The last two days have been sunny and restful. I missed getting out to Zoe's Friday evening due to illness from something I most likely ate at a local fest, and should have known better than to eat. Today, Saturday, has been a day of rest as well. So hopefully, I will feel well enough to get out and about tomorrow morning to Parque Calderon, where on Sunday mornings concert programs may be presented, and a number of expats come to meet, touch bases, and possibly have breakfast or lunch together.
Jose Cortez, the computer technician and I got to talking, and I told him about how I wanted to ride the double-decker bus on a city tour of Cuenca. How my first attempt had failed, and how I heard that the tour was only in Spanish. Jose had not taken the tour himself, so he went along and he translated for me. The current price of the tour is five dollars, and takes about two hours. As it turns out part of the tour is in English. An attractive young blond, American from Seattle who was doing her internship in Cuenca did the honors in English. However, most of the tour is presented in Espanol. My camera is also new, so I have been learning how to use it. This is the first time I have purchased a camera since my 35mm died in the 90's. The city tour was my first effort at using the video, and I have not transferred it yet from my camera to my laptop to maybe the blog--oh this really is going to prove interesting! We went up to Camino a Turi, the pinnacle of Cuenca, where I was able to snap panoramic photos and videos of the city. I also had my first ear of white corn cooked over the charcoal grill. It's a definite winner. I was surprised for kernels as large as these and prepared in the manner that they were, that they came out so tender and flavorful.
The tour gave me a good perspective of the layout of the city, and an opportunity to experience the city from above instead of always at street level. What was fun for everyone on the upper-deck was that the cables running across the street are low enough that a number of them barely clear the bus. When passengers are standing and taking photos or video-taping on the upper-deck, the crowd shouts at them to get down before they are decapitated or electrocuted. We truly did have to duck sometimes lower than the back of the seats to avoid contact with cables. That's a city excursion one will never experience in Chicago. The insurance companies haven't destroyed Cuenca yet.
While touring the city, we saw a square where people were preparing for a local fest that evening, and decided we would attend later. We had dinner at the up-scaled, Vino Olivo, which was near the square where the fest was taking place. The restaurant's lights were out, so we ate on the patio. The kitchen did have power. Eventually, power was restored throughout the entire establishment. We actually had a great location for seeing the fireworks, and the burning lights which slowly ascended into the sky like hot-air balloons, and stayed lit and afloat for as long as half-an-hour. I have not been to a fireworks display in the states for at least six or seven years now, so these lights were something new to me. The dinner was disappointing. We ordered a seafood paella. Both the rice and the seafood were too dry, which is exactly how I have had paella back home in Valparaiso on several occasions. Only once, have I had paella, which melted in my mouth; which was in a Spanish restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin about ten years ago. Possibly other fare on the menu may be quite good, but I would not recommended the paella.
After dinner, we went over to the concert. The performance was an Ecuadorian contemporary rock group, and the theme was "Cuenca Lives". Makeshift eateries were everywhere. I forgot what Jose said they were called, but I pointed out to him the trays of cones sticking up in what looks like mounds of ice cream. I knew this colorful concoction wasn't ice cream, because it doesn't melt. Before I could say anything more, Jose pulled out some coins and bought me a cone. I had refused to purchase this dessert in the past, because I was concerned about contamination. The purchase had been made, throwing precaution to the wind, and not wanting to offend Jose; I ate it. It had the texture of Cool Whip, and I understand that it is made from fruit juices. It is served with a very little spoon, which is actually a tiny plastic utensil with a flat square surface extending from the handle were the spoon should be. From the number of adults and kids I see eating these cones, they seem quite popular. The cones and their vividly colored concoctions are not very large, and are obviously intended to be eaten in small bites. I myself would prefer ice cream or soft-serve. Of course, there was hell to be paid the next morning as my health issues arose, and I stayed near the facilities in the condo all day and night Friday. Sunday, I went to a pharmacy to get medication for stopping the runs. No one needs a prescription to use the pharmacies in Ecuador. Just stop in, and tell them what you need or want, and it's yours.
It was about 10:30 p.m. Thursday night, and maybe 500 to 1,000 people were on hand at the fest. According to Jose, the band was now playing nationalistic music, which was a clue that the concert was soon to end. We both grabbed cabs going in opposite directions to our homes ahead of the mob of people, a number of whom may have tied traffic up for quite awhile attempting to cross streets in a duel with the autos and attempting to signal taxis all at the same time. My taxi had to come to the end of a median and make a place to turn around and take me in the opposite direction. Believe me, he made a place. It truly is whoever gets the space first in this competition. Except for the taxis, there were no amusement rides like one would find at neighborhood and church fests back home. There was a hill were kids had mats that had green glo-lites on them, which they used to ride down a natural hill that was only six-eight feet high. The kids remind me of my generation when we were kids, when we didn't have so much and had to often make our own fun.