Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Penguins are Expensive!

Monday is generally our shopping day. We lock poor Fredi in the bedroom (used to be the bathroom but she's a "grown up puppy" now) and trudge off to the store to spend more money than Brian wants to and less than Shelley wants to. We hustle around the store, dodging Spanish matrons that take up the entire aisle and eventually pay for our purchases using our SuperMaxi card for the discount. A box boy will bag everything up and help us hail a taxi to take us home. We're told Ecuadorians don't tip the box boy but we do.

We're old hands these days and the Spanish on the packaging doesn't faze us anymore. We know what we want. Upon arriving home, Brian leaves the taxi driver and numerous bags under Shelley's guidance and runs off to the basement for the apartment building's grocery cart. Shelley helps the driver haul bags from the trunk of the car and instructs him where to leave them on the sidewalk. Generally the driver wants to take the bags right to the door and Shelley usually has to be somewhat hard saying, "No! No! Aqui!" before they'll bend to her will (no sense doing more work than is required). We always give our grocery taxi driver a nice tip and when we encounter them again they're always quite pleased to give us a ride home.

Shelley sorts the groceries on the sidewalk into hard (won't be crushed) first; and soft (OMG! you flattened the bread again) last. Brian arrives with the apartment's grocery cart and we load everything up. Upon entering the apartment the first thing we do is let poor Fredi out of the bedroom. Fredi is SO HAPPY (!!!!!!!) to see us that she's out of her skin. We imagine she believes we'll never return, locking her into oblivion, having forgotten about her forever. She moans & whines & wiggles & carries on until she settles down enough for Shelley to give her the weekly chew bone treat. Then comes conflict; to eat the treat or continue LOVING the big ones.

After we unpack the groceries, we then take Fredi for a free-walk to her second favourite place in the whole wide world. We generally take treats with us and use this time as a training exercise.

Returning home, Shelley then cooks and cuts up fruit for the next couple of hours while Fredi & Brian have their nap. Old habits are hard to break and we got into the habit of doing a lot of prep work on the boat once a week. This was because we had a diesel stove that was extremely ornery to get started and once you got it started it was best to cook until you dropped. Our gas stove here is wonderful, but the convenience of prepping a week's worth of breakfasts and a couple of suppers ahead of time, is alluring. Shelley continues the habit.

Her back sore and only 30 minutes to go until it it's time to wake up Brian & Fredi, Shelley generally writes on the blog, Twitters & Stumbles away her free time. On a really good day, when pre-cooking hasn't been required, she gets to read too!

Thus, we wile away our days...

It occurred to Shelley that most, if not all of the pictures we've been putting on the blog show Cuenca and Ecuador in their best light. Most of Ecuador is stunningly beautiful. Maybe because we're so high up in the mountains, but it really does seem like the sky is closer & bigger & certainly overwhelming. In any case, we thought it would be OK to remind people that there are crumbling sidewalks & construction sites & deteriorating buildings. When you first come, particularly in Quito, the shabbiness & poverty is very evident. After you're here for awhile, you just don't see it that way any more. In talking with an Ecuadorian who lived in the States for 30 years, we conjectured that in a lot of cases perhaps it's a cultural thing; in Canada and the U.S. one paints their house every year or three; in Ecuador one paints their house when it really needs painting. There are parts that are worse & parts that are better. Certainly in Vancouver Canada there are parts of the Hastings Street area that remind us, it's not just Ecuador that has shabby areas, it's everywhere.

We went to a travel agency to see about a trip to the Galapagos in the fall. We had been told that September/October was off season and therefore the least expensive time to go, but this time they advised November. You can go on boat cruises throughout the Islands but it is very expensive and not as big a thrill for us (having lived on a boat for many years). It turned out that to see penguins was going to cost us $800 more than not to see penguins. This made a decision somewhat difficult because penguins are something of a family tradition. One of Shelley's girls has been collecting penguins since she was a toddler. However, $800 seemed like a lot! We have the travel agency putting together several packages for us to look at and then we'll decide. Likely we'll stay on either one or two islands for 4 nights and 5 days. We'll get a discount because we're permanent residents and another discount for Brian because he's over 65, but it's still quite expensive. Nevertheless, we'll try and make the trip because it seems wrong to live in Ecuador and not see the Galapagos. Penguins however, may get left on the wayside.

1 comment:

  1. also, leaving Fredi in the bedroom means that she won't have the chance to eat the toilet paper in the bathroom while you are out.