It's Wednesday afternoon, the last day of April, and today I've been doing a whole lot of nothing. Things seem to happen in waves here at Casa Staton, and after the past week of torrid activity we are taking a much-deserved break.
I started driving school last Monday morning to get my Ecuadorian license and finished yesterday. No, we are not getting a car. One of our reasons for moving to Cuenca was to enjoy a pedestrian lifestyle, and I hope to never get behind the wheel in this country. But my US license expired and I need to be legal when we return in July, so there I sat for two hours each morning listening to lectures totally in Spanish.
My Spanish is OK for most circumstances in which I find myself, but for every reason you can think words having to do with driving, traffic laws, and the anatomy of cars are not part of my vocabulary. I tried so hard to understand in class, but after a while my concentration collapses into the sounds of Charlie Brown's teacher (wha-wha-wha-wha-wha) with a lot of a's and o's on the end.
Ecuador traffic laws turned out to have a few surprises. The biggest one is that pedestrians always have the right of way. As a four year veteran of walking all over this city I can attest that this law is ignored by every driver. Crossing the street requires concentration, timing, and a dose of courage (sounds like I'm describing martial arts). Hell, even pedestrians don't give other pedestrians the right of way when approaching each other on the sidewalks.
So many drivers talk and text that I was amazed to learn using cell phones while driving is illegal. Think Ecuador is a third world country? A recent survey revealed that there are more cell phones here than people!
Traffic laws are pretty much common sense, but it's hard to provide correct answers when you don't understand the questions. Fortunately the manual had all the 200+ multiple choice questions with correct answers from which 20 were chosen for the final exam, so with the assistance of Google Translate I was able to properly prepare.
The old guy's still got it and I aced the test, so in about twenty days I'll receive approval from Quito to take the "real" test and after passing get my license on the spot.
We try to keep our foot on the brakes with social commitments, we really do. But last week we (well, to be fair--I) lost control. Wednesday night we had dinner out with a large group of friends. Thursday night I went out drinking with a buddy. Friday I took another friend to lunch. Saturday we went to a wine tasting, and you know what that means--a lot of wine drinking. Sunday we attended a party that started at 3 and ended at 10. Here's a tip--having an alcoholic beverage in your hand for seven hours is not a good idea. Then Monday we hosted a dinner party for dear friends.
Whew! After washing all the dishes Tuesday morning we were done and decided to pull the plug on social engagements for a few days while recuperating. And reading, exercising, sleeping, and watching some TV have been a real joy. Besides a facial I've got scheduled for tomorrow and dentist appointments on Friday the calendar is blissfully clear.
But then tomorrow morning I'm going fishing in the Cajas followed by a Kentucky Derby party in the afternoon. Sunday we're going to a play--Tuesday lunch with friends--Wednesday afternoon it's bingo.
So saddle up our horses--here we go again!