Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sketches of Cuenca #2 - Glen Birbeck - Craig and Lucy of the Wind Horse Cafe

Lucy is from Ohio, Craig from Minnesota. They married in 1974 and after graduating from college bought land in Wisconsin and started farming. They tried different crops but after a while turned their simple homestead into a dairy farm. That activity lasted twenty three years. At that point they sold the older part of the herd and moved to Nicaragua.

In Nicaragua they worked on a co-op dairy farm for a year. Lucy found she loved Spanish and after returning to the States she studied to be a teacher of Spanish. Having regular jobs plus the cows to take care of proved to be too much. A stint in the Peace Corps in Ecuador followed.

Eventually they found themselves in Cuenca with a building at the corner of Hermano Miguel and Calle Larga. They turned this into the Wind Horse Cafe. As followers of the Shambala tradition of Buddhism, Craig and Lucy offer space for meditation upstairs and a welcome to all. Providing a place for travelers to pause and refresh is an ancient Buddhist tradition.

The Wind Horse opens its doors five days a week to a variety of travelers. Expats from North America, European back packers, Cuencanos, all find a welcome and food that is reassuring in its familiarity or slightly exotic. Each visitor has a unique story and reason for being in Cuenca. Operating a restaurant is a lot
of effort anywhere. The paperwork, taxes and local requirements are a challenge, but Craig says they deal with it. Craig believes the work is made easier by the sense of community.

The couple return to the states annually on average .  "We're not getting rich", Craig says, "but we are making a living". In their off time they travel in Azuay province or relax in their beautiful house in the country at the edge of town. They've had the cafe for about 18 months and figure to hold this tack five years before altering
course again.

Their random acts of kindness, hard work and sincere hospitality will make them conspicuous where ever they land in the future.

-Glen Birbeck

About Glen Birbeck: 

Glen Birbeck found his southern home in Cuenca three years ago. Since then he has developed his Spanish and been  active in the Cuenca Writers Group.  Painting and drawing are pastimes.  He also enjoys building electronic gadgets and (kinetic) art.