Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shirtless Boys & Men in Uniform

Bill day had reared it's ugly head once again and we were doing our rounds, paying our electricity & cold water & internet bills, noticing the streets seemed to be absolutely covered with hordes of school kids in their school uniforms. It wasn't lunch break time so we kind of wondered what was going on. Upon reaching downtown, we noticed more hordes of people near the main park, so once we'd paid our last bill we wandered over there to check out the excitement. There seemed to be scores of boys & young men, shirtless; some with hood masks of gargoyles, some wearing chaps, some beating on drums & some leading bullocks down the road. The crowd watching was 5 people deep but we managed to get a pretty good spot. A lady next to us struck up a conversation and told us it was all part of the November 3rd Celebration of Cuenca's Independence. Apparently it was different schools taking part in the parade. Eventually we saw wool spinner girls & corn people & a small marching band as well, so it wasn't just shirtless boys.

Because of this and that and little more of this, we hadn't been to ExPat night at Zoe's for a month, so off we went. We met 2 new couples and shared our experiences and talked about how wonderful Cuenca is. We saw several friends and renewed ties and told them about our Galapagos trip, and they told us about their goings on since the last time we saw them. Brian had chicken madeira and Shelley had 2 appetizers (crabs cakes & brochette) and we were both very pleased with our choice. Zoe's has a new chef and things taste just a little bit different, but between suggestions from customers & just getting used to the new job, the food is now as good as ever. We talked to several people about the schism between Zoe's & the Eucalyptus as a meeting place on Friday's for ExPat night. The Eucalyptus crowd seems to be mostly generated by the real estate people and that's a genuine need for new arrivals & inquiring visitors. The Zoe's crowd is mostly old timers (over a year) and those few newbies that somehow or other made contact with the old crowd. Zoe's is always crowded when we get there and we hear the Eucalyptus is crowded as well, so it probably makes sense to have 2 venues now that one is fast becoming not big enough.

One of Shelley's daughters is ill. It's not life threatening but it's tough & requires visiting a hospital every day and will probably continue on for several weeks if not several months. These are the things that make living so far away difficult. We communicate through FaceBook & emails & Skype and Shelley provides as much support to her as she can, short of patting her hand and giving her a hug, but that hand pat & hug ~ sometimes ~ is everything. When do you fly home to give support? When it's life threatening? When the $2000 dollars or so doesn't hurt? When you've been asked? When you've been told not to come? We can only have faith that the right path will reveal itself & continue on doing the best we can ~ and think about your loved one; your mind dwells on your loved one. It's something to consider when you contemplate a move away from the people you call home.

OK...we went downtown to the tailor to pick up Brian's new shirts. They were wonderful! They fit, the buttons were sewn on well and the styling was just fine. We are now prepared to recommend the place which is Kingsley on Luis Cordero 12-15 y Sangurima. Note: the tailor does not speak any English at all, so come prepared with Spanish (he's patient with pigeon Spanish) or a good dictionary. It's just a little hole in the wall, so you have to watch out for it carefully, but the fellow who runs it is very nice and you're given the choice of many different materials. We ordered 2 more shirts for Brian, which should stock him up quite nicely, and we'll be able to pick them up next Saturday. Prices seem to range between $18 to $22 depending on the material you pick. Brian was asking him how much it would cost to get a blazer done up with slacks in a contrasting colour. We were quoted $180 based on Brian's size.

After picking up Brian's shirts we wandered to the main square and watched what Shelley called a Celtic/Pan Flute band. A couple of fiddles, a pan flute, a drum & a couple of guitars. We really enjoyed the music and rested in the park for awhile. Then we took off down to 12 de Abril (just past the Army Medical Hospital) and admired the displays in scores of kiosks (set up in conjunction with Cuenca's Independence Day) showing off multiple crafts and paintings. Since we were so close, we also stopped into Brian's Chilean Empanada place and picked up 18 carne & pollo empanadas for Brian's lunches. Having had a very successful morning/early afternoon, we caught the bus home and Brian went down for a well deserved nap.

Guess where Sunday took us? You are absolutely right (!) down to the main square to see what there was to see and then over to the market to pick up some tomatoes (14), a large papaya, some kiwi (8) & roast pig lunch for Brian for a total of $5.50. At the park the soldiers were putting on a display. First we got to hear the military band play 3 or 5 songs and then about 20 soldiers with guns all lined up in the park and did some precision steps & twirling of guns. There were some more soldiers with red sashes & giant pikes doing some fancy high step marching with swords and finally some military dignitaries came and started to give a speech. All quite rousing & exciting!

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