Our House in the Clouds: Building a Second Life in the Andes of Ecuador by Judy Blankenship

Our House in the Clouds: Building a Second Life in the Andes of Ecuador

byJudy Blankenship

Paperback | March 15, 2013

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While many baby boomers are downsizing to a simpler retirement lifestyle, photographer and writer Judy Blankenship and her husband Michael Jenkins took a more challenging leap in deciding to build a house on the side of a mountain in southern Ecuador. They now live half the year in Cañar, an indigenous community they came to know in the early nineties when Blankenship taught photography there. They are the only extranjeros (outsiders) in this homely, chilly town at 10,100 feet, where every afternoon a spectacular mass of clouds rolls up from the river valley below and envelopes the town.

In this absorbing memoir, Blankenship tells the interwoven stories of building their house in the clouds and strengthening their ties to the community. Although she and Michael had spent considerable time in Cañar before deciding to move there, they still had much to learn about local customs as they navigated the process of building a house with traditional materials using a local architect and craftspeople. Likewise, fulfilling their obligations as neighbors in a community based on reciprocity presented its own challenges and rewards. Blankenship writes vividly of the rituals of births, baptisms, marriages, festival days, and deaths that counterpoint her and Michael’s solitary pursuits of reading, writing, listening to opera, playing chess, and cooking. Their story will appeal to anyone contemplating a second life, as well as those seeking a deeper understanding of daily life in the developing world.

About The Author

Judy Blankenship is an award-winning photographer, writer, and editor. She is the author of Cañar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador, and her photographic exhibition, The Cañari of Southern Ecuador, traveled to museums, universities, and cultural venues across the United States, Canada, and Ecuador. With Cañari colleagues, Blankenshi...
Cañar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador
Cañar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador

by Judy Blankenship

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Details & Specs

Title:Our House in the Clouds: Building a Second Life in the Andes of EcuadorFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 10.22 × 6.01 × 0.55 inPublished:March 15, 2013Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292745273

ISBN - 13:9780292745278

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

  • "where we are" by Gerald Locklin
  • Introduction
  • Part 1
    • 1. Planting a Tree for Plinio
    • 2. On Becoming Property Owners in Ecuador
    • 3. How Much Will All This Cost?
    • 4. Construction Begins, Poco a Poco
    • 5. "You're Going to Live Here?"
    • 6. The Lives of the Workers
    • 7. Carnival: Sins and Repentance, Abundance and Reciprocity
    • 8. Sticks and Stones, Mud and Horse Manure
    • 9. We Become Padrinos . . . Again
    • 10. Strike!
    • 11. Putting Out Fires
    • 12. Personae non Gratae in Ecuador:(or) Why We Went to Peru Last Week
    • 13. On Becoming Residents of a Foreign Country: (or) "Just Go Get Married Again!"
    • 14. Leaving Cañar
  • Part 2
    • 15. The Return
    • 16. On This Day a Year Ago
    • 17. Reality Sets In
    • 18. The Devil Is in the Details
    • 19. A Short History of This Place
    • 20. Moving Day
    • 21. The Wasipichana
    • 22. The Mysteries of the New House and a Mother's Visit
    • 23. Mama Michi, Curandera
    • 24. Coming Home to Cañar
    • 25. Neighbors and Fences
    • 26. La Uyanza: A Gift of Sustenance
    • 27. Life in Town
    • 28. Living in Two Worlds
    • 29. Epilogue: What on Earth Are We Doing Here?
  • Acknowledgments

Editorial Reviews

"This is a compelling memoir about creating a life in another culture. . . . Blankenship offers fascinating perspectives on the indigenous Andean world from her stance as a writer, a photographer, and, as the book progresses, an honorary local. . . . The book will definitely appeal to general audiences eager to learn about contemporary Ecuador, and it will draw readers curious about the day-to-day reality of creating a life in such a different environment. People who want to escape the confines of a single cultural viewpoint will also find inspiration here. We come away with a sense of the profound differences and inequalities in the world, but also of the many ways that friendships transcend our divides." - Joanne B. Mulcahy, author of Remedios: The Healing Life of Eva Castellanoz, and Birth and Rebirth on an Alaskan Island: The Life of an Alutiiq Healer