Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tungurahua Still Smoking

After bragging about not having a cold for almost 2 years, Tuesday morning Brian woke up feeling some what snuffy and with a bit of a cough. We went about our day with no more symptoms and in the evening we went out to the Terrace Bar & Grill (Av. del Estadio 1-36 y Florencia Astudillo) with another couple. We've only been there once before, but both meals were stupendous and we really enjoyed ourselves. (They specialize in great steaks!) As it was a Tuesday the place was almost empty but the other time we went was a weekend and the place was packed. It was a lovely evening with interesting people and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Wednesday morning Brian woke up quite stuffed up, had minor laryngitis & asked Shelley for the vitamin C (you know it's bad when he does that). Shelley took Fredi out for her walk alone and Brian spent the day snuffing & napping & coughing but not feeling terribly terribly awful. It's a small cold and it's warm out. It's not like being sick in the damp & cold, shivering, red nosed & miserable. We broke out some of Brian's chicken soup from the freezer so tomorrow the age old recipe should "cure" him. Thursday was more of the same. The soup definitely did some good but Brian still wasn't up to snuff. He had to beg off going to a concert in the evening as his laryngitis wasn't any better. He felt run down but not too awfully sick. Friday was bill day and we bundled Brian and his scratchy throat up and did our rounds. Everything went well but he was quite ready to lie down and read for awhile when we got home. Fredi wanted to know why nap time was so early?

The big news was the Tungurahua volcano exploded on Friday, forcing the evacuation of at least seven villages and closing down the airport at Guayaquil. The last time Tungurahua erupted (February 2008) we happened to be in Riobamba. We woke up in the morning and the streets were covered in ash, you could see the volcano smoke billowing in the distance and people walked around the streets with masks over their noses & mouths. It was all quite exciting! A couple of weeks later we went to Banos and rode up into the hills on ATVs to the point where we got a pretty good view of Tungurahua still smoking. By happenstance we ran into a fellow up in the hills that was a volcano watcher. They apparently have several of these people stationed in little huts near the various volcanoes with a bit of equipment and some pretty good binoculars. Although our Spanish wasn't that good, Brian and his friend Jan actually spent quite some time talking to the fellow and looking at maps, etc. In Cuenca right now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the occasional cloud scuds across and you'd never know there was a big commotion going on somewhere else in the country.

Regarding studying Spanish: When we first got to Cuenca we studied Spanish an hour and a half each day for almost a year. At that time, we decided we could have the weekends off and studied Spanish an hour a day, 5 days a week. Then we decided studying in the morning interfered with our shopping day, so we cut it down to 4 days a week for an hour each day. Then Brian got sick and we cut out studying all together. Then Brian got better but we decided not to resume studying until after our daughter had visited. After our daughter came and went, we just haven't gotten back to it. Thus, we studied Spanish for 19 months and are now taking a hiatus. Brian is much better at the language than Shelley is. He chats quite happily with taxi drivers, our security guard, our neighbours, people in the shops, etc. These days he'll even make a phone call to complain about our internet service (for example). Shelley's skills, despite studying along side Brian, aren't nearly as good. She still relies on a bright smile and pointing. (Don't underestimate what can be done with a bright smile and pointing!) Sooner or later we'll get back to our studying. Our pile of Spanish language study books sits in our computer room mocking us. We haven't given up; we're simply taking a vacation.

As we had been looking unsuccessfully for a small lamp for our spare bedroom for some time now, we decided to lock Fredi in the bedroom and take the #28 bus to SuperStock (Av. de las Americas S.N y Juan Larrea) on Saturday. We found a lamp right away, plus a couple of others things we had not intended to buy. We then stopped by Coral Centro and took a walk around but managed to resist buying anything. Our mega store shopping stamina has dwindled considerably and we wearily caught a bus home to an overjoyed Fredi.

On Sunday we did our usual: walked to the park, met some friends and chattered while sitting on a bench for awhile, got Brian's roast pig and caught the bus home. Sitting at the bus stop waiting along with us were 3 children between the ages of 4 and 10 (2 boys and a girl). They of course wanted to pet Fredi, know her name, whether she was male or female and where we were from. It's probably good for us to talk with children in that their language skills are closer to our own. Just before our bus came, we bought some home-made potato chips from them and waved goodbye. It was a lovely day.

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