Shelley's been trying to get a picture of the Inca Warrior in the traffic circle behind the bank/museum since we've been here. We go past it on the bus quite often but it doesn't allow the time to take a snap. We decided we'd take a bus down to the traffic circle, get our picture and then walk back as far as we liked for our daily exercise. Perhaps we should have chosen another time of the day as the sun cast shadows on the statue but we did manage to get a couple of pictures. Walking home, we discovered yet another place where Fredi can have a free run without worry of her darting into traffic or bothering other people. Down along the fence line at the end of the museum park is quite a stretch right against the river. We'll remember that spot and take Fredi there from time to time (she does LOVE her free walks). On the way home we stopped in at the Millennium Mall and sat outside in the shade and had a cappuccino at the place right on the corner of the Mall. It is arguably one of the best cappuccino's in Cuenca but pricy ($1.50). We also stopped at the park near the Mall and got a picture of a Mother & her children statue.
That evening a friend of ours (who has recently moved into the neighbourhood) came by so that we could show him the bus route downtown. We were on our way to ExPat night at Zoe's. We were the first to arrive and settled ourselves in to a nice table waiting for more to come. Eventually the room filled up and got quite crowded. Once again it was difficult to hear people talking across the table because of all the background noise. Many of our friends had also decided to attend and the room rang with stories and laughter. Fredi did the rounds giving anyone who asked a lovely puppy lick and whole thing put a good feeling topper on our week. We came home fairly early and were quite content to watch TV and then hop into bed (again fairly early) for a bit of a read and a good sleep.
In our quest for the brand of gum we've been chewing for the last year but cannot find anymore, we hopped on a bus and went out to Coral. It was a mad house! There were Moms & Dads surrounded by hordes of children. The Dad's had 3 page lists in one hand and were herding kids with the other hand, while speaking rather hysterically with the Moms over the heads of the children. The Moms were pulling a sort of cart provided by the store full of jeans & notebooks & pencils and often as not in the other arm held a tiny baby. Shelley went in the store for about 10 minutes while Brian sat outside with Fredi. She exited the store rather disheveled and tried to tell Brian what it was like inside. Intrepidly, he ignored her words and entered the melee. Shelley & Fredi remained outside and enjoyed the sun while Fredi tried to accost every man who left the store with a baseball hat on.
"That's not your Poppa" Shelley would tell Fredi as she wiggled and strained to get at the man with the baseball hat (that's Fredi wiggling ~ not Shelley). Some of these men were quite short and some were quite wide. Their only common feature was the baseball cap but apparently Fredi felt any man with a cap on had the potential of being Brian.
Twenty minutes later Brian emerged from the store and Fredi made several people smile in her pure joy at seeing her Poppa once again.
"It's a mad house in there!" Brian told Shelley, eyes glazed.
"Did you get any gum?" Shelley asked knowing the answer was "no" as he carried no bag in his hands.
Sunday (as per usual) took us downtown to the main square and then to the people's market to buy some fruit. There wasn't any entertainment in the gazebo, so we sat on a bench, next to the road, and watched the to-ing and fro-ing of the populace. Sure enough, along came some friends and we went for a coffee and chatted for 45 minutes or so. Shelley endured just the mildest of teasing (as our friends were U.S. Americans) about the last blog posting and Canadian reserve.
"It's just that the U.S. American's are so friendly" she tried to explain.
"When I was up in Canada" one of our friends replied "Everyone was friendly and kind."
"Oh yes" Shelley exclaimed and Brian jumped in...."But you wouldn't find a waitress in Canada that'd ask you 'OK hon, what can I get for you'all?'"
We all laughed.
After coffee we went our separate ways and we picked up 10 tomatoes, 2 papaya & a couple of plantains for $4.50 at the market. We've never tried frying plantains ourselves before, although we ate them a lot when we were visiting on the coast. Another of our U.S. American friends explained the procedure to cook plantains the other day, so we thought we'd give it a try ourselves.
While ironing his synthetic fabric cargo pants Brian managed to melt a 3 inch hole in one leg (oops), so we were on our way downtown on a quest for a replacement.
"I'm going through another one of my home-sick phases" Shelley told Brian as they were walking.
"Oh" he said "What do you miss?"
"I miss the seawall down near Granville Island. I miss Tim Horton's Ice Caps. I miss the dark coziness of the boat. I miss going into the grocery store and finding a new product. I miss the clank of halyards when it's a bit windy. I miss Canada!" Shelley wailed a bit at the end of her list more in humour than anything else.
Brian hardened. "We're not going to be one of those 2 year people, are we?" he asked.
"Oh Brian! You've got to let me be homesick from time to time. I love Ecuador. It's wonderful here! The weather is perfect and we enjoy a terrific lifestyle but you have to let me be homesick from time to time."
Brian softened. "It's the familiarity" he said. "Everything is just a little bit more difficult here because of the language and the culture. Everything we do requires that we work at it a bit more."
"It's not even that" Shelley tried to explain. "I just miss Canada, my home and native land."
Incidentally, we went to 4 stores and then headed to Hudson where we usually can find pants for Brian. No luck today however. Brian asked the young man helping us where "gordo" (fat) people shopped in Cuenca (Brian's not fat, he's just a big guy!). The young man replied "Guayaquil".