It turned out to be a chore day for us on Friday as we ventured downtown to refill our phone for a month ($10), refill our 2 bus passes for about 2 months ($20) and drop into the CB Carolina Bookstore for another ten books ($40).
"Remember when just filling up the phone card seemed to take us the whole morning?" Shelley asked Brian.
"That's because we didn't know what to ask for, didn't know where to go, didn't know how to ask for it and generally didn't know anything." he replied.
Brian had spent some time that same morning phoning around trying to find someone who would go to the symphony with him that evening. It took 3 calls (the other 2 were already busy) to find someone happy to accompany him to the Cuenca Symphony Orchestra's musical dramatization "Mozart Comes to Visit". When Brian returned home from his evening out he reported that he had run into several of our friends. The concert was geared towards children and families and they had a character dressed up as Mozart who was instructing the conductor of the orchestra how his music should be played. There was a lot of audience participation and as usual the Cuenca symphony was first class. On leaving the concert, Brian accompanied a friend to the main square which was teeming with people celebrating Corpus Christi replete with fireworks, pastry & candy booths and thousands of people. It was a real family occasion with lots of little kids and everybody socializing and generally having a wonderful time.
Another one of those things we don't notice so much any more are the store mannequins. When we first got here it was hard not notice that Cuenca had imported all the mannequins from our childhood and then saved them. This blog displays only some of these vintage mannequins around town.
A walk around the neighbourhood sufficed for our morning outing on Saturday as we were meeting some friends at the California Kitchen for dinner. The California Kitchen is Cuenca's newest eatery, started up by U.S. ExPats in the spirit of an old-fashioned classic dinner. Great hamburgers! Brian had a Yosemite Steak Sandwich and cheesecake that he declared to be among the best he's ever eaten. It's neat to see this restaurant being successful and as usual we had a very pleasant visit with our friends (who highly recommend the berry cobbler).
Down at the park on Sunday we ran into several people we know and ended up showing the roast pig place to some newcomers to Cuenca. Monday we went shopping and Shelley made chili (chili powder courtesy of a friend who brought some from Canada). Shelley's chili recipe is to dump cans of whatever she can find in the cupboard (beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn, green beans, mushrooms, potatoes, etc) together with pre-cooked ground burger (and/or chicken) and chili powder (to taste) into a slow cooker and cook until the room smells good. It always seems to work.
In Canada people will often grow Norfolk pine trees indoors. In Parque Calderon in Cuenca there are Norfolk pine trees that are over 70 feet tall. It's hard to equate those huge pine trees, as big as a Douglas Fir, to the somewhat bigger than bonsai ones grown inside our homes in Canada. A few months ago Shelley spotted a 3 foot Norfolk pine at a nursery and wanted to get it to grow indoors. Brian, doubting Shelley's wisdom, asked the fellow at the nursery if it was possible to grow these magnificent trees inside. The fellow was aghast! Shelley stomped off, disappointed Brian would doubt her knowledge and we ended up not buying the tree. A few weeks later, we happened upon a poor, deformed, Norfolk seedling at one of the flower markets for $1. Shelley bought the defective plant and took it into her home and nurtured it and made it welcome. We're now happy to report it is doing just fine indoors, has grown to be about 2 feet tall these days, has worked past it's bent deformity and is now growing a straight strong trunk. In Canada, we had a Douglas Fir, grown from a seedling, in a pot on the back of the boat, outside. Shelley called it Fred. Fred Fir. We had to leave Fred behind when we came to Ecuador and now this lovely survivor Norfolk pine has taken its place. What should be call it; perhaps Norbert? Norman?
If Fredi could say "yippee", she would have so exclaimed, because on Tuesday we went off to her mostest favoritest place in the world ~ Parque Paraiso. We've been planning on going several times and always the day dawned to rain and we were put off. This time, as we were waiting for the #14 bus, we conjectured we might just end up going for a bus ride only because of the threatening rain, but as it happened things worked out. If we go on a week day the park isn't too crowded and Fredi can roar around, off the leash, to her heart's content. All we need to do is remember to bring Puppy Treats so we can entice her back right away if need be. We did our usual turn around the park, past the playground equipment, past the island and the geese in the pond, past the occasional lovers, up onto the bridge system over the marshy area, alongside the river and then back in the the main park, crossing to the football field and past the concessions. Fredi would madly dash off to see a butterfly, joggers in the park, little children with their parents, flowers on the bushes or just out of pure exuberance to be off the leash and free, free, free.