Saturday, October 4, 2008

Internet Blues

OK, so we've established that in Spanish there are two "to be.s", one for things temporary and one for things permanent. Just to add to the confusion we have now learned that they often use "to have" where an English speaking person would use "to be". In Spanish you have age. We're still struggling to keep ourselves going for an hour a day; giving ourselves usually, only one day off per week. Towards the end of our hour, we're both light headed and heavy shouldered. Having battled our minds around concepts foreign, a physical manifestation shows itself out of the befuddlement in our minds. This learning a new language is hard work!

Perhaps because there's no Halloween or Thanksgiving to take up the slack, there are already Christmas decorations for sale in the larger pharmacies and a billboard on one of the highways. We've been told they import fir trees and sell them in lots just like in Canada but we toured a Christmas store the other day where they were selling artificial trees from $20 for the tiniest to $500 for the biggest. We've also been told because it's a Catholic country there are numerous events during Christmas. We tried to explain that there were numerous events in Canada too but weren't quite believed. The Christmas decorations include snowmen & Santa Claus in heavy suits & penguins & angels pretty much the same as you'd see in Canada as well. In a country with almost no snow or cold weather it seems odd, but it's likely Coca Cola and universal advertising has paved the way.

Serendipity stuck us again on one of our wanders, when we walked past Laura's on La Condamine 12-112. Jan, who was originally from Holland but worked all over the world as a ship's carpenter, showed us through their home/showroom displaying "arte, decoracion, curiosidades y antiguedades Europeas". It's a wonderful museum of a place with paintings & rugs & weavings & antiques & pictures & plants & curiosities & birds (budgies & pigeons & a canary who responded well when asked to sing in English). Jan met Laura 30 some odd years ago when she came to Holland from Cuenca to visit her brother who had married Jan's sister. Jan and Laura eventually married and have lived together in Ecuador for 25 years in Laura's family home. The house has been in her family for over 120 years. One by one, they have purchased her sibling's shares in the home and now own it outright. It's an absolutely wonderful, traditional Ecuadorian dwelling with vintage ceramic tile floors, lots of woodwork, a glassed ceiling and a lifetime of collectibles. Warm, cozy, inviting and well lived in; Jan will insist you sign his guest book if you visit.

After 3 successive days of telephoning with no response, the representative from Gupto TV Cable showed up at our door before 10:00 in the morning. After promising for 6 weeks that we would have cable by the end of September, they regretted to inform us that now it would be 2 more months. Brian had to ask "Quando?" about 6 times before we got a straight answer. In any case, they refunded our deposit and we spent the day looking for internet. Porta, which has a setup that utilizes cell frequencies, would not accept our credit card. You have to have a credit card issued in Ecuador or a bank account here. As we've been told by several people that they had managed to set up a bank account without their residency card, next we looked into that again. Bank of Guayaquil will not set up a bank account without a residency card, however, for a minimum deposit of $200 Bank of Pinchincha will set up a savings account and they have assured us we can do automatic debit.

We also looked at internet from Alegro (who also insist on a bank account) but they did not recommend their service as they felt it would be too slow for our purposes, e.g. you cannot use Skype. So, we're going to set up a bank account on Monday and look into yet another internet provider which uses the telephone lines. The folks from the Carolina book store told us this was the service they used and it's worth a try. They also regaled us with several Ecuador stories where days, weeks & months have gone by without satisfactory action. It was heartening to know it wasn't just us.

While wandering the streets, dragging our feet, being somewhat depressed about our internet situation, from behind us a voice asked "Are you Brian & Shelley?" It turns out the fellow recognized us from our picture on the blog, which he has been reading regularly for the last several months. He's been living in Thailand for several years but "it's just too hot and humid" he advised us. So, he's here in Cuenca to try it out for 6 months or so and see how it goes. We have been surprised at the number of people who have been following our activities on the blog, and to get stopped in the middle of the street by a stranger was really weird! Still, it's nice to know that people are getting information that they need and it's a wonderful venting medium when internet companies are pulling your chain.

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