New Year's Eve Day we took down the Christmas decorations, swept the floor of all the sparkles, stapled our year's receipts together, took Fredi for her walk (Brian did), had leisurely baths (Fredi too), lay down and read our books (Brian & Fredi had a nap) and generally prepped ourselves for New Year's Eve and a brand new year. We hadn't promised anyone that we'd manage to stay out until midnight (although we'd been teased about it), but were expecting to visit the main square after our dinner out (and perhaps other areas) to watch the burning of the effigies. Not a bad idea, burning away the past year so you can start anew... It was somewhat of an effort for the person organizing the dinner to find a place that would be open late enough. The whole exercise required several e-mails! Most of the restaurants wanted to close mid-afternoon so presumably they could party too! In the end of course, our hostess did find a suitable venue at Mediterraneo. Brian & Shelley were a little glad the choice fell to Mediterraneo as they very much like the young couple who own the place and always relish their menu. It was kind of like Cheers because the owner, when we arrived, greeted Brian by name.
It's 12:10 am New Year's Day. In a place where fireworks are an everyday occasion, right this minute they're everywhere. Turn in any direction, any degree, and there's a star burst in front of you. We just came in from watching our neighbour's effigy burning on the lawn just across the street. Apparently if you jump over it 3 times, it's good luck. We demurred, although we were welcome to do the feat. We had a marvelous time at the restaurant with 4 other couples and afterwards wandered a bit through the streets looking at the huge scenes put together, all to be burned at midnight. No taxi's were running by the time we were ready to go home; everyone in Cuenca was out celebrating. With some concern for our safety from our friends, we walked home in complete harmony and it was a wonderful end to a great year.
New Year's Day we woke up at 5:15 in the morning to the sound of receiving a text message on our phone. Coming out of a fairly deep sleep, we both instantly worried there was something wrong with the children. Nothing was wrong; it was simply a belated "Happy New Year!" from a different time zone. We weren't much successful at going back to a deep sleep after that but did manage to doze for awhile longer. Later in the morning, when taking Fredi for her walk, we passed dozens of burned spots on the lawn, little piles of ash & partially burned legs sticking out from garbage cans, where effigies were torched to take away 2009. Having much less sleep than normal, after our walk we were content to computer, read & watch TV to wile away the rest of the day.
Saturday, we'd been invited to a "Trailer Trash" party, where we were going to be served something called Scramble Dogs, corn chips & Velveeta cheese. We were requested to wear our spandex & coveralls. This was due to take place at 2 in the afternoon, so as seems to be our routine for the last few days, we puttered around the house, took Fredi for a walk in the neighbourhood and had a long bath, between eating & trying to have a short nap. We walked to our hosts' apartment and although 7 minutes late were the second to the last people to get there. Some of the people had on real costumes and it was a bit of a hoot. Shelley wore coveralls & her hair up in a side ponytail. Brian introduced us to everybody as "Buck & Bobbie Sue". Scramble Dogs turned out to be a bun with ketchup & mustard, topped with a hot dog, topped with chili, topped with coleslaw, topped with onions and are really quite tasty! There was the requisite Velveeta cheese as well as potato salad, various chips & dips & plenty of beer. A good time was had by all. We ended up being the first people to leave. It's been a busy last few weeks and we just sort of wanted to go home and hunker down.
Instead of Monday, which is our usual shopping/chore day, we switched and did it on Sunday. Brian's got a doctor's appointment first thing Monday morning and then he'll find out when he hits the hospital and everything happens. The grocery store was much more crowded than we're used to. The idea of queuing hasn't taken root here in Ecuador and one has to head to a check out counter hoping that no kamikaze will duck in front of you. Brian accidently smashed a jar of sweet & sour sauce on the floor much to his chagrin & the shelf man's disgust. We doubled up on a lot of our shopping because Shelley's hoping to avoid the trip by herself next week. Brian won't be up to shopping with her the week after that either, but at least he'll be home to keep Fredi out of the way while she's unpacking. We got home, Brian took Fredi for her walk and Shelley put on a load of laundry, put away the groceries, made a batch of lasagna & squeezed 20 or so limes (we keep the juice in the fridge for tea and what have you). While Brian was out walking Fredi he even got a phone call from the friends we often spontaneously meet in the park on Sunday. They were wondering where we were. That's kind of a nice feeling! As it is, we're all stocked up now and ready for whatever the week throws at us.
Brian was supposed to phone the specialist at 8 Monday morning and make sure his 9 am appointment was on track. It was. Sitting in our computer room, Brian on the small couch, Shelley at the computer, we talked about the possible scenario for the upcoming day and week ahead.
"It might take awhile before the other Doctor that speaks English is available, so I can't tell you when I'll be home" Brian told Shelley.
"Are you nervous?" Shelley asked, noting that he was flinging his arms around when he talked, like Shelley herself does when she's nervous.
"Not about today" Brian told her in minor disgust.
As it turned out Brian was home before 10:30 am. The specialist & he had conducted the interview all in Spanish & pigeon English. He was to go to the hospital on Tuesday and give blood for possible use during the surgery. He was to report to the hospital Wednesday morning at 7 am to be prepped for surgery. The surgery will last 2 or 3 hours and he'll be in recovery for an hour or so. Thus, Shelley was instructed to come see him (bringing a small bag with his pajamas & toiletries & a book) at the hospital at around 1:00 pm. He'll be kept in the hospital for another 1 or 2 days, coming home on Friday or Saturday depending on his recovery time. We will pay for the whole procedure at his discharge. He will have a catheter for up to 10 days after the operation and be in pain for about a week. They will do a biopsy of the prostate after removal to confirm that the cancer hasn't spread and he'll get the results to that next Monday. A complete recovery is expected within 2 weeks or so.
At this point Brian is very impressed with the quality of care that he is getting. The urologist reiterated that all of the indicators are that the cancer is localized in the prostate and we are absolutely confident that he will have a 100% recovery. At this point, we'd like to thank all our friends and well-wishers for their kind thoughts & concern. It's nice to know you're not all alone thousands of miles from home.