It’s a gray, rainy Saturday morning—the perfect time to sit here with a cup of coffee and “get my blog on.” Several of my fellow bloggers are much more diligent about posting on a regular basis. In my case sometimes I just don’t feel like I have anything worthwhile to say, and other times I’m too damned busy to take the time to write.
The past few days have definitely fit the latter category. The #1 question on potential expats’ minds seems to be, “What do you do with yourself all day way down there in Cuenca, Ecuador?” Well, jump in, ride shotgun, and fasten your seat belts. Here’s Part I of a three-part series on “Being TeamStaton.”
Tuesday night’s Gringo Night at Di Bacco had been particularly festive. That is to say, the crowd was large, loud, and lubricated. By pure coincidence the couple that we were to meet the following evening for dinner just happened to wander in not even aware of our weekly event, so we ate and drank with them before heading home pretty late and flopping into bed.
Perhaps we should have exercised a bit more self-control, because Wednesday morning required an early start for an unusual outing---a field trip to the local rum distillery. That’s right—a rum distillery—at 10 in the morning. But you know us---por que no! Giddyup!
And apparently we weren’t alone with that sentiment. The bus was packed with what I deemed the “Gringo All Stars.” These are our party-hearty brethren who never miss an opportunity to have a good time---especially when alcohol is involved---regardless of the hour.
So off we all went to Cuenca’s own San Miguel rum factory. A lot of us thought we were going on more of a “journey” and were surprised that the facility was in fact on the outskirts of town. Upon arrival we were all herded off the bus and into a dimly lit presentation area where we were shown a very professional video about the San Miguel’s history, philosophy, and business operations.
When this was over we expected the lights to come up but that never happened. It was explained that the high alcohol content in the air from the huge oak barrels below required the lighting to be kept extremely low to avoid possible spontaneous combustion. We got a chance to go downstairs to observe this area and learn about the liquor’s aging process. From there the tour ended with a long, open bar, drink-all-you-want visit to the tasting room. Which, keeping it real, was the primary reason all of us were there anyway. And finally an opportunity to purchase some booty at a discount price to take home.
It was my observation that the crowd was for some unknown reason much more animated on the trip back to the Chamber’s headquarters (this event was sponsored by the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce). And because I’m certain everyone exercised an admirable level of self discipline and restraint regarding alcohol consumption, I must say I was amazed to observe a sudden and serious outbreak of what could only have been some variety of “high altitude motor skills impairment” as a surprising number of my colleagues seemed almost unable to walk under their own power as they stumbled from the vehicle.
From there the herd split off into various sub-groups for lunch. We went with some folks to our favorite nearby vegetarian restaurant (lunch-of-the-day---$1.70 for soup, juice, and entrée that is so big you can hardly finish it), then walked home and crashed. Hard---------.
Which was a very good thing, since Cynthia had a doctor’s appointment at 4, we had a business meeting at 5, then we were meeting that couple from the previous night for drinks and dinner at 6. All of those things happened. The four of us then went to a bar for more drinks, and because it was a lovely evening we walked home after saying goodnight to our friends.
A very eventful day concluded with us sitting in the dark watching the American Idol episode I had downloaded earlier. With a rum nightcap, of course-------.