Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hummingbirds, Goats & Puppies

Shelley cut Brian's hair a few months ago. They'd been discussing it for years and Brian had told Shelley when he retired she could do his hair. We both were very pleased no one pointed to him on the street or laughed (in front of him) but concurred he should go to a professional next time he needed a cut. Shelley mentioned to him that it had grown out very nicely. Brian didn't seem to think this recommended it. In any case, off we went to a salon that advertised unisex cuts (on Calle Larga) and Brian had his hair done by a lovely Columbian lad who chattered away at him in Spanish the whole time. At one point Shelley asked, "Are you getting all this?" and Brian replied "most of it". Apparently coming from Columbia it takes a while to "get" the accent here in Cuenca. Everybody at the salon, of course loved Fredi & Brian ended up with a pretty good hair cut.

Six Canadians went out for dinner. That may be some kind of record; number of Canadians gathered in Ecuador. There we are, 6 souls from the frozen north, eating Italian food in Cuenca with an Ecuadorian puppy in heat lying under the table. We discussed (briefly) American politics. We talked at length about learning Spanish and adjusting to a new culture. We were all agreed that the Ecuadorian approach to life does differ from what we are used to in Canada and as recent arrivals, the onus is on us to adjust & adapt. It's not a question of better or worse, it's simply good manners.

After six months, Brian's patience has finally paid off! Regular readers may remember that we searched all over Cuenca to find a hummingbird feeder. After 2 months of inquiries, we stumbled across a hardware store whose garden department looked like the Sears Roebuck of hummingbird feeders. There were at least a half dozen different styles. Brian was familiar with one particular style, having had a number of them over the years in Canada. When we got it home and unpacked it from it's box, we discovered that in fact, it was actually made in Canada! So we armed it up with nectar and sat back and waited...and waited...and waited...

Weeks and weeks went by. Finally, Shelley complained of the jug full of hummingbird nectar taking up room in the fridge and so we threw it away. Naturally, the very next day we noticed the level in the feeder had dropped significantly and then (joy of joys) we spotted a hummingbird actually feeding. We expect that, because we're on the 4th floor of our building, hummingbirds don't normally search this far up. But now we've been discovered and there are several hummingbirds using our feeder. Sometimes there's even conflict between them; mini hummingbird fights! When we initially went on our search for a hummingbird feeder we had to determine the Spanish word for it. The best we came up with was "despensadora de colibri" - literally hummingbird (colibri) dispenser. Cuenca has several hummingbird statues throughout town and from time to time there are hummingbird photo displays & art displays. Side note: the hummingbirds we've seen appear to be about twice as big as the hummingbirds back in Canada.

The other day we were at the big people's market at Feria Libre. We love going there and always make a point of checking out the puppies & kittens for sale, along with the geese, chickens, cuy (guinea pigs) & other assorted animals. It's such a vibrant place to be! As we were leaving on this particular occasion, Brian was carrying Fredi who caught the attention of two ladies who were tending several goats. Nothing would do but that the ladies were given the opportunity to ooh & aah over our little goodwill ambassador and a fairly lengthy conversation ensued. Brian explained to the ladies that Fredi was short for Frederika. He then asked if they name their goats. The ladies were very pleased to let us know that yes indeed they do give the goats names and proceeded to introduce us to Matilda, Veronica & the other 2 whose names we've unfortunately forgotten. A tiny slice of Ecuadorian life.

A friend of ours from Vancouver is coming to Cuenca for 5 days next week. Although we offered, he told us he preferred to stay in a hostel, so we spent the morning going from hostel to hostel trying to get the best deal, location & ambiance we could find for him. Unfortunately Macondo, the place we stayed, was booked during the time he wanted to come. We ultimately got him a room at Hostal Orquidea which is right down town in Cuenca for $20 for a single with bathroom & TV (including breakfast). Brian had to do some fast talking to get breakfast included but in the end his Spanish impressed the desk clerk so much he talked him into it. While Brian was going in and out of hostels, Shelley would usually find a corner to sit down and wait for him with Fredi outside. On every single occasion, at least one person stopped and admired Fredi. "Se llama Fredi!" she'd tell them. "La raza es Shih Tsu". We also picked up some buns (4), a bag of tomatoes (6), a bunch of those little bananas (8) & 4 pounds of coffee spending the outrageous price of $11.50. For some reason it was a very gratifying outing and we all came home quite satisfied with ourselves.

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