The only hitch Sammy went through on her flights here was that her Houston to Quito leg was delayed one hour. Brian did manage to get curry powder in Quito, as well as chili flakes and some Italian seasoning. Sammy brought all the requested goodies from Canada and we spent an hour when she first arrived at the apartment showing off the bounty we'd accumulated for each other. It's been a rough few days for Sammy; she had spent the previous week not getting more than 4 hours sleep a night and was up from 5 a.m. Friday until midnight Saturday with just little cat naps on the plane. Thus, after having a shower we spent the afternoon drinking coffee, sitting on the patio and chatting quietly, getting caught up with each other and just being glad we were together. In the late afternoon we took a walk downtown. Sammy got sprayed across her shoulders by a giant water gun from a car and we saw several young people brandishing water balloons but managed to stay off their radar. A lot of shops are normally quiet on Sunday but this Sunday most everything was closed down. The place we had thought we'd eat at wasn't open, so we ended up having pizza at Nice Cream. It was fine. We got home about 6 o'clock and chatted and watched TV and Sammy ended up falling asleep on the couch at around 7:30.
On Monday, as per our usual, we went shopping at SuperMaxi. This may sound unexciting for a visitor but just about everyone is interested in what a grocery store carries. Brian is going to show Sammy how to make his "semi-world-famous (well in our house)" beef stew, so he took her to the meat counter and showed her which cuts of beef to buy. Believe it or not, Sammy picked up a container of that hard dish soap (sapolia) to take back as a semi-gag gift for one of her friends. Since shopping seemed to be our theme for the day after we returned home, Sammy & Shelley set off for the Mall del Rio. As it's carnival time, there were no buses so we took a cab ($2.50 from our place). Shelley had wanted Sammy to see one of Ecuador's modern malls so that she'd form a correct impression of the country right from the get go. We ate at Burger King and enjoyed that but a mall's a mall & prices there were relatively North American equivalent. After trudging around looking at most of the shops, we took another cab downtown & went to the Nice Cream for tea & cappuccino. Downtown was quiet. Most of the stores & restaurants were still closed. We encountered several marauding groups of teenagers and got slightly wet one time until a balloon was thrown at us and didn't pop. We then had our own ammunition and were safe after that. We walked home from downtown and upon arrival Shelley had a bath, soaking her aching feet & Sammy Skyped her husband. Fredi was very happy to see us (especially Sammy; the little unloyal puppy hussy).
The next day we walked downtown once again, hopeful that something would be open. As it turned out, the Barranco Panama Hat Museum on Calle Larga 10-41 was open and Sammy bought her husband a genuine panama hat & a straw purse for herself. Incidentally, we met a young fellow from Victoria, B.C. who was at the Panama Hat Museum setting up a website for them (small world). In the near future, anyone in the world will be able to buy a panama hat from the Barranco Hat Museum in Cuenca.
There were a few more shops with their shutters up but largely downtown was dead. Once again, we carefully sidestepped water bombers, getting only slightly damp and eventually stopped in the middle of town. We had ice cream and then caught a cab home. After lunch, when Brian & Fredi went down for their naps, Sammy & Shelley took a walk through the neighbourhood. We'd been invited out for dinner that evening at a friend's place and thus spent a couple of hours at home relaxing in the afternoon before going out. Our evening out was wonderful. The hostess served salt tenderized beef with broccoli salad, lemon roasted potatoes & a home made sponge cake with strawberries & whipped cream. As always at their place, the meal was fantastic. We'd never been to their new home before and were delighted by the extra special touches throughout their lovely hobbitesque adobe house.
Off we went on Wednesday to the Feria Libre Market. Sammy said it reminded her of the outdoor market in Richmond, B.C. which has a very strong mainland Chinese influence. Brian & Shelley both groaned as it seems there is nothing in Ecuador that startles or hugely impresses her. This is not to say she's not having a good time, she is, but perhaps it's easier for young people to assimilate (?) or Sammy just is very hard to impress. In the morning before we left, Brian taught her the basics in making his beef stew and after we came back from the market, he continued to show her the various steps. Sammy's told Brian she can't duplicate his recipes until she's actually seen him prepare it from start to finish so she especially asked he make this while she was here.
All the pictures on this blog were taken by Sammy. We've tried to get her to take pictures of the meat hanging in the markets, and a whole roast pig and raw & cooked cuy but she refuses. "I'll take the pictures I want to take" she tells us.
Sammy & Shelley tried (for the 2nd time) to go to the Modern Art Museum but it was closed yet again. Before it was closed due to carnival, this time the closure may have had something to do with siesta. In any case, disappointed once again, we walked downtown. We looked inside the fabulous court house building, stopped for tea & bought souvenirs for Sammy's friends & relatives back home. After wandering around for several hours we caught a blue bus home just so Sammy could have the "bus" experience. She said just before we boarded, "I guess I'd better hang on, huh?!"