Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dryer & Internet Blues

Downtown once again, this time looking for a drill so that we could hang our pictures on our cement walls, pantomiming and using pigeon Spanish, our Sales Clerk got a light-bulb-going-off look on his face, riffled through a bunch of magazines and came up with a catalogue of hand guns. "No, no, no" we quickly said shaking our heads and hands. We finally got through to him and he directed us to a different store, first writing out "electric drill" in Spanish on a piece of paper for us. By the time we'd purchased our drill & a set of bits & screws & an extension cord we had a crowd of 6 or 8 people around us, all greatly amused by our predicament.

Our next undertaking was to try and get a huge photograph we had of Vancouver's False Creek Harbour mounted, and once again our language skills made a 5 minute project turn into half an hour. Finally, on Cordova Street we found the right place and after much pantomiming & pointing & extreme patience by the proprietor, we succeeded in getting across our desires.

Rushing back to the apartment for a 2:00 p.m. meeting with the fellow who sold us our dryer, we all stood around it and shook our heads at the hum it produced without any action. We were told a technician would come by and if it couldn't be fixed easily, a new dryer would be traded for the broken one within 3 days.

The next morning, instead of a technician coming by, the guy who sold us the dryer came and picked it up and took it away. Later on we got a phone call letting us know an actual Whirlpool technician would be by at eight in the morning to install a new dryer. This was apparently going to cost us an additional $8.

"It's only $8" Brian said "but it sticks in my craw".

The internet guy also came by and tried to explain the internet situation to us. His English was as good as our Spanish (but he had a lovely smile), so we finally ended up giving our young friend a telephone call and the long and short of it is we won't be getting internet until the end of September. They have to string the building (or something like that). Our other option was to go with a phone modem but it's not as high a speed, you must sign an 18 month contract and it costs more. We decided we'd wait until mid-October and if they hadn't finished stringing the lines by then, we'd bite the bullet and go with Option B.

There's an internet place about 4 blocks away from where we live, so it won't be too onerous to keep up with e-mail and download the blog once in awhile. However, Shelley misses keeping in touch with the kids on a daily basis through Facebook and for some reason we have a tendency to have hissy fits with each other when doing internet together at an internet place. (The pressure?) We've agreed to have Shelley go alone to check e-mails and download the blog. We do the blog together on our computer at home and then take it on a memory stick to the internet place.

Yet another trip to SuperMaxi and another $80 worth of groceries finally got us to a point where we have a bit of a stock of food in the apartment plus a variety of spices and condiments. We're getting the feeling we're close to the end of the settling-in part. It's unfortunate that the dryer & internet proved to be difficult.

Ecuador seems to be a country with built in energy conservation. Whether that's because it's a poor country and it's cheaper or that it's a growing economy and they're just starting out in conservation mode, we don't know. All the hallway lights in our building and all the buildings we looked at when looking for an apartment are on motion detectors. Their paper towels only come in something that's about half the size of the paper towels we're used to. Many, many homes, especially outside the city, have cisterns for collecting rainwater. Just about all the light bulbs you see are energy conservation bulbs, and the list goes on and on.

Brian had a bad moment today. He has been compiling pictures taken from our apartment window. There's an enormous variety of activity going on outside the window. So he has been in the habit of glancing out the window frequently for photo opportunities. He mentioned to Shelley, "Oh look, there's kids! There's 3 kids and 3 dogs playing on the island." A short time later he came to the window in response to a bit of commotion outside and saw the 3 kids all hugging each other; one of the 2 dogs had been run over and killed by a car right in front of our building. We did not take pictures. It was upsetting and Brian remarked to Shelley "What is our total count of dead animals on the roadside?" When we visited in the spring, we had counted several cows, 1 horse, a pig and handful of dogs dead at the side of the road when we were travelling. This was our first such experience since returning.

At 8 in the morning a dryer guy came by with a new dryer. He left it in the kitchen still in the box and told us that the technician would be by around 10 o'clock. At quarter to 11 we phoned our translator and asked him to see if he could find out what was happening and at noon the technician showed up. He unboxed the new dryer and immediately Brian noticed that there was a large scratch on the hood. The technician, of course, spoke no English but we managed to discern that if we had any troubles with this dryer we were to call Whirlpool direct (not the Vendor). Brian asked about the scratch and the gist of it was that that was something we had to take up with the Vendor. The technician charged us $10, not the $8 we'd previously been told!

Shelley reminded Brian about the American couple we'd met last time we were in our lawyer's waiting room. They had told us a long involved story to do with a dryer and the end of the story was that 6 months later they still didn't have one. Fortunately, they were living in the country and could hang dry their clothes.

"I think Ecuador's got a mad on for dryers" Shelley quipped to Brian.

Brian spent the afternoon looking up words and practicing Spanish. He intends to try and deal with this on his own. We'll see.

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