Thursday, January 1, 2009

Should Old Acquaintance

A leisurely Sunday morning took us to the main square downtown to watch the 11:00 a.m. entertainment. Again (like 2 weeks ago) it was a no show. Instead there was the beginnings of yet another Children's Parade (origins see: http://gosouthamerica.about.com/od/christmas/a/QuitoQuenca.htm ). We wandered around admiring the costumes and taking pictures. Later we tried to go to the CB Carolina Bookstore but it was closed, so ended up in the Millennium Mall where the boys had fast food for lunch.

It was the first time we'd ridden on the bus since the Boxing Day change-over to the "automated" system. They obviously have to spend some time getting the kinks out as the conductor was forced to jury rig the system over and over again. The following blog gives information in detail: http://ajstephens.blogspot.com/2008/12/cuenca-modernizes-bus-system.html We personally miss the vendors on the bus and hope the new system doesn't perfect itself into a sterile experience but doubt that will happen. One major flaw is that you can't go out the front door now and have to give yourself plenty of time to bull your way to the back door if the bus is full.

A couple of days later we went to the Bank to get 2 rolls of quarters for the bus, as they began to insist you had to have exact change (not 2 dimes & a nickel either). The Bank teller sighed at our request. (Perhaps she'd been getting lots of them?) In any case, we were somewhat surprised when our quarters were delivered to us, not in rolls, but in a sturdy plastic bag. "Does that look like $20 worth of quarters to you?" Brian asked Shelley.

Monday (break over) took us back to the dentist to have Brian's teeth checked for further infection. The dentist pronounced him in good shape and next week he'll go for his surgery. (He's trying not to think about that right now.) After the appointment we arrived at the SuperMaxi 15 minutes before it was open at 9:30 a.m. We were somewhat shocked to see several Ecuadorians also waiting for the opening of the Mall (we have been led to believe that Ecuadorians were always late (?!) but have now had proof of the fallacy of this thought).

After grocery shopping we again took Jan to the CB Carolina Bookstore where we traded in several books for new ones and gossiped with the other patrons. Then we ventured up the street to the "new books" bookstore looking for a tourist guide to Peru for Jan (no luck). A quick bite to eat and another stop at an Artisans Mall where Jan bought a llama Vega mug finished our outings for the day.

Everywhere we went there were effigies on sale for the New Year's celebration. We were told they were burned to put an end to the old year and start the new year fresh. http://www.cuencahighlife.com/post/2008/12/30/Ecuadorian-tradition-the-New-Years-Eve-burning-of-the-dummy-clears-the-slate-for-2009.aspx can provide more information.

The workmen were supposed to come back and repair the 2 foot hole in our kitchen ceiling, so we left Jan at home and ventured forth to pay our monthly bills. Effigies & fireworks were on sale everywhere. New Year's should prove to be somewhat exciting! Upon arrival home Jan reported that a workman came with spackle and a trowel but took one look at the 2 foot hole and retreated not to be heard of again. We'll have to live in suspense until the next action takes place.

Later Brian took Jan to Sankt Florian on Calle Larga for the daily lunch special ("Marvelous, nicely prepared & good service, all for $2.90 each!") and afterwards they ventured to Jacis travel to take care of the last details regarding Jan's trip to Peru. Shelley stayed at home puttering; she had a bath, computered for awhile, read a book & did some general clean up. Except for the 2 foot hole problem, it was a rather satisfying day for all concerned.

Bright and early the boys went to Feria Libre to pick up fresh shrimp and looked fruitlessly for fresh trout. Later on we all went back and the boys had a vendor lunch and we wandered the market looking for unusual cacti/succulents or a skirt for Shelley (success with one, no success with the other). We tried to buy fire works for New Years Eve but Brian confused the vendor so much with his "grande boom" talk that we ended up not getting anything. They were bringing us fireworks that were eight inches across & 6 inches high. You can be sure they'd produce the "big boom" he asked for.

A couple of our friends were planning on burning an effigy downtown and we talked about going out to watch the festivities, but when it came right down to it we all agreed we'd rather view whatever was happening from our front room window. We spent the night in & watched fireworks bloom up in the hills from time to time. The boys quick fried their shrimp & had a shrimp and caesar salad & a then bowl full of spicy shrimp & then we all had a drink (or two) to toast in the new year...but we were fast asleep long before midnight arrived. At about 11:50 the fireworks began in earnest and we took turns peeking through the curtains in our bare feet watching. An effigy was burned on our corner and smoke was about knee high from the burning & fireworks everywhere you looked.

***
Well...it's been quite a year for us! Brian retired at the end of January and we were off to Ecuador February 1st. We quit smoking February 1st as well. Two months touring Ecuador was enough to convince us this was where we wanted to retire. Back to rain in Vancouver in March, we did some major maintenance on Dowager and put her on the market. Several looky-loos later we found a firm buyer and scrambled to get our paperwork ready for Ecuador before we had to be off the boat. Back in Cuenca we kept our fingers crossed all would go well with our permanent Visa. Meanwhile we rented an apartment and bought & bought & bought to furnish our new life. Happiness is getting your passport stamped with that indefinite visa which allows you to remain in the country permanently! In our determination to make Cuenca feel like home, we explored every nook and cranny on foot. We now feel it is truly our City.

While we miss the coziness of the boat and of course the children, there are no regrets regarding our move. We've made some wonderful new friends, found a lovely place to live and are comfortable and happy in our new life. All the best in the New Year!

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