After 1 trip to AeroGal that lasted a couple of hours and 4 trips to the travel agent that each lasted about 30 - 40 minutes, we have finally made our arrangements for our trip to the Galapagos in the fall. We could have arranged the trip in such a way that we were busy every minute but did not find that particularly attractive. As it is, we have a couple of inter-island travel days and 1 day that we'll visit a volcano and some offshore reefs. The rest of our time is basically our own; this is the kind of holiday we like! Now all we have to do is wait until it's time to go.
A friend of ours is due back in Cuenca after being in the States for 3 months and we planned on going to the Gringo night to welcome him "home" so, for our afternoon outing we just went for a walk in our neighbourhood. Down along the Rio Tomebamba where Fredi can have a bit of a free walk, up and along Avenida de Las Americas and then down a side street towards Gran Colombia. We ended up in a coffee shop on the ground floor of Edificio La Cuadra and had a lovely cappuccino where the staff was extraordinarily pleasant. Then we stopped in at the frozen fish store also on the ground floor of Edificio La Cuadra; it's called Jo.Mar. Brian picked up some frozen oysters (he was quite excited) and we also got some shrimp patties for deluxe shrimp burgers. The oysters were $3.50 a pound & the shrimp patties cost $3.30 for a package of 5. The place is clean, has every kind of fish you'd think possible and it's all been flash frozen.
Gringo night was typical. We met some friends and chatted and more people came and we met some new people and chatted and more people came and we met some more new people and then it got so loud you couldn't hear people talking from across the table. At that point we had some interesting conversations with the people right next to us and wandered the room a bit and said hello to some more people we knew and others we had recently met. Brian had a hamburger and Shelley had a grilled ham sandwich and they both were very good but after a couple of hours Shelley got tired. We then spent the next half hour extricating ourselves from the room. Friday night outside in Cuenca proved busy and we had to walk several blocks before we spied a free taxi. We ended up getting home in time to watch a movie on TV and all in all it was a pretty good Friday night.
Saturday we had scheduled a dinner with some friends and so once again didn't want to do much during our day outing. We wandered to the Feria Libre market and bought some tomatoes & a baby watermelon and took Fredi for a free walk to her second favourite place in the whole world. Our evening dinner was wonderful! There were 2 other couples besides ourselves, plus the host couple and a dinner of lasagna that Shelley will attest was probably better than her own. We laughed and teased each other and at one point all dredged up our individual memories of our very first concert. There was Haagen-Dazs ice cream in real parfait glasses with chocolate sauce, whipped cream & a cherry on top for dessert and it ended a perfect evening in a perfect way. (PS:- The night picture of the mountains in this blog is from our friend's apartment window.)
"Do you realize we have 6 social obligations in 8 days?" Shelley whined to Brian. "We're starting to get wound up again!"
Everybody we talk to in Ecuador says the same thing. One could easily have a social commitment every day of the week here. Maybe it's the fact that we're mostly retired; when you're working you seem to be more content to just sit in front of the TV after a long day. Maybe it's just the dynamics of strangers in a strange land. Whatever it is, we have to watch ourselves from time to time that the whole thing doesn't get out of hand.
"We'll have to give ourselves another non-social week soon" Shelley continued to nag at Brian.
Brian seemed to remain somewhat oblivious to the whole thing.
Sunday in the main square downtown they had entertainment again. It was a fellow with an accordion and a drum machine playing music reminiscent of zydeco. We think we remember seeing him at another event a few months ago. In any case, he's not bad and we sat in the sun and listened for 30 minutes or so. The park was crowded and there were government type stand-alone display signs dotted throughout the park celebrating 200 years of independence. In addition, there were 4 or 6 white faced clowns wandering around entertaining people. There's quite a famous clown troupe coming to Cuenca soon and we supposed they were advance advertising for their shows. We stopped in at the People's market and picked up Brian's regular Sunday roast pig lunch and chatted with the ladies who are fond of Fredi. We walked home along the river and noted an unusual number of rats! Fortunately, Fredi didn't see most of them but they're huge and healthy and sleek looking. Don't know if they were out because the sun was shining, or it's a "that time of year" thing or the population just happens to be growing. We left each other alone (the rats & us) and that was fine with all concerned.
Well...school's back in session for Cuenca. For one thing, the demented school master woke Shelley up this morning ranting & playing rousing marching music. She's missed this alarm clock for the last 2 months but it's back again, so all's well with the world. For another, there are school children wandering the streets in their uniforms and traffic was much heavier in the morning than has been usual the last few weeks.
We were somewhat amused when we read somewhere there was going to be a crack down on jay walking in Cuenca. In order for us to get to our SuperMaxi store we have to cross over 3 lanes of traffic, stand on a grass meridian and wait again for the next break and then cross over another 3 lanes. If there's a cross walk (not to mention a traffic light) anywhere within 10 blocks we don't know about it. In any case, because of the increased traffic (presumably because school started) it took us forever to get across this morning. We did eventually (our hearts in our hands as usual) and congratulated ourselves for making it without causing any major ruckus. In Canada where pedestrians really do have "the right of way" there's not as much adventure in crossing streets. In Cuenca where this "right" is presumably unknown, one skips out of the way as the cars bear directly down without slowing (but honking for sure). We're used to it now. We hardly ever even grumble these days (!) and Brian has even learned to scamper (sort of; philosophically it doesn't come easy to him).