Having made plans to meet a couple new to Ecuador for dinner at Shelley's favourite restaurant, Sankt Florian, we decided to simply go for a walk during the day to get our exercise & get out of the apartment. We climbed the hill up to Avenida de las Americas and walked down the street for blocks and blocks until we we got tired. At that point we headed downhill and eventually found a children's park, full of climbing equipment & swings, and sat in the park on a shaded bench for 20 minutes or so and got our energy back together. It was nice watching the young Mothers and their children, the small family group and their 3 dogs and the kids playing a scrimmage soccer game on the asphalt next to the park. We rested and watching the goings on and tried to explain to Fredi why she was leashed and the other dogs weren't. Fredi didn't buy our explanation.
That evening we met our new friends from the United States. We talked about why we ended up in Ecuador, places to buy furniture in Cuenca and Shih Tzu's. Shelley broke up the evening at 8:15 PM explaining that it was Wednesday and that we were deep into watching the last season of ER. The other couple laughed with us and understood. All in all, it was a very pleasant couple of hours.
There are several garden centres within walking distance of our apartment and even though we don't always buy, Shelley likes to check them out from time to time just to see what they have. We seriously considered getting a 3 foot Norfolk Pine but Brian asked the man at the garden centre if we could grow it indoors and man was adamant that we couldn't.
"How do you think we grow them in Canada?" Shelley asked Brian a little disgusted with him for putting her off.
We stopped and had a Nescafe cappuccino, which all things considered wasn't that bad, and watched the comings and goings on the sidewalk. A mother & her young son tried to sell us a puppy and a young man tried to sell us either sun glasses or a USB stick. Neither of them were pushy and the puppy was sure cute. On the way home we stopped at the specialty store near the Fybeca on Remigio Crespo and picked up some cardamon. We've bought pecans, cocoa & various sauces there and thought they might have cardamon and they did! Brian brought Shelley back some Chai tea from Canada but it won't last forever and she's now got a recipe from the net and is going to try and make her own. Cardamon was the last ingredient she was looking for.
OK ~ about once a month we do it ~ we go to Fredi's favourite place in the whole world, which is Parque Paraiso, and watch her run around, completely free (or almost), a huge doggy smile on her face and bemused happy smiles on our own. You take the No. 14 bus and ask the bus driver to tell you when you get to Parque Paraiso. It's a wonderful place! There's a pond & bridges over marsh & ducks & swans & the river & quiet lovers in the corners & Moms & kids & other dogs & huge expanses of grass & rocks piled on each other to climb on & a place to get a hot dog if you're hungry & joggers & teenagers & ...
There are, granted, several signs throughout the park telling you NOT to have to have your dog leashless, however, security guards turn a blind eye and most people are just as happy as we are to see Fredi so outrageously pleased with life. We keep her in check & call her back when she tears after a jogger and because we bring liver treats with us, she is always quick to obey. (Very impressive!) On the way home she looks eagerly out the bus window until she realizes the fun it over and then she always sleeps; totally exhausted. How can one small thing expend so much energy?
We rarely go there because that's where we had our camera lifted from us, but we went to the new market at the 9 de Octubre. They wouldn't let us in with Fredi in her pack, so Brian ended up sitting outside enjoying the weather while Shelley went in and picked up a few things. When we got home it turned out that the papaya we bought (which had been specifically picked out by the lady at the market) was too ripe and we ended up throwing most of it away. We can't seem to have a good experience when we go to this market although now it's quite lovely in it's new home.
Our friend Jan from Holland is working in China right now and Brian was relieved we were able to get him on Skype because of all the hurricanes happening there. Jan advised he flew into the Country with no other bumps except he couldn't get the exit row or bulkhead seat that he usually gets because he's so tall. He was quite disgruntled because when he walked by the exit row seat it was taken by a "four foot tall Chinese lady and a 3 year old!" Apparently he was going to take the Maglev from the Shanghai airport to downtown. Being an engineer involved with High Speed Rail projects, he was quite excited about the ride even though it's quite short; 32 km in 8 minutes; 430 km/hr (268 mph) top speed.
For our Sunday treat at the main square downtown, they were having some sort of bicentennial celebration. There was a man demonstrating a pottery wheel & another man doing some hand weaving; there were stalls selling roast pig & roast chicken & other stalls selling books and English/Spanish dictionaries; the Police band was on site entertaining us & there were several Shamans batting people on the head with a bunch of mixed herbs & spitting water on them. (Brian says the British Columbia Indians do the same thing: "It's to purify", he told Shelley.) We wandered around and enjoyed the experience and once again Brian reiterated to Shelley how much he enjoyed Ecuador: "There's always something new for us to see!"
Later on we went to the People's Market and picked up 16 bananas & 12 apples for $3. Once again we told several ladies Fredi's name & reassured them she was a Cuencana. Once again we wandered down the hill and across the river and picked up the No. 7 bus (which drops us basically at our door) and scampered out the back door of the bus when we got to our stop, always a little fearful the driver would start up again before we were fully out. Once again, despite our repetitious routine, we enjoyed our Sunday immensely.