.. I see TWO people!

That’s it!

Normally this time of night
it’s pretty packed still.

[Upbeat Latin Music]

>> Group: [Inaudible]

>> Group: WOOOO!!!

[Upbeat Latin Music]

[Gangnam Style Music]

[Latin Music]

>> Man in Drag: ¡Gracias!

[Upbeat Latin Music]

>> A: We had a lot of fun wandering
the different neighborhoods

and checking out the super impressive

I didn’t realize that they were that
elaborate and massive.

And that there were contests within the
different neighborhoods

to see who has the best one.

We personally think our neighborhood
is the best, El Vergel.

Because they have a band and we can hear..

hear them now and we’re gonna go
and see them

and maybe dance a little bit.

Have some fun before the clock strikes 12
and it’s 2019.

[Latin Band Music]

[Fireworks Sounds]

[Latin Band Music]

[Fireworks Sounds]

>> Announcer: Diez. Nueve. Ocho. Siete.
Seis. Cinco. Cuatro. Tres. Dos. ¡UNOOOO!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
[Happy New Year]

[Fireworks Sounds]

>> A: That was super fun!

We didn’t know what to expect and

boy, El Vergel really delivered!
Cuenca delivered!

>> JP: Yep. It was like armageddon.

>> JP: We had fires..
>> A: But fun.

>> JP: But fun.
>> A: Yes. Happy armageddon.

>> JP: But there were fires everywhere..
>> A: It’s crazy!

>> JP: Fireworks are going off
in the background.

People throwing fireworks like
into the crowd.

It’s just unbelievable.
>> A: I know. [Laughing]

>> JP: It’s crazy!
>> A: It’s so smoky right now.

And it’s not slowing down.

>> JP: No. It’s about 12:30 or almost 1AM
and it’s still going strong.

Now I have to get up and edit this video

so you guys can see it on New Years Day.

I promised!


>> A: We can sleep in
a little bit tomorrow.

>> JP: Yeah. I think we’ll sleep
in a little bit.

But, man, what a cool experience
this has been today.

>> A: Yes. And please remember to turn
your alarm off.

>> JP: Oh yeah.
>> A: JP forgot and..

>> JP: We’ve been up since 5:30
this morning

or yesterday morning actually because
I forgot to turn our alarm off.


>> JP: Whoops.
>> A: Oh well.

It was worth it.
>> JP: It was.

>> A: It’s been an awesome day.

Great 2018! I’m super excited for 2019!

>> JP: Yep. Happy New Year everybody!

>> A: Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Año!

>> JP: ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
>> A: Sí.

And please subscribe.. ring that bell.
>> JP: Yeah. Please subscribe

and ring the bell so you get notified
of all our upcoming adventures.

We have some cool..

We took a cool excursion
outside of Cuenca.

>> A: Yeah. You’re gonna wanna
check that out and

we have a lot of other good things
planned for 2019 as well.

>> JP: We do. Alright.
>> A: It’s very exciting!

>> JP: Bye.

>> A: Happy New Year!

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes – Burning of the Effigies (Episode 47)

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes are everywhere! Each year on New Years Eve, Ecuadorians and people throughout Latin America burn monigotes in the street as a way of casting out the old and welcoming in the new. The word “monigote” literally translates to ragdoll, but a more accurate translation would be effigy. They’re also called Año Viejos, which translates to Old Year Things.

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes Chuckie

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes Alien

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes Ice Age

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes Faceless

The monigotes are made of paper-mâché or fabric and usually filled with straw or sawdust. Some are also filled with firecrackers so when they’re burned, they make quite the show and they’re very noisy.

It’s common in Ecuador to put a mask on the monigote that looks like a specific person. Some people even print pictures of politicians or members of opposing soccer teams and affix them to the monigotes. I’m guessing a few bosses and ex-boyfriends or girlfriends also make their way onto a monigote or two. Our friend from Venezuela says, “That’s playing with voodoo, which is playing with fire!”

Cuenca Ecuador Monigotes Masks

We’re looking forward to venturing out on Monday night (New Years Eve) to film the burning of the monigotes in El Centro. We’re not quite sure what to expect, but we’re guessing lots of people, fires and smoke. Stay tuned!

My family (JP’s) comes from Missouri, which is a southern state where Black Eyed Peas are considered good luck to eat on New Year’s Day. There are several theories/myths about this tradition dating back to The Civil War, and even though we’re not superstitious, it can’t hurt to eat some delicious Vegan Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day!

Black Eyed Peas New Year Tradition

See More: New Years Eve in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 48)

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Parade: Pase del Niño (Episode 45)

Christmas in Cuenca Ecuador is bustling with activities and parades like this one. Pase del Niño (literally translated means Passing of the Child) is the Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Parade that attracts people from all over Ecuador and beyond. Over 120,000 people were expected to attend this years parade, which kicks off 3 months of celebrations leading to Easter Sunday.

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Parade

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Parade

The parade started almost an hour late, and there was about 20 minutes between the first several bands and floats. In the US, people would either leave or they wouldn’t attend an event that starts so late with such a slow pace. But here in Latin America, that’s business as usual so everyone was calm and well mannered.

Most people wandered around talking to other people before the parade started and during the lulls between attractions. Then once something arrived in the vicinity, everyone gathered along the very narrow route to watch, clap, take pictures and enjoy the music and colorful costumes.

See More: New Years Eve in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 48)

Our Plant-Based Christmas Dinner

We watched the parade for over an hour before heading home to cook our Christmas dinner of Vegan Shepard’s Pie. We’re very excited that this recipe of Amelia’s was recently shared on and in their holiday newsletter. Amelia is now a guest author on!

Vegan Shepards PieThe Vegan Shepard’s Pie uses our Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe, which is also featured on

As some of you may already know, we cook without oil in our kitchen and one of the keys to doing that is a trick we learned from Kristie Middleton, author of MeatLESS. Steam Frying is a way to sauté veggies using vegetable broth, wine or plain old water. Simply cover the pot or skillet while it’s cooking to trap in the moisture. No oil needed.

We got the Vegan Brown Gravy recipe from It makes a delicious gravy that’s perfect for mashed potatoes and our Vegan Shepard’s Pie recipe.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights + Delicious Indian Food at Namaste (Episode 44)

After our delicious and relaxing dinner at Namaste India, we went for a walk along the Tomebamba river to see the Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights. We ended our walk at Otorongo Plaza, which is the location of the giant Christmas Tree of Lights.

Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights on the Tomebamba

It’s hard to believe this is our second Christmas in Ecuador. The Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Lights over the Tomebamba River that runs through the center of Cuenca were the same last year, but the tree in Otorongo plaza was quite different. It was the same structure, but the lights were bright Christmas colors last year. This year, they were all white. It was very pretty both ways.

See More: Cuenca Ecuador Christmas Parade: Pase del Niño (Episode 45)

Namaste India Cuenca Ecuador

Namaste India is one of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca Ecuador. Cuenca now boasts at least 7 vegan or vegetarian restaurants and we frequent several of those, but Namaste has two full pages of vegan/vegetarian options in the very front of their menu. Plus, they cook without oil or coconut milk for me as I continue my battle with high cholesterol.

In addition to amazing Indian food, we love the atmosphere in the restaurant, the Bollywood videos on the TV and the staff! Chinnu and Abin are wonderful hosts and they make us feel like we’re part of the family. We look forward to our Sunday evening vegan dinners at Namaste every week.

One thing to note is paneer isn’t vegan. It’s some sort of tofu looking cheese. A few of their vegetable dishes have paneer so don’t order those if you want to eat vegan.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Cuenca Days 2018: Celebrating Cuenca’s Independence (Episode 22)

This weekend is bustling with activity here in Cuenca Ecuador as we celebrate Cuenca Days 2018. Cuenca achieved its independence from Spain on November 3rd, 1820 and they pull out all the stops to celebrate Independence Day with art fairs, food festivals, parades, concerts and fireworks.

Doce de Abril, the main road along the Tomebamba River, is lined with tents this time of year. People from all over Ecuador come to sell art, crafts, plants, clothes, masks, hats, jewelry and more.

Cuenca Days 2018 Arte Sign

Cuenca Days 2018 Monster

We often see people from Amazonian tribes selling their handcrafted merchandise and medicinal herbs at the Cuenca festivals. It’s fascinating to see their facial tattoos and long beautiful hair. Ecuadorians in general have amazing hair, but the Amazonian people take it to a whole new level.

Cuenca Days 2018 Native Woman


Thousands of people descend on our little Andean mountain city this time every year, while many of the native Cuencanos head to the coast to escape the chaos. The streets, parks and restaurants are packed with people, and everyone seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful scenery, and the interesting people during Cuenca Days 2018 here in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!