On our neighbourhood walk, we ran into a Czechoslovakian ExPat with two 8 week old pugs. Fredi, being older intimidated them a little, but they were remarkably resilient and willing to put up with her little bit of bullying. Shelley couldn't get over how soft and cute the pugs were and Brian couldn't get over how sharp their little teeth were. We stopped and talked with the woman in a blended mixture of English & Spanish about our dogs, how much we like Cuenca & how ExPat night was divided into 2 venues these days. We're planning on attending ExPat night as it might be a long time before we'll get back and we're planning on visiting both venues.
First we stopped in at the Eucalyptus. We'd advised some friends we'd be going there and then on to Zoe's. When we arrived they already had a table. We were introduced to a new fellow we'd never met before and then along came another fellow new to Cuenca and then along came a Canadian couple we'd been talking to through the blog and before you know it, we needed a couple more tables. Just when everything started to get quite loud we decided it was time to be off to Zoe's. At Zoe's we encountered more friends and ended up having dinner with 3 other couples.
"I can actually hear the Canadian accent" Shelley told Brian at one point talking with our new friends. "It sounds good!"
Just about everyone had chicken madeira as recommended by Brian, although one person had a sea food dish & another ribs. It was a nice group and a nice evening and we quite enjoyed ourselves. Neither venue was crowded, although at Zoe's they were having a frat party upstairs with music and sing alongs, so that made the whole thing seem quite jolly.
Saturday took us downtown to the CB Carolina Book Store for our regular run. We met a young fellow from England and chatted with Carol and picked out our books and Fredi inspected everything on their floor. Later we met the Canadian couple at Sankt Florian for lunch. We'd talked with them through email and they'd brought us a bunch of chicken bouillon without MSG in it. When we first came to Cuenca we could find such bouillon but as happens here, the stock ran out and they didn't restock. We now have enough to keep us going for quite awhile and Shelley's daughter is also going to bring us some in February. After lunch we pointed out the furniture store where we'd purchased most of our stuff and it seemed to suit their needs as well.
There was no entertainment in the park on Sunday but we did run into 2 couples we know and went to a restaurant for lime tea, syrup cafe con leche & a pretty weird cappuccino. We caught up with each other's adventures the last while or so and talked about what we each were doing for Christmas. After we went our own way, we stopped at the street vendor and got Shelley a black skirt for Christmas Day and then we did our usual run to the market for fruit & Brian's pig lunch. Monday was shopping/chore day and Tuesday we ventured to a friend's place to share some of Shelley's modest computer knowledge. They served us cappuccino that wasn't weird and Fredi always enjoys exploring a new place.
For the last week or so, we've been seeing random angels (children dressed up as such) walking down the street and on the bus. Tuesday morning we got a preview to the Children's parade which they hold on Christmas Eve Day. About 1,500 angels, men playing instruments, young girls in long dresses and Santa's helpers paraded down our little side street. We figure that these were students from the school on the other side of the river practicing for the big day. We watched from the balcony and took pictures and clapped for their effort. Earlier in the morning, while we studying our Spanish, the demented school master was rotating the worse singers at his school through the PA system. It was extremely distracting while we were doing our translating and then the band and the huge parade came by putting an end to any thoughts we had of continuing to study.
That evening we went with several other couple friends to the Conciertos Navidenos put on by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Cuenca. It was absolutely fantastic! To begin with they had a children's choir which astonished us with some of the big voices on such tiny people. The symphony was wonderful (!) bringing tears to our eyes with the fullness of the music. There was a female soloist and an adult choir later on in the performance and they played many songs where the tune was recognizable to a North American audience as well as Christmas favourites of South America. We left the concert with big smiles on our faces and sang to the night air on our walk home.