Friday, November 6, 2009

Pride & Angst

Brian had read in the on-line Spanish newspaper (link) that there was to be a military parade on Solano at 10:00 a.m. on November 3rd; part of Cuenca's Independence Day Celebrations. We therefore had to forego our regular morning Spanish lesson and headed out of the house at 9:30 to get there on time. Half way there we started to notice the crowds all walking in the same direction. Upon hitting Solano, everywhere you looked there were vendors selling hats! Panama hats, cowboy hats, ladies hats, kids hats, broad brimmed hats, tiny hats, leather hats & straw hats; more hats than we have the patience to tell you about. We both ended up buying a hat ($7 for Brian & $2 for Shelley).

We followed the crowd to the point where they seemed to be lining the street and found a place on the curb to sit down and wait for the parade. The parade actually started almost on time! Overhead from time to time a jet would boom through the sky and throughout the parade people clapped for the men & women of their armed forces. The whole thing went on for at least an hour. We saw everything from dress uniformed, plumed hatted men to commandants on horses as well as tanks roaring down the street. Platoon after platoon marched past us. There was a display of men in camouflage & face paint, rocket launchers, men & woman carrying big and small guns, the coast guard with dirks at their hips and jeeps with big guns mounted in back. We ended up taking a lot of pictures and if you're interested in seeing more click here and look towards the end of the page.  As Canadians, we found the display was extremely impressive! Ecuador has a larger military than Canada! At one point Brian said, "It just makes me want to puff out by chest" in some kind of pride for our adopted country. Mind you, Brian is the guy that back in Canada can't watch bagpipes without a lump in his throat and a tear in his eye. He's just that way.

Just before the parade started the street was covered with vendors selling everything from duck hats to water & ice cream to balloons. We bought a bottle of ice cold water from a vendor and gave Fredi a drink and had one ourselves because it was an absolutely stunning, warm, beautiful day. After the parade we shuffled along, following the huge crowds as they streamed towards downtown & the entertainment there. All in all it was a very rousing outing!

That same evening we had some friends over for dinner. Brian put together a beef curry in the slow cooker and it turned out absolutely wonderful! He often made curry, especially in the winter, on the boat in Vancouver, but it's the first time he's done up a big batch here in Ecuador. We really enjoyed it and hoped our company did too. After the dishes were done, we headed off downtown to the main square and managed to catch a glimpse of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa. It was kind of exciting! Later on they set off a tower of fireworks. Fredi got scared and shivered & shaked for about an hour afterwards. Later on still, they had a band playing and the park was very crowded with happy people enjoying their holiday. We went for ice cream and hot tea with lime and caught a cab home around 9:30 well pleased with our Cuenca Independence Day.

Wednesday was one of those do-over days. Shelley's daughter reported pain and Shelley angst(ed) for her child. Her other daughter reported something that was fairly disappointing and Shelley angst(ed) at the best laid plans re mice & (wo)men. (Shelley's pretty good at angsting!) Brian had a dentist appointment, his regular 3 months cleaning, and anyone who's read the blog for any length of time knows how Brian feels about the dentist. AND, the crew cut the lawn in the park just outside our apartment. This on the face of it is wonderful. If they wait too long, Shelley gets terrible hay fever. However, every time they cut the park, Fredi brings home grass & chunks of this and that for several days to spread around. It's a pain in the rear. ALSO, Brian got an e-mail from a friend that made him cranky & Fredi found a napkin on the floor and shredded throughout the apartment. On top of all of this, we did a load of laundry with a kleenex in the washer! None of this is world shattering (we recognize) however, after Brian's dentist appointment, we came home and hid for the rest of the day. Hiding's OK from time to time and actually feels pretty good under the right circumstances!

Thursday carried on with much the same theme as Wednesday. The power went out at 7:00 a.m. and we expected it back within an hour or so (as per usual). At 10:30 we ended up going out to do a few chores. In the elevator (our building has a generator for the elevator) was a notice letting the tenants know that the water would be shut off at 2:30 p.m. in order to replace filters in the system. The notice did not advise how long the water would be unavailable. We filled up a bucket just in case. While we were out we went to the only place in town where we've found that you can buy pecans. In their darkened store, these people told us that the electricity would be off until 6 p.m. Because we were in the neighbourhood, we stopped by the darkened office of our vet and dropped in to get Fredi's toenails cut, her ears cleaned and to inquire when her next set of shots was due. Fredi is about to celebrate her first birthday! We wandered down to an Europa outlet and had a Nescafe cappuccino (they had a generator) & Brian got himself a hot dog as we had by then determined we should avoid opening the fridge & couldn't use the microwave. Fortunately, we'd previous planned avocado & tomato bunwiches for dinner! The gas still worked and we could make coffee but TV & the computer were out of bounds. Still on our outing, we stopped by 3 of Shelley's favourite plant places and picked up 3 plants for a total of $4.50. Upon arriving home Shelley fussed with planting & picking off dead leaves & watering & generally admiring her balcony garden & finally she lay down on the couch to read a good book and Brian had a nap. The power & water eventually came back on. Our suffering was minimal. Actually, it was a pretty good day!

Here's the thing: You look out the window and you see someone with a stick encouraging two goats to walk along. In Canada, it would be a hard day when you'd see someone with a stick encouraging 2 goats to walk along. Hard day (!?) ... it'd be close to impossible. So your mind expands to another reality. We're told (by the net, by Doctors, by acquaintances, by magazine articles, by newspapers) this is good for us (us oldsters)! Learning a new language, a new culture, it's something that pushes mind degenerative diseases away. So come: but be sympathetic. The thing that *cures* you is the difference. Be open to change! Embrace your new reality!

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