Thursday, September 10, 2009

Of Food, And of Food, And of Food

A friend phoned in the morning asking us to do a computer/printer favour for him. We were happy to oblige and chatted with him for 20 minutes when he came over to pick up his paper. Brian was busy putting together his chicken cacciatore recipe as we'd invited 2 couples over for dinner that evening. It bubbles away in our slow cooker all day and ends up being a savory meal without much last minute preparation. Unfortunately, due to family problems, one of the couples gave us a call and had to beg off coming. We were sorry to hear about their problems but grateful they gave us several hours notice. We've been having some problems this way. We assured them we'd get together in the near future when things had settled down for them and wished them well with their difficulties.

Cacciatore bubbling away, we took Fredi for a walk in our neighbourhood and did some fruitless searching for the gum we like. We've been chewing Trident XtraCare green gum for the last year in substitution for the Nicorette gum we chewed when we first quite smoking. Unfortunately, we seem to have chewed our way through the entire stock in Cuenca. They stopped carrying it at the SuperMaxi where we shop and we've visited multiple stores trying to stock up on it but to no avail. We've considered the fact that being addicted to a certain kind of gum is probably oh.... somewhat silly however, the thought of quitting the gum or switching to another brand has us in a bit of a tizzy. Shelley's been trying other gums and leaving the last of the Trident green for Brian but the situation is getting critical. Sin duda (without doubt) we'll live through this crisis too but you have to allow us our moment of angst.

That evening we had a lovely visit with a couple fairly new to Ecuador. They are just moving into their first apartment and are in the buying furniture & appliances stage. We shared stories about deliveries gone amiss & apartment hunting in Cuenca. Brian's cacciatore was a hit and Shelley's microwave cheese cake astounded all. Fredi was particularly happy because our visitors have a special fondness for shih tzus and she was admired and petted all evening.

The next day we were going to a friend's place for "Texas Burgers" in the evening so once again we only ventured for a walk in our neighbourhood. Shelley persuaded Brian (kicking, screaming & whining) to walk up the long hill to the Av. de las Americas and then down the street and eventually back to our neighbourhood where we stopped at a flower place to pick up 2 bunches of carnations for our evening visit. Shelley had had a dream as child to always have flowers in her home one day and succeeded when she had a garden of her own years ago. Coming to Ecuador where cut flowers are so very cheap, she thought once again her childhood dream would come to fruition. However, she hadn't counted on her "later years laziness". We had cut flowers in our home for about 4 months when we first came here but the practice petered out as Shelley got tired of the constant maintenance it required. C'est la vive! (Do they have a similar expression in Spanish?)

That evening the Texas burgers were wonderful! We did however, get into some U.S. philosophy vs Canadian philosophy. We've encountered so many more U.S. Americans down here than we have in our entire lives, sometimes it's like we've not only placed ourselves into an Ecuadorian environment but also a U.S. American one. The U.S. Americans we have met here have all been wonderful people (!) warm, giving and friendly. The Canadian reserve we've lived with all our lives is not a general part of their psyche. This is not a bad thing but it is different. We talked about our attitudes towards the petty thievery in Ecuador and perhaps, as Canadians, we are naive but we continue to be a product of where we were born and raised no matter where else in the world we travel. From time to time differences arise and for that we actually should be grateful. It would be a sad sad world if we were all the same. Fredi, the only true Ecuadorian in the bunch, had a ball and even managed to get a cheese product and the evening truly was a delight.

Brian & Fredi discussed it, and decided they both could forgo their afternoon nap, so we took a day trip on the buses to Paute to ostensibly eat at the Corvel Restaurant. We hopped on the #7 bus on Doce de Abril and it took us to the Terminal Terrestre where we met up with 3 other couples at the Pio Pio. After a quick coffee and catch-up we all trooped through the ten cent turnstile to the bus stalls. Our Paute bus was already sitting there so we hopped on and got a group of seats at the back of the bus pretty much together. Ten minutes later we left. (Note: The trip costs $0.75 one way.) Paute is in the same general direction as Gualaceo except just before you get to Gualaceo you cross a bridge and drive another few miles to Paute. We believe that they are both on the Rio Bolo. Along the way are the typical Ecuadorian hills, farmers in fields & cows grazing but also farm after farm growing flowers in greenhouses and outside. Apparently they also grow a lot of tomatoes. As Paute is lower in elevation from Cuenca, the temperature gradually rose and there was probably 3 or 4 degrees difference & the vegetation became more sub-tropical.

Upon arrival we wandered the streets until we got to the Corvel Restaurant. The Restaurant was fairly crowded but there was still room for our party of 8 on the outside balcony. We had decided to go to this restaurant because of it's reputation and it easily matched our expectations. It was a wonderful meal that can honestly be described as a dining experience. Our total bill for the meal, a drink and dessert came to $20 per couple, which allowed for a generous tip. After the restaurant, we ventured to the main square and had a closer look at the town's church. Our guess was that the church was probably built around the 1950's or so. We went inside and discovered a couple of young fellows (that we later learned were 15 & 13) who were being taught how to ring the church bells. We got into quite an extended conversation with them along with their instructor. They seemed very pleased that we were taking the time to speak with them in our stumbling Spanish and indicated that while "gringos" often come to town to go to the restaurant, they don't seem to talk with the locals that much. All in all it was a wonderful day!

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