I’ve made frequent references in this blog to living in the moment. While yesterday wasn’t exactly “typical,” it does demonstrate what can happen when you just put yourself out there.
The day started with only one thing on the calendar—meeting friends for lunch at 1 o’clock. Good—a quiet day heading into the weekend (yes, we casually note when those roll around).
My friend and partner Juan called to say he could come by at noon and take me to get a replacement phone for the one that was stolen. Kind of tight time-wise with our commitment, but OK—let’s do it.
We went to the phone place and got all the paperwork done, but the phone wouldn’t be ready until 5:30. Could I come back then? Those of you who have followed our adventures and misadventures are aware that coming back is usually part of showing up in Ecuador when any kind of paperwork is involved. Sure, I’ll return then.
Our lunch rendezvous happened right on time and we had a lovely meal during two hours of chitchat. Since we were in El Centro we decided afterwards to drop by TerraDiversa to pick up our monthly shipment from the wine club we joined.
While there we learned that it was one of our employee’s birthday. We also found out that in the evening Mansion Alcazar, perhaps Cuenca’s finest hotel, was hosting a trade-only event to showcase their new spa facilities. That sounded like fun, so we decided to attend. After all, we had no plans, right?
Now we were caught in that in-between time—it was too early to pick up the phone and too much trouble to go home then turn around and leave almost as soon as we got there. When Cynthia learned where the business was located she realized it was close to a clinic where she needed to make a doctor’s appointment for a friend.
So we strolled over there with the thought if the phone wasn’t ready we’d sit and relax until it was. While we were waiting for the receptionist to return we were more than a little surprised to see the female half of the couple we had just eaten lunch with walking around the corner.
She was there for an appointment with another doctor who apparently wasn’t showing up. Our appointment was made and her husband, who was waiting in their car, did a double take upon seeing us all walking out together!
After telling them goodbye—again—we walked to the phone business. It was an hour early, but time is very fluid here, and what do you know, the phone was ready. Outstanding! I remembered seeing what appeared to be a chocolate store on the way, so we doubled back to hopefully pick up a birthday gift for our employee since we would be seeing her later at the hotel.
Except we got our directions mixed up and went the long way around the clinic. Cynthia had just said we’d probably see someone else we knew when we walked around the corner. Guess what---we walked around the corner and immediately saw another couple we knew. Things like this actually happen all the time here.
After chatting with them for a bit we found the store but it didn’t have what we needed. Then Cynthia remembered a kiosk in the shopping center below the Supermaxi that sells chocolates and would be on our way home, so off we trekked. En route we bought a bag of cherries (they’re in season now) from one of those wheelbarrow produce merchants. We also saw Juan again as he was walking from a dental appointment.
All of these places we had walked to are not close to each other and we were getting really pooped, but an obstacle course loomed ahead. Our path took us around the stadium, and we discovered it was game night.
We weaved through ticket hawkers, food vendors, shirt vendors, noise-making vendors, plus lots and lots of excited fans. I think soccer is all that really matters in Latin America.
After emerging from that madhouse and purchasing the chocolates we decided to splurge and take a taxi home (that normally happens only when we’ve got too many groceries to carry). But it was late Friday afternoon, the soccer game was right up the street and roads were blocked, there were about four people waiting and no taxis in sight, so screw it, we kept walking.
Finally back home with an hour to rest up before heading out again, off came the shoes and out came the vino. Sufficiently fortified with a couple of glasses we taxied to the hotel (no more walking, we agreed!) and, as expected, enjoyed a lovely presentation of the new facilities complete with tasty hors d'oeuvres and more wine.
Then the TerraDiversa group plus the folks from another tour operator decided to take the birthday celebration elsewhere, so we piled into vehicles and went to a nearby bar. Thirteen people crammed into table space for at most ten. Here came the food. Here came the beers and more vino. In other words, here came the party!
We didn’t understand much of what was being said, but so what? Everyone was talking, laughing, and having a great time.
A ride home was offered but Calle Larga, the street where the bar is located, is party central and jammed with cars and people on the weekends. It was therefore much quicker to walk (so much for our agreement). Around 11 we arrived at the casa exhausted and inebriated. I barely remember going to bed.
So let’s recap: lunch at 1 was our one thing to do.
Instead it was: phone place+lunch+walking toTerraDiversa+walking to clinic+walking to phone place+visiting friends along the way+dodging the soccer crowd+walking to chocolate kiosk+walking home+home with wine+Mansion Alcazar+bar+walking home.
And sometimes that’s what we do all day in Ecuador.