|All Pictures of Parque Paraiso in Cuenca|
It's Wednesday in the late afternoon. Brian's on the computer. Shelley's lying on the couch, her feet up on the back, reading. Fredi's on the floor below Shelley, chewing on a chewy. The lightning cracks & the thunder booms just about at the same time. It's all quite spectacular. Fredi looks up. Shelley looks up. Brian shouts from the bedroom. There's biblical rain for about 20 minutes. Then it's all over. An hour later, the sky is blue & clear, the sun is shining and it's gorgeous out.
The end of the month brought our bill day on Thursday and we had also arranged to meet a friend for lunch. We managed to pay our water & electricity but when we tried to pay our internet the building was closed. Next we wandered down to our bank and found the front door locked up and people were being let in one at a time. We managed to get in and got our business done but while we were in there they stopped allowing anyone else access. We were a bit early to meet our friend, so we wandered to the park to sit on a bench and wait for awhile. There was a large demonstration going on with a couple of hundred people waving flags just across the street from the park. We often see demonstrations at this location and didn't think too much about it. On our way there, however, we noticed that most of the businesses had locked themselves up tight. While we were sitting, several soldiers wandered through the park and stopped just this side of the demonstration; not involving themselves but keeping an eye. People were standing in door ways peeking out at the demonstrators and excitedly talking to one another. We sat in the park oblivious and listened to speakers speaking in Spanish and wondered what was going on. When it was time to meet our friend we walked to the restaurant where they had a television and apparently there were protests all over Ecuador in that the President had recently cut back on some of the Police's benefits. We watched the President of Ecuador on TV, at one point pulling his tie out & ripping his shirt open in defiance, trying to get his point across. We suppose the businesses were closed because there were no Police available in case of trouble. Either that or they were worried about riots. It was hard to catch a taxi (not too many were on the street) but we did and we made it home just fine. Later on, we found out when the President tore his shirt open he was daring someone to shoot him. Apparently he was gassed & held hostage for a few hours. Ecuador eventually declared a State of Emergency. Meanwhile, Brian & Shelley walked around with their heads in the sky, annoyed because they couldn't pay their internet bill.
Our evening was peaceful and Friday dawned quietly. The news advised us that 2 people had been killed in Quito & something like 80 injured in riots. Banks & government offices & schools were closed by decree (so we still couldn't pay our internet bill) but when we went for a walk in our neighbourhood everything seemed tranquil. We fielded several inquiries about our safety from family & friends out of country and thought perhaps the international news coverage made the whole thing seem just a tad more spectacular than it was. We saw 3 motorcycle cops on patrol when we were on our walk so assume most if not all of the Police are back on duty. The head cop for Ecuador resigned and there are promises that other heads will roll. Apparently a couple of stores were gutted in Guayaquil but Cuenca seemed to handle the whole thing with a certain cautious yet resigned aplomb.
Yesterday our Ecuadorian neighbour scoffed at us when Brian said it was an exciting day. "It's nothing" he told us and politely hid his laugh at the easily alarmed gringos. Yesterday the President of the country was baring his chest & then was held captive for a few hours and today it's business as usual. There's a routine here like anywhere. Shelley's hay-fever starts to get bad and the green suited men with the weed wackers are sure to show up within a couple of days. Yesterday we wandered the town annoyed a Country's business was interfering with our own routine. Today, like most of it's citizens, we're enjoying the sun, content with our lot and wondering what all the fuss was about. Now if we could only get that stupid internet bill paid.