Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Steps Back

It was time for another Magical Mystery Tour on Saturday so we caught a #12 bus headed East and eventually, through quite a meandering ride, ended up in the small town of Banos.  We didn't go to the hot springs but wandered around the main square, took a mini-tour of the beautiful church that's there and Brian had lunch (chicken leg, rice, vegetables, potatoes, agua con gas).  We walked up a set of stairs to a lookout and got a fantastic view of Cuenca down in the valley.  On the way home the bus ended up downtown.  We weren't sure how far out it would go in the opposite direction before it turned around and took us near our home, so we got off and caught another bus whose route we were familiar with.  Total cost of several hours entertainment for 2 plus one lunch: $3.10.  

The park was wonderful on Sunday as usual and we ran into 3 people and chatted before we set off to the market.  On the way to the park  we encountered a religious parade, several men in blue robes carrying a large statue of the Virgin of San Miguel on a platform, with people from the congregation in front & behind holding up pictures of the Saint and chanting.  There were probably 40 - 60 people in the parade and the traffic, without benefit (it seemed) of police direction, just avoided it.  Ah ha!  This is how you get pedestrian right-of-way. 

Canadian Thanksgiving is the weekend of October 9-11 and as we plan on buying a turkey, giving it time to thaw and cooking it for several people on Sunday, we did not go shopping on Monday.  Our plan is to get the turkey and accessories on Wednesday, thus giving it a reasonable 4 days to thaw.  Instead, on Monday we needed to go to the bank and also pay our internet bill, plus do a favour for a friend currently out of country.  (We know everyone who reads this blog will be shocked.  "They didn't shop on Monday!" you'll mumble to yourself.  "What's the world coming to?"  ---We're afraid you'll just have to cope.)  Taking care of business was easier said than done.  First we went to our usual bank to withdraw some money from the machine.  Three times we tried and 3 times no money was spit out at us, instead the machines just whirred and gurgled and otherwise did nothing.  On the third try we were told however, that we were over on our transactions for the day.  "Oh Great!"    We then trudged home to see if any money had come out of our account.  Fortunately, none had.  That at least was a relief.  Having no idea what was going on, we decided to defer getting cash until the next day.  (We're not sure we had any other choice.) Brian then headed out on his own to hopefully and finally pay our internet bill.  Later, back at home, he announced his success and then we awaited a phone call to finish up our chores for the day.   The call came in at 2:46 in the afternoon.  Fortunately, Brian was just waking up from his nap and he was able to take care of business for our friends.  Now...all we need is to be able to take money out of a bank machine tomorrow! 

All Pictures:  Banos (near Cuenca)
 Well, we went back to the bank on Tuesday and tried the machine once again.  Once again, nothing happened except the machine eventually asked us if we needed more time.  We happened to notice another gringo seemed to be having the same problem, so he & Brian went into the bank and asked an English speaking teller what was going on.  She had no idea.  Upon arriving home, we checked the internet to see if there was any comment on Cirrus being down or ATM's on strike in South America or something....but the net was silent.  The other fellow had contacted his bank in the United States the day before and had been advised there was nothing wrong with his card so we knew it wasn't just Canada and wasn't just us.  Shelley sent a couple of e-mails out inquiring of other people if they were having the same problem and at this point, we have our fingers crossed that things will be back to normal tomorrow. 

It was with a fluttery heart that we headed off on Wednesday to go to the bank and then on to do our shopping.  Standing at the banking machine, having punched in all the right numbers, it seemed an eon went by....and came out of the machine!  Glorious, green, beautiful, money.  We have no idea what went wrong.  Other than the fellow we met at the bank yesterday, no one we knew had tried to get money.  We were only thankful that today it worked. 

Off we scampered to do our shopping for Canadian Thanksgiving.  We bought a turkey.  They didn't have any brussels sprouts; oh well.  (This is not to say they don't have brussels sprouts in Ecuador; they do.  Just not the day we want them.)  We bought carrots & turnips to be mashed together with butter & brown sugar.  We also got onion & bread for the homemade stuffing & potatoes to be mashed with sour cream & butter.  (Not a diet meal this.)  We were forced to buy a substitute for sour cream (the store didn't have any) and broccoli as a substitute for brussels sprouts.  We plan to make pecan pie but already have all the fixings for that.  We've been asked with curiosity by several U.S. Americans what the Canadian Thanksgiving meal was like.  This is ours; exactly the same as our Christmas meal, except for Christmas we have rum cake instead of pecan pie.  If you're of Italian descent, it may be lasagna; Ukrainian - perogies, etc.  Between Brian and Shelley, there's English, Scottish, American Indian, Welsh & Norwegian.  The above was our compromise between dried fish, pickled pigs feet, bannock & haggis.  Oh...we also have buns (of course) and a baked sweet potato.  In Ecuador the sweet potatoes are purple, so that should be colourful. 

Arriving home, Shelley put away the groceries and made pesto (we just like it...on just about...everything) while Brian took Fredi for a walk and later he tried to get in touch with someone in Canada.  The phone call just wouldn't go through.  It's been a frustrating couple of days that way, with several spanners thrown into the works, but we are trying to get back on track and looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner.

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