Thursday, February 11, 2010

Do We Need Help?

It's almost 10 o'clock Sunday night. It's been raining quite heavily off and on all day and the river is very high. Watching out our front window Brian said out loud "Huh!" and Shelley, in the kitchen, asked him what was going on. Apparently there was a youngish couple down by the river and he was fishing with a net.

"Fishing with a net when the river's roaring like that?" Shelley asked.

In any case, the young man caught 2 fish! Out in the dark, it's raining, the river's high & rushing & black and now a young couple has a very tasty supper or breakfast coming up. Huh!

From time to time the conversation amongst a group of expats will touch on the hierarchy class system in Ecuador. It appears that the old time Spanish families rank at the top and the pecking order descends through many layers with the descendants of former slaves sitting at the bottom. The country's Indigenous people make up most of the middle. There is also a very large emerging middle class of Indigenous/Spanish mix who seem to make up the ranks of the bureaucracy and professions.

Some see this hierarchy system more strongly than others. We've heard comments about being shunned by both high Spanish & low Indigenous but have never actually encountered this ourselves. We have noticed Senoras hogging the aisles at SuperMaxi but we've noticed this in Vancouver too. We have also observed a complete lack of concern for pedestrians and were actually at one time told this was part of the hierarchy system, in that if you were a pedestrian you obviously didn't own a car and thus were on the lower scale of life in the country. This may or may not be true, but we choose to see it as a lack of driver training rather than a country wide systematic prejudice. (PS:- Ecuador has recently implemented a very stringent licensing program; this however will take years to filter down.)

In Ecuador (like Canada) a small percentage owns the greatest share of the wealth. This is not a new or isolated phenomenon. There are always going to be people who take offence when no offence was intended as well as people who set themselves above others and offend with impunity. There is nothing that can be encapsulated in a couple of paragraphs, a story, a book, a lifetime that will change the determined prejudices of some. We say bueno to all open to receive it and it comes back to us from those willing to share and with that we are content.

A friend in the States asked us to look at a piece of property and send pictures, so off we went Tuesday downtown to accommodate. After we'd taken several pictures, we headed to the post office to see if we had any mail and to pay for our PO Box for the next year ($23.50; Note: Our PO Box in Canada cost > $90 for a year.) Having accomplished our agenda for the day, we headed for the park just to sit in the sun and see what there was to see for awhile. It wasn't long before an acquaintance passed by and we chatted for 15 minutes or so. Heading off to the bus we bumped into some friends and stood on a street corner and talked about that and this until we had it all sorted out and then climbed down the stairs and across the river to catch the number 7 bus home. As it was, we were behind schedule and Brian & Fredi were forced to go down late for their nap.

As we were planning on eating out with a few friends at Tiesto's Wednesday evening, we spent the day puttering & pottering. Tiesto's was, as always, an experience. We met a new soul & chittered with our friends & ate good food & enjoyed the great service. If there is such a thing as Ecuadorian gourmet comida tipica, Tiesto's is the place to get it. Best to go with a group if you can but they do serve individual meals as well as their dinners for 4.

A few weeks ago Shelley had spotted an electric sandwich maker ($35) at the appliance store near our place and it's existence had haunted her ever since. A few days ago, she got up from the couch, told Brian she'd be back in a less than half an hour and walked out to the store and bought it. (Fredi couldn't figure out what was going on.) It makes absolutely wondrous panini type sandwiches. On the boat you see, with so little room and even less counter space, we were unable to have any appliances except a microwave. Now we have a microwave, a blender, a slow cooker and our recently purchased sandwich maker. We've been eyeing electric cappuccino makers with a foamer at SuKasa lately but haven't yet taken the plunge. We have a perfectly fine Italian espresso stove top coffee maker that we used on the boat for many years & brought from Canada with us. There's nothing breakable about it, it only needs it's gasket changed about once every 2 years and it makes a perfectly good cup of coffee. People actually comment: "This is a great cup of coffee!" After years of living on the boat and having to be very careful about our purchases & somewhat prideful about our small "foodprint", the room we now have seems to be going to our heads. Helicopters, cappuccino machines, panini makers, slow cookers, blenders, microwaves ~ what could be next (?!) Do we need help?

Brian says hopefully, "What helicopter?"

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