Monday, August 18, 2008

Window to Ecuador

"Listen, Brian, Listen" Shelley said as she shuffled across the apartment floor, her slippers making a clip clop noise. "That's a noise we haven't heard for 13 years. I guess the boat wasn't hollow enough." Life on the boat was small and cozy and even though we went to some effort to get the smallest apartment we viewed, it's still huge compared to our living arrangements before. "I'll lose weight from the exercise of just walking from the bedroom to the front room" Shelley told Brian.

Another day was spent in waiting. The gas man was supposed to arrive at noon. Our friend came over at 12:30 p.m. with a Porta internet lady and we discussed their packages if in fact it turned out we could not hook into Grupo TVCable. At 1 p.m. a phone call was made to the gas man and we were told they hadn't arrived because of a "solder" problem.

"Welcome to Ecuador" our young friend advised us.

Firming up yet another arrival time for the gas man, we went to the Mercado Feria Libre el Arenal (People's Market) 15 minutes walk down the street and wandered through the maze of meat, clothes, fruits & vegetables, chickens, dogs, a live turkey and bunnies until we finally happened upon a place selling terra cotta pots. We bought a large pot for the elephant foot plant we'd purchased a couple of days ago, along with a colander, 2 wooden spoons & fruit for breakfast.

The gas man arrived at 4:00 p.m., cut out the offending pipe with cement stuck in it and soldered in a new one. Soon as he left, Shelley started a load of clothes to test out the whole system and Brian walked over to the local liquor store and bought a bottle of wine. We, of course, do not have wine glasses yet, but having overcome our hurdle with the gas man & can opener debacle felt a bottle of wine in celebration would go nicely with Brian's special spaghetti.

We, of course, did not have a cork screw.

When we came to Ecuador during our holiday in February and March, we came to the conclusion that shop openings were random; according to the whim of the shop owner. We have now discovered that a good many of the shops will close for 2 hours between noon and 3:00 p.m. Lunch is a big thing with Ecuadorians. A family will go to a great deal of effort to gather and have a large lunch together. Having forgotten this, we set off to purchase the last big item we were looking for: a futon for the spare bedroom. The shop was closed when we got there and looking through the window we could see they no longer had the futon we'd scoped out a couple of weeks before.

Oh well.

We took a cab downtown and had a coffee and bought a few cactus & succulent plants and headed home so Brian could have a nap. We'd spent the morning at SuperMaxi & Sukasa again, purchasing a microwave & a carving knife & wine glasses & a cork screw & place mats for the table & groceries & setting ourselves up with a SuperMaxi bonus card. We'll have to do some sleuthing to find a futon as we've only seen the one so far, but we're more or less satisfied we're down to the lesser details.

Got up Sunday morning with that lazy, happy, sunny Sunday feeling, ate breakfast, changed the sheets and put on a load of laundry before we went out. The washer worked wonderfully (we are very pleased) but the dryer only hummed; the basket didn't turn at all. This being only our second load, it was rather a disappointment. The first load dried fine and there were no clunks or smell of smoke to indicate it wouldn't do the same thing the next time we turned it on. We spent some time trouble shooting and then gave up and hung our sheets around the apartment.

Our young friend was amazed that we hadn't yet been to Mirador de Turi, so we grabbed a cab and went up the hillside to see the view, enjoy the beautiful day and try and put behind us our dryer disappointment. The view was spectacular but once you've soaked that up there's not much else to do. They have an artisan market and cafeteria but there was nothing there you couldn't see anywhere else and outside that building were several teenage boys listening to Spanish rap loud enough that the music carried everywhere you would want to walk to up there.

On the way home we stopped at what the signage said was an Italian Deli. Brian's been trying to find spicy sausage to put in his spaghetti. They could not provide. We did, however, pick up a lovely wooden fish plaque (by Ernesto Jaramillo) at a small upscale artisan market called Artes de la Tierra. There were several things there that were very nice and reasonably priced so we promised the Senorita that we'd be back. They featured the beautiful ceramic work of Eduardo Vega. He is considered Ecuador's top ceramicist and is apparently well known in art circles around the world. Last time we were here we saw an exhibition of his work at a major museum downtown and were very taken with his work. We did spring for a mug ($12) but passed (for now) on a vase for $110.

Outside our windows it seems like we get a microcosm of Ecuadorian life. As Shelley is typing this, Brian is in our hallway, chattering to her, camera in hand, taking a picture of a family having a picnic on the bank of the Tomebamba, their pet bunny happily hopping around them. It's a voyeurism of a sort, but we're harmless and enchanted. Goatherds watching their charges, young men fishing in the River, an older woman picking herbs; it's not a Canadian view. We regularly spy people relieving themselves in the grove, there's a man that brings his German Shepherd and trains him on the lawn, Cuenca street cleaners in their green uniforms slowly walk by keeping the City clean and even when people are absent the river flows timelessly on its course.

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure! Just stumbled on your blog, but it is very interesting and I will check back for more.