Saturday, June 6, 2009

This and That

Some friends of ours invited us over for dinner and served us Ecuadorian lamb & German cheese cake. What a wonderful planet we live on! We played UpWords; a game much like Scrabble except you can build words up as well as horizontally & vertically. Shelley tried to spell hockey without the "e" making a spectacular score 3 ways, but she was stopped in her tracks. Upon explaining it was the kind of hockey played on grass, she was merely stared at. We got into a true competition but the house champion won (as should be). We talked about shopping in Ecuador & world travel; they'll be off on a trip to China soon and we're hoping to go to the Galapagos this fall. Fredi (as usual) was a little darling. The meal was excellent; served with sliced potatoes & asparagus. We left feeling stuffed & content.

As a treat for Fredi, now that she was completely back on her feet, we took her to her most favourite place in Cuenca; Parque Paraiso. It's a large park where (despite the lone "dogs on leash" sign off in one corner) she can run free & really enjoy herself. We walked along the river and saw the usual couples smooching off in the shade near some bushes. We clambered through the bridge system over the swamp and took some pictures of the lush forest. We crossed over to the lagoon and were fascinated by the geese & ducks who were equally fascinated by us until they realized we had no food for them. We tramped across the field and made friends with a group of pre-schoolers eating their lunch on the lawn. Fredi was particularly interested in the lunch part and we had to apologize for her, but they all asked her name and repeated "Fredi" back to us with some enthusiasm. Two sets of chicken bones were discovered in the park and her training to come at "Aqui!" broke down completely until the bones were crushed and swallowed. After roaring around he park, manically running to and fro & after inspecting just about every tree and large rock, we rode the bus home. Fredi fell asleep in her carry bag. We'd say the treat day was a success!

We're not sure if it's because of Catholic reasons (confirmation etc.) or it's a Spanish cultural thing, but all around Cuenca & other larger cities are shops filled with what Shelley calls Cinderella dresses for young girls. They're made out of the fanciest cloths with ribbons & sequins & lace & silks adorning and draping and flouncing. Often you'll see a young girl between 6 and 12 escorted down the street by her proud family wearing one of these Cinderella dresses. These are not to be mixed up with the wonderful costumes the young girls wear during the Christmas parades. Those are traditional Spanish costumes and not the same as these Cinderella dresses. Having had 2 daughters, Shelley images how thrilled they would have been at a certain age to be dressed in such a display. As the women get older, the shops change their focus and provide night club suitable dresses in great abundance. Last year at Christmas Shelley was looking for the ubiquitous little black dress but everywhere she looked provided sequined, low necked, spaghetti strapped dresses suitable only for someone who weighs under 110 pounds. There are also the shops that provide the traditional dress for the indigenous ladies. These tend to specialize in whatever dress is traditional for each region. None of which, of course, ended up providing Shelley with that little black dress...oh well!

One of the nicest things about being retired is that you have the time to do little things for yourself that you'd never dream of doing when you were in the thick of raising kids & working. We go off once a month or so to a special store that sells only coffee. They grind the beans in front of you and coming home on the bus you can just about see the people around you sniffing & appreciating the wonderful coffee aroma. The other day, we trotted off to the only store in Cuenca that seems to sell the granola cereal we like the best. It's a small thing but in the frenzy of work and kids, you'd never take the time; you'd buy any old granola at the grocery store where you did your big shop. While we were there we picked up 6 bags of granola, so we've got crunching ahead of us for quite some time now ($1.25 each). We also bought a pair of suspenders ($3) for Brian's pants. When we left the market, Brian asked Shelley how much she thought suspenders would cost in Canada. "Twenty bucks?" Shelley conjectured.

The next day Shelley wanted to have a "no spending money" day. "It's good for us!" So we planned a round-about walk to the Feria Libre market to look at the puppies & duckies. It was also the test run for Brian's new suspenders. They worked great! We ran across a laundromat that assured us they had huge washers off site that could take care of our queen size thick bed spread. There's no way it can go in our regular washing machine and Shelley's been half thinking of washing it in the bathtub and drying on the table on our balcony. "It's either that or take it down to the river" she told Brian. After we left the laundromat, Shelley thought out loud to Brian that the "huge machines" off site they were talking about were probably the river anyway.

In Vancouver Canada, the news is that the weather is really hot. It's funny hearing about the hot spell in Vancouver when it's winter here in Cuenca. Shelley was telling her daughter the other day that she actually had to wear a light coat when she went for a walk. Her daughter was not the least bit impressed by the so-called wicked weather. Speaking as someone who had just emerged from a Vancouver winter, her daughter chided "Oh Mom! Have you worn socks yet?"

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