Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gringo is a Hurtful Phrase

We're wallowing in internet at home. We went for 12 1/2 years without internet on the boat, traipsing down to the public library to use their machines once a week. We only had internet on the boat for about 3 months before we moved to Ecuador and then we went without in Ecuador for 3 months again. Once you have had it though, it's worse than cigarettes - you're well and truly hooked. Shelley's downloaded dozens of pictures to our FaceBook account, Brian's glutted himself on boat sites, we've both talked to the kids on Skype and forwarded long emails to a few who had been promised one for some time. We'll get it under control soon and things'll take on a routine. (We hope.)

The social butterfly thing has been flapping it's wings again; Sunday brunch, Tuesday drinks and dinner, Wednesday supper with a friend, Friday we're planning on attending Expat night.

"How come it comes in bunches?" Shelley complained. "It's the wave thing all over again."

Readers may remember we went to a bank machine about a week ago and although the amount was deducted from our account, no money was forthcoming. Our Bank in Canada advised it would be 2 to 6 weeks before anything was resolved. So far, no resolution, however, an American friend of ours just advised the same thing happened to them. We are not comfortable with this event. We want the machines to work perfectly and not make us worry about sticking our cards into them.

We spent just about a whole day fiddling with the computer. (Brian's devastated because we missed our Spanish lesson - ya right.) We bought a D-Link router so we could have the computer in any room of the apartment but we couldn't get it to work. Wandering the streets, looking for a solution, we finally came across a very nice computer guy who spoke English and came to our apartment and forced the whole system to sit up and beg properly. Shelley clapped him on the back and told him he was a genius. He demurred but smiled sweetly. We were so happy, we bought a Xerox Phaser 3117 laser printer from him for $88 and an extra cartridge for basically another $88. We're supposed to be able to print 118 pajillion copies from each cartridge. Our saviour left before we hooked up the printer and of course, when we stuck in the printer's CD to configure the whole thing the CD was blank. The next day (we ran out of time) checking in with Google, we found out that many people with a Mac who have purchased the Phaser 3117 had similar problems. We downloaded a Samsung driver (which was recommended by one guru on the web) and after that things worked just fine.

Friday took us to ExPat night once again but first we had sushi with a friend at the Sakura Restaurant just down the stairs at Calle Larga y Hermano Miguel and then left down the walkway. In Vancouver we'd have a Bento Box for $10 and get salad, chicken teriyaki & rice, tempura, miso soup, 6 california rolls, tea and a chunk of broccoli; it was a little feast! We had tempura at Sakura's and it was good and our friend had an assortment of 6 sushi and they looked great (!) but each was about $8.

ExPat night was moved to Cafe Wunderbar, just down one flight of stairs (same corner), as the usual place was under renovations. It certainly was warmer and we were able to hear & therefore talk to more than one person but we were assured by the "regulars" that ExPat night would only be held there until the usual place was up and running again. Maybe the renovations will be cool?

A trip out to Mall del Rio was necessary as that's the only place we've seen a Hallmark store so far. Shelley wanted to get a couple of Christmas cards to send to family at the beginning of November. The # 7 bus runs right by our place and takes the long trip out to the Mall. We had difficulty refusing the daily special at Burger King but persevered and checked out the delicatessen near the food court where we'd be told you could buy spicy sausage. You can't. We looked at Christmas table cloths ranging in price from $3.50 to $35. As Brian & Shelley could not agreed on the appropriate price, we finally gave up and agreed to look in SuperStock another day. Previously when we'd gone to Mall de Rio it was during a weekday and was very dead, but on Saturday morning it was quite the busy place!

The most common negative words are: nadie (no one), nada (nothing), nunca (never), ni....ni (neither....nor), and ninguno (no; used as an adjective). Note that the placement of the negative word in the sentence can vary. The negative verb can precede the verb and be used alone or it can be used with no and follow the verb. Unlike English, many negative words can be used in the same sentence. Brian never says anything to anyone.
We continue to persevere in our Spanish lessons.

"We got a nasty comment on the blog" Shelley told Brian.
"Who's it from?" Brian asked.
"Well Brian" Shelley said, "If someone is writing a nasty comment, who usually does it?"
"It's anonymous right?" said Brian.
"Right", said Shelley.

To our readers: In the spirit of fairness here's what the anonymous writer had to say:

  • Wow! It's just incredible how little gringo understand about this country. It's called a matricula. You will live without wireless (although, yes, the D-Links work with Macs). And the constitutional vote was one of the most important political events here in recent years -- it's not exactly pro-American, either.
  • Get informed, learn Spanish (it's not that hard), and please, don't just hang out with other gringos.

If the anonymous writer had read any more of the blog, they'd realize we have been studying Spanish. If we in any way diminished the importance of the Constitutional vote, it was absolutely not intentional. We've had many discussions about the change in the political landscape here in Ecuador and are very supportive of the direction the country appears to be taking. We are grateful that we have been able to relocate in this lovely country where we can have a comfortable retirement and experience the diversity and challenge that a new culture offers. Vive la difference. As Canadians, we're next door neighbours to the Americans and it's not always an easy relationship. We don't view the new Constitution as anti-America as much as pro-Ecuador. We have managed to make a few Ecuadorian friends and have been touched many times by Ecuadorians and their warmth and patience with us (most of them). Our circle of Ecuadorian friends will expand in direct ratio as our language skills improve.

Anyone who has read our blog in its entirety will realize that we are not critical of Ecuador. We are merely adjusting to the changes. We recognize that it is we that need to adjust - not Ecuador. There have been times when we have had that "Deer in the Headlights Look" and have tried to communicate our experiences in a humorous manner. The fact is the over-riding emotion we feel in someone else's country is that of humility - not arrogance.

So...to "anonymous": We're sorry that we have inadvertently pushed one of your buttons. Send us an e-mail - maybe we can get together for coffee.

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