I begin this post by expressing my sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support I have received from you readers these past few days. The comment section here and especially my email inbox have been filled with encouraging messages, many from folks who have never commented before. Thanks to all of you who take time out of your busy lives to sit down and write to me. I honestly had no idea so many people enjoy this little blog I've been sharing for the past seven and a half years.
Yesterday didn't get off to a very good start as Paul Bunyan fired up his damn chainsaw next door at 7:30. I couldn't stand the noise so I went to the gym a day early just to get the hell out of here. After I returned home and showered, Cynthia and I both escaped to have lunch and run some errands. We ate at a unique new almuerzo spot called San Pedro near the Supermaxi.
As you can see, the restaurant serves only organic food, a rarity in Cuenca at any price point. They offer a choice of three entrees daily, and since it was Friday we decided to "go Catholic" and order corvina (sea bass) and shrimp. From me and other bloggers you're aware that an almuerzo is an inexpensive fixed menu lunch that includes soup, juice, entree, and dessert. You may be thinking, "That all sounds great, but what kind of meal do you get for $3.00?" Check it out:
Chicken, rice, and vegetable soup topped with potato strings and cilantro; a pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice; fried fish or shrimp; rice and beans; fried plantain chips and cold mixed veggies. Almost forgot--AND a bowl of popcorn. The dessert of a tiny poached pear came later. There was so much delicious food that we couldn't even finish it all!
A siesta beckoned but the afternoon was just getting started. Splitting up, I went to a short business meeting nearby while Cynthia got started with our weekly grocery shopping. Once I got to the store, as is often the case I bumped into friends and got a chance to catch up. In the old days we regularly went to Gringo Nights as a way to meet people. Having more friends these days than we can keep up with, trips to the Supermaxi invariably turn into "Gringo Day."
We love our apartment and have lived here the whole time we've been in Cuenca. There is, however, one downside--our residence is a fourth floor walk-up. When we invite folks over for the first time we laugh hearing them huff and puff up the stairs. If they accept a second invitation we know they are real friends.
But, trust me, toting groceries up all those stairs is no laughing matter. I always have a choice--more trips with less bags or less trips with more bags. I always pick the latter option, telling myself, "This is good for me--this is good for me--." It doesn't help that the bag boys have no concept of weight distribution. They'll often put two containers of milk, a bottle of rum and two bottles of wine in the same bag. Why? Who knows--because they're all liquids?? Since Supermaxi is by far the highest end food store in the city, my best guess is the boys assume that live-in help, not the purchaser, will be doing the actual unloading at home.
Oh, a quick aside. You know all this talk among the Presidential candidates about free trade, trade imbalances, and import taxes? As North American consumers your daily life is unaffected by any of this. You go to Trader Joe's and happily buy cool stuff from all over the world at cheap prices, right?
Not so here, amigos. Imported goods are crazy-expensive, no more so than with wine and spirits. Our climate isn't conducive to grape growing since we don't really have seasons, so all of our wine comes from somewhere else, mostly Chile and Argentina. Even though they are South American neighbors, the prices for identical wines at your local Kroger or Ralph's are WAY lower. And U.S. wine? Anybody here besides me old enough to remember Blue Nun, the upgrade from Boone's Farm? It's still available, folks, and it can be yours at Supermaxi for---
---a pittance. Only $23 a bottle! See what I mean? We've pretty much switched over to decent dark rum and tequila that costs around $12-13 for a fifth, and Cynthia has turned into a bad-ass mixologist!
OK, so after catching our breath and getting the groceries put away we were running a bit late so we jumped in a taxi and went across town to spend the rest of the afternoon with a dear friend who recently lost her husband of over 50 years. Since he and I were roughly the same size she was kind enough to give me some of his really nice clothing when we left.
After a bus ride home we were beat and still pretty full from that huge lunch, so we settled in with a cocktail, an egg salad sandwich, and another episode of Downton Abbey before crashing.
We're off this weekend for a spend-the-night outing with friends in the suburbs. Should be a blast, but you may not hear from me again until Monday. Hasta luego!