Thursday, October 8, 2009

50 Cents Return

About once a month the "goat guy" comes around to the strip of grass near the island just across the street from our apartment building. If the river is low, he'll herd the goats on to the island. If the river is high, they'll munch away on the grass near the road until they make their way out of sight. We always have to watch Fredi more carefully for about a week after the goat guy's been by, as Fredi has been known to enjoy goat turds (Yew!) a little too much. We've been told if you bring a container, you can get fresh goat milk from the goat guy but we haven't tried this ourselves. A friend of ours wondered, when we'd told her this story, if we'd ever put it on the blog. Now we have.

When we did go grocery shopping at the SuperMaxi it wasn't as bad as we had imagined from our friend's telephone conversation. They were low on paper products: toilet paper, napkins, paper towels etc. and we bought two 12 rolls of toilet paper (just in case). They didn't have some meats and no packaged salads but this was not a great hardship. Depending, we suppose, on how long the indigenous people keep up the blockades on the roads, it could get worse but we've no concerns we'll be without food. The indigenous markets continue to be piled with meats, vegetables & fruits from local farms and we did a bit of stocking up on plastic wrap & baggies etc. just in case.

We've since heard that the SuperMaxi got down to bare shelves in a number of areas and then was completely re-stocked the following day, so we assume a big shipment came through.

It's 12:53 in the afternoon. Brian & Fredi are down for their nap. Strident music & shouted instructions come from the school next to the hospital across the river. It's unusual for the demented school master to be making noise this time of day. A steady stream of cars exits & enters from the street beside the school so it's probably lunch break and the end of the school day for the early kids and the beginning of the school day for the late kids. A hummingbird feeds at Brian's feeder. Lately he's had to fill it every 2 days. We've decided it has something to do with the weather in that they're more active if its a bit warmer. It's not hot and it's not cool right now. You can easily walk on the street in a shirt but it's overcast. It still hasn't rained well for weeks and river is still very low.

Dreaming about empanadas and having run out of the supply we picked up, Brian wanted to take Fredi for a free walk at the base of the bank/museum and then stop at the Chilean empanada place and pick up a dozen. This is, of course, exactly what we did. The empanadas had just come out of the oven. Shelley & Fredi waited for Brian outside and were a little taken aback when Brian emerged carrying a fairly large box.

"How many did you get?" Shelley asked wondering how she'd fit them all into the freezer.

He'd only purchased the agreed upon dozen but the box was the only thing they had to put them in that was suitable for piping hot, straight out of the oven empanadas. He also got a bag of chips which they also hand make at the same place.

"There's a service area and an open door into the kitchen area" Brian told Shelley. "When I got in there, there was no one in the service area so I poked my head into the kitchen area. There were 4 ladies there with about 100 empanadas laid out on the table ready to go into the oven. I told them their empanadas were the best in Cuenca! They giggled."

We caught the bus home, not wanting to lug the awkward box any further than necessary. The entire bus filled up with the smell of fresh baked empanadas. Everyone seemed in a very good mood!

Ready for one of our magical mystery city bus tours, we hopped on a #16 heading East on Gran Colombia. It wandered it's way through El Centro and then headed into the hills North of town. Up, up, up we went into the hills until we finally hit a barrio called San Pedro. The air actually felt fresher and it was a bit cooler there. At San Pedro were hundreds and hundreds of fairly new row houses as well as acres of land with the infrastructure put in (roads, street lights, sidewalks, etc.) but no houses built yet. Brian conjectured that the row houses might be part of an initiative by Presidente Correa to provide low cost housing for the people. In any event, it was quite an impressive array of construction. Interspersed were small rustic adobe structures just down the street from very large, high end mega homes. We got out of the bus at the terminus and walked a few blocks to get some exercise and spent most of the time fending off stray dogs. The San Pedro area appears to be very pleasant; lots of activity, kids going to school and new construction. Once again, we had the pleasure of exploring a large neighbourhood of Cuenca that most people would never get to see; all for 50 cents return.

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