Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Electricity & Medical Stuff

Having nothing special planned, we took one of our neighbourhood walks up & down the river and ended up laying under a bunch of eucalyptus trees, watching water birds in the river, chatting quietly with each other about this & that, enjoying the sun & the shade & watching Fredi romp about. The weather's been absolutely perfect the last few days; warm, easily shorts weather, no rain, no clouds in the sky. However, the lack of rain is really beginning to hurt Cuenca. They've started roving power outages from apparently four to twelve hours to conserve and we've all been instructed to pray for rain (not really). The newspapers tell us this is the longest drought in 45 years. The river outside our window is extremely low and one stream that goes around the small island is actually down to sand. That evening at 7 o'clock, just as we were settling down to watch Dr. House (as they call it here), the power went out again. We lit our candles & played crib & read by candle light and finally went to bed with no sign of the power coming back.

The electricity returned some time around 11:30 p.m. We basically noted the hum of the fridge and rolled over and went back to sleep. The next morning we tried to find out something more about the outages. They are predicted to continue for 2 months or until there is sufficient rainfall. They post notices in the paper as to when & where the various outages will take place but the notices are placed the same day as the outages. We don't pick up the paper all that often, so mostly we'll be surprised.

Off we went downtown to pick up Brian's shirts but they weren't ready due to the outages. We then dropped into the store that was supposed to be stocking (eventually) the heads for Brian's electric razor and they had them! Brian was very pleased. We sat down in the park for awhile and talked with people about Fredi and then dropped by the market and picked up some fruit. We also got a battery operated camping light because with regular outages it'll be better to read with. Shelley's been balancing a candle on her chest to read by and Brian doesn't approve. One of Shelley's daughter's text(ed) and upon arriving home we all had a nice long G-Mail voice chat. It went a long way to reassuring Shelley about her other daughter's medical problems & she always likes to chat with her kids in any case.

The next day we were down at the Park in the main square again. This time there was an Argentinean troupe playing & dancing to tango music. There was an electric piano, an acoustic guitar & an accordion. Also, there were 3 couples, 2 of whom put on several dance displays and the other couple sang duets & singly. There were many costume changes and we really enjoyed the show. Unfortunately, our camera decided to display the "replace batteries" notice, so we have no pictures of the dancers in particular, who were quite stunning. After listening to several songs we met up unexpectedly with a couple we know and went over and had cappuccino & lime tea and talked about the usual things: learning Spanish, American politics, how wonderful Ecuador is, the recent power outages and what we'd all been up to.

Monday, Shelley got good news from her daughter; she was on the mend. As we said before, her affliction wasn't life threatening but when your babies are hurting and you're so far away it's really hard not to keep worrying about them. We did our grocery shopping & puttered around the apartment and generally had a quiet good day. We tried to pick up a paper to find out if we'd have a power outage this day but were unsuccessful in finding a vendor in our neighbourhood. There's usually one on a particular corner but sure as heck when we went looking for it, it wasn't there. We'll just have to wait and see. Several of our friends' buildings have generators large enough to power the whole building. Unfortunately, our building's generator only powers the elevator, hall lights & garage door. We've been told however, this is reflected in the maintenance fee we pay each month in that ours is much lower. We get by, playing crib & reading, and in a way it all sort of reminds us of living on the boat. We went without TV on the boat for 8 plus years or so and longer without a computer, so we do know how to entertain ourselves without the amenities of electricity.

The next morning the power went out at 7 a.m. and came back on at around 11 a.m. We ventured out once again in the morning looking to pick up a newspaper but still couldn't find one. The lady at the corner was there with her stand but she advised she'd sold out the paper to people looking to see when and how long their power would be off. We stopped at a darkened store and asked them when the power was due to come back on and were pleased when we found out it would be 11. We had ourselves a good walk & picked up some salmon steaks at the frozen food store and by the time we got home again the power was up and running.

We haven't been to the Doctor since we first arrived in Ecuador and had our then requisite tests done. We had talked to the Doctor and determined we'd go and see him at 6 p.m. It's first come, first serve, so we got there about 5:45 but were second in line. Brian's had a cough since we quit smoking and wanted to check things out just to make sure everything was OK and Shelley had a prescription she needed to renew. The Doctor did various in-office tests on Brian's lung capacity & blood oxygen and set up an appointment with the lab the next day to do an x-ray and various blood tests. He also wrote out a prescription for Shelley & gave her the choice of 3 drugs variously priced. For the appointment for both of us, plus two follow-up appointments for Brian, plus the x-ray & lab work the total cost was $220. Brian apparently has chronic bronchitis which we've been assured can be "cured" by using an inhaler once a day for awhile. The Doctor however, has scheduled him for a CT scan ($165) because there was an anomaly on the x-ray. This, we've also been assured, is due diligence, not something to be really worried about as all of the other indicators suggest that it is simple bronchitis.

The pictures on this blog are from Cuenca's Independence Day (November 3rd) celebration when they lit a firework tower in the main square downtown. We were talking to some relative newcomers to Cuenca the other day and they commented on the fireworks "all the time!" We told them every time there's a wedding you'll see fireworks and between fiestas & weddings & various other celebrations, it does seem like there are fireworks almost every night. The tower fireworks are only for very special occasions!

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