We woke up at the reasonable vacation time of 10:30 this morning, and Jose made us breakfast, or rather, heated the delicious breakfast-appropriate food that his mother had made in advance. His family lives in Cuencas, to the south, where he describes the pace of life to be more traditional and slow, although a rise in expat population, especially retirees, is changing that.
The breakfast was fried corn mush with cheese, which had been originally wrapped in corn husks and probably steamed. They were stickily sweet around the edges, and had bits of corn in them. Delicious! Jose tells us that in Cuencas they are typically served with coffee in the afternoon.
It was pouring rain outside, so I don’t have a particularly good picture of the view from here, but it’s spectacular. With any luck, I’ll be able to get one tomorrow. Here is his gorgeous living room, though. I love the roominess and the plants! The cement is a nice accent.
After Jose left for work (today was a pretty relaxed day for him), we got ready to solve some problems. We headed downhill to a commercial area, where we eventually located a big Movistar building. Goals: get Matt’s phone repaired, get him a prepaid sim card with data, get me a simple sim card for dialing.
If you read my post about yesterday, you know that my ability to speak Spanish was amazingly high last night. This proved not to be the case this morning. It could have been the subject matter, but it was really a struggle to get it sorted and almost no one we were bounced around to spoke English. However, they were mostly all very friendly, patient and helpful. In the end, we left Matt’s phone for repairs (2days) and got me a sim card. We can get him a sim card when we pick up his phone.
My confidence was a bit shaken as we walked away, especially as I replayed bits of the morning’s exchanges in my head and realized even more of my vocabulary and grammar mistakes. I was also tired. Matt was experiencing separation anxiety, not having that familiar piece of equipment in his hand/pocket.
We needed some food and liquids, so we decided to head towards La Mariscal, which turned out to be a very touristic area, filled with student-ambience bars (mostly closed), and hole-in-the-wall snack bars. The food in the snack bar like places actually looked pretty good, but we needed something more restful. I was about to give up and take whatever we walked past next, when indeed the next place looked perfect: a restaurant with mosly but not solely older people, all locals, eating what looked to be hearty food and drinking red juice. The red juice looked pretty good.
We went in and sat down, expecting a menu to look at. Instead, what happened next could not have been more perfect. The server came and put two bowls of soup in front of us. It had bits of meat, corn, some kind of root (we think), and other vegetables in a meaty stock. It was delicious. Another group came in and sat down, and they got the same. Other tables had plates of meat and rice, and there were bowls of some kind of sauce on our table, so we now understood there was a set menu. I was so relieved. No decisions necessary!
That red juice was the most wonderful thing, so delicious! And free refills! I couldn’t tell what kind of juice it was, but I wouldn’t mind drinking it every day this week!
Indeed, after the soup came a choice of grilled meat with beans and rice, or chicken in sauce with rice. I took the meat and Matt took the chicken, and they were wonderful. The sauce in the bowl on the table went perfectly with the grilled meat, fresh and oniony, with a sharp limey spice to it. I drenched my plate in it. Dessert came too: a small slice of a pretty dry cake. Ok, not the best part of the meal, but otherwise the place was great. We chatted with the proprietess as well as with other diners, and it only cost $3 each!
Have I mentioned that Ecuador uses US dollars? Now you know.
After lunch we wanted to sort out some other problems, to do with banking, but in the end we mostly wandered around in the rain. We walked a lot, but just now nothing particularly stands out. Here is a cool construction site we walked past:
We got back to Jose’s around 19:00, lounged around for a while, ate dinner downstairs at the pizzeria, then came back, showered, had a chat with our host, and went to bed. A long nice first day of vacation!
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