Monday, September 22, 2008

To Frame or not to Frame

As Shelley had put together about 1/4 of the pictures on her floor, wall, ceiling collage project and ended up not liking the way it was turning out, we headed downtown to get 54 pictures of Cuenca doors developed (total cost $12.23, time commitment 15 minutes). Brian, who had thought the doors would be better for the project in the first place, very wisely kept his tongue when she told him this was what she now wanted to do. She watched his face closely and he didn't even twitch. There was much whispering and hilarity at the store where we got the pictures developed. While we can't say for sure they were laughing at the crazy gringos, it does seem likely. "First pictures of floors and walls, now doors?!"

"Remember when you'd take in your roll of film in and it'd be 2 weeks before you'd get it back?" Shelley asked Brian.

Our reading supply was starting to dwindle so we made a special effort to go to cb Carolina Bookstore at Hermano Miguel 4-46 y Calle Larga where they have a stupendous collection of second hand books in English. If you trade in your books for credit, they'll give you $2 per book. The couple who runs the store have been in Cuenca for four years and are happy to chat about their experiences and listen to yours. The location they'd been in previously had had a fire and they still had several books with water damage that they were selling for $2 apiece. We bought 5.

Since we were in the neighbourhood we dropped into ExPat night once again and this time met a lady from Colorado, a man from San Francisco and a couple from South Carolina plus a few of the people we'd met before. We only stayed for one drink because the weather was absolutely awful (cold, raining with a thunder and lightning storm) and Shelley only had to put her icy little hands on Brian's cheek for him to get the idea we should head out. We'd been planning on attending a free concert downtown but vetoed the idea due to the conditions. The couple from Florida asked to be reassured several times that the weather in Cuenca wasn't always like this. Now that we're old hands at the Cuenca weather thing, we assured them "next month" it would be much better.

The next morning dawned bright, beautiful & warm and we ate our breakfast out on the balcony. (Who can tell?)

A large piece of cardboard covered with Cuenca doors in hand, we headed downtown to our nemesis framer willing to give him one more chance to redeem himself before we sought another. On the way, we stopped again at the Carolina Bookstore and displayed our project. The owners were appropriately impressed. "You could sell those!" During the course of our conversation we mentioned we were taking the project to a place where we'd been disappointed in the past. It was determined this was the framer they also used and they asked what the problem was.

"Oh, you know" Brian told them. "They tell you to pick it up on Saturday and when you go there it's not ready."

They smiled and gently scoffed at us. "That's normal!"

After visiting the framer and enduring the multiple interruptions and general confusion of getting across what we wanted, we decided to take another bus ride to its terminus. We hopped on the # 14 bus headed south east and immediately felt perhaps we'd made a mistake as the bus was packed, standing room only. "Oh look! A chicken" Shelley pointed out to Brian. Carefully wrapped in a bag with only it's head out, the chicken seemed quite content and not at all bothered by the general hub bub. Brian gave Shelley his wallet to put in her travel purse (designed to be very hard to pick pocket - we've learned our lesson) and we squeezed in with the populace and slowly were pushed to the middle of the bus until we got a seat. We were on the bus a total of 2 hours and ended up at a barrio (neighbourhood) called El Valle. Very country, with a narrow dirt road that the bus driver's conductor had to jump out and wave him over humps from time to time, we enjoyed the scenery which included all manner of beasts (horses, cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, a ram, dogs). At one point we had to pay an extra nickel (a surcharge for going past a certain point?) and at the turn-around we had to pay the fare over again ($0.25). For a total of $1.10 for both of us, it was, as Brian told the bus driver when we disembarked, "a bueno diversion".

We're now out of excuses and have decided that we have to get serious about learning Spanish. Brian seems to have a much greater grasp and ability to pick up the language than Shelley does, but Brian has a much greater grasp of French than Shelley also. Every Canadian school child takes French for at least 4 or 5 years. Fifty years later, Brian can still rattle off a sentence or two in French, whereas Shelley is lucky to be able to count up to 10. We're studying Spanish an hour a day, every day for the next little while. Thirty to forty minutes into the hour, we're both exhausted and checking the time. Hopefully it'll get easier. In our first lesson we've mastered (well Brian has) the present tense of the verb "to be" (ser).

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