Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feast or Famine

We went downtown because it was Corpus Christi and we supposed there would be something going on because of it. We arrived just in time to miss a procession of uniformed school children but everywhere we went there were vendors selling sweets & pastries. Shelley got a dozen of her favourite chocolate covered coconut balls & we bought some strange candy (shaped like lizards & puffins) to send to the kids back in Canada. There are supposed to be fantastic fireworks tonight and we'll see if we can see any from our front room window. It's almost always fireworks season in Ecuador as they pop them off for weddings & christenings, etc.

We've been casually dropping into shoe stores since we arrived last July to see if we could get a pair of shoes large enough for Brian. We'd just about given up and had essentially decided we'd have to buy him 4 or 5 pairs every time we made it back to Canada, but then we noticed the shoes on the rather large feet of a friend of ours and asked him where he got them. "At the Payless downtown" he answered without any idea as to how excited it might make us. While we were downtown seeing the candy of Corpus Christi we dropped into the Payless and lo & behold they had several pairs in Brian's size and many of them were on sale. We got him a pair of what Brian calls "boat shoes" for $35! All in all, our venture downtown was quite the success.

The night of Corpus Christi it rained so much that the water rose in the river over 3 1/2 feet as evidenced by the grass laying down along the bank the next morning. As a consequence the fabulous fireworks we half thought we might see from our front room window was not to be. We did however, get some fabulous lightning!

On our walkabout the next day we ran into the lady who apparently owns the building the Austro Restaurant is in (a favourite of many ExPats because it carries English language newspapers). She too has ShihTzu's, one of which has had back problems for the last 4 years. She was fascinated by Fredi's carry pack and was over joyed when we told her we got it in Cuenca. She was rushing off as soon as she left us to go to the Pet/Vet store where we bought it. They've been carrying their poor dog for several years now and the pack would be just the thing for it. She chastised us gently for cutting Fredi's hair, telling us ShihTzu are supposed to have long flowing hair. Her English was excellent despite having lived her whole life in Ecuador and she told us it was easy for her, perhaps because her Mother was German.

We'd wandered down Doce De Abril thinking there might be something set up because of Corpus Christi, but there wasn't. We did see a group of 8 young adults dancing in a troop to the beat of 3 drummers in the Parque de la Madre and that was rather neat. We climbed up the stairs (resting half way up) and dropped into the CB Carolina Bookstore. When we told her our tale of seeking Corpus Christi events Carol told us the story about all the candy & sweets: There was a time when the landed gentry Spanish would not let the indigenous people attend services at the old cathedral downtown. They were there of course, the indigenous people, as drivers & grooms of the gentry's horses waiting outside the cathedral. As it was custom that people did not eat before attending Mass, the drivers & grooms & their wives & families started to set up booths to tempt the gentry with sweets & pastries after Mass was over. Over the years, it became associated with Corpus Christi and thus all the candy stalls downtown. Corpus Christi itself is apparently a Catholic overlay on the solstice.

Sunday, June 14th, was another election day in Ecuador. This makes for the 3rd election they've had for various reasons since we've been in the country. They close down all liquor distribution for 72 hours prior to an election and on election day there are always lots of people in the streets. We wandered downtown and listened to the gazebo band for awhile and then went to the public market and bought strawberries & plums for our breakfasts. They don't grow plums in Ecuador (needs seasons) so they're quite expensive here but they're still cheaper at the public market than at SuperMaxi. On the way home from our walk, Brian commented what an absolutely glorious day it was. There was a gentle breeze, the sun was shining but it wasn't too hot, the sky was clear and everybody you passed seemed to have a holiday air about them.

After weeks or perhaps months of chasing Fredi around, groping into her throat and removing wads of Kleenex with a sharp "No, no, no!", three sets of judicious slaps on her rump (much more noise than pain) have now cured her of her obsession. We didn't hurt her, she forgave us the violence instantly but at least now we don't have to worry about her swallowing kleenex and gumming up her works. She now passes wads of Kleenex on the sidewalk with only a longing look. We're sorry we had to resort to spanking her but are happy we don't have to have long discussions about her bowel movements and the consumption of Kleenex anymore. We're now in the process of trying to teach the command, "Lie Down!" We're to the point where she tips over quite easily if we push her but still haven't reached the point where she lies down on her own. She's does get quite nervous, sitting and shuffling her front feet looking in every direction except us, knowing she's supposed to do something but is either unwilling or unable to process the command as yet. We are very happy with her response to the command "Aqui!" and as long as she suspects we have treats in our pocket she comes instantly.

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