Two years ago last February we gave up smoking. The last cigarette we both had was on the boat before we went off to the airport for our initial trip to Ecuador. Because everything was different & strange & exciting it was fairly easy to quit. Of course there are moments and believe it or not, those moments continue to pop up even now, some 2 years later. Shelley was getting ready to go out, brushing her hair, etc. and knew she'd be ready about 5 minutes before it was time to go.
"Remember that cigarette you used to have after you were ready to go out but before it was time?" she asked Brian.
There are absolutely no real regrets for either one of us regarding quitting. One wishes there wasn't the the almost inevitable weight gain but having a cold last 3 days instead of 3 weeks with a vicious cough is a marvelous thing. We've been told for some that occasional longing for a smoke never goes away completely. Doesn't happen too often but these days it always takes us by surprise.
In the evening on Wednesday we went out to a suburb of Cuenca and had dinner at a friend's place along with another friend. The day had been spent mostly puttering around, so it was lovely to go for the long taxi ride, see some scenery we don't normally see and enjoy the company of folks we really like. Thursday morning we took a bus down to the CB Caroline Bookstore & traded in our 10 books and picked up 10 more. As usual we ran into several people and chatted and got to catch up with Carol as well. Doctor's orders: Carol is spending less time at the front desk these days so it was nice to see her! She and Fredi have a "special" relationship & always enjoy their time together. Brian had an East Indian cooking class in the afternoon from 3 'til 6 so we caught the bus home from the bookstore and had a quick lunch so Brian could go down for an early nap.
Later on, Shelley & Fredi stayed home and discussed politics, world peace, global warming & whether or not Leo (Fredi's lion toy) should be disciplined. We generally had a nice few hours. Meanwhile, Brian trundled off to his cooking class to learn more about East Indian cuisine. These classes have been talked about in other blogs but this was the first one either of us had been part of.
Brian arrived home very enthusiastic about the experience. Basically, the instructor Leslie ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) prepared 4 different traditional Indian dishes. Brian remarked that although he's not terribly fond of cilantro, 3 of the dishes contained this herb, but the blend of spices were such that they weren't overwhelmed by the cilantro. There was a chicken dish, a veal dish, a curry dish with hard boiled eggs and a chick pea dish. There was much discussion about how and where to obtain the myriad of spices required and the group amongst themselves were able to identify sources for just about everything. The cooking class is also a social occasion and everybody sits down and eats the food prepared by Leslie. So a couple of glasses of wine (brought by the students) and good company and a great taste experience made it all quite wonderful!
On our bill day, Friday, Brian was outraged because the combined bill for cold water & electricity was $21. After much huffing & puffing we figured out the water was high because of our leaking toilets and probably the electricity was high because of the new TV. It has a standby feature so it never really gets turned off. It's amazing how soon you can adapt to lower prices. Spending between $150 & $300 on heat & electricity in Canada is not unusual. Canada's water is free (one of the few countries that provides that) but heating in the winter & lighting through the dark months makes Canada one of the highest consumers of oil per capita. On the boat we paid a set fee of $30 per month for electricity at the dock and this topped up the boat's battery & kept the heaters running in the winter. The real scary part was filling up the 200 gallon tank with diesel. Last time we did it, it cost $800. Consumption depended on how often we used the diesel stove and how much travelling we did. We usually topped up the tank once a year in the fall to reduce condensation.
On Saturday we did chores, walking half-way downtown to pick up a 3 ring binder & some tomatoes. It was hot outside and we were glad to get home and out of the sun. Later on that evening we had our second biblical rain in a row. Heavy, hard, pounding rain for half an hour or so and then a steady downpour for several hours after that. The river quickly filled and splashed up the bank and over the end of the small island outside our window. We managed to walk Fredi between real downpours but her little feet still got wet & dirty. Sunday there was yet another running marathon and we followed it most of the way downtown. We found out this was the largest event of its kind here and now in its 48th year. Half way there, a friend spotted us and we went up to their apartment and watched the runners for awhile and had a cup of coffee before we continued out way to the Park. There we spotted some stilt dancers and later of course, Brian picked up roast pig.
While we were visiting our friends and watching the marathon from their window, we got into a small discussion as to when we'd go back to where we came from. Some return often, with family obligations & business affairs, some only once in awhile with weddings & babies & funerals & life's milestones. Some want never to go back. All of it's OK; we've each of us our own agenda. Shelley's homesickness seems to have abated. It's been months now since she's been struck by an attack but who knows? Like quitting cigarettes, it may creep up from time to time when least expected. That's not the point. The point is, here we are in the last quarter of our lives. Enjoying new adventures & coping with life's curve balls.
When we were downtown we passed an elderly indigenous woman, no shoes on her feet, resting. Her hands in her pockets, not moving. Not begging. We walked past and Brian reached into his pocket and pulled out his change. He knows Shelley likes to provide to the elderly & the crippled. Shelley picked out a fifty cent piece and walked back to give it to the woman. Her hand darted out of her pocket in the blink of an eye. Shelley dropped the fifty cent piece in her palm, nodded to her (she nodded back) and walked away.
"It could be me", Shelley tells those who ask.