When you've been on the planet as long as us you sometimes don't get around to celebrating events on the exact date they occur. You may recall my last post recounted our anniversary (which happened in July) celebration taking place at a nearby spa--in November.
So in that spirit Cynthia and I officially welcomed in the New Year yesterday, February 10. In this case dawdling wasn't the reason for the delay. Since December 6 until then the events of our lives have been dictated by outside forces, so it is only now that we feel like we really own our calendar again.
In early December we headed to the States for a five week holiday visit with our family. We're used to kind of "easing" into our days, so the early wake up calls centered around three babies aged 2 1/2 and less were, let's say, jarring.
We're also accustomed to sort of gliding through our days. No such luck in households with babies, dogs, and careers. Please don't misunderstand--we love our family fiercely and enjoyed every single second with them, but weeks of immersion in such an accelerated energy level left us physically and emotionally drained.
We returned to Cuenca in mid-January with plans to leisurely revise and rehearse our two presentations for the International Living Fast Track conference in Quito. Held each February, this event was hosting 410+ attendees from the US and Canada so we wanted to be ready to do our best.
There was one obstacle to overcome though. I had cancelled our Internet before leaving with plans to hook up a different carrier immediately upon our return. I went there early the first morning back and scheduled an appointment for two days later.
No big deal, right? Well-----.
The installation guys showed up right on time, looked around the apartment, and announced that we had a problem. Uh-oh. Ecuadorians usually say there's "no problem" when there really is one, so this had to be serious.
It seemed that our fourth floor apartment was too far from the connection for us to get a strong signal. Then came the "no problem"--the cable jacks already in our wall would probably work just fine, but a supervisor had to come by to be certain.
OK, when's he coming? This afternoon for sure.
Of course that didn't happen. So I went back to the office the next morning to stir up some action. The lady there was very kind but couldn't get the supervisor to answer his cell phone. She looked in the computer and verified that he would be at the apartment that day.
That didn't happen either. This was a Friday, so that meant our whole first week back was without Internet. Friends nearby generously told us to come by and use their signal, but schlepping computers around and not wanting to inconvenience our amigos didn't allow us to do much more than check emails.
I went back a third time Monday morning and finally learned the truth--the supervisor had talked with the installers and they decided that in fact service could not be delivered at all. But did they bother to share that valuable information with me? Nope. Guess they didn't want to "disappoint." Trust me, I was very disappointed.
I immediately go to the third and last provider and explain my situation to the representative, suggesting that perhaps someone should come by for a preliminary inspection before going down that same slippery slope again. She agreed and asked when I would be there. I replied, "When can you be there?"
She said 2 o'clock, and sure enough a guy arrived promptly on time, indicated all systems were "go," and scheduled the installation team for Thursday afternoon. I pleaded for an earlier date to no avail.
Based on my experience with the other company I called on Thursday a couple of hours before my appointment to reconfirm. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Mr. Staton. The installers are behind because of the rain yesterday so it will have to be in the morning."
I called first thing Friday morning with nerves on edge and patience thin. "I hate to give you this news, Mr. Staton. There was a miscommunication in the office and we cannot come until Monday."
This had gone on long enough. My eyes got a weird color--my skin started to turn green--my shirt started to rip-- it was Hulk time!
"No," I replied as calmly as I could. "Your guys are working today, and another customer is going to have to wait until Monday. I want someone over here immediately, and if you can't make that happen I need to talk to your boss."
You see, most of the time life here in Ecuador flows beautifully. But when something goes wrong, it can quickly go very wrong. Locals are used to waiting in line--waiting for service--waiting for everything. They are also accustomed to being told "no" and sheepishly going away. I've learned that it's respectful to go along with such customs because I'm a guest in this country and usually a delay doesn't really matter.
But sometimes you've gotta judiciously play the old Gringo trump card and refuse to go along.
She said, "Please hold on while I go talk to my boss." A couple of minutes later: "They will be at your house in 30 minutes."
And indeed they were. A couple of hours later we once again had Internet service, but we were now two weeks behind on our preparation for our presentations.
We of course bit the bullet and got everything ready on time. We arrived in Quito Thursday morning, our presentations were well-received, and we flopped into our own bed Sunday night. Yesterday's "New Year's day" was rung in with long periods of time in a horizontal position with closed eyes.
So here we are with a clean calendar for the rest of 2014! Except for the "ladies' lunch" Cynthia is at right now. And my dental appointment in the morning. And the dinner date with friends tomorrow night. Oh, and a salsa fiesta we're attending on Saturday.
But after that, I swear we have nothing planned. Except, oops, just got another email invitation-------.