Off we went to catch the bus to the Parque Paraiso (Fredi's most favourite place in the whole world) and Brian noticed that several of the businesses in our neighbourhood had their shutters closed.
"I think it's a holiday" he commented.
At the park, Fredi showed her appreciation for the place and ended up playing with a small group of children and making lots of friends for us. They played tag for quite some time and then all sat down in a circle around Brian asking questions and taking turns petting Fredi. At one point a Dad came over to see what was going on but determined all was benign, gave us a smile and backed off again.
When we got home, the only thing Shelley could find on the internet re October 9th and Ecuador holidays, was that it was independence day for the City of Guayaquil. Apparently there are big parties and many artistic and cultural endeavors in Guayaquil but we didn't think this would affect Cuenca. While we were on the bus however, we did see what we thought were food booths set up in the Plazoleta del Farol at the corner of Av. Loja y Av. Doce de Abril. The kids were out of school too, so maybe the whole country celebrates October 9th?
The next day we were going out for dinner in the evening, so decided just to walk over to Feria Libra market and pick up a tube of tomatoes (10 for $1). On the way back home, a couple of blocks away from the market, we ran into a gaggle of geese being herded down the sidewalk by a man with a stick. There was heavy traffic on the road and the geese numbered about 5 adults and 6 goslings. Everything seemed to be under control with the geese quite happily following the man's direction. We've become quite used to Ecuador these days. The women in their indigenous costumes, the vibrancy of the markets, the cobble stone roads, the green green hills surrounding you thousands of feet in the air, the chickens in the yards, the crumbling sidewalks, the babble of language somewhat unknown; we now see this as everyday and normal and then Ecuador sneaks up on you, and you get involved in a gaggle of geese and it all seems very foreign and strange to you once again.
At the sound of our building's buzzer, we quickly grabbed our sweaters and went down to join our friends in their cab. We were going to go to an Italian restaurant recommended by another ExPat. The cab dropped us off out front and we went into the building, winding our way through a few hallways and sat ourselves down at a quaint table. No one else was there.
"You know" Shelley said. "Sometimes we've entered a restaurant and sat down for 20 minutes or so and ended up leaving because no one came to serve us". She'd said this jokingly and without expectation of the same happening here. However, after 15 minutes of chatter amongst us, Shelley sent Brian off to see what was going on. He came back with two pieces of advice: (1) We weren't sitting in the restaurant, we were sitting in their breakfast nook and (2) the restaurant was closed as the owners were on vacation. Friday had been a National Holiday and we had noticed a number of businesses closed for the long weekend.
After some discussion, we decided to go to another Italian restaurant we've been to several times. The owners are absolutely wonderful and when we arrived welcomed us with open arms. They even remembered that Shelley always orders a vegetarian pizza even though it's not on the menu. Our friends hadn't been to the Mediterraneo before and were delighted with the meal. We spoke of Obama, the Nobel prize and the pleasure of sharing good food with good friends.
We walked downtown on Sunday to see if we could see the procession in honour of the canonization of Father Damien, the "Leper Priest of Hawaii". The procession was supposed to include floats depicting Father Damien's life and dancing groups. The notice said 9 am - 11:30. We arrived around 11 o'clock and everything was all over. We did run into some friends of ours in the park and sat on a bench in the shade for half an hour chattering with each other. On the way home, we stopped at the market and picked up a roast pig lunch for Brian. It was very warm out and Fredi was panting and eager for water by the time we hit the apartment.
We got a phone call from AreoGal telling us they had to change our reservations for the Galapagos. (Oh No!) Brian spoke to the young lady in Spanish for a bit and finally they switched to a blend of Spanish & English. The call went on and on and on and when Brian asked for the young lady's phone number she was very reluctant to give it.
"It's in case anything goes wrong" Brian told her.
"But nothing will Senor" she told him.
In the end, we made our new reservations, new arrangements and advised everyone that was involved. Philosophically we said to ourselves "It's Ecuador". Hopefully (we thought) everything will work out.
The young lady was supposed to e-mail us our new tickets, but by the next morning nothing had arrived. Rather than make a phone call, we decided Brian would go down to the AeroGal office & find out what was going on from the horse's mouth. Our new arrangements involved us having to stay overnight in Guayaquil instead of catching a through flight to the Galapagos. We weren't exactly overjoyed at the prospect but had pre-paid for all of our Galapagos hotel reservations & much of the transportation, so felt we had no choice. Brian arrived home with new tickets and hopefully nothing else will throw a monkey wrench into the trip.