Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!
They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Ecuador (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter) but there were a few restaurants that had special Thanksgiving dinners available for the expats. We didn’t go to any of them, instead chose to stay home and have chicken(neither one of us is crazy about turkey). We had our first Spanish lesson and very much enjoyed our teacher, Gisella. She’s a singer in a band (go figure) but it was quite by accident we hooked up with her. We contacted her boyfriend, Esteban, for lessons but he didn’t have the time and mentioned his girlfriend also gave lessons. So, we’re learning Spanish and a bit about the culture and how to act. It’s quite interesting, but
We’ve been spending time settling in to a new routine, and so far it has worked out well. We haven’t made any more major faux pas on the bus, we’ve been able to communicate with the Spanish-only speakers by pointing, using hand gestures, and smiling a lot. But since we started Spanish lessons hopefully we’ll get better.
Bob was jonesing for a hamburger the other day and we found a place called San Sebas Cafe that was supposed to have the best burgers. It was a little further on the bus but it was worth it. Bob had his hamburger with fries and a salad, and we discovered a pleasant little park in front of the restaurant.
San Sebastien Park
It was pleasant and peaceful sitting in the park.
When we left the park we had to find the bus stop to return to the apartment. Since most of the streets are one way in “Old Town” Cuenca, we could not just get on where we got off. We had to go to a different street. To get there, we had to go down an impressive set of steps (there are quite a few of these steps in Cuence). We were thankful we didn’t have to go UP these steps!
When we got to the bottom, we stopped at a nice little outdoor cafe and had some coffee and chocolate cake! The red awning marks the cafe at still another little plaza.
The footbridge crosses the Tombebamba river.
The river — not quite as big as the Ohio!
But we did make it back and were ready to start out again the next day. We again headed for El Centro (Old Town) for breakfast. (Does it seem that all we are doing is eating???) But we couldn’t find the place we were looking for, and we stumbled across a hostel where we had breakfast the last time we were in Cuenca in 2013. There were a few twenty-something backpackers in the hostel and there was music playing softly — it was Spanish music, but I felt as though we had stumbled into “Hotel California”!
The restaurant in the hostel, AKA “Hotel California”
Just so you don’t think that all we are doing is eating, here are some observations made while walking around:
— The majority of the Ecuadorians (male and female) have the most beautiful, thick and shiny hair.
— The rain is generally soft and gentle and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.
— The clouds, both rain and white cumulus, don’t move very fast. It’s sometimes hard to tell which direction they’re moving. (it could have something to do with the fact that we are close to the equator and stuck between the northern and southern hemisphere — the doldrums as the sailors call it.)
— All the school students (both public and private) wear uniforms consisting of pleated skirts and white blouses for the girls and dress pants and dress shirts for the boys. The schools have different colors (some plaid, some plain) with jackets.
— Only the private schools have school buses. The majority of the students use the public buses.
— Don’t get on a bus between 2 PM and 3 PM when the schools let out. The students pack onto the bus like ants on a cookie crumb and you can’t move.
— The people in South America have a different concept of “personal space”. It is much closer than North Americans.
— The drivers here also use the same concept of “space” — on a four-lane street, they think nothing of making it into six lanes, to get around a car making a turn or moving too slow. If there’s enough room to fit the car, no matter how close, they go there.
— The concept of “Black Friday” is unfortunately catching on in Ecuador. Several stores are advertising sales leading up to Christmas (which is a BIG holiday here).
Well, that’s about it for now,